The Art of Sound at the Bovine Sex Club, Toronto

Michael Sperry runs sound at the Bovine Sex Club in Toronto, and he told us all about it...

How long have you been running sound? How did you get into it?

I've been running live sound since 2017, so about seven years at this point. I first started working in the audio world in a studio, doing post production and dialogue recording/editing. I started live sound as a favor to a friend of mine--he needed some coverage at a venue he worked at and knew I could handle running a show.

At first I honestly didn't enjoy it too much, but it was some extra cash here and there, and I found I was pretty good at it. As more opportunities and work come my way, I starting taking on more and more work and enjoying it more and more. Eventually, in 2019, I left studio work behind and went live sound full-time.

How did you get hooked up with the Bovine Sex Club?

Through the same friend I mentioned before. He was working at a mix of venues and Bovine was one of them at the time. He  was a bit of a mentor to me once I started working sound seriously, and helped me get into venues he was at to get my name in the mix. I started there as a backup tech and moved my way up as other techs moved on. 

Any particular highlights? Which bands have been the best to work with?

Any time I get to work with a band on tour is a highlight. Bovine is quite the spectacle to behold if you've never been in there before. It's fun just to see people's reaction to it. Bands like Keep Flying, Dayglo Abortions, and Bad Cop/ Bad Cop have put on great shows there. There is tons of great local talent too, probably too many to mention but bands like Dragged In, SEWN, Choices Made, Single Wound are my favorites. Good bands are made up of good people, and bands like Gaijin Smash, Terrible and the Horribles, and Like Animals are always a pleasure to work with too.

How would you describe the acoustics/layout at the Bovine?

The layout in Bovine is a bit tricky, the room is so narrow and everything is so packed in close so storage is always the biggest issue. The stage is a good size until you have three sets of amps and 25 guitars littering the back of it because there no place else to fit them. Acoustically the room is really solid in my opinion. The system is custom built and has been maintained by the head tech there for many years, its old school in there, but it works. Plus all the decor on the walls really helps deaden the room to nasty standing waves and other little annoying things you deal with in rooms of the same size. 

What gear do you use?

All the gear in the room is old school rack equipment and everything is as analog as we can make it--it's a bit of a throwback in there. The PA is a custom build and it's in mono. We use an Allen & Heath Zed 428, it's a pretty standard layout 24 channel analog board, Gain, EQ, a few aux channels etc. The one cool thing about the board is that when it's in mono mode you can use the pan function on the board to assign channels to four different groups, acting like bussing on other boards, let's get an extra layer of control over everything.

For rack gear it's stuff like dbx 1066 compressors, Ashly graphic EQs, some rack crossovers and limiters to keep stuff safe. The only digital thing we have is the TC Electronics M-One XL effects unit to run reverb and delay, but no fancy effects in there. I'm honestly not too into gear or the overly technical aspects of sound. I like to mix with my ears, listen to the room. I know what I need to do to get what I want out of a PA/ room, the specific mics/ boards etc are just a means to an end for me. The specific brand on the side of whatever I'm using isn't that important, as long as I know how to work the interface.

Visit bovinesexclub.com for more info.