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In this episode of Sound Design Live, I talk with flute tech, sound engineer, and all around badass, Loreen Bohannon. We discuss breaking into pro audio, working with Michael Bolton and Lizzo, and what you should be doing differently in your monitor mixes for men vs women.
- What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people making who are new to monitor mixing?
- Using all of your Tools: The science and application of male/female hearing in IEM
- What was your biggest surprise in the research?
- What ah-ha moment was immediately applicable to your work?
- Scott Vogel What are the key points male mixers should know when mixing for the female ear and vice versa?
- Elliott Clarke Pavan mentioned a modified wireless mic system that Loreen put together for Lizzo’s Flute, I’d like to know more about that! And any other “artist bespoke” solutions she’s come up with over the years?
You should have an idea of how the other sex hears.Loreen Bohannon
- All music in this episode by Alejandro Magaña Martinez.
- Loreen on Instagram and TikTok.
- Books: The 48 Laws of Power, Sound Reinforcement Handbook, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
- Hardware: Sennheiser SK6212, MKE104
- Workbag: qBox, multi-meter, Cab Driver, RAT sender sniffer, clear medical tape, tincture of benzoin, skin tack, generic ears (Ear Sonics, Sennheiser 400/500), me
- Age 39: men’s hearing really takes a dive above 4k.
- Age 70: threshold of hearing higher by 6dB, above 12kHz is toast.
- Frequently I need to boost the high-end for men.
- Men can take 40% more background noise before they are distracted than women.
- Men are better at localization. Panning seems more important to them.
- Our threshold of hearing is 6-8dB lower than a man’s.
- We don’t perceive 1-2kHz as well as men.
- Estrogen is one of the main auditory processor in the body. That’s one of the main reason men and women retain and loose their hearing differently.
- Women process audio faster. It gives us more information initially. We also anticipate the arrival of sound faster.
- Avoid Ultimate Ears and JH or put a small shelf on the high end. Avoid Shure.
- I spent a lot of money that I didn’t have flying places that I probably shouldn’t have to get connections in the business.
- It has astounded me that we as people who put speakers in people’s ears don’t understand how humans hear.
- I’m 7 years into this business and I still haven’t worked with another woman.
- Failure is part of success.
- I’m an amazing monitor engineer, but if you put me in front of a FOH console, I’m magic.
- Michael Bolton has been doing this for twice as long as I’ve been alive.
- One of the biggest problems I see with new in-ear engineers is that they think they know what the artist wants to hear.
- After the age of 39 men’s hearing really takes a dive above 4k.
- You can’t take it personal. I’ve messed up bigger gigs than this.
- You should have an idea of how the other sex hears.
- If it hurts your ears it’s definitely hurting theirs.
- In nature we never encounter sound above 80dB, except for natural disasters.
- The research of women’s hearing only 20 years old.
- Every microphone on the market is designed for a man’s voice.
- Every single person on that stage has messed up worse than you and if they haven’t they’re newbies too.
- Everybody just likes to pretend that we are some enfeeble creature that lords over the sound. We try to establish these unreal personas. I want to be real. We all mess up. You take a lesson from it. You don’t take it personally.
- I just want men to hold each other accountable.
This transcript was automatically generated. Please let me know if you discover any errors.
I’m Nathan Lively and today I’m joined by the monitor engineer for Lizzo Michael Bolton, among others, as well as front of house and tour manager for The Plain White T’s and FOH for Rusted Root, among others. Loreen Bohannon.
Thanks for having me, Nathan.
So, Loreen, I definitely want to talk to you about all of this cool research you’ve done into how men and women hear differently and the like. But before I do that, I’d love to know a little bit about what music you like. So after you get a sound system set up, what is maybe one of the first tracks, you might like to play through it to just get familiar with it.
Shake Me Like a Monkey from Dave Matthews Band. One of my favorite songs to play through, to start off with, it’s really random, I’m not a Dave Matthews Band fan, but I love that song. I love the horns. I love a mix of that song. It really gives you an entire spectrum of sound like as soon as you put it through the P.A., which I really appreciate, it’s one of my favorite.
I’m a big stereotypical kind of person. So I love Sade Smooth Operators, one of my favorites somewhere.
No need to, he’s a smooth operator. And then also Sting Mercury Falling is my other one of my favorite songs.
It’s actually my favorite song to hear through Mercury. So I rise from my. And then for like base and padding, I like to use Trombone Shorty. Hurricane season.
So those are kind of some of the ones I run through, I have more like I’m a gypsy woman from Jonathan Tyler, there’s a couple that I like to use. I go I go through moods like I have moods of tuning music.
It depends on where I am. Sure. All right, Larry, take us back to the beginning. How did you get your first job in audio?
Like what was your first paying gig paying gig? Well, I was 16, 17, and I had a production company. My the lady who’s my adoptive mom now was my theater teacher in high school. And in my junior year, she brought in a production company. And I saw these guys and I was like, I want to work with y’all.
And they’re like, OK, yeah. They’re like, OK, you can help us. But like, only if you know how to rap a cable, we’re not going to teach you. And I was like, game on. And so, like, I learned how to do it and I had to help them when they come to our high school and they’re like, well, you should call you should call Richie the owner like and see if he’ll put you on some gigs and load out some stuff because Rock Street Music and Pittston, Pennsylvania, is where I kind of like originated.
I spent the first 10 years, my career with these guys.
And so I literally would just call Richie every week in the store and just be like, hey, you got any gigs to be? Like, No, like, OK, I’ll call back again. The next would be like, Hey, you got any gigs? And then I started like going to the store. Like I would go down to the music store and be like, just walk in. And it was like it was like an hour drive, 40 minutes hour depending on traffic.
And I would literally just go down to that store.
And I didn’t I should preface this with I lived by myself. I was on my own at 16. So, like, I kind of could do this. And so I would just sit it is in a store and look at him and talk to him and be like, you’re going to hire me.
And then eventually, like, I called one day and he was like, oh, my God, Jesus, here’s a load out, go.
And it was like of blackmail this person, but it all worked out, but it was like seventy five bucks. My first paid gig. I mean, I’ve done honestly through my career very little unpaid work. Even if it was a small amount, I’m always usually getting paid. And if I was doing free work, it was definitely for an advancement in my career or something like that. So for me it was just perseverance and harassing people until they were like, God.
OK, well, you have told me that you are an introvert and kind of shy and kind of don’t want to have like this online. You don’t love social media. So so you must have been really motivated at that time to, like, pick up the phone, go to talk to people. Well, you didn’t have a choice.
Like, I came up in a different time. Like, I’m feel like I’m the last portion of the millennials that grew up without, like, the Internet as a child. Like, I didn’t have Facebook till I was in college. So I really didn’t have any of the social media as part of my core person growing up. And I am I’m pretty adverse to it. Like, I don’t like, you know, we talked about it. I don’t like having my personal things online.
I don’t like people knowing personal things about me. I’m a very private person. I do like it that way. But definitely at that time you had the network.
Like, there’s no there’s no question like, oh, the the reason I everything I am and everywhere I am is because I went out and networked.
I would go to conferences like I ended up on Warped Tour because I went to a conference in New York that was the live touring summit or something. And it wasn’t touring people at all. It was all management people. But because I was well spoken and things like that, I was introduced and made lifelong friends there. And that’s how I met Kevin Lyman through a friend, because I lost my voice. There was a woman that I met there who is my friend as she was translating for me the whole weekend.
Oh my God. She was personal friends with Kevin Lyman, who was doing the keynote speech there, and she introduced me. And that’s how I got worked hard because she introduced me to Kevin Lyman. And through Kevin Lyman, I was introduced to Rat Sound and he just gave me a chance. And networking has been the most important part of my career. Like hands down. OK, so.
