A2 is Audio Two position at front of house. An A2 is there to handle everything that could distract the A1 mix engineer, including: intercom chatter, stage issues, client complaints, run of show concerns and system problems. The role is akin to a co-pilot on an airliner, but with some differences unique to the audio experience, mainly yelling clients. Here are some things to know about being an A2:
1. You are there to protect the A1’s focus. Anything that gets in the way of the mix is the responsibility of the A2. The A2 should be on the intercom headset monitoring the chatter for anything related to audio. Sometimes, it is a challenge to juggle multiple channels of intercom plus the in-ear radio channel (think Secret Service radios) in your right ear while listening to the mix and the A1 with your left ear. The first time I held the A2 position, it gave me a headache trying to separate all the conversations in my ear while hitting cues and mutes at the proper time on the console, but now, it’s second nature.
2. You will get yelled at often, so deal with it. When the A1 flubs a solo, your right ear will immediately be filled with bosses of all stripes screaming, “A2, what happened?” Be prepared to give a non-technical answer, since some of the people on the other end are producers and directors who don’t care about details; they just want answers. Do not throw the A1 under the bus, even if it was clearly their fault. Say something to the effect you found the issue and are working to ensure it does not happen again.
3. The A2 has to deal with the client. On a corporate gig where suits are running the show, the CEO’s assistants will make life miserable for you in fear of their jobs even though it is a two-input event. Learn to develop empathy for those who can lose their employment if a mic fails. In church, ushers will accost you to ask you to lower the volume or turn off the air conditioning. Mothers of young soloists will hover over you to make sure you turn her angel up. Girlfriends of guitar players will tell you it sounds all wrong and that’s not his tone. Pastors will dress you down in front of everyone when he forgets to turn on his wireless. It’s all part of the gig. Just remember, the A1 owes you dinner – big time!
4. Encouragement is what the A1 needs most. In a large church, the A1 is under constant pressure to perform without mistakes, but everyone is human and errors occur. In those moments, the A1 needs you to reassure them they are competent and knowledgeable and probably won’t lose their job during the Tuesday morning staff meeting. And, if they do, you know a great company that is hiring.
5. The A2 interfaces with the senior pastor and other parts of tech ministry. Generally, the A2 handles mic’ing the senior pastor and informing them of any changes before service. The A2 also briefs the video and lighting leads and is in contact with the stage manager for any movement cues. It’s not unusual for the A2 to have to step in and be the A1 when illness or emergencies arise, so learn the console thoroughly.
Being the “co-pilot” in audio world can be richly rewarding despite the challenges. As an A2, you are the one who connects audio to the rest of the church. You represent the audio team to the leadership and congregation while maintaining decorum and dignity. You are also guaranteed to need a nap on Sunday afternoon.