Curb Cafe

Major lab project for Sound Reinforcement students through which they gain hands on experience in all aspects of audio production for a small cabaret performance. This includes advancing the show, working as A1 and as A2. The lab is evaluated by a staff production manager and ultimately by the class professor.

Activity Objectives

Students will learn to:
Produce a live event in a timely manner
Create a stage plot and schematic block diagram
Patch and layout a mixing console
Patch and label stage feeds
Maintain a neat and tidy stage
Conduct a sound check
Equalize microphones and instruments for a natural sound
Blend and balance a mix of instruments, instrument solos, and lead vocals
Set a comfortable level for the audience
Use effects that are complimentary to the performance
Work well with others, with a positive attitude
Strike, zero, and store equipment

Activity Goals (optional)

First hands on experience as part of a production team in a real-life situation.
Learning that their function as a part of the team has a direct impact on the success of the event.
Learning that people do show up late and things do go wrong and that the show must go on.
Learning how to collect necessary information.
Learning how to create paperwork.
Learning how to critique their own work and receive critique from others.


The Curb Cafe is a typical small restaurant venue environment in which you will complete a set
of projects throughout the course of this semester. The events booked in this space are largely
acoustic performances, composed of a few instruments and vocals.
In pairs, you will be required to serve as a part of the production team for 2
performances throughout the semester, once as A1/Lead Sound Engineer, and once as
A2/Sound Tech. A sign up sheet is provided and dates are on a first come, first served
basis. Chose one date before midterm and one after. Check the online schedule to be
sure the café has a band booked for that night before signing up.
Duties of the A1:
A survey is done by the Café Event Manager, and the Production Manager (PM)
advances the show. At least one week prior to your performance, contact the PM and
collect all information you need. This may be a phone call or in-person meeting. If
anything is missing, the PM may ask you to contact the bands directly.
From the information collected, generate a stage plot and schematic block diagram
(SBD) that reflects those needs, choosing mics and DIs and deciding what order you will
patch them in. Drawings may be by CAD or hand drawn, but should be neat and
legible. SBDs should show the signal path with inputs on the left and outputs on the
right. Locations where power is needed onstage should also be noted on the stage plot
but not on the SBD.
You will also determine how many of the 4 available monitor wedge/mixes you will need,
and show this on your drawings.
Your SBD should also include how you plan to use the available signal processing
including compressor/gates and reverbs.
Any information that is unknown should be marked “TBD” and determined when the
bands arrive.
A copy of the stage plot is then emailed to the PM and your instructor by 10am on the
day of the performance. If you do a hand drawing, a clear photo or scan is fine.
Once the drawings are complete, make 3 hard copies to take on performance day.
Team Duties:
Specific call times for each performance are determined by the PM and will be posted
on the Café calendar. Generally, your call time will be 1.5 hours prior to the first performance.
It is your responsibility to show up when you are scheduled. Reminders will not be sent.
Upon arrival, check in with the PM and quickly go over the plans as a team with the PM.
Then, with the help of the PM, set up the stage according to your plot and be ready for
your performers. The A2 will patch the stage according to the SBD. All cables are to be
labeled with provided marking tape. It is also a good practice to label which mix each
monitor wedge is. (You need to bring your own Sharpie marker.) The A1 will
patch/label the console and any outboard processing. You will then line check the stage,
making sure that all mics and DIs are properly patched and working. Once you complete
a line check, prep the monitors by dialing up vocal mics to their respective wedges and
adjusting the graphic EQ for that mix to eliminate any feedback present.
Specific call times for the bands and their soundcheck times are on the Café calendar.
Generally they will arrive 60 minutes prior to the opening act in order to sound check,
and they soundcheck in the reverse order of the performance. Once they have set up
their instruments, the soundcheck will begin. At the A1ʼs instruction, the A2 will direct
them to briefly play each instrument and test each vocal mic, while they are playing the
A1 will set input gains, make any necessary EQ changes, and dial up monitor mixes
based on how much of each input the performers need to hear keeping in mind what is
appropriate. The A1 will also determine if any changes need to be made in regard to
mic placement, etc.
After all sound checks are complete and the stage setup is final, the A2 will neaten up
the stage and tape down any cables that could be a trip hazard with the provided gaff
tape. Take a few photos of the setup including the stage and the console and email
them to your instructor.
There may be multiple bands on a given night. It is up to you to accommodate this.
House music will be provided by the PM. An 1/8” stereo connection should be available
at the console for this.
In preparation for the show, the A1 will insert a USB flash drive into the recorder at FOH
and begin recording 3-5 minutes prior to the show start. (You need to bring your own
2GB min. Flash Drive.) This “board mix” recording of the performance will serve as one
of your deliverables, so make sure you remember to start the recording or you will not
receive credit.
All cables should be cleaned of any gaff or labeling tape and neatly wrapped. All
equipment should be stored in its designated spot. Any damaged equipment should be
clearly marked and reported to the PM who will notify the staff.
A daily checklist will be done for each night by the PM. This checklist will electronically
submitted to your instructor. A copy of this checklist is attached.
The recording should be “topped and tailed” and saved for your evaluation meeting.
Within 3 days of the performance, the A1 and A2 should get together and listen to parts
of the recording. Take notes and provide a 1-page summary of the performance in
regard to sound. At least 2 photos should be included. Reference specific points in the
recording (at least 3) by time and note what was successful and what wasnʼt or could
have gone better. Note any questions you have for your instructor and note if there
were any external problems that affected your experience (like the bands showing up
late, or information not provided, etc.). This is due 1 week from the performance.
Within 1 week of your groupʼs 2nd performance, schedule a 15 minute meeting (A1 and
A2) with your instructor to review both performances and to listen to the key points in
the recordings (the ones in the report) and to generally discuss the projects.
Deliverables :
Stage Plot and SBD to instructor by 10am day of performance.
3 copies of Stage Plot and SBD by call time at the café.
Performance checklist completed by PM at the end of the day.
Recording edited and points identified as described.
Written summary and photos to instructor within 1 week of performance.
Review meeting with instructor within 1 week of 2nd performance.
Daily checklist (see attached)
Stage plot and SBD
Written summary and photos
Review participation
Possible occasional critique by faculty or industry professionals that attend specific

Time Required

In pairs – done twice per semester, once in A1 role and once in A2 role:
Advance time (15 min)
Design and documentation time (1-2 hours)
Load-in and performance (4 hours)
Follow-up and report (1 hour)
Evaluation by professor:
15 minutes (both events at the same time) in person meeting in professor’s studio

Required Materials

Students are given an inventory list, schematic of the system, and all instructions.
They advance  the show and create paperwork on their own time.
They show up with their paperwork ready to load it in.
They write a report about their experience which will be discussed with the professor.
They make a recording and edit it down to a short clip for the evaluation.


See the attached evaluation form that the staff production manager did each night via Survey Monkey.

See attached Rubric that the professor used for final evaluation. The professor would receive all paperwork, read the required paper, and then have a 15 minute discussion with each pair of students which also included listening to a small clip of one of the 2 performances.
Curb Cafe Audio Engineering Project-Posted_Part1
Curb Cafe Audio Engineering Project-Posted_Part2

Bradlee Ward
DLR Group | Westlake Reed Leskosky