So that was your first gig and a bunch of stuff has happened to you since then. But, you know, I love to kind of ask people about maybe some point in their career where a pivot was made. And I find that with a lot of people, including myself, there was a big point in your life when you decided to make a change, when you said, OK, I’m going to stop doing this thing and do this other thing, even if it’s just like switching from during front of house to monitors or for a lot of people, it’s like I’m going to move cities or I’m going to stop being a landlord and only be a sound engineer.
So the question is, looking back on your career so far, what’s one of the best decisions you made to get more of the work that you really love?
Well, I actually have a really distinct time period in mind, but I guess I’ll preface that with I’ve been doing this forever and I was in the business in twenty eight when the housing market. And so I then was consecutively a part of the next few years when literally our industry died a very slow death and it was just coming back when Korona like coronavirus, it was really just back full swing from that. But I actually had gone from working like four gigs a week or five gigs a week to like maybe one at that point.
So I actually had to get out of doing sound.
I had never really I think at that time you’d sound just like a career option. Like I knew that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life, but maybe not in the capacity that I thought that I was going to happen. So I actually stepped away from doing this because I really didn’t have a choice at the time. And I was doing radio and waitressing. I was an on air personality for two years on a radio station called One of five The River in Pennsylvania.
And I’m an introvert. Yeah, right. Because well, that’s well, no one no one can see me. It was it was awful. And then I got to tell you, they just threw me on the radio. The first day in the studio, I thought they found me on the side of a stage mixing monitors for a doo wop gig like I swear to God, that’s how I got introduced to these guys. So I thought that when they were hiring me, they were hiring me as a producer, not an online on air personality.
And I got in the studio the first day and the lady that’s on the air, Jessica, she gets up and leaves. She’s like, oh, hey, here. She did like one stop said. And she gets up it goes. And they’re like, you’re going out on the radio.
And I was like, oh, that’s the most hilarious mix up I’ve ever heard.
I only got the talent. I no know you’re the talent. That’s fine. Now you’re the one. And I was awful like the whole time. You can kind of see it when I speak now where I have arms and things like that. Still, imagine me not speaking in front of people and having stage fright and then being thrown on the radio knowing there’s thousands of people listening to me. Oh, the whole first month. God bless those people that listen to me, because I definitely called the station the wrong numbers a couple of times.
Definitely my stops as well.
Like someone has a recording of it somewhere, too.
And I’m just like, oh, God, can you just get rid of it? But I was doing that.
And the owner of the company is an incredible human events. Benedetta, who just got married this last week. But previously we had met we had been friends the entire time. You know, he owned the radio stations. I was in a remote location and we became friends and we became pretty close. We kind of started dating. And one of the things like he very much was someone who never wanted to cross the lines, which I always appreciate and understood and respected from him.
And the radio isn’t what I wanted to be doing anyway. So he said to me, he goes, This isn’t what you want to be doing. Stop take the time and to really figure out what it is you want to do. And he gave me the space to like I had a really rough life. I’ve had a very bad life. And everywhere I am now is purely on the merit of my own fight. And I have no parents or anything like that.
So he’s the first person who gave me the space and the support to truly take a look at myself and see what my dreams were. And it was this. It was touring. It was traveling the world. And that was the pivot point after I took that year and really focused on what I love doing and really like I started. That’s the year I went to the conference. That’s when I got to Warsaw. That’s when I really like I spent a lot of money that I didn’t have flying places that I probably shouldn’t have to try to get connections in the business.
And he’s the person that truly helped me do that and realize that if I’m not doing the thing that I love, then there’s no real reason to like live life because you spend so much time doing the thing that you love. You spend more time at your job. You spend more time doing your job almost than anything else, you know. And my first tour was with Rusted Root. And unfortunately, you know, our relationship couldn’t last through my transition into my life because I changed so much in the time, you know, from starting touring to like the few years after.
Like, I moved to California three years ago, less than three years ago after I came back from my second Warped Tour. So that’s how fast our relationship changed. And that’s not to say that touring isn’t an amazing space because I love what I do. And like he is the most supportive human in the world. As I said, he just got married like he’s a wonderful human and I owe him pretty much that idea. And that whole turnaround of my life came from him and like allowing me to have the space to, like, understand that I love doing this, that I am good at it, that I have, that it is like career.
There are people out there making six figures doing this. And it’s not just like, oh, a gig like this is a career.
This is a job. You can become established, you can become you know, I’m an engineer like this isn’t woo woo. This is like this is like I’m literally manipulating sound. I can build speakers, I can repair circuit boards. Like this is I’m a real engineer.
And that’s also. Been part of my realization the last few years, and the way that I’m speaking out is I think in this industry and why I started my research in the first place, we’re engineers. It is astounded me that we, as people who put speakers in people’s literal ears, don’t understand how humans hear. So that’s kind of like let me, you know, in full circle in that conversation to my research. So it became a point of passion.
One of the things I remember earliest in my career is, you know, I’m seven years into this business and I still haven’t worked with another woman at all. Not once, haven’t even seen one. Not hide nor hair. I’ve heard of them. Yeah, I know. Right.
And then I do the wolf’s den in Connecticut with Cassandra, who we still keep, you know, every now and then we still keep in touch. She’s actually one of the people who inspired this.
My research, because one of the very first conversations we had was like, hey, have you ever realized that, like, dude mixes are like Celmo boom compared to like what I usually do?
Like, have you ever why do they have all that in there? Like what is that? And I was like, hmm, maybe it’s like a difference or something.
So I can tell that you’re about to start getting into the research and like where it came from. And I don’t want to stop you, but I do just want to say a couple of things about about the story you just told. It’s amazing what happened to you all the all the turns that your life took and that from this little piece that you just told, it sounded like you had a friend hold up a mirror to you and then you just saw it and you’re like, OK, I know what I know what I need to do.
And maybe you didn’t know the exact actions, but you were like, OK, I know I need to make a change.
And then you proceeded to take a bunch of risks and it paid off.
I think that’s the I think that’s a truth. And any career like if you’re not taking a risk, like you’re not going to get the reward. And I think that’s that’s a really big business lesson. And like, there’s failures along the way. Like, that’s not to say that things that I did do didn’t result in, like, bad results. Like I have bad moments in my career and stuff like failure is part of success. So, you know, there’s a lot to be said.
Like, you know, I spent before. I mean, I’ve been touring now that I look back like it seems like it’s a lifetime, but I’ve been touring, like, full time professionally for only five years. So it’s kind of like wild to see what I was able to accomplish in that time, you know, from being living in Pennsylvania five years ago, getting my first real big national touring act, being rusted root. So where I am now, you know, in less than five years and even more so than that, you know, I haven’t even been in California for three years yet.
This fall will be three years that I’ve been here realizing that’s the biggest, scariest risk I ever took was, you know, looking at the man that I have been living with me like I got to go. And him going, I know. And then me literally packing up my car and driving across the country with no plan, no apartment, like two weeks later. And it worked out for me. But it’s terrifying.
It’s just so interesting for me that I hope you don’t mind me saying it this way. But for a person who in a way came from nothing like no connections or resources or whatever, you ended up in a business that requires a lot of that. It’s all based on personal referral. If you have certain resources, you can get in places.
If you had money, you could just start you could just buy a bunch of speakers maybe and start a sound company like and here you are, having gone as far as you did.
So I can tell that you were very motivated. And at the same time, it seems like once you started putting the pieces together that like, oh, to make this work, I need to know this person like you just made it happen. And so I’m sure it was you know, it’s frustrating to discover that pro audio and life is not a meritocracy, but once you get over that, you can start taking action and just sort of like use the tools for your own resources.
