What does the Head of Sound do?

Head of Sound is an in-house (based in a venue and often full or part-time) role responsible for overseeing all aspects of sound within a venue. The Head of Sound takes lead responsibility for the delivery and management of sound requirements for productions and related projects. Their role involves a combination of creative and technical responsibilities to ensure that sound elements enhance the overall production and contribute to the audience's experience. They can design the sound for a production or assist external Sound Designers and Composers by maintaining the venue's sound systems. 

What are the main responsibilities of the Head of Sound?

  • Coordinate with the technical team to set up and maintain sound equipment, including microphones, speakers, amplifiers, and playback devices 
  • Ensure that all equipment is in working order and meets safety standards
  • Collaborate with the director, designers, and creative team to enhance the sound design for the production. This can include selecting and editing sound effects, music, and other audio elements to create the desired atmosphere and enhance storytelling
  • Attend rehearsals to oversee sound cues and provide technical support to performers and crew members 
  • Work closely with the Stage Manager and other production staff to coordinate sound cues with lighting, set changes, and other elements of the production
  • Operate the sound desk during performances to execute sound cues and ensure that audio levels are balanced and consistent
  • Monitor sound quality throughout the show and make adjustments as needed to address any issues or feedback
  • Supervise and provide guidance to Sound Technicians, Assistants, and other members of the sound department 
  • Delegate tasks, provide training, and ensure that everyone is working together effectively to achieve the desired sound design
  • Troubleshoot technical issues and address any sound-related problems that arise during rehearsals or performances. 
  • Maintain clear and open communication with the creative team, technical crew, and performers to ensure that everyone is aligned with the sound design and aware of their responsibilities
  • Collaborate closely with other department heads to achieve a cohesive overall production
  • Work within allocated budget constraints to procure necessary sound equipment, materials, and resources for the production
  • Keep track of expenses and ensure that spending is in line with budgetary guidelines

What qualifications do I need to be the Head of Sound?

Although no formal qualifications are needed, a degree, qualification or apprenticeship in Sound Design, Sound Engineering, Technical Theatre, Performing Arts, Theatre Arts, or a related field provides a solid foundation of theoretical knowledge and practical skills relevant to sound production in theatre. 

Find opportunities in sound to help you get into theatre here

What skills do I need to be the Head of Sound?

  • Proficiency in sound design principles, including the ability to select and edit sound effects, music, and other audio elements to enhance storytelling and create the desired atmosphere
  • Advanced knowledge of sound equipment, including microphones, speakers, amplifiers, mixing consoles, and playback devices
  • Ability to set up, operate, and troubleshoot sound systems effectively
  • Familiarity with audio editing software (e.g., Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, Digico, QLab and Mainstage) to manipulate and refine sound recordings, create custom sound effects, and mix audio tracks for the production
  • Strong organisational skills to coordinate sound cues, attend rehearsals, and provide technical support to performers and crew members
  • Ability to work collaboratively with the Stage Manager and other production staff
  • Experience operating the sound desk during live performances to execute sound cues, adjust audio levels, and ensure smooth transitions between scenes. 
  • Ability to monitor sound quality and make real-time adjustments as needed
  • Excellent leadership and communication skills to supervise Sound Technicians, Assistants, and other members of the sound department. Ability to delegate tasks, provide guidance, and foster a collaborative working environment
  • Quick thinking and resourcefulness to troubleshoot technical issues, address sound-related problems, and resolve any challenges that arise during rehearsals or performances
  • Creative thinking and artistic vision 

What does a career as the Head of Sound look like?

Specialised training or coursework in sound engineering, audio production, and live sound reinforcement offers practical skills and hands-on experience with sound equipment and techniques. Hands-on experience working on theatre productions, either through internships, apprenticeships, or entry-level roles, provides valuable insight into the demands of the role and helps develop essential skills. Some people may start as a casual or apprenticeship Technician and then specialise in sound later on. 

Find apprenticeship opportunities in backstage roles from across the theatre industry

How much does the Head of Sound earn?

Head of Sound roles can earn around £1200 per week for large scale venues and shows. For a full time role, the average yearly salary is £30k - £50k. Grade 1 or 2 rates for 2023-2025 as per the SOLT/BECTU Agreement suggests a minimum weekly rate of £717.57- £840.91.

The above is a guide. Pay, salary or fee can vary depending on the theatre or company, as well as your personal experience. National institutions or commercial productions can pay in excess of the above, with profit-share or community theatre paying less. 

You can find theatre jobs via The Stage Jobs here 

Read this Head of Sound job specification with the RSC, for more information: 


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