FOH Engineer: Scott Tydings on Mastering Comedy Live Sound FOH Engineer: Scott Tydings on Mastering Comedy Live Sound...

Scott Tydings, the president of Showtime Sound LLC, has an extensive background in both playing music and mixing live sound. Starting as a drummer who reluctantly took on the role of a sound engineer for his band, Scott quickly became known for his skill at mixing. 

“I’m from Pasadena, Maryland,” Scott begins, “I started playing drums in a band—we needed a sound system. No one wanted to run it, so I did! I ran it for bands that would open for us. Got the reputation as the 15-year-old who could really mix. I started making more money doing sound than I was playing drums!”

The Big Break in Live Sound

Scott reflects on the pivotal moments of his career, highlighting his early break into the industry. “My friend and mentor, Trueman ‘Monty’ Montfort, was running sound for Mannekin, a big local rock band in Maryland at the time. He told me he was leaving and that I would be perfect for the job. I auditioned with 15 other guys and got it! Mannekin toured all over the US. I worked with them for over seven years as FOH/PM & System Tech. Monty himself went on to mix Michael Bolton and now Kenny G for over 35 years,” he says. But despite this early success, Scott didn’t immediately see audio as his future career. 

“Not quite!” he explains, “After touring until ’91, I worked at Baltimore Gas & Electric as a high-voltage cable splicer. I also started playing drums in Catch 22, a pop rock band. Since I had money from work, I got a nice sound system. I started using it for my band as Showtime in ’96. In 2002, I developed carpal tunnel and had difficulty playing. My band’s agent was looking for a sound engineer for ‘Vs. The Earth’, a new band. I took that gig and met Shawn, the drummer, who joined as my VP.” This sequence of events helped Scott to cement his place in the live sound industry, shaping his future in concert sound systems.

Showtime Sound

Currently, Showtime Sound LLC handles a diverse array of events including concerts, university ceremonies, corporate events, and festivals. They often partner with major event companies such as Live Nation, AEG, and Upfront Promotions to provide comprehensive concert sound systems. These partnerships have kept them at the forefront of the live sound industry.

“We became the house provider at a venue called Stingers, participated in small festivals, and collaborated with local acts such as The Reagan Years, Great Train Robbery, Kelly Bell Band, and Jah Works,” Scott talks about the early years of Showtime Sound. “We formed relationships with promoters and larger venues. Our first national tour as Showtime was with Mac Miller in 2010/11. From that point, our business nearly doubled every year.”

Hearing L-Acoustics Concert Sound Systems

“In 2007, we utilized a V-DOSC system at Cal Ripken Jr. Stadium for a music festival. The system was cross-rented from another company, and I was responsible for mixing the opening acts. My initial reaction was, ‘This is the best-sounding rig I have ever heard!’”

Since then, L-Acoustics has left a mark on Scott and how he wants his events to sound. And he brings the same high level of audio expertise to comedy acts as he does to rock concerts, though with a few tweaks. “For major comedy shows, I use pretty much the same setup as I would for a rock show—just not as many subs. We’re talking K1, K2, Kara II, X8, X15, KS28, and 5XT as my FOH nearfields,” Scott explains. 

Keeping Consistent with Live Sound

He highlights the importance of consistency in equipment and crew to enhance production quality. “I personally met with Live Nation’s comedy division to demonstrate the benefits of using the same equipment and crew every night. This approach really steps up the production level and transforms the fan experience, making it comparable to a rock concert. It’s like making comedians rock stars,” he adds.

Mixing sound for comedy is uniquely challenging. “It’s a whole different ballgame compared to bands. Fans know the lyrics with music, but comedy is all about the delivery. Every word, every subtle pause, every breath has to hit just right to land a joke.”

The technical capabilities of the K Series from L-Acoustics play a critical role in this. “The rear rejection feature of the K2 is crucial—it keeps the energy directed forward, allowing for higher gain before feedback. This is essential for capturing the nuances of spoken word and for comedians who might not have the best mic technique,” he points out.

Favorite Setups

Scott also shared one of his favorite setups showcasing his commitment to quality sound. “One of my all-time favorite setups was the 148 box in-the-round design for the Kevin Hart ‘Irresponsible Tour.’ I designed it using Soundvision, and when the tour went international, I could send my SV file to our L-Acoustics partners to replicate the setup worldwide.” This level of detail and coordination ensures that every performance sounds its best, no matter where it is in the world.

Scott is optimistic about the future of Showtime Sound, especially with the advent of technologies like L-ISA, which creates a hyper-realistic audio experience. “With L-ISA enhancing the way we deliver sound, I see it playing a significant role in expanding our business. We’re looking forward to seeing where new creative ideas can take us—the endless possibilities,” he says.

Regarding advice for newcomers in the sound engineering field, Scott emphasizes the importance of hands-on experience. “Start by getting involved with a small local company where you can learn the fundamentals. Aim to spend as much time as possible behind the mixing board. If you’re eager to learn, don’t hesitate to connect with experienced engineers. Offer to help them out after hours, maybe buy them a beer or two. It’s a great way to pick up skills and insights. And when your chance comes, make sure you’re ready, confident, and humble. Do well, and more doors will open for you,” Scott advises.