You were just thinking you were telling me that what you would really like to do is be getting more of this information, especially into the hands of women and sort of like teaching them like this is how the game is played. And so, yes, it sucks. And like now let’s take over something like that was pretty.
You say that in a better way.
I’m not saying much yet. As women and even some men, like depending on how you’re raised, we don’t learn. And I really feel like I’ve had some conversations with other people, um, and young people. One of the lost our son. Our generation is like negotiation and understanding business and how things function. One of the most important books I read to help me understand the rules of the game was the 48 Laws of Power. You’ve probably heard of that book, but it really helped me understand, like put words to the things that I was witnessing, like the plays and power that I was witnessing that I was always very aware of.
I’m a writer. I’m a reader. I’m a. Voracious studier of history. So, like, you know, one of my favorite time periods is like the Tudor period in England, which is all about court intrigue and things like that, and, you know, layers of stuff.
And that’s very much honestly how business is played. Its kupets, it’s layers of intrigue and knowing how to, like, play the game and slip in the right way and like, ask for things, you know, and I, I want to, like, help women and do that because so many people, transgender people of color, women, look at me and go, how did you make it? And like a lot of people don’t actually know my story, that I actually come from literally nothing like I was.
I had no parents. I was emancipated when I was 16. My mom passed away from cancer. My dad was never in the picture, but he passed away from heroin six years later. Like, I literally come from nothing. So like, I want people to know that they can do it. Like, I didn’t go to college, I didn’t have those things, and I still was able to make a career for myself. So that’s definitely where I’m angling my focus now that I’m becoming more of an online presence and people I’m starting to actually respond to everyone being like, how did you do this?
What are you doing? Because before I I want to talk to anyone.
But now I have to say, OK, well, choice maybe on the Internet.
I feel like it’s an important to take a quick moment here, just to point out that you can hire Lorien as a career coach from her website. And I don’t know how long that’s going to be available. And so I urge people to to go and do that, like she learned all this stuff the hard way. And I don’t want to say what the price is, but I looked at the prices really clear in her website. And I tell you that it is significantly cheaper than, for example, hiring me to consult for an hour.
And very few people do that anyway. But I’m just I just want to point out that, like, the price is really good. Lorien has a lot of experience. And so you could be like doing some shortcuts on your career.
OK, promotional ad over. Thank you.
I just think that’s amazing opportunity. OK, let’s get into talking about some technical stuff.
So we were we sort of started already talking about some of this research you’ve done into hearing before we do that, I would love to just talk maybe some general tips about mixing monitors.
And I know you’ve done a lot of different jobs, but you’ve also done a lot of mixing monitors in your monitors. And so I would love to just know from what you’ve seen out there and the mistakes that you’ve made, what do you think are some of the biggest mistakes you see people making who are new to mixing monitors? And I guess would you say that your specialty is kind of in your monitors if that’s like we can focus on that, if that would make the question easier?
I’m not sure I consider myself a sound engineer. So if it is sound, I can make it produce sound like I, I happen like I’m like I’m feel like I’m going to toot my own horn. I’m an amazing monitor engineer, but if you put me in front of a front of House counsel, I’m magic. So, like, you know, I think that’s what makes me that’s what makes me a great monitor engineer is because like my mixes.
I’m trying to make them sound as good as the record does, like I’m trying to make them sound great or not even that one of the biggest mistakes I feel like a lot of engineers make when they first start mixing monitors is assuming they know what the artist wants to hear. And that is why I am so successful, because I really pay attention to my artists. I really try to understand what they’re hearing, why they want to hear it, what they’re hearing.
Like, one of the first questions I like to ask someone that I’m working with when I’m doing like inners for them is like when you’re listening to music. What what what’s the main thing that you’re listening to? Are you listening to the drums or you’re listening to the guitar? You listen to the vocals, and that’s going to tell me what type of frequencies and what type of things they like to hear in their mics.
You know, if they’re a dancer, a lot of times I get people who dance. I’ll be like, you know, they like to hear more drums and bass. You can’t dance to a guitar and a vocal. You’re dancing to the bass in the drums.
So, like for me, not assuming that I know what my people want to hear has been probably my biggest tool and being really communicative with them in what I’m trying to accomplish. Like with Michael Bolton, that was a very big, big thing. He has been doing this for literally about twice as long as I’ve been.
A lot like they’ve got some stage time. Yeah, he’s he’s been around. And I remember one of the first things he said to me was when I ask for something in my samples, in my tracks, like, I know what I’m asking for and that’s what I would like and I know what I’m saying. And I just looked at him and I was like, I’m sorry. Did somebody tell you that you didn’t know what you were hearing? Because that is not my job.
Like, literally, these have been your tracks for longer than I’ve been alive. You know how they go and that. And I think that established like I respected him as an artist and then he respected me as an engineer in my job because I was able to anticipate his needs. Once he explained to me what he was looking for in each song, like at one point Michael said to me goes, I don’t even know if you’re mixing me during the set, which I constantly was mixing him.
He was a very active mixer. Me like he it was the first time I’ve had to do like a real star mix, like lock eye contact with him, the whole set, like we didn’t have another monitor engineer, but kind of what they told me was the band knows you, don’t you look at Michael only if it’s a crisis do they ask for anything from you during the show.
And I had never dealt with that level of and like focus and intense thing with Michael. So that is why does Michael’s mic sound so bad?
He he’s a 70 year old man. And I don’t want to say it sounds bad because. I know. I know.
I’m just taking a leading question to get you into your research. This is one of my most favorite takeaways from your presentation. A live sound summit using all the tools of science and application of male female hearing.
And AM is as how surprised you were at what Michael Bolton’s mic sounded like, what he liked, and how you could barely stand to listen to it.
So. So, yeah, talk about that. Yeah. It was like I’ll have to someday I’m going to pull up a file I like, put it on my own and show people it is all like his vocal four K up like a six dB shelf like on they’re pegging for K and is mix like. And at the time when I first started with Michael I hadn’t compiled, I had been researching but I hadn’t like put all of my research in one place and I had compiled all of my charts and things like that.
When I did I was like, oh my God, it makes so much sense now because he’s he’s almost 70. He’s been in the music business his whole life.
So there’s also hearing loss there, like after the age of thirty nine men hearing really, really above Fourcade takes a dive. Like once you hit thirty nine, probably some of y’all are probably lucky and get to forty your high end, particularly at four K plus dives like is gone by the time a man is seventy. Like I wish I could like hold up a chart here you can like it’s your threshold of hearing is higher by like six dB you like your high end like basically above twelve K toast probably probably at the age of 70 above eight K like not a whole lot present there.
So all of a sudden it made so much sense when I looked at my research.
Why his and for me it was brutal, it was brutal every night.
And also one of the fun facts a lot of people don’t know is Michael Bolton wears one ear, one stereo in year one.
And I I love you ultimate years, but I hate you for making this product. It is literally a stereo set of drivers in one ear. Why does he do that?
Because he’s. School and I like somebody, one of the engineers told them that this was a good idea, so we got used to having one ear open. Oh, no. Oh, good. It was so it was so rough.
So, like, on top of doing that with one ear, I would have to go out to his wedge. And I did this thing where I would I delayed the wedge like three milliseconds or something, and I would put a tracing of his vocal background, vocal and piano in there because it would pair with his ear up here. So it would almost sound like you had a stereo set of headphones in with one ear because I would have the wedge so it would pair.
