- Look after the technical setup of sound systems for live events
- Some roles involve travelling with productions or live music artists on tour
- You'll work long hours and need to combine technical ability, a great ear for sound and physical work
As a live sound engineer, you'll mix the inputs from microphones and amplifiers, using a control desk to balance the sound levels. You might also provide background music and sound effects.
- Discussing the production's sound needs with the director or sound designer
- Identifying places in the script where any sound effects, music and changes in sound level are needed
- Pre-recording any sound effects and music
- Positioning and rigging up microphones
- Completing sound checks before a performance
- Operating the sound desk during shows
- Following a sound plan (known as a 'plot') and cues from the deputy stage manager
- Looking after and repairing equipment
- Unloading, setting up, dismantling and loading equipment at each venue when on tour
Hours can be long and irregular, and evening and weekend work is common. You may also work during the day for rehearsals, sound checks and maintenance. You'll work in theatres, concert halls, arenas, and outdoors at concerts and festivals. Your working environment may be at height, travelling often, and hot and outdoors at times.
For this role, you'll need thoroughness and attention to detail, knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software, the ability to work well with others, to accept criticism and remain calm under pressure, flexibility and openness to change, persistence and determination, customer service skills, and knowledge of media production and communication.
You can do a foundation degree, higher national diploma, or degree in a related subject like sound and live event production, live sound and lighting technology, music technology, or technical theatre art.
Some sound engineers start by taking a college course to develop their skills before looking for work, including sound and music technology, or technical theatre.
You may be able to become a live sound engineer through an advanced apprenticeship in technical theatre: sound, light and stage.
Practical experience of using sound equipment would be useful, such as helping backstage in a theatre, being a roadie for a band, rigging sound in amateur or student theatre, or working for a sound equipment manufacturer or hire company.
Several drama schools offer degrees and diplomas in technical theatre accredited by the Federation of Drama Schools.
With experience, you could progress to chief sound engineer in a theatre, become a sound designer, or set up your own sound services company.