Let's look at setting up our kit - we're not going to do this often, but when we do, it needs to be right!
Mics don't 'hear' equally in all directions, they have what's called a pick-up pattern. Generally speaking, the front of the mic is more sensitive and the back and sides are less sensitive. One of these patterns is called 'Cardioid'.
So, this means that we want to point the mic directly at the instrument or vocalist and pointing away from any other sound sources (like speakers and drums). We should also aim to keep the mic close to the source - the close it is the better it hears.
To get the best signal, instruments which plug in (electro-acoustic guitars) should be turned up to full volume. They'll need to plug into the system using a jack cable and DI box. The DI box also has some settings - a 'pad' which makes the instrument quieter, and should normally be off; and a 'lift' which separates the signal from the 'Ground'* (if you're getting an annoying buzz from the instrument, try 'lifting' this switch).
*Like electricals, mic cables have a +, - and ground wire, but sometimes electrical noise enters the system from the ground wire causing a buzz.
FoH: These speakers should be positioned above head height and pointing to the rear and centre of a group of people.
Foldback: These speakers should be pointing directly at the musicians, spaced about one meter away from their feet.
As before, this is the minimum you need to know to make things work, for more info, visit Behind the Mixer.
Next week we'll look at the mixer, routing and processing.