He never he never realized I was doing it, but like, it really helped him. Sure. And the guys on stage honestly notice, too. So that was nice. But he didn’t like wedgies on stage, but he just can’t hear the high end, like, you just can’t hear it. And that’s true of most men. Like honestly, most men that I mix for.
I frequently find that as a female it’s fine for me, but I need to boost the high end for them and the volume level female hearing, like our threshold of hearing is six to eight dB lower than a man’s. So what is loud enough for a dude is screaming for me.
And that’s one of the things I want people to consider is that that’s also vice versa. Like, so what is just loud enough for you as a man is going to be screaming for a woman? So I feel like that’s just been some of the most important things I’ve taken away from my research, that especially men mixing women and women mixing men. You should have an idea of how the other sex here is so that you can properly address what they’re hearing.
You know, it’s definitely made me effective. Like I feel like I’m a problem solver, monitor engineer now. Like, you know, I get called for Anita Baker and a lot of difficult acts. And I think it’s just because I know how people hear. And one of the things that I take very personally is like, I want to know how I hear. So like I get hearing tests. I’d like to know where my holes are.
Yeah, but I mean, what’s your hearing tests look like? Well, normal actually for women. We have a whole a natural whole. That’s like a a lower. We don’t perceive one or two as well as men. It’s like the flip in our hearing or something. We have a will naturally have a hole there for me. I also have a little bit of a hole at like five hundred, like a little bit of dip and frequency in five hundred.
But I think that in it’s mostly in my left ear, I think that’s more of hearing damage from something probably warped more than anything.
What’s on your chart. Warped Tour. Warped Tour. Well that’s that’s a whole other story of the for my first year out on Warped Tour, we had a we had a beat up system out there, the kora. Do you remember those? No. Yeah, they were this then they’re about three, four, three inches wide. The largest speaker in the P.A. was eight inches.
I had and I had ninety six, eight inch speakers and a flat on my stage. That thing could breeze past one dB without even like thinking because it was meant to be. It throws just naturally as far as a football field without doing anything. And so that’s what they put on a stage for warper, the screamo stage.
I’m sorry, Nathan.
I had hearing I had earplugs in I had 30 twenty dB filters like thirty to dB of of reduction. And it wasn’t enough because they were, we were, they were trying to blow those things up honestly. I mean even if you have that right. So even if I have that much hearing protection and I’m still being bombarded by one hundred plus dB for eight hours a day in front of me, so like I damaged my hearing on WAAPA, like that first year, warped her like hands down.
Something happened. I didn’t come back from it the same. I came back with some tinnitus. And the next year I totally was the front house engineer. I had my filters and gun muffs, like totally was that person that Kepa was. Great if you’re on a football field, but for a metal stage, not the BYB, and then they were they tried to tell me like it got rained on and then all the combe filtering on the right side went away.
We lost the box. So because it was a ray process, all the filtering went away because we had a box out and they wouldn’t listen to me, they would be like, well, it’s on in the computer. I’d be like, dude, you hear can you hear the space in the P.A.? And then one day I was so pissed that I took the sides of the P.A. and I swapped them. And then every single engineer and every single person because they had gotten so used to it being on the right side, every single person came up with what’s wrong with the P.A., what’s going on?
And I was just like.
So so you coming back and having a hearing, hearing loss from work to really kind of changed how I thought about audio and perceiving sound and how we treat our audiences and things like that. Like if my hearing is damaged and I had thirty six to thirty to dB of reduction, like, what about the people that were standing in our audience being hammered by one hundred and twenty dB like. Sure.
That some sort of like audio production golden rule. I don’t know. Yeah. Like if it hurts your ears it’s definitely hurting theirs. Like back it down bro. Like, like it doesn’t need to be that loud. Does it sound good. Yes. Then you don’t need to have it be a gargantuan movement of air every time someone hits the kick drum like you don’t want to like knock down the field. And I get it, people like that EDM in particular.
But like when you’re dealing with live humans, one of the things I am most passionate about is the fact that we as humans and our natural state, we don’t ever encounter amplified sound except for large earth movements. Thunder or, you know, natural natural disasters are pretty much the only time in a human’s natural span that we hear sounds above 70 or 80 dB. So now we’re in environments where we are perpetually, you know, exposing people to a hundred plus dB is regularly.
What is that doing to our hearing? One human ears are not meant to hear at that level. I think that’s why we have a prevalence of hearing loss. We see it.
Sure, it’s not just us plus whatever consumers are doing with their headphones like. Yeah, exactly. And I like, you know, one of the things products that came out that I wanted to come out that I still haven’t seen was dB check from a sense of phonics, which was in your SBL meter, like you would put the inner ear on it and it would measure and it never came to market. I don’t know what happened to it, but I was really looking forward to that product.
OK, well, if anyone knows since then, we’ll put we’ll add it to the notes to this. But yes, let me ask you a couple more questions. So you started getting interested in this research. You started looking into it. I’m curious. Since then, like, what has been one of your one or two of your biggest surprises?
So you learn this stuff about how hearing is different and how your hearing works. Was there anything that was really, like shock to you?
Yeah, I read a really interesting study someone had compiled hearing research regarding children and learning and. One of the most interesting things that I happen to come across is the fact that, like men and women’s attention like is I don’t want to say attention, volume limit before distraction.
Right. Is much different. So like as it goes with the hearing threshold, but like, men can take 40 percent more background noise before they’re distracted than a woman is interesting.
OK, so like, you know, and that also really goes for inners as well in a way. But in real life, what that means is like classrooms today. It’s one of the things I’m also interested in. Classrooms today are very much suited for female learning, quiet, concise, straightforward in front of you back in the day when classrooms are a little more boisterous, a little more noisy and kids can move around, that was more of a male oriented learning.
That was more like men. Boys thrive in those types of classrooms where women and females do not they cannot actually function in a because the background noise is so much for them that they’re distracted. Like for me, I always like it to compare it. Like if you have a girlfriend or whatever and she can be there and you’d be like, what was that sound? And you’ll be like, well, that sound is because she’s like, she can hear you just hear those frequencies more like there’s we’re more sensitive to sound in a way.
So it was really that was kind of shocking for me to understand that how much background noise makes a difference in in retention. And also through my research, I started in the last four years, I think like twenty sixteen. They published the study formally, but they published a study on estrogen and its effect on hearing. And it turns out that estrogen is one of the main auditory processors in the body, really.
And that is one of the main reasons why women retain and lose their hearing much differently than men. That was also a wild discovery and then wandering down that deep scientific path of like how it actually affects our auditory processing, like it actually helps us to initiate the short term memory making process estrogen that’s connected with sound. So that’s also intensely interesting. And that’s still a very new area of study. Like, you know, that, as I said, that journal was only published in twenty sixteen and it hasn’t really caught on yet as popular research.
Like there’s still limited research on it.
There’s so and there’s so many other forms of research that are still lacking. One of the most amazing and shocking things that I found out through my research is that the actual research of female hearing is maybe like 20 years old, like men’s research and hearing goes back 60 plus years. But they really only started researching and understanding that we had different hearing less than 20 years ago, which is why I think I am so passionate about my my research now, because I think that, like every microphone that’s on the market, especially the older ones, are designed for a man’s voice, like the fifty eight.
That’s dude’s voice. Like, I would never use that on a lady I love. Sure. And I could get whatever I wanted out of it. But the right out of the box, the frequency curve on some fifty eight is just not what a female voice needs. And also like opposite of what our ear hears.
Right. So I was thinking, yeah, it’s what, what the voice needs and what a man wants to hear then on the other end. Yeah. Yeah. And a lot of our products are made that way based on a man’s hearing or without taking into consideration how women here as well. And I believe if there is an equilibrium between the two, that we a lot of people would be much more happy with the sounds of things.
