Theatrical Sound Design

This page is a sorted collection of what I feel are the most useful posts about theatrical sound design.


So What Is Theatrical Sound? -- an overview of the responsibilities of a Sound Designer.
The Basics of Sound Design --  the different kinds of effects used in the play or musical.
The Basics of Sound Design II --  playback types, and the Show Book.
 My Theater
The (Abbreviated) Design Process -- how a show really gets designed, more often than not.

Creating and Using Sound Effects:

Six Simple Rules for Getting a Good Voice-Over Recording -- basics of recording vocal effects.
 Sound Effects for the Musical --  how sound effects in a musical are different from a play.
What is QLab? -- an introduction to the popular Mac-based effect playback program,
 Creating a Sound Effect --  building a complex effect through audio editing and multi-track.
Anatomy of a Sound Effect -- dissection of an actual cue I created for a production.
A Complex Cue Sequence -- chaining and laying multiple cues in QLab
From Beijing... -- analysis and description of two very different sound designs, with examples.

Using and Maintaining Wireless Microphones:

A Few Simple Rules for Wireless --  a checklist for achieving decent sound with wireless mics.
The Two Nations of Sound Reinforcement -- a philosophy of sound reinforcement.
 The Basics of Mic'ing a Cast -- creating a Mic Plot.
 The Basics of Mic'ing a Cast II -- determining frequencies.
 The Basics of Mic'ing a Cast III -- attaching the mics to the actors.
 The Basics of Mic'ing a Cast IV --  mixing the mics at the sound board.
Mic Positions Reviewed --  more about attaching microphone elements to actors.
How to Build a Mic Bag -- a How-To on building the belt that holds the transmitter to the actor.
 The Kids Speak Out -- special notes for wireless microphone use in children's theater.
 I Hate Wireless Mics --why wireless mics break, and why they don't magically fix the singing.

Creating and Using Music in Stage Plays:

Music For the Stage --  drop-needle versus live versus pre-recorded pros and cons.
Composition For the Stage -- the bare rudiments of writing original music for the stage.
A History in Gear -- several example compositions from various productions, with technical notes.
End of an Epic Era -- a slanted discussion of the history and trends of synthesized music.

Microphones, Mixing, and the Pit Orchestra:

Sound Design: Tricks to Get You Through -- basic set-up for the pit orchestra.
In the Pits -- how monitors and backline leakage conspire to destroy the sound of your orchestra.
Seeing Sound --  a way to envision the interaction of microphones, speakers, and the space.
Drums of the Gone South -- why the drummer is the most critical element of the pit.
Two Mistakes -- samples from two large pit orchestras.
Design Constraints -- samples from minimalist pit orchestras, recorded in performance.


Better Living Through Chemistry --  several products useful to the sound engineer.
Sphagettification --  caring for your cables.
What has it Gots in its Pocketses? --  the Gig Bag and the indispensible tools.
But Soft, What Ware.. -- current fantastically useful freeware and shareware software tools.
Software Tools --  freeware and shareware sound design tools for the Mac.
The Cert --  a philosophy of organizing paperwork.
Mic Station and Medical Dispensery  -- useful products for the care of wireless mics.

Technical Tricks -- Theater as a Hackerspace:

Stupid Sound Tricks -- practical examples of theatrical sound "hacks" from real productions.
 How Do I Apply QLab to Rafter in Theater? --  an introduction to MIDI tricks for live theater.
 MIDI and the Arduino I --  "hello world" in MIDI for the Arduino; sending a MIDI signal.
MIDI and the Arduino II --  receiving MIDI on the Arduino.
Stone Knives and Bearskins --  a view from the trenches, when "hacker" means duct tape and hope.
A Quick Hack --fun with QLab, MIDI, and an XBee-outfitted Staples Easy Button.
How to Ring a Phone from QLab -- a chain of QLab, Processing, and Arduino leading to a practical phone.


  1. This really helped with my research!

  2. Hey,

    Thanks for writing guide on Wireless Microphones.

    This is certainly the best post about best wireless microphones around these days.