Basic Audio Technician Tools and Supplies
The basic audio tech tools and supplies section will cover the basic tools and supplies that you (as an audio technician) will need to properly test and troubleshoot your gear (cables, amplifiers, etc), and also a brief description of each.
The “Tool Bag / Box”
Tool Bag (Box) – It is recommended that you get a medium size tool box so that you will have space for all of your audio tech tools and supplies (and it will be very beneficial to have everything in one tool box).
Tools (Suggested Tools of the trade)
Tweeker – Is a small screwdriver used on XLR and Banana connectors (among other things). The tweeker will turn out to be a very important tool.
Wire Strippers – A good wire stripper is critical to a technician’s tool bag. Never cut large cables, this will cause the cutting edge to dull.
Small Diagonal Cutters – A very useful tool to cut smaller gauge wires, and to get the “closer” cuts when needed. Do not use on larger cables…
Needle Nose Pliers – This type of plier comes in various sizes, it is recommended to use the smaller version of this plier for soldering.
Screwdriver – To save some room in the tool bag it is suggested to use a “combination” type screwdriver (they are very convenient to use).
Electrical Tape (E-tape) There are many uses for electrical tape so keep some handy, but it should never be used for any type of permanent connection.
Small Flashlight – All tool kits should have a flashlight (spare batteries).
Multi-Meter (Digital Multi-Meter, or simply “Meter”). It is recommended to start with a less expensive meter.
Mini-Amp Audio Tester (any Powered Speaker Tester) – This type of tester is a valuable troubleshooting tool can and will be the most helpful to you.
Alligator Clips – Very useful, come in different sizes and colors.
Soldering Tools / Supplies
Soldering Irons – A good soldering iron heats quickly, and at the right temperature. Always keep the “tip” of the iron clean (using a wet sponge).
There are several types:
1. Regular – Plug and Heat (no temperature control).
2. Soldering Stations (controlled temperatures).
3. Butane Type – These are great for when you need to solder “in the field” and quickly!
Vice – If you are planning on doing any type of soldering, you should use a small vice (like a 2nd pair of hands).
Safety Glasses – A must for all soldering. It is recommended that you use safety “glasses” (picture – a) not safety “goggles” (picture – b). Goggles can be quite bulky and uncomfortable. Both can scratch very easily…
Solder – There are different sizes / types of solder – one popular size solder would #60/40 with a diameter of .031 (tin-lead type solder is the most common for audio connectors).
Solder Sucker – Very handy when you need to remove solder quickly.
Other Useful Tools / Supplies:
The tools listed so far are just a handful of the ones that you need to perform audio technician related work discussed on this website. Do not limit yourself to just these.
Other tools you should think about:
a) Wrenches – such as an open end wrench or a small crescent wrench.
b) Small screwdriver set – other than the tweeker, there are small Phillips screwdrivers that can be very useful.
c) Allen wrench set – Since many pieces of equipment will have allen bolts on them, this tool may get some use.
d) Contact Cleaner – very useful for cleaning dirty volume controls, etc.
Contact Cleaner – Great for cleaning noisy contacts, pots, switches, etc. Not all contact cleaners are alike! Some can destroy plastic, and be harmful to equipment / parts, use only the recommended types and brands.
There are many audio technician tools that you will be adding to your tool bag over time, but its best practice to buy tools as you need them, not just to have them.
Notes – Here are some Tips on Tools / Service Aids:
a) Smaller cutters and pliers should never be used on larger size cables (they will get dull or even break).
b) Keep a spare 9-volt / AA batteries around for your Mini-Amp tester, Multi-Meter, and flashlight.
c) Always use a fan and wear safety glasses when soldering.
d) AC Power can be dangerous – Always Use Caution!
Safety Note – Always use common sense when using any kind of tool. Accidents can (and will) happen at any time, and especially when you’re not paying attention to what you are doing. Use caution at all times!