Updated: Mar 6
So you’re almost done planning your event. The venue has been secured, permits have been acquired, and all of your AV vendors are in place. You think everything is good to go, but then the age-old question comes up, do I need an audio engineer? Some events require a skilled audio professional, while some can get by without one. There are many reasons not to ignore the quality of your event's audio. For instance, event attendees are much more likely to notice poor audio before they notice other production deficiencies. Before we discuss whether your event needs an engineer, it is important to understand the role of a live sound engineer. The engineer’s responsibilities are numerous and range from setting up the sound system and any components, coordinating details with performers, ensuring the quality of the mix, and monitoring the level of the PA’s output. The engineer is the direct liaison between you and the MC, DJ, musicians and/or speakers.
Many times your engineer will be able to determine exactly what your event might need and have the ability to communicate your needs to your performers. Skilled live audio engineers understand the way the human ear reacts to audio waves. You won’t even notice subtle mix changes when professionals are at the helm. We’ll cover the techniques they use to accomplish this refined sound in a future blog.
Working with this definition of an audio engineer, let’s run through some basic info to consider that will help you make your decision.
Quite possibly the biggest factor necessitating a need for a skilled audio engineer will be the size of your event. If all of the AV equipment needed at your event is a simple two speaker sound system with one microphone for a speech, it may be hard to justify the expense of an engineer. Most people will be able to understand the basic functions of a small audio mixer with a short demonstration. AV companies should always be more than willing to show customers how to use their rental equipment. Still, in this example, a skilled engineer will be able to tune the PA speakers to the room and equalize the sound of the speaker's voice as well as blend in transitional music before and after.
Even for an event with a slightly larger setup consisting of multiple microphones and personal stage monitors, an engineer is not always required if little to no mix changes will be needed during the event. This is most often the case for small conferences where the only sound source will be spoken word. Nonetheless, if peace of mind is a determining factor for you, it is always nice to have an engineer present to troubleshoot any issues.
For larger events with audio that needs precise attention to detail such as a concert you may want to consider having more than one engineer. A common practice is to have one engineer that handles front-of-house (FOH) sound and one that handles on stage sound mixing (monitors). For even larger events, it is typical that the production company will also employ a system engineer, who oversees other on-site engineers and the sound system itself.
As you can tell, there are many factors to consider when planning an event needing sound reinforcement. Your AV company will always be able to provide an audio engineer to run your rental equipment, and if they don't have one in-house or can't recommend one, RUN! When in doubt, it’s best to play it safe and hire an audio engineer to ensure that your event runs smoothly.
If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a call at 615-669-2126. We’d love to hear from you!