You know, if we understood more how we each year like what if you can go into iTunes and, like, turn on a filter, that’s like I’m a lady, I’m a dude. And then it, like curves into what your natural genetic hearing hearing curve is, you know, like that kind of stuff interests me. Like, I think that it would change music for a lot of people and make it more comfortable.
Yeah, just did an interview with the co-founder of Sonar Works Reference for and you might want to talk to them because they’re looking at improving their products. And, you know, it totally makes sense in this conversation that you might have male and female target that you would reference to. Maybe that doesn’t make sense. I’m not an expert on their product, but it just reminded me of that.
Yeah, I mean, there’s a bunch of things I’m sorry. The other part of research that people don’t have a lot of study on hearing is transgendered hearing. One of the places I’m really interested in is understanding how our hearing changes. When you transition, when you start taking hormones, does a male get better hearing as he transitions to becoming a woman? You know, what are the implications then by hormone treatment? You know what I mean? In hearing and estrogen, there’s estrogen and B, how does estrogen A, estrogen is the one you need for hearing estrogen.
B is the one that can make you lose your hearing. Like, how do we you know, how do we deal with all that stuff? How can we improve our lives? Understanding hormone treatment can help hearing loss, you know.
Sure. And going back to the background noise, I remember one of the applications you mentioned is that the way you create a mix for someone might be affected by this knowledge. So you you might need more isolation between instruments that people want in a mix if they’re man versus woman. Can you can you comment on that and some of the mixes you’ve done for different people? Yeah, big one.
A big comparison that I can do is Michael Bolton and Lizzo. Michael Bolton. Love to hear all the background tracks. Like I like to have all the tracks in there. He like to hear the piano the most, but he like to hear all the tracks. And some of the tracks just sounded like noise, like they weren’t specific. That’s just kind of how they were mixed. There was a lot of parts. And you just liked a lot of like.
Volume of sound behind his voice, but Lizzo, now I will say that Lizzo is a classically trained musician like that is not a lie. Like y’all just get to see her tooting around on the flute on stage. But if you catch her backstage, she does some like arias and stuff and you’re like. Yo, like, I didn’t I didn’t know Lizzo, so we were cool through through the first couple of months of touring, but then when we got to the fall tour and they started adding production tracks to the the show, she started to get very upset.
And she did not like the new tracks. She would be like, I only want the album tracks, period. And my ears. I cannot I can’t concentrate with the other tracks in there. And she would literally like if if I were like Ghostman because I felt like something needed to be filled, she’d be like, take him out. She would get distracted by like she would literally like if they came in she would see her on stage be like, yeah.
And she’s still she was still very new of course to this world as well. Like I want, I want people to understand that like the lisel you saw at the end of the year, like where we were.
And this time last year, like I had an SD eleven, I was running front house of monitors from this eleven by myself, like doing all the wireless coordination by myself. I was her first professional sound higher ever. Like she didn’t know how to talk on a talkback mic like that came back came that was months of work with her for me to get her comfortable to like even just turning around to the deejay and telling her so that she could relay the information or something like that took us a long time.
Or when she’s having a problem on stage, she would talk, she would say it right in the mic and we had to have conversations.
And she finally, you know, a moment of victory for me was when she walked off stage, when her pack was having problems, like, thank you. But she, like, she couldn’t take any distraction in there. And she would hear it like if there was a buzz somewhere that happened to start up on the playback to actually be like, I hear something weird. And that was wild and true to his defense.
Like Michael Bolton was also very specific and what he wanted and he could hear and process all of that information. So it’s just a matter of like processing. Women also process audio much faster, like our actual AV are autosomal brain response time is significantly quicker than a man’s. So we actually process audio a little bit faster.
So it gives us more information initially than a man. So we don’t need as much information. So that’s also something that I have also considered as well as men.
Females perceive sound hitting our ear faster than a man does, like the actual arrival of sight. Sound is the same, but because of an evolutionary feature, women were more predated. We actually anticipate the arrival of sound a little bit faster than a man to give us time to decide, fight or flight if we were going to leave or not.
Interesting. OK, yeah. Faster response. Yes, and sound localization. Men are much better that sound localization. So like the actual placement of sounds on a horizontal or vertical plane. So Michael’s the big difference for him was panting like if I pand everything he was cool.
Lizzo she never even noticed if I pand anything like I’m sure she, I’m sure she did, but she never said anything to me and it wasn’t wasn’t important to her. Yeah. Right. And as a female like because she’s a woman I kind of I kind of have more of a closer idea of what she was hearing. So I was able to more curtail her mix to be a cleaner, like a cleaner present vocal, very, very present, but also not overwhelming because she’s very dynamic.
Michael wanted his vocal to be like piercing like. So those are some of the big differences. But also, like, again, he is a 70 year old man and Liz’s, you know, a thirty year old woman. So there are huge differences. Great test case. Yeah.
Well, you’ve mentioned so many things already, so, so many helpful facts, but I want to jump down to this question from Scott, and I don’t know if you’ll have anything new for him or if you just want to summarize a couple of things you said already. But he says, what are the key points male mixer’s should know when mixing for female year and vice versa?
Well, for a male mixing a female ear, I would say understand that her threshold of hearing is six dB lower than yours. So what is an OK level for you will probably be too loud for her. So consider that when setting up your packs and your gain structure. Also understand that background noise is highly distracting for a female. So if you do have a buzz, if you do have a hum or something on stage, she is probably going to perceive it a lot sooner than a male and be distracted by it and that will affect their singing.
Also, be aware that we do not need as much high end. Like if it sounds bright to you, it is definitely way too bright for the female.
And also one of the things I would like people to consider is that in areas that you are using and in ears that you are putting in people’s ears for me, one of and everybody loves them.
But one of my least favorite sounding ears, our ultimate ears and JH, because they have such an abrasive boost in the high end and that that’s for men.
OK, yeah. His interview in ears. Yeah.
If you have a woman who is carrying JH or Ultimate Years, I would say put a small shelf on the high end above five k maybe start with like two dB and I guarantee you she will have a much better time. I mean with most of my artists that have those ears, I literally do a full on like low pass and back it down. So I’m sure they will appreciate if you would shave off some of the high end off the ears before you start sending things.
And actually doing that will probably make your own makes a lot easier in their ears just with basically what you’re doing without having to do make any special changes for them.
Also on the flip side, for like women mixing dudes understand that they need more volume than you.
Yeah, everything’s the same, but in reverse. Yeah. Like you need like if it’s if it’s loud for you, it’s probably like just right for them. If it’s high end for you, good.
That means it’s probably right for them. If it’s a little noisy to you and it’s driving you nuts. But they’re not saying anything, leave it alone. They’re fine with it and they can handle that, that information in the background. And in fact they might need it to properly process what’s going on in their mix.
Cool. Thank you, Scott, for that question. So we can come back to that if there’s anything else that you that you want to share on that research. But I would love to move on and ask you about I ask you to share with us one of the biggest mistakes that you’ve made on the job. Now, we’ve already talked a lot about sort of all these trials that you’ve gone through in your life. And there’s this trauma and we all have these things we’ve gone through in our life.
But I wondered if you would share with us maybe something that happened to you on stage or at work that was especially painful and then maybe how you recovered?
I have to I think I have two stories that stick out in my head. OK, the first one is a major failure on my part. That isn’t necessarily and I think people have heard me talk about the story before, but I guess I’ll go a little more detail here. I was monitor checking back in Pennsylvania for the Montage Pavilion. I think it’s like the Ford Pavilion or something in Scranton now. And our company was doing the PR and the production for a big festival.
