of a concert
's sound system. Each microphone
ultimately is wired
into the soundboard. Physically, the soundboard is a large, gently sloped console
containing many slide controls. Each slide control corresponds to a signal
from one on-stage microphone
. By using these controls, the operator is able to precisely control the volume
that the audience
hears from each microphone.
Some instruments, like the drums, actually have several microphones. Often, each particular piece of the drum kit (snare, bass, high hat, etc.) has its own microphone.
Those who enjoy taping and trading recordings of concerts covet the sometimes fleeting "soundboard" tape. Such a tape is simply a recording made directly from one of the outputs on the soundboard (they have many) to the tape recorder. These are celebrated recordings because the quality is not degraded in any meaningful way, and is a far superior source than a recording made by someone with his own microphone recording the sound put out by the PA system. In other words, a soundboard tape captures each instrument and vocal as it was meant to be heard, and does so directly from the source. By contrast, an audience recording captures the sounds as they are actually heard in the audience.
Generally the main soundboard is located in the center of the audience, to the extent that is possible. An auxilliary soundboard can usually be found near the stage, to the side. This board mixes the instruments and vocals so that each performer can hear everyone else and themselves while performing.