Audio for Theater

By: Gil Eva Craig

You can divide sound for theater into three main areas:

Sound Design:
The Sound Designer creates the soundtrack for the dramatic work.
This covers music, sound effects (either sourced from libraries or recorded) and atmospheres (again, either out-sourced or recorded), and any sound generating props.

Sound System Design:
The Sound System Designer often works with the existing installed sound system, supplementing and re-rigging to suit the space and the stage formation, and budget. If the space is empty the Sound System Designer builds the system from the ground up.
The sound system design can also include any onstage reinforcement of both voice and musical instruments, onstage monitoring, additional speakers placed in the set or other areas, as part of the design, and off stage monitoring for stage management.

Operational Design:
The Sound Operator programs the playback system, configures computers and sound cards as required, and any digital console programming. They are also responsible for creating backups, writing the sound rider, the cue list, and a script with the cues marked. Sometimes the Operational Designer will design AND operate and sometimes they will hand over the show to an operator who on small shows may be running both sound and lights. On larger, more complex shows there will be a dedicated sound operator.


Depending on the size of the show one person may cover multiple jobs.  For instance;  On small theater shows the Sound Designer will end up also doing the System Design and the Operator may end up running both sound and lights.

For more information on Sound for Theater see “Intro to – Sound Design for Theatre” By: Gil Eva Craig