It was coming as a huge stage, like it’s a it’s a shed.
And I was the monitor tech and I was doing great, having a great day.
Everything’s going well. And then Andrew McMahon in the wilderness came. And these people I’ve met people from the crew, I love them. But at this time they were not carrying a monitor engineer. They were carrying everybody else, friend, a house, guitar tech. They literally had a chick who stapled glass to the top of the piano for five hours, but they didn’t have a monitor engineer. And they handed me a stick and they said, this is our file.
And I was like, figure that out.
And I was like, and they had like a twenty minute change over on stage maybe. And I mean one, I think the act before them was like a huge act. They were like seventy plus inputs on stage. And so we’re trying to change these guys over and we’re having massive connection and snake issues with their stuff. We don’t I don’t even get like a game check on any of the channels.
They just start the set and I’m in a I’m in a file that I’ve never even seen before. And I what console was it on? It wasn’t a profile. It might have been a disco. I think it was a digital back then. And one of the older. Maybe a seven or something, and I was way less familiar back then anyway. Oh, no, no, it wasn’t. It was a it was a M7. OK, yeah, it was an M seven, I remember.
And he rolls in and Nathan, it was it was just a nightmare. It was the worst. The worst. I mean, my Coachella’s that with Lizzo was terrifying, but it wasn’t because of me. This was the worst that ever because of technically because of me, but because the band’s unpreparedness and not having a monitor engineer for the entire file, like then it’s it is my fault. Like, it does come down on me to the point where, like, it was so bad the guitar tech came over and pushed me out of the way and thought that he can makes it better.
But there was nothing you could do, like there was no time for gain structuring or anything. I’d be like, bro, if you think it’s if you think you’re going to make them more calm just by being there, then go go on with your bad self.
And I kind of like going to the back of the stage and kind of started to cry a little bit, I’m sure. But my boss came up to me, Billy, there’s Richie and Billy Kozu through the owners. And Richie is more of like the club side. Billy does all the large production and Billy has always been very paternal with me, like they’re very much still my family. He came up to me and goes learing like you can’t take it personal.
Like we all have days where we destroy. We’ve all messed up. Like I’ve messed up bigger gigs than this, you know? And he’s the one that taught me that phrase. I’ve messed up bigger gigs than this one because you can’t take it personally. Like, you can’t let this moment derail you for the rest of your career because these people are going to move on and they’re all they’re going to remember is, hey, remember that shitty sound tech in Pennsylvania?
They’re not going to remember. They’re not going to remember specifics. Maybe they’ll remember you, but like, they’re going to move on that cruise, not even going to be the same, like next year. Like, don’t take it personally. And the honest truth is that they’ve all messed up just as badly as you have. They’re just acting like they haven’t like and I was still pretty young then. And that was a really important piece of information.
The other pretty big messed up I made is when I started touring with Rusted Root was my first time on the road. And I feel like a lot of people there. First time when they get on the road, they want to like hang out with the artist and be like the artist and stuff like that. And I definitely not that I was guilty of that, but we were all on the same bus and there was only like two production people and the rest was the band.
And so they would like invite me to hang out and they’d be like, oh, hey, you want to smoke weed and the stuff? And I’d be like, OK, sure, but rock and roll lifestyle do it. Yeah. And it was rusted root.
We were touring with the Wailers like it was just an interesting time and so like yeah, I was doing it. But then I had Larry, who is our tour manager, pulled me aside one day and he’s a pretty gruff dude. He was really a teddy bear, but he was like a scary dude. He pulled me aside one day. It was like, dude, you fucking suck. You can’t do that.
Like, yeah, he he’s like, you’re you’re dumb on weed. Like, you’re dumb. You’re slow. I can see it. You’re not the artist. You can’t hang out with them. You are not that person. And like I was mad and upset about it at the time, but he was right. It’s one of the most important moments of my career, like I was messing up. And the reality is, is I’m not the artist.
I’m a professional. I’m a technician that’s hired to go out there to be a professional. And he was 100 percent right. And while his approach was a little gruff for me for my first tour, he was right. And I needed that lesson. And I definitely have. I’ve taken it into my career. But that was a big mess up. Like I really was not myself, like trying to keep up and thinking that that’s how it was out.
There was not not the reality. And I think as I experienced other tours, I really that was the only tour that I was like that on. And I became the consummate professional that you pretty much see now after that tour, because I understood what I definitely didn’t want to be perceived as a man.
Some big lessons. One of the things you gain with years of experience is knowing when expectations are way out of line. Right. And so looking back on that moment in Scranton now, you can you’re probably like, oh, does their expectations are way out of line. There’s no reason for me to feel like I was not competent and not good enough.
But in that moment, you don’t know that. And you’re like, oh, I’m going to make magic happen here. I’m going to make these people happy. And they you this console and then and you know, and it feels terrible and it’s awful.
And you just like especially when you’re new in the business, like you take it really personally. And I just like I keep telling all the women who talk to me and all the people who talk to me don’t take it personally. The honest truth is that every single person on that stage with you has messed up worse than what you just did, trust me. And if they have it, they’re newbies to like, are you kidding me? I’ve had an entire PPO’s go down a middle of festivals console’s.
I’m at Radio City Music Hall with Lizzo this year and my console is just rebooting on the side of the stage for twenty minutes on our thirty minute change over like are you kidding me?
Like I have their moments in my career where I am like I’m an idiot like and there’s everybody else goes through that. They just. Don’t like to talk about it, everybody just likes to pretend like we’re some like ineffable creature who like lords over the sound and like we try to establish these like almost like unreal personas about ourselves. I want to be real. Like we all messed up. Like, dude, my poor feeling guy for Lizzo came out for our front of house dude, and he was out front.
And then all of a sudden in the set, we just start losing all of the pages at random times. And it turns out that there was a hardware issue on the digicam console out there where like the fater banks were like linked together through the layers. And it was like a literal if you would even touch the fader, it would just like it would just go like right down or straight up.
So, like, that’s all going on like this and there’s nothing that person can do. But if you were a new person, you’d be taking that personally, like, you know, and you just can’t like we’re in a technical world, we’re dealing with a bunch of computers all the time. Like stuff is going to happen. You know, you just got to take it with a grain of salt and take a lesson from it and be like the next time.
I’m not going to do that thing or the next time I’m going to institute this step in my set up thing to make sure I’m checking this thing that so that doesn’t happen again. You know, you take a lesson from it. You don’t take it personally. You learn a lesson like the reason I get hired to do what I do is because my check, my systems of checking before shows and my own personal systems of setting up are so effective that that’s what people hire me for.
Yes, my skills. But it’s really consistency is what people are looking for. Yeah, the immediate response oftentimes is to feel like I’m bad, and if you can either get through that or stop doing that and turn it into how to change or how to make an improvement next time or how to react differently next time, then now you’re growing. And now that experience has made you stronger instead of just, you know, a huge bag of emotional baggage that you’re just carrying around with you all the time.
And I kind of you know, and this will be maybe a little controversial to say, but I also kind of take that into my interactions with men on the road. You know, something that a lot of people ask me about is about being a woman in the business. And I’m a lot more vocal about that now. But part of our world is kind of like living with each other and being around each other all the time. And there are interactions that you do with your friends and stuff like that that you start to do with people on the road.
And I just you know, there’s a lot of conversations happening in our business right now. And I don’t want men to feel like ever they’re being attacked, you know, in this whole in this whole conversation. It’s never been in my point. And I hope that people perceive what I say, you know, merely I just want men to hold each other accountable moving forward in our business for the actions that they that they have on tour regarding women and the people around them and even their treatment of each other.
