The importance of sound testing before a performance
Sound testing: Sound testing is about the difference between being happy or not with your sound during a performance. Sound testing is the time to decide on your levels, correct any microphone technique, listen to yourself through the monitors and mentally warm up.
Advice for Sound Testing
Arrive on time for your sound testing
First things first: a sound engineer and/or stage manager is not going to be impressed if someone uses up their precious little time by running in late. Avoid scrambling around for your instrument case and tuning up on stage. Make sure you turn up on time and ready for your sound testing.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so be early and introduce yourself politely to the sound engineer and/or stage manager during the sound testing when appropriate and maybe offer to buy him/her a drink (optional).
If the offer of a drink is not accepted just tell them where you will be and inform them you will be ready when they are, selecting a place out of their way but in their eye line.
As well as being on time for your sound testing, make sure you are tuned up if you have an instrument or have completed a vocal warm up at least.
Ahead of the day make sure all your equipment is reliable, works and you have spare batteries, straps and leads if applicable. Be ready for a quick switchover between acts and you’ll look good if you’re prepared.
Sound Testing Tips
The whole point of sound testing is to correctly set up the levels in the venue and that includes the (fold back) monitors that you will be hearing during the performance. Be honest with the engineers during sound testing if you’d like your vocals louder or your guitar with an EQ boost.
Consider the sound in the venue will always be different empty and with an audience. Always make requests in a polite manner!
Don’t hold back
As mentioned before, the idea of sound testing for singers is to set up levels, so if you’re holding back and not playing or singing as loud as you would do in the actual performance, it becomes pointless to a degree.
A lot of venues have digital desks so they can automatically store your settings. It doesn’t make sense to store it all and then have the sound engineer re-adjust when you come out hitting notes twice as loud as the first time.