February 13, 2018

A well-appointed emergency kit can save you major headaches on gig night. In Part 1 of this series we looked at some really important tools to have on hand. Let's look at the rest of the well-appointed Sound Tech's Emergency Kit:

Sharpie (black permanent marker)

You're going to need to write something in dark black ink that people can read in bad light: the channel assignments on your mixer (run some white gaffer’s tape along the space at the top of the faders), a set list, a label on the correct rack inputs so the road crew doesn't get confused, and all sorts of other things you won't think of until you're on the job. Come prepared with a new Sharpie of your own. If nothing else, you can be a hero to the bandleader that forgot to bring theirs. Just like gaffer’s tape, these love to run away on you so just buy a box of them to keep on hand (and don't tell anyone you have them).

Digital Multi-Meter

Like the soldering iron you hope you'll never need this. And while any major repairs or troubleshooting are probably impractical on the gig, this valuable little tool can really help you root out the source of trouble quickly. Use it on the resistance setting to check the impedance of a speaker cabinet, check for continuity to find out if a cable is shorted or has a broken lead, connect to a guitar output to see if it is good or not (with all the volumes turned up the meter should read the resistance of the pickup that is currently selected), and use it for as many other applications as you encounter. At the very least it is a big time-saver and can save the frustration of having the PA down and not knowing which part is the cause of the problem.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Get some really good ones because this is a very important tool. You probably won't mix in the cans, but they're great for figuring out which channel “sounds screwy” and to hear each track in isolation so you'll better understand why it behaves the way it does in the mix. Plus, if the gig is really boring you can just use them to block out the sound and take a nap until break time (just kidding)!

LED Clock with Large Display

You need this because you always need to know the time and you can see this clock from any distance and under any lighting conditions. No more trying to push those little watch buttons in the dark or fishing out your phone constantly just to check the time!

Talkback Mic at the Mixer

You always end up needing an extra mic someplace and it is very easy to get stuck without a mic at the mixer. You will need this so you can talkback to the band onstage. Shouting across a large club or auditorium is a very bad way to communicate, looks unprofessional, and is hard on your golden voice. Save yourself the frustration and invest in a personal talkback mic that you always bring along to the show. If one is provided you may not need it. But eventually you will reach for it and be glad you thought to have one on hand.

You can't be prepared for every eventuality. Sometimes unavoidable problems will come up that you hadn't anticipated. But if you come equipped with a well-appointed Sound Tech's Emergency Kit, you'll find more often than not you have just what you need to save the day and get the show back on the road. What's in your emergency kit? How has your emergency kit saved you in the past?



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