Restricted Choice

As a sound engineer I am supposed to know how things work. Part of my job is to understand how equipment works and how to get the best out of it to produce the desired result- a great sound.

When I started out, this meant analogue technology. I was lucky. I learnt how an MM Electronics 12 into 2 mixer worked. It had gain, treble, hi mid, low mid and bass EQ, echo and foldback sends. Simple. I mastered that over a couple of years or so.

Such a long time you’re asking? Well, yes. Learning balance and how to get the best out of things takes time. Having simple EQ and minimal facilities makes you work hard. You have to seriously think about where your small collection of microphones goes and how you deploy them.

After a few years I progressed to a TAC desk. This had parametric EQ! Brilliant! You could now solve problems using the desk! Was I suddenly a better engineer? No. It took me another couple of years to master this.

The desk I currently use has sweepable shelving lows and highs, two parametric mids with ‘Q' and a high pass filter. I’m still learning how to use it.

Last week I looked at an old desk that had simple EQ with fixed bands on eBay. I was almost tempted to buy it. There is something about restricted choice that I miss. It made me solve problems at source. It made me get up on stage and move microphones, even swap them out for different ones. It made me work harder.

Last week I was told an engineer couldn’t mix his show as he didn’t have a particular plug-in. Mmmmmmm.

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