A MUSICIAN’S COMPLETE GUIDE TO BETTER SOUND by BILL WYNN
49-page e-book liveconcertstagesound.com
Review by Joel Simches
At 49 pages, this work from world-renowned live sound engineer Bill Winn is more of a pamphlet than a book. Think of this as a treatise for bands to better understand how live sound works in a concert venue and how to be better prepared for the process of live performance as it relates to sound reinforcement. Winn takes this process to the stage by starting with the rehearsal room. Here, he gives tips on how to set up the rehearsal to emulate the stage setup by using a rug, and marking all of the positions of the band and their instruments as it relates to the stage. I found this approach very useful because it assumes total ignorance on the part of the performer, not in a completely condescending way, although he frequently seems to talk down to the reader, like a parent teaching a child. In fact, at one point he interjects “Oh my God. I sound just like my mother” in one passage. The benefit towards the total ignorance approach is that, for the unmitigated, he gives, more or less, a straight forward explanation of how sound, EQ, stage monitors, and front of house sound contribute to the live music experience without a lot of math and science to boggle the mind. At its best, this document serves as a handy guide on how a musician can understand how sound checks and performances work from the point of view of a typical sound technician and how to avoid performance problems while getting a handle on the language used by sound technicians. At its worst, Winn is a seasoned professional and his conversational attitude sometimes insults the intelligence of the reader. He also often gets ahead of himself by going off on what could be useful tangents, if only his “more on that later” excursions were more thoroughly explained. That said, even at the obnoxiously hefty price of $17, I think everyone should own this or at least read it. For those in the know about live sound, this e-book does fill in the blanks some of us sound guys often overlook because it’s become second nature, and, for musicians, it gives them a language and terminology they can use to get better stage sound through proper placement of equipment as well as the right tweaks at the soundboard.