The Art of Sound at the Silverlake Lounge

Scott Sorensen is one of the trusted sound engineers at the Silverlake Lounge in Silver Lake, Los Angeles.

Music Connection: How long have you been running sound? Have you worked anywhere else besides the Silverlake Lounge?

Scott Sorensen: I've been working as an audio engineer for 13 years. I played in bands all through my teens and twenties. At age 28, I attended an audio trade school (SAE Institute) in NYC. After that, I interned at a recording studio, worked at a rehearsal facility, and  started mixing bands at a few bars in Brooklyn. I moved to L.A. in 2015. As a freelancer, I've worked for more people and places than I can count. I've been on staff or filled in at many venues all over town. The ones I've spent the most time in besides the Lounge are the Federal Bar/Knitting Factory (RIP), the Viper Room, and Lucky Strike Live. I also occasionally tour with bands and work on festival audio crews. I've worked a stage at Lightning in a Bottle the past couple of years.

How did you get hooked up with the Silverlake Lounge?

Our production manager, Ryan, hosts a monthly alt-country/rock night at the Lounge called Small Town Friday Nights. His band, Ryan Hahn and The Believers, usually plays it, but not always. Back before the pandemic, he hosted the night at Lucky Strike Live. I mixed it many times and we got along well. A few months after the Lounge reopened, he reached out to me about working here.

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

This venue has the NICEST people and hosts a wide array of incredibly creative and talented artists. I'm constantly surprised and impressed. Favorite new music I've discovered here this past year would be Lo Haze (local) and Cathedral Bells (Jacksonville,FL). They're both pretty shoegaze-ey. I also have to give a shout out to Surprise Baby. She plays here solo or with her band fairly regularly. Her songwriting and vocals are phenomenal.

How would you describe the acoustics/layout in the Silverlake Lounge?

It's an intimate space. You get tons of bleed between all your instruments, mics, and speakers, so managing stage volume is crucial.  I always coach the especially loud drummers and work with guitarists to get their amp volumes to sit well in the mix. I've definitely acquired some tricks and habits after a dozen years of working in a lot of smaller rooms and having a distaste for buried vocals. I tend to EQ a bit harder than I would on a bigger stage. Usually, I end up pretty happy with my mix! But it's always a team effort with the musicians.

What gear do you use?

For our audio console, we have a Behringer X32, which is pretty much the small club industry standard. For a while we had a Soundcraft Vi1, which is a great-sounding board, but the software tends to glitch and it wasn't very guest engineer friendly. Our speakers are all made by JBL. FOH is a dual Sub-Pole-Top configuration. The Lounge doesn't have a traditional sound booth in the back of the room, so I do most of my mixing on an iPad that's connected to the board through a WIFI router. I can mix from anywhere in the bar. I actually prefer the iPad to a console when I'm mixing monitors, since I can stand right in front of the wedge with the artist as I'm doing it. We mic drums and amps. A kick mic, snare mic, and a single overhead mic can cover most drummers here just fine, but usually I like to bring a couple extra tom mics from home. I don't use my headphones much here at the Lounge, but for festivals and touring, I always use Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros. Love 'em!

For more information, visit thesilverlakelounge.com.

(Photo by Crazy Arts)