Beware - there's much more to
backing tracks on stage than just
plugging in to your PA system
and pressing play..!
Minidisc players and MP3 players are recommended for playing
backing tracks because you can jump to the exact start of a
track that you wish to sing in an instant. Cassettes should
be avoided because they are difficult to cue-up and usually
offer poor and "hissy" sound. CD's are prone to fingermarks
which cause "skipping" during a performance - wiping
the CD on your sequened shirt or blouse while your on stage
is not recommended!
We do recommend however that you use an "enclosed"
sound format for your backing tracks such as Minidisc,
or better still, MP3. The new hard disk based mp3 players like
ipod, Microsoft Zune and Creative Jukebox allow you to save
thousands of backing tracks on a player the size of your hand,
access any song in an instant, create a set-list (the order
in which you are going to sing your songs) and cue-up the next
song, even while the first song is still playing.
Position your speakers
Make sure that your backing
track music and singing can be heard out front. Place your speakers
at the front of the stage, up high, where your audience can hear
them best and use a monitor or foldback speaker so that you can
hear sound on the stage. Don't allow pillars or obstacles to block
the sound as this will reduce the sound heard by your audience
and may cause feedback (feedback is that horrible high-pitched
squeel you hear, usually caused by a microphone being too close
to a speaker but feedback can also be caused by badly positioned
speakers or obstacles in front of them).
A good tip is to walk around the venue after you have set up your
PA and if you can actually see the front grill and
horn of your speakers from every angle in the room, then it's
a fair bet that the sound will be reaching every part of the room.
This is based on the assumption that if a customers "eyes"
can see your speaker from, say, 50 metres away, then his/her "ears"
(which are only a couple of inches from their eyes) will hear
everything that comes out that speaker clearly.
Remember that obstacles muffle sound, especially the high frequencies,
so if an audience complains that your sound is too bassy or woolly
(or to use laymens terms - a bit too boom, boom, boom!), there's
a fair chance that you have incorrectly positioned your speakers
and the high-frequencies are being muffled by some obstacle(s)
and the only frequencies getting through are the bass frequencies.
That's why when, say, a teenager passes by in his car with his
stereo up loud, all you can hear is the bass. If you sat inside
the car with him you would be able to hear the more balanced sound
that he is hearing (ahem, can we use the terms "teenager"
and "balanced" in the same sentence)! Joking aside,
the car body has obstructed the high frequencies and all anyone
outside of the car can hear is the bass frequencies.
The same happens to your sound on stage if something or someone
is blocking your speakers output. The general rule of thumb is
to place your bass speakers (if you have seperate bass bins) on
the floor, and all other speakers up high.
Pump up the volume! Don't
be scared to keep your volume levels high when you use a backing
track. It's a common mistake that singers often make. It will
always stand you in good stead if you imagine you are working
with a live band on that stage behind you - how loud would the
music be? OK, you get the idea!
It's a myth that customers don't like loud music - it's poor quality
sound "grating" on their ears that they don't like.
Most people who complain to about music being "too loud"
are not complaining about the volume (that's just the way that
a layman describes what he/she hears). They are actually complaining
about the uncomfortableness of their ears - there's a BIG difference.
An entertainer who plays poor quality backing tracks through a
small under-powered 100 watt PA system will sound uncomfortably
"louder" than the same entertainer playing quality tracks
through a 2000 watt PA system.
Why? well, 100 watts of coarse, grating sound hitting your ears
is very uncomfortable, whereas 1000 or 2000 watts of pure quality
sound hitting your ears is comfortable.
Always remember that when a customer is complaining about your
volume, 9 times out of 10 he's not actually complaining about
how loud it is, he's complaining about your sound quality - his
ears are uncomfortable.
Article Written by Kenny Campbell
(This article cannot be reproduced without express
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