Silence Is Not So Golden

Well, what do you do when disaster strikes? In audio terms this is usually when everything suddenly goes dead for no apparent reason. Usually this doesn’t happen too often, but sure enough last week in front of 60,000 people I had the full on silent treatment from the festival PA. To be honest no matter how many people there are, the feeling is just as bad. 

So what do you do? The first thing is fault find as methodically and quickly as possible. Can you hear anything at all? If the stage is still going then it’s you at front of house, or something in your chain. Has it all gone off, or just the vocal or a few instruments? If it is all off is the desk still working? Can you solo and hear things? If you can then it is probably not the desk. Are the output meters showing signal? If so then it is somewhere further down the chain. 

For me this was a Lake DLP Controller doing my AD conversion and EQ. Sure enough it was showing all the mute lights! The house guy confirmed all his system seemed normal. The controls on the Lake had frozen so a reboot was the first step. An agonising 15 seconds later the system leapt back into life with a cheer from the crowd. I calmly continued the mix until the end of the show. 

After that I had an uncharacteristic tantrum and cost myself £150 for a pair of headphones thrown across the FOH riser... Well, you can’t be calm all the time…

So when disaster strikes stay calm, trace the fault and don’t panic. The moment you fix it will be one of the few times as an engineer you will get a cheer from the crowd. That will put you in a better mood for the bollocking waiting for you in the dressing room…

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