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An A1 is the person responsible for the overall and total execution of the sound design during the performance. This job may include operating a mixing console and sound reinforcement system, as well as co-ordinating sound effects and mixing microphones. The sound operator reports directly to the sound designer.

While professional theaters typically hire a sound operator as part of the production staff, it is not uncommon in smaller theaters for the sound designer to assume the role of sound operator.

Historically, the sound department of a professional theatrical production used to be a subset of the electrics (lighting) department, and sound personnel were hired as electricians. This is no longer the case, though, again, it is not uncommon in smaller theatres for this role to be assigned to someone such as an electrician or assistant stage manager.

In touring theatre, the sound operator is responsible for getting the sound system installed and running, and smoothly integrated with the venue and any of the local equipment. This could include backstage and front-of-house intercom, video monitors and cameras, auxiliary speakers (under the balcony or in the lobby), backstage and dressing room audio monitors, public address microphones and assistive listening devices.

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