The guitar player can wail, and the drummer can crash away on the skins. But if the band you're listening to live is sounding really on, there's a good chance an unseen member of the band is having a good night, too.
That person is the sound engineer, and he's responsible for getting every subtle tweak of voice and instrument into your ears in a balanced way.
All instruments and voices aren't created equal. For instance, some instruments are louder than others while the acoustic signature of some instruments can get lost. A live sound engineer's job is to wrestle with these factors and coax the correct overall sound out of any situation. The fact is, the band can have a great night but the audience may never know it if the live audio engineer isn't doing their job properly. In many ways, the live sound engineer is as important to a live band performance as any member on stage.
Good live sound engineering and concert sound engineering requires more than plugging in some amplifiers and turning a few volume knobs. It demands knowledge of acoustics and electronics combined with the collaborative skill of an artist to work with a band or producer to give them the sound they want. Every venue is different -- from the cozy bar to a medium-sized concert hall to an outdoor arena -- and each brings its own challenges to audio engineering. But it's the live sound engineer's job to tame acoustics and bring the musicians' efforts home to the audience.
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