Call it what you will – input patch, channel list, channel plot, patch sheet; whether your the sound engineer for a band, looking after the sound for your local church or managing the patch at a large-scale festival the channel list is one of the most important documents you will ever create!
Every year we provide sound systems for everything from conferences to festivals and church services so we thought it would be nice to share some of the tips and tricks that we’ve learned for creating the perfect channel list for your event.
What to include in a Channel List
This might sound strange but one of the most important things that you should include as part of your channel list is the contact details for key members of the audio team. Usually this is the FOH (front of house) and monitor engineers but it may be expanded for larger events to include the system tech, patch techs, tour manager or production manager.
Event Name, Name of Band, Stage or ALL of these
There’s nothing more frustrating for a system tech, production manager, tech manager or venue manager than receiving a load of channel lists that don’t tell them what event, band or stage the plan is for. Include it. At the top.
Whether the channel list that you are creating is for a band or a festival with multiple bands, as time moves on it’s likely that there will be amendments to the channel list. Always update the version number and date that the channel list was revised each time you save it so that there is no confusion for anyone about which is the most recent. If you are a band engineer that updates your channel list between sending it to the venue or sound hire company and the event, make sure you send them the revised version ASAP so that they can account for any changes.
The last thing that you want on site is 20 people all asking where they are staying or arguing about who they are sharing a room with. Get it all detailed in the event production schedule and you can save unnecessary time-consuming questions when you get to site.
You will want to detail all of the inputs in the sound desk on the input patch. Each line on the document will represent one input and include:
Line number. This is the physical input on the stage box / multicore.
Sub Box number. This is the number of the physical input on any sub box / satellite box you are using. We usually label these with colours and letters.
Input number. This is the number of the pre-amp on the desk.
Instrument name. If it’s a channel list for one band it can be useful to include musician names if it doesn’t clutter the document too much.
Microphone choice. If you are touring your own microphone package or specifying microphones for a festival based on input lists that you have received then you can just put one microphone option in this column. If you are a touring band and are not touring your own microphone package it is usual to list at least two microphones for each channel in order of preference and separated by commas in the microphone column. For example, you Kick drum channel might list microphone options like this “Shure Beta 52, Audix D6, AKG D112″. This gives venues and sound hire companies the option to substitute microphones without ruining your gig if they don’t stock the exact make and model that is your first choice.
Microphone stand. Next to each microphone list what stand you need. This is often abbreviated: SB = Short Boom, TB = Tall Boom. If you need something more specific then write it in (e.g. “Straight Round Base” or “Beyer GST500″).
Inserts. Any inserts of EQs or other processing on the input.
As well as an input patch, it is usual to provide an output patch sheet. This details what outputs on the desk are being used for what and where they should be connected / routed. Again, it’s one line for each output including:
Line. This is the physical line on the stagebox / multicore that is to be used for carrying the signal.
Output Patch. This is the physical output that is being used on the desk.
Bus. This is the bus that is being routed to the physical output (e.g. Aux 1, Group 2)
Description. This is used to describe the purpose of the output (e.g. Left, Centre, Right, Monitor Mix 1, Subs)
Amp / IEM / Tie Line. This is used to inform engineers where the output should be connected. (e.g. Amp 1 Left, Amp 2 Right, IEM Transmitter 1)
Inserts. Any inserts of EQs or other processing on the output.
Patch Lists for Multiple Bands
If you are running a multi-band stage or festival it may be that you are able to use the same “standard” patch for multiple bands. If this is the case then our free channel list template allows you to very easily identify which channels are required for which band. Just highlight the relevant inputs under each band’s name. We usually use contrasting colours to make it easier to see.
If you are not sharing a common patch between bands, then you will need to create a bespoke patch sheet for each band.
Distributing the Channel List
The channel list is usually distributed in .pdf format along with a matching stage plan.