Yesterday as I was putting the Fort Worth Opera festival back into the warehouses, I spent a moment looking backward and realized that I’ve probably tuned 100+ sound systems at this point using either SpectraFoo Complete or Smaart 7 or 8. I can’t speak for others but what is clear to me is that without a measurement rig, you’re severely handicapped. Some people draw the line between system tech and sound engineer. For me, those are two sides of the same coin. Who better to know when the system is ready that the person who will be using it or IS using it right now? Dave Lawler has explained that on past performances he has tweaked the system during the opening act and then continued to fine tune things during the actual headliner performance. What this means is that there is no line. There is no point at which it’s time to stop paying attention to the performance and “tune” out. If the person mixing is also the system engineer, there will be a natural curve from beginning to end where things get better and better. I will admit that the first 10+ times I attempted to tune an actual system, I was somewhat clueless as to how to tackle it. I’ve made lots of really silly mistakes along the way but each tuning has been a refinement of understanding the basic concepts necessary (thank you 606!), and the building of a solid foundation where theory becomes ingrained knowledge. Where text book examples are discovered in the wild.
There is a certain amount of hours I think need to be spent in the shop / living room / garage / etc… before you head out with your rig to measure and tune someone’s system. It’s like taking someones car for a drive. You need to know your way around before you should turn the key. In my case I’ve had the opportunity to watch well trained engineers do their work and be able to ask “ignorant” questions along the way without fear of ridicule.