Jun 30, 2020
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Pro Talk: Lessons Learned From Backstreet Boys Live Sound

 

James McCullagh has been touring with the Backstreet Boys as a FOH engineer for seven years straight. In this Sennheiser Pro Talk about the optimal live sound you’ll learn what the music business looks like behind the scenes from the perspective of a technician. Imagine getting a call from the Backstreet Boys management asking if you want to join the tour in China tomorrow.

Part 1: The Energy of Screaming Backstreet Boys Fans

The sound optimized for the audience is called Front of House Mix or simply FOH. James McCullagh is responsible for the Backstreet Boys live sound. “I’m nobody. Just the guy mixing you,” says the FOH engineer. In Part 1 of this Pro Talk, he talks about the 1999 back flash, the energy of screaming fans and how he found his way into the music business touring with 15 trucks loaded with gear for one show.

Part 2: Learning To Read People

Although they use backtracks, the Backstreet Boys sound live as if they had a band with them. After all, the audience doesn’t come to live concerts to listen to a CD, says James in Part 2, and with 118 channels he clearly focuses on the details of the vocals. And with five dancing singers that obviously can be a challenge. 

Part 3: Live Sound & Crew Love

“Gear will come and go but support is something that you always need.” Why did the FOH engineer never had problems with technical equipment? Pro Talk Part 3 is about rooms, limiters, decibels, the best monitors, snapshots and crew love in a tough industry. The Backstreet Boys live sound engineer advises: “Belief in yourself. Keep trying. There is no fixed way. Keep knocking on doors. Eventually, it’s gonna open.”

Learning From Professionals: Sennheiser Pro Talk

In the music industry, there is no classic right and wrong. That’s why we at gigmit BLOG share the experience and expert knowledge of people who work in the industry just like our friends from Sennheiser do with their award-winning Pro Talk Series. Designed to serve as a valuable resource for aspiring engineers, producers and audio enthusiasts, the series focuses on the journeys of the world’s leading audio professionals and their expert advice for a path to success. In 2018 the Pro Talk Series won a TEC Award for Outstanding Technical Achievement in the Audio Education Technology category.

Check it out, get inspired and learn from professionals how to develop a perfect live sound.


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