If you’ve been running sound for a while, you may feel like you have a handle on this.
That’s great! Read through the three posts in this series to see if there is something you can take away and use to help pass on the info to a new volunteer.
If you’ve recently started running sound or can’t seem to stop the ring of feedback happening in your system, then you’re in luck! We’ll help take care of that in no time.
What is Feedback?
Feedback is simply the amplified sound of an audio signal being picked up by the same microphone that transmitted the signal and then sent through the sound system again, or re-reinforced.
Here’s a picture:
There are a few ways to do this. Let's start at step 1.
NOTE: This is the FASTEST way to stop feedback if it ever happens in your sound system.
Feedback Tip #1 – TURN IT DOWN!
Without being too drastic about it, simply turn down the main output level of the loudspeakers. Or if you can find the offending microphone channel fast enough, turn it down.
Here’s the important thing: you’ll often only need to turn down the level a small amount to stop the ringing.
This volume adjustment can sometimes be imperceptible to the listening audience, but can make a big difference in the quality of the overall sound.
Monitor loudspeakers on stage can cause feedback too.
Sometimes you just need to turn down the individual input level/mix in the appropriate monitor channel, or turn down the monitors altogether. Just be mindful of how these changes can affect the musicians, singers, or presenters on stage.
You need to get feedback under control, but you don’t want to compromise the quality of the performance or presentation in the process.
As you train your ears and truly listen attentively to the sound in your mixing environment, you’ll be able to hear when things are getting out of balance and when feedback may be getting ready to “take off”.
I’ve had to mix many events where the right microphone was not available for the application or the presenter was constantly moving in front of loudspeakers. In these scenarios, you’ll want to be very vigilant and ready to “ride the fader” of any channel that is on the verge of feedback.
You may find yourself moving the volume level up and down in small increments in order to maintain a stable mix. While this can be a useful short-term solution in the middle of a live event, it is best to experiment with better mic placement and EQ so that constant level monitoring and volume adjustments do not become a persistent distraction.
So, that’s tip #1.
In the next post we’ll dig into tip #2!