I believe that after we get done with covid, we’re going to have to come together as an industry again and really support each other. And so I’d very much like the conversation to change on the male and female aspect of being in the business. And not that I want to say that women kind of have to let things slide. That’s not at all what I’m saying. What I’m saying is how men interact with women and how men interact with men is much different scenarios.
And men are Routier and a little bit more noisier and all that things. And while things being said are not appropriate, I don’t want the men’s comfort and culture to go away.
And I wish that people would take things with a little bit of a grain of salt. Like I’m someone who’s able to be on a stage and like a dish and take it like there’s a real big like. There’s a lot of talking shit on stage with people, and as part of the fun, like, I love getting on stage and just like sassing around with everybody on there, you know, it’s one of my favorite parts of the day is totally having those crazy interactions with the dudes on the stage and like, making them kind of be a little shocked every now and then by the things I say.
And I definitely don’t want that culture to go away. So I want us all to be allies and be friends and take things with a grain of salt and not take things so personally sometimes.
Yeah, there’s there’s definitely a spectrum of, you know, experiencing work culture as a garbage fire on one in to, you know, just wearing lab coats and being totally analytical and nerd fun list. I don’t know what a better word is on the other end. Somewhere in the middle is like, yeah, a nice place to work. Yes, exactly. Somewhere in the middle where you can, like, still prank each other, but also have a deep conversation on the tuning of a P.A., you know, are tuning out yesterday in Rotterdam or something like that.
All right. Let’s see, Elliot, send me a question. He says Pavane mentioned a modified wireless mic system that Lorien put together for Liz’s flute. I’d like to know more about that and any other artist bespoke solutions she’s come up with over the years.
I have a lot I like to McGyver things like I’m I’m a solutions person. Like if you present me with a problem, I’m immediately like, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. Like, here’s options that you can do to fix it. Or I just look at things from a different perspective.
Often times for Eliseo’s flew, I’m actually a flute player. Like that’s I think also people I’m like I’m a I’m the flute tech as well. So this is like a marriage made in heaven I’ve never met, so. Yeah, well, here’s your first one. She is I didn’t know I didn’t know I was going to end up there either, but someone had to do it because I was not doing it.
I created a system. It was for the BET Awards originally. That’s the first time you’ll see the wireless flute. Brandon Blackwell helped pick out the wireless solution, but me and Steve, the broadcast tie for the better, spent two hours raking it up and trying out different ways to get it all done. We spent, you know, and I perfected it, of course, after the BET awards as we went on. But so we used Sennheiser České sixty to twelve packs, those teeny little wireless packs.
They’re tiny. They’re the only wireless packs that would be able to be on a fluke because of the weight. And then we used an MK one for microphone that I would tape towards the amber. So we’re Lizzo played the flute is called the brochure and I would take the mic and put it on the top side, wrapping around the front of the flute. I would put a little bit of tape. I would put some padding underneath the mic and then angle it.
And then I had a really special way that I would wrap all of the cable and things like that and get it compact onto the flute. So you really couldn’t even see it.
I even had foil tape that I would use to hide the cables. So if I had my work box, I could actually pull it out. But I have like actual like it’s like duct foil tape that I would put over the tape to when we had the TV appearances to hide the. So that’s why people are like, I don’t even see the mic.
I know that was the whole point for all of this with the show notes, because this would be amazing to to see.
Yeah, I think I have a screen capture of the Betti flute on my on my screen here. But yeah. And I actually if I think if we had continued touring this year, I would have worked with Sennheiser to actually make a little proprietary mic. That was the right measurements that I would need for the flute so I wouldn’t have to continue like that. We were having that conversation, but now we’re not doing anything.
So yeah, we really needed it to be safe, like a lot of it.
Brandon really wanted to do. The DBA in it, of course, would have sounded better. But the problem is, is we needed the mike to be mobile, needed the mike to be able to be thrown and tossed and handled and not have something sticking out of it like like a DPA neck. Like we couldn’t have that. So it had to be the Mkhize. So that was that was that was about fifteen minutes to midnight every night. And then I also had to create a proprietary bagging solution for Lizzo because she sweats so much that she would sweat a condom.
Oh wow. Yeah.
I’ve heard about problems like this, mostly with fitness trainers who do like these huge rooms. And for hours at a time they get super, super, super. So. So tell me the solution you came up with.
So of course, you know, Loizos, a big girl, and if you’ve seen her, she’s literally on that stage the entire time. She doesn’t come off, but for like three minutes out of whack maybe. And she is dancing the whole time and in and the pack is in a very tight bodysuit outfit. You know, you all have seen her outfit. So eventually the stylist and I work together and he took measurements of the packs and he sewed pockets on the back for me, which made life better.
But I still needed to protect it.
But originally I would take a condom and then I would have three and a half by five inch Ziploc bags like this that I would drop the pack into and I would cut them and I would cut out a hole for the the antenna and then a hole for the knob. And I would pull it down over it and then tape it on and I would cut out a little bit of it and tape it so that I could get into the pack if I need to.
And then I would literally stab in the headphone jack over like closed closed plastic, like I would stab at it and pulled it out, pull a piece of plastic off the tip and then push back in. So it was completely sealed on the top because it was the top is where all the moisture was getting in. Now, I found out that sure makes proprietary silicone sleeves, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t like fully out or something. I wasn’t aware of them.
I don’t understand why all the shirt people that I encountered and I told them about those weren’t like, oh, hey, we have this proprietary silicone sleeve you can use because I was trying to come up with my own, like solution for that. I still am trying to design my own solution for a more simple because theirs is like it molds to the pack and I want more X, I want more access than that.
So I have a different design in my head, but I’ll eventually work on it. And then for Michael Bolton, the pairing of the wedge with the zipper thing was a proprietary artist’s solution for him, like understanding how the ear works and then understanding that when you have a big gap over here, nothing filling, it’s going to make it harder to hear delaying a wedge and then putting shading in, like if you stood on stage in front of it in the band was going, you wouldn’t even really hear it.
It was just enough that it. Totally paired with his ear and then it sounded like a mix here in the head versus just over here.
So tell me about some things in your work bag. I know you have a lot of things, but are there one or two, maybe unique or interesting items that you could tell us about?
Let’s see things that are always in my work box. I have a lot of things that are always my work box. I’ve spent years putting it together. Absolute necessity is a cue box, like must have a key box. I also have a cable tester. I also have power testers. I’m a huge advocate of like really understanding everything you’re working with all the time. So I test all of my power. I do. You know, I have a multimeter in there.
So this is the whirlwind cue box and you have one of them or two of them one.
And then I have the I don’t know what the big yellow cable tester is. You know, the one I’m talking about, it’s big yellow. It does all the connections on the side. It has like four connections. Yeah, yeah. It’s called the cab taxicab. Something like that. Yeah.
I have one of those. I have the rat center sniffer because that’s super helpful. And festivals to like slam it on a snake when you’re not getting connection and be like well it’s you guys not me.
That’s, that’s my real favorite use for it is you.
Well, the best part about that is when it is when it really is them and you slam it down the thing like they’re usually in their headphones and they’re like they like through the headphones off. And I’ll be like, yeah, that’s what I thought I wanted to you. And then like some random things that I really like, love to have in my work box that people don’t really expect, like I keep medical tape in there, clear medical tape.
So this is this is the thing you only learn if you’ve worked in theater for a while, that medical tape is so good for keeping stuff on skin. Yes.
But even more than that, I also carry around tincture of benzoin which most people haven’t heard of. No, tell us about that.
