As we gear up for the LDI Show, we’re profiling speakers in our Sound Tracks series of panels aimed at live sound engineers. This week we’re pleased to introduce you to Bernie Broderick, who will present “Sound Reinforcement Retrospective: Techniques and Truths, Then and Now.”
Bernie Broderick has been in the professional audio industry for more than 30 years, but audio is only one part of his background. Prior to getting involved exclusively in professional audio, Broderick was an accomplished musician and joined the industry as a professional guitar player, vocalist, and bandleader. In the years that followed, he would go on to obtain high-level skills as a professional live sound engineer, while also creating a successful live production rental business in Canada.
Bernie has worked with some of the most influential loudspeaker brands in the industry including Adamson, L-Acoustics, and most recently, Eastern Acoustic Works, as Business Development Manager for the company’s live production market vertical. He’s now setting his sights on his most challenging task to date: launching a new company, Truth In Audio. Its purpose is to educate industry hopefuls in the proper understanding and deployment of modern live sound equipment and processes while keeping an eye to the past for historical reference. TIA is set to launch its three-day, mobile training camps in 2018.
Sarah Jones: What was your first live sound gig?
Bernie Broderick: My first live sound gig would have been with my own band, way back in the early ’80s. I was a guitar player at the time and left the band I was in to start my own. Since bands played six days a week back then, I bought my own van and lighting and sound system: 16-channel Yorkville mixer with a Martin Audio system with 6 x 15" bass bins, 2 x double 12" mids and a set of JBL Bi-Radial horns.
SJ: Who has most influenced the way you think about sound?
BB: Robert Scovill, for sure. As a guitar player, I was really into the band Def Leppard and really loved the sound of that band’s albums. I saw articles about Robert when he was the live sound engineer for the band, and being young and inexperienced, I just assumed he was responsible for the way they sounded. I was partially right in that he mixed their live shows to that effect, and it triggered a love for sound in me, to the point where I was just as happy standing behind a live sound console as I was playing my guitar. Eventually, the console won over the guitar, and I spent the rest of my career on the other end of the snake.
SJ: What kind of technology is having the biggest impact on the way live sound engineers work right now?
BB: Anything digital is changing the way we do things. It is a double-edged sword, though, as it has a complexity that can be hard for the older guard to wrap their heads around, while simultaneously creating too much of a shortcut scenario for young people. The three major components are digital consoles, audio over IP, and now we are seeing digitally manipulated speaker systems as well. Anyone getting into this business today will need to accept that computers will play an ever-increasing role in our work, but they absolutely must learn the old ways as well. Everything we have now is based on things we did in the past.
SJ: What can attendees expect to learn about in your panel?
BB: My ongoing mission these days is to connect the past with the present. Budding technicians and engineers are learning primarily from the internet these days, and although powerful in accessibility and reach, it leaves holes in the knowledge of our industry and craft. It is clear that there is no turning back now, and the path is set for the old guard to hand the keys of the industry over to the next generation; but before we all retire, I want to impart the collective wisdom of my generation on to the next one. Knowledge is power, and if you are going to stay in this industry and create a better life for you and your family, you will need to understand all of the tech and how to use it. Someone gets to sit in the big chair and someone gets the accolades and awards—why can't it be you?
SJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? What’s the worst?
BB: The best advice ever was, "A smart man surrounds himself with smarter men." We know the PC version of that statement, but those were the exact words as they were spoken. It set me on a path to be humble and to admit when I didn't know something. There are so many incredibly smart and talented people in our industry who would not think twice about telling you everything they know. The problem is that pride usually prevents a person from asking. This enduring statement allowed me to put away my personal pride and ask questions even about things that I considered basic.
As far as bad advice? “Try the sauce in that bowl, right there. It's not that spicy.”
SJ: What are you most excited to check out at LDI?
BB: Obviously, my big attraction is the live outside events. This part of LDI is what sets it apart from the other trade shows throughout the year, and I see it as a valuable asset to the professional audio industry. I want to see it grow and become a "must-see" part of the LDI show, and my own company, Truth In Audio, is set to be there this year to assist in the activities.
Sarah Jones is a writer, editor, and content producer with more than 20 years' experience in pro audio, including as editor-in-chief of three leading audio magazines: Mix, EQ, and Electronic Musician. She is a lifelong musician and committed to arts advocacy and learning, including acting as education chair of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy, where she helps develop event programming that cultivates the careers of Bay Area music makers.