Nyore Madzianike Senior Arts Reporter
Poor sound quality has been a problem in a good number of music shows, resulting in performers and their sound engineers sometimes having a rocky relationship.
Musicians also get the blame for hiring cheaper unqualified people as sound engineers, or for their treatment of professionals.
Sometimes musicians abandon performances as a result of poor sound quality and the late Oliver Mtukudzi’ had a no-nonsense approach when it came to sound during his acts.
Dancehall star Winky D has threatened to abandon shows if poor sound spoils his performances and so his personal reputation and brand name.
Although many criticise him for letting down those who pay to attend his shows, Winky D has stood by his actions and people now respect him for that.
Recently, Winky D was a victim of sound glitches that characterised the Castle Larger Braai Festival held in Harare.
Those who often attend sungura maestro Alick Macheso’s shows will testify to hearing him calling his long-serving sound engineer, Morgan “Mogiza” Mapeta, to check on his system.
Sometimes, Morgan would have walked into the crowd, leaving his workstation unattended, compromising the sound quality.
Sound glitches are not peculiar to Macheso’s shows, but all other musicians, with youths resorting to throwing missiles on stage in protest against poor sound.
The spark at some events is lost when echoes from the microphone pierce through guests’ ears, signalling poor sound engineering.
Sadly, such sound hiccups cost bands followers, as people shun their performances, which also impacts on their potential incomes.
Hiring professional sound engineers is proving to be difficult for some artistes, who then resort to unqualified people.
Very few professional sound engineers have shown interest in working with musical outfits, who in turn have exhibited high levels of unprofessionalism when conducting their business.
Some critics have attributed the poor sound at live shows and other events to lack of technical know-how, especially in the advent of new technology.
They believe those who are currently employed in some music outfits are not keen to learn and catch up with ever changing technology.
Others pointed a finger at leaders of these outfits, who turn a deaf ear on calls to hire professional sound engineers.
“The magnitude of these sound glitches at shows have not only taken away the spark at events, but affect the image of the event organisers or music outfit.
“In case of music bands, there is great risk of losing a chunk of followers, who would be turned away by the poor sound, no matter how good the music would be.”
“Failure to embrace professionalism among music bands has resulted in picking people from the streets to do the job.”
“These people would not have enough expertise to execute such tasks especially when hi-tech gadgets are used,” said Blessing Mutimbe, who deals in sound equipment.”
“Sometimes the problem lies with the leaders of these bands, as they do not encourage their sound engineers to learn and expand their know-how on the equipment.”
“For example, a band leader will walk into the shop, buy his equipment and leave hoping to improve quality of sound.”
The problem will come when the sound engineer does not have full knowledge on the new equipment.
“Obvious that reluctance of taking sound lessons will result in continuous sound hiccups during performances.”