FOH Engineer Spotlight: Ian ‘Shappy’ Shapcott on Mastering the Art of Live Sound FOH Engineer Spotlight: Ian ‘Shappy’ Shapcott on Mastering the Art o...
In the dynamic world of professional audio systems and sound engineering, few names resonate as profoundly as Ian Shapcott. Known affectionately as ‘Shappy’ in the industry, his early days consisted of him wielding a guitar in a punk band. He’s now the head of audio at NW Group in addition to being a skilled FOH engineer. Shapcott’s journey reflects his passion and skill for live events and audio technology.
From Punk Rock Chords to Concert Speaker Systems
Shapcott’s love affair with music began in Brisbane, Australia, where he played guitar for Victor & The Grasscatchers. But it wasn’t just the music that fascinated him; the mechanics of concert sound systems intrigued him most of all. “I was always interested in what the bloke out front was doing whenever we rented a big PA,” he recalls. This curiosity led him to cross paths with Ivan Simon, the original owner of IJS Concert Sound & Lighting, marking the start of a transformative career in live sound.
A Career Defined by Sound Design
Shapcott’s first encounter with an L-Acoustics system was during a Metallica concert in Sydney in 1998. It was an experience that had him completely awestruck with the sound and its potential. Fast forward, and he’s now orchestrating professional concert speakers and systems for some of the world’s most significant events. Major projects like the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and the Tokyo Olympics have been milestones in his career.
One of Shapcott’s recent achievements was the Sydney WorldPride 2023 event. Here, his expertise was pivotal in designing a sound system that catered to the unique challenges of outdoor concert sound systems. The main stage setup at the WorldPride Opening Ceremony Dance Party and the Rainbow Republic was a marvel of acoustic engineering, featuring a blend of K1 and K2 systems, ensuring crystal clear sound for the mammoth-sized audience.
“The main stage had strict SPL limits, and with Soundvision, I could predict which setup would work best,” Shapcott explains. His ability to balance sound restrictions with the need for a lively atmosphere was a critical success factor.
Advice to Aspiring Sound Engineers
When asked what advice he’d give to someone starting in the industry, Shapcott emphasizes the importance of punctuality, eagerness to learn, and the perpetual quest for knowledge. “Ask lots of questions, but don’t be annoying,” he chuckles.
Ian Shapcott’s journey from a punk band guitarist to a maestro of professional audio systems shows his relentless pursuit of excellence in sound engineering. With an eye on the future, Shapcott continues to hone his skills in live sound.
“Rest assured, there’s always something exciting coming up to keep me on my toes,” says Shapcott, hinting at more exciting new opportunities working in live sound.