Tincture benzoin is an all natural compound where I’ve sprayed on the skin. It provides an adhesive that you can’t sweat off. So when you put tape to it, it actually sticks to the tape better. And also you can put tincture of benzoin in water and steam it and it will help prepare vocal cords. Oh, well, that’s an old school theater trick.
They’ve they’ve taken they’ve since taken the adhesion type thing that I talk about and they’ve created skin tech, which is a very similar product. But the original product was tincture benzoin before skin tech. And that’s one of the things I mean, I have a soldering iron, I have boatloads of E tape, I’ve got headphones, I’ve got tons of generics, like I carry around like four to five pairs of generic ears personally most of the time. And you’d be surprised at how often I use them.
Oh well, OK, I will show up who need them but don’t have them or what happens. Yes.
And also I carry around specific generics. I actually carry around generics from a brand called EER Sonic’s. And then I also carry around the Sennheiser, the four hundred series or five hundred series, their new series. Because I find that people that have generic years. I love you. Sure, I hate your ears. A lot of people have those ears and they don’t sound good. And particularly for women, the actual frequencies that are boosted in those ears are not great.
Like they’re like one K to K which are frequencies. We have a hole in their abrasive in the high mids, which we’re sensitive to. I just I always will change our women’s women’s generics with my sures or my or my synthesizers or my ear Sonic’s and ear. Sonic’s is like one of my favorite brands for ears for women. As long as you’re not doing like hard rock and they always have a better day, like sometimes I’ll get when I was with Michael Bolton, when we went to England, we had a crew of background singers that was with us and they all had ears.
And I gave them all my ear, Sonic’s generics. And they were like, oh, my God, I didn’t know. I didn’t know it could sound like this. So they actually all bought your Sonic’s after the tour of Nice. Yeah. I mean, I’m the type of person where I don’t actually get endorsed by any of these brands, but I like like my my presentation of the live sound summit, you know, the science of hearing.
I believe everything is a tool. I believe the ears are a tool like yes, I’m loyal to certain brands and a certain extent, but not really like the guitar player comes up to me and goes, hey, I need ears. I’m probably going to. And it’s a dude. I probably be like, you need to go get some G.H. like, those are perfect for those guys. But if a lady comes up to me and goes, hey, I need to get some ears and she’s a singer, I’m probably not going to offer her the same ears.
But I have listened to all of these brands and all of these different types of ears. And I know how they sound and I know how to utilize them to effect what I need out of a mix for someone. So I think that’s a big tool for people is like just.
Understanding all of that, so I’m a big proponent of trying new things and like introducing people to new things, so I just carry around a lot of just because the has the greatest market share doesn’t mean it’s the best tool, right?
Exactly. And I think we find that I think very much in our business, people get stuck on brand names and like what’s most popular and stuff like that and don’t like to venture in to see the rest of the incredible innovations and tools that have come up, you know, in the 10 years since that single product that they’re still touting has been has come out. There’s been hundreds of advancements in our technology. And, you know, I’m a big proponent of continuing to learn and I like to incorporate that in mixing like or I do a lot of award shows or I do random.
Like I told you, I get called in to like do Anita Baker or one offs or whatever. And people need things. And just having resources and tools is incredible. I guess one of the biggest things in my toolbox is like me, like I can fix anything, I can solder whatever I carry. I can take a circuit board and replace capacitors. I can solder a guitar pedal. I can replace I can record a speaker.
I can, I can. I mean, I was doing that. That’s why I mean, when I was 16, I was working in a warehouse with Rock Street Music. I’ve replaced Pazos, I’ve done diaphragms, I’ve written speakers. I’ve actually cut kown and glued in cone pieces on subs and stuff like that.
Like so I, I believe that’s like my biggest toolbox is like I have this set of skills where I can pretty much fix and do anything. Like I have always been a technician just as much as I’ve been an engineer. And it’s always fascinated me. I believe that the most effective both of us are both. You are just as technical as you are creative.
Lorien, what about books? Is there one book that has been immensely helpful to you mentioned one earlier. Is that the one or was there another? That’s one of them.
There’s a bunch of books. There’s a bunch of other. I read a lot. So The 48 Laws of Power is the book that I was talking about earlier. And for anyone that really wants to understand the rules of the game that is being played with power and things like that, it’s an excellent read. It’s very short. The actual concepts are pretty short. But once you read it, you’re like, Oh, I didn’t know for a sound.
One of the most important books that I ever read was Sound Reinforcement Handbook. I feel like a lot of people say that, but it really started me in understanding the science of sound and like how things work. And, you know, I really was fascinated when I was younger by the science and microphones and how, like microphones and diaphragms, transducers, all that stuff works. So they have a lot of great explanations of the science of sound in there.
And then for like. One of the books that changed my life and how I perceived my career and my success and my skills was a book called Grit The Power of Perseverance by a woman named Angela Duckworth. And that book changed everything. You know, that book talks about how talented people are oftentimes not more successful, oftentimes as people with a little bit less talent that want it more, that are the most successful people. And she also talks about, you know, what we all talk about, like the ten thousand, our role or whatever.
But she goes into a really neat section on flow. When you reach a certain linear time in your career, you no longer consciously think about what you’re doing when you’re doing your job. You’re just doing it. And I very much in about year nine or ten of my career got to that point and didn’t understand, like I would all of a sudden be like mixing and it will have been like ten minutes and I will have gone through and like putting Compressor’s and they’ll be like, I don’t even know what I was doing.
And that’s called the flow state like I am. I’m not learning anymore. I don’t need to second guess what I’m doing. I know what all of the things do. And so now I can flow and my creativity. And that book was really great for those conversations and understanding how we advance in our careers and on our skills and giving ourselves time like ten years. You’re not a master for ten years or ten thousand hours. And it’s very much true.
I feel like it was about year nine where I started to feel like that. So that was a really great book. And I actually, if that book to a lot of people, I send it to him for Christmas, all kinds of stuff. So.
So, Loriene, if people want to listen to all of this research that you talked about a lot, some of that they can do the live sound, some 20, 20 does Sound Design Live dotcom. But if people want to keep up with your work and see what you’re doing now and in the future, where is the best place for people to do that on Instagram?
Probably is my main platform where you can follow me.
I’m a sound lady, 13 on there through 12 already taken, I guess. Yeah, well, I was like 13. It was like I had I had my I had my real name on there for a while and I was like, that’s probably not the best idea. So I changed it to lady. Should I not be using my real name. Right. I just I just didn’t want it to be my username. So I was like, let me take it off of there.
And I was just like, let me just put a placeholder and I just put Sound Lady Thirteen and I just kept it. It might end up changing to my ticktock candle, which is Lady of Sound, but we’ll find out also if you want to follow my little educational things along there on my platforms. But I’m also posted I’m also on Tick Tock at Lady of Sound and I post really fun little short intro to audio. It’s very basic audio knowledge for the average person so it can help them understand what’s going.
And eventually I am going to be doing more talks about my research. So I would say go to my website, learn Bohanon Dotcom and put in your email and then you’ll get notified because I’ll probably be doing events through my website and through my social media sites for it. I would love to do a series on my oh my talks once I’m more formally compile my research because the small part that I had for yours is like like a quarter of all the medical journals that I’ve I have compiled.
So it’s actually more of a project than I anticipated. So that’ll happen there. So I would say you can pretty much I have a unique name. So if you Google Lorien Bohanon on any of the platforms, you’ll find me. There’s not a lot of red headed south ladies, and you can definitely tell on all of my platforms that I’m a sound lady because all of my window, all my pictures of me in front of a console.
So awesome. Well, Loreen Bohannon thank you so much for joining me on Sound Design Live.
Thanks for having me, Nathan.