Introduction to Sound Systems

Lesson 6: Introduction to Sound Systems


Objective: Students will understand the purpose of the sound board, microphones, and other equipment in the theatre space as demonstrated by their personal experimentation with the equipment.


Materials Needed: Theatre, sound board, microphone, speakers, music playing device  6.Sound Board Quiz


Hook: Lead students into the auditorium, explaining that today will be a hands-on day in class.


Step 1: The Equipment

Demonstrate to the students how to turn on your sound system. It may be appropriate to post in your booth the power up and down procedure, for clarity.


Pull out a wireless microphone and have the students trace the sound, from vocal production to the audience’s ears. Ask them where the sound starts, and see if they can figure out the following steps:

  1. The person speaks or sings into the microphone
  2. The microphone transmits from the base of the unit to the aerial antennae
  3. The antennae transmits back to the receiver, which then transmits into the board
  4. Sound is mixed in the board (we will cover this in a minute)
  5. Sound leaves the board and enters the amp, where the signal is boosted
  6. The amp then sends the sound to the loudspeakers, which put out sound for the audience to hear


Step 2: How the board works

This is an excellent opportunity to see if any of your students have experience with sound equipment. Sound is input either through a microphone or an auxiliary cable connected to some sort of music playing device, like a computer, phone, or mP3 player. Each cord or microphone is connected with a channel on the board, often arranged in vertical rows on an analog board, and sometimes arranged in horizontal rows on a digital board. Then, using the variety of knobs on the board, we manipulate the sound to give the correct effect.


Here are some short definitions for your use in teaching this lesson:

Volume: This controls the signal being sent out from the amp. Higher volume, more signal, louder result. There are main volume and channel volume controls

Gain: This controls the power of the base signal. Too little gain, and the voice sounds tinny. Too much, and there is a risk of feedback through the loudspeakers.

EQs: The equalizers, or EQs, control various sets of frequencies. Say you are playing a song and you think it needs more bass, then you turn up the low EQ settings.

Auxiliary knobs: These are connected to specific speakers, such as stage monitors. You can send certain channels to certain monitors to help the performer hear his or her part.

Faders: The volume control for a specific channel.

Mute: Exactly what it sounds like. The mute button exists so you don’t have to constantly change levels on your faders.

Solo: Say you have twelve people singing on stage, and one of them has a solo. Hit the solo button and all the other mics will cut out.


Step 3: Experimentation

Let the students have time to play with some music played off of the music-playing device. If possible, have one student go and sing a song while another mixes their vocals with the music playing.


Step 4: Quiz

Hand out the quiz at the end of class. Let the students work in pairs to answer the questions.