Best Club Soundman: Friend of your ears

Dan Pettit, Yoshi's

For music lovers, Yoshi’s is as close to heaven as any place on Earth. Without fail, its shows are impeccably presented because — more than any other venue around — it has figured out that the devil is in the details. There are overhead heaters to warm patrons while they wait in the ticket queue outside. The drink menu is clever and tasty (ideal for the crowd of fiftysomething empty nesters who slurp ’em down) and the theater has nearly perfect sightlines. But the sound is flawless. At most venues, there are acoustic sweet spots — often found in the immediate vicinity of the soundman — and then there are places where the bass overmodulates, the vocals get lost in the mids, and the treble frequencies sound shrill. But almost every seat in this supple, wood-paneled club is a good one. For the last decade, Dan Pettit has been responsible for making it that way. Acoustic, electric, or both, there’s usually plenty of crispness and clarity in his instrumental mix, and rarely, if ever, do the vocals sound muffled or unclear. Pettit is a prince among soundmen, light-years beyond the legions of alcoholic ex-rockers who dominate his field. He doesn’t throw a bunch of mics on stage and spend half the set trying to dial out squelching howls of feedback; he is an acoustical artist with the touch of a master.

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