The General State of Sound Engineering in Africa
Engineers say there are notable improvements in the quality of equipment on offer at African gigs, concerts and festivals. Van Der Tuin, however, says education is the key element missing, with many engineers becoming overwhelmed with the workflow and equipment they have to work with. To counter this, it’s the engineers’ responsibility to educate themselves by going online [see resources at the end of this article] or by participating in workshops where they can learn about the fine details of the profession. He highlights that the best way to acquire knowledge isn’t necessarily to enrol in courses at colleges or universities but to ravage through the Internet for information on the latest trends and best practices.
Commenting on the technical side of things, Eckhart says many providers across Africa are overcommitted and financially strained, which results in below-standard performances. He says event organisers often leave the technical aspects until the last minute causing tech providers to scramble for suitable solutions. Additionally, sound engineers are often overstretched and required to work 22-hour shifts without adequate compensation – a trend that needs to be addressed by event organisers who care about production value
Eckhart says sound engineers must always be friendly, on time and remember that the music is the reason they are there. He notes that the engineer is the window between the artist and audience and therefore must always remain transparent to facilitate a successful entertainment episode. Van Der Tuin says keeping a cool head under pressure is vital, as well as going the extra mile for those you are working with and for. Both engineers recognise that the sound engineer is the vital link that if broken can spell disaster for all parties involved in a production.