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Sound Advice

Attitude Is Everything By Karl Winkler

After working in the pro audio industry for more than 20 years, there’s one thing that has really stuck when it comes to the people. First and foremost, those who have truly “made it” and don’t feel that they have to prove anything are very nice, humble, and interested in passing on the inside details of the craft. On the flip side, it seems that those who have a chip on their shoulder are the ones who come across as arrogant. One of the things distinguishing one from the other is someone who blames their equipment for things going wrong. Sound is bad? Blame the speakers or the microphones. Maybe such-and-such processor “sucks.” Got a buzz in the audio? Blame the house power.

The real truth is that the gear is usually fine – the issue is often the operator. House power is a mess? Did you advance the venue and inquire? The ability to solve problems and still present a good product is part skill, part personality. Can you keep cool under pressure? Maybe this is part personality, but nothing helps keep you cool better than a good knowledge of the fundamentals and how to apply them in various situations.

So what is the formula for a Buddha-like calm in the face of impending disaster? For starters, we all need to get our heads around the basic math and science behind what we do. It is shortsighted to think that we only have such-and-such a job – system tech, monitor engineer, FOH… All of these jobs are inter-related and we all need to understand sound systems as a whole.

As an example, monitor engineers need to know quite a bit about wireless mics these days. It is far easier to throw up our hands and blame “black magic” for the interference than it is to hit the books, seminars, and manuals in order to learn the principles behind this complex subject.

Let’s remember just a few of the greats from our industry that we’ve recently lost, including Bruce Jackson, Albert Leccese, and Roger Nichols. Each of these giants contributed to live and recorded sound. Each invented new technology or new ways of thinking and working. Yet each was approachable, humble, and interested in teaching the next generation. They knew their craft as well as it could be known and didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. What our industry needs is more people like them.

[i]Karl Winkler is Director of Business Development at Lectrosonics Inc. He also plays viola in The Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been involved in pro audio for the past 20 years.[/i]

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