A soundcheck is the preparation that takes place before a concert, speech, or similar performance, when the performer and the sound crew run through a small portion of the upcoming show on the venue's sound system to make sure that the sound in the venue's "Front Of House" (FOH) and stage monitor sound systems is clear and at the right volume and tonal frequencies. Soundchecks are especially important for popular and other musical genres that use heavily-amplified PA systems; having correct sound is crucial to the success of such events. A soundcheck remains a difficult science, because the acoustics of a venue often change somewhat once it is filled with an audience.
Soundchecks are often conducted prior to audience entry to the venue. The sound check usually starts with the rhythm section, and then go on to the melody section and vocalists.
After technical adjustments have been completed by the sound crew, the performers leave the stage and the audience is admitted. In other instances, soundchecks take place in front of the audience, and can be followed immediately by the performance itself.
Some acts will do multi-track audio recordings of one or more soundchecks. Those recordings will be used as the sound sources for future soundchecks, to reduce or possibly eliminate the need for the performers to be present. Such 'virtual soundchecks' are also sometimes used to tune the PA system to accommodate the acoustics of a new venue.
If there is more than one artist performing, soundchecks can be more complicated.
Artists sometimes perform light-hearted or off-beat numbers during soundchecks; some such as Paul McCartney later include a few of these on their live albums. Artists who change their set list during the course of a concert tour often use soundchecks as a rehearsal opportunity to try out new material or revive old material, to see if they want to introduce such material into the concert proper. Devoted fans sometimes try to sneak into or otherwise gain knowledge of soundchecks, to gain a foreshadowing of show surprises to come.
- Vasey, John (1999). Concert sound and lighting systems. Massachusetts: Butterworth-Heinemann. p. 93. ISBN 0-240-80364-7.
- Shih, Patricia (2003). Gigging: A practical guide for musicians. New York: Allworth Press. p. 118. ISBN 1-58115-275-2.
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