How We Screw Up Our Ears – Healthy Ears

“Can you hear out of this ear?” the nurse asked me.  “Yes,” I replied.  She proceeded to pull out the nastiest wax I’d ever seen.  “I THOUGHT I could hear,” came my next words.

Ear health isn’t a topic that will trend on Twitter any time soon but it’s important for sound engineers and musicians.

Usually, we are only told to avoid prolonged exposure to high sound pressure levels.  There’s much more we should be doing and it starts with knowing how our ears clean themselves.

What is earwax?

Cerumen, commonly called earwax, serves as a self-cleaning agent with protective, lubricating, and antibacterial properties.  [click to continue »]

Have You Fallen For This Audio Myth?

Audio production has long included choir miking and that’s where the problem started.  Miking a choir requires proper microphone placement and the 3-to-1 rule is often referenced. It’s also where the myth was birthed.

The myth is this:

The 3:1 microphone placement ratio extends to ALL microphones placed on the stage to ELIMINATE one sound from being detected in multiple microphones.

[click to continue »]

Church Techs Need to Stop Talking

LISTEN!  I’ve noticed a huge problem in online church tech forums (I’m a member of quite a few); many tech folks don’t know how to help solve problems.  Here’s the setup:

Questioner: “I have a problem with (insert problem here). I’ve tried (insert attempt here).  Here’s a list of my gear. Any ideas?”

Answer: “You need to upgrade (insert piece of equipment here) or use a (piece of equipment here). That’s what we use at (insert church here) and it takes care of the problem.”


Answer: “Why do you have that (insert piece of gear that has nothing to do with the question)?”  At this point, other people chime in on that unrelated gear until someone eventually brings it back around to the original question. [click to continue »]

One Cajón Plus Two Microphones Equals Two Instruments

A cajón, pronouced ka-hone, is nothing more than a wooden box.  And while a percussionist is whacking away at the exterior, there is a whole lot going on both inside and out.  Through the right miking combination, you can create a cajón mix with great mid and high end sounds as well as substantial low end. In the right circumstances, you’ll get the sounds of two instruments.

Cajón Microphone selection

For the outside, I use a Shure PG81.  This cardioid condenser is placed about a foot away from the front of the cajón.  This enables the capture of the percussionist’s hands slapping the cajón as well as picking up any additional percussion pieces on the floor, such as a foot-tapped tambourine. [click to continue »]

How To Lead Worship From The Sound Board

photo of worship

[Guest post from Dave Helmuth]

The worship leader stands on the stage, right?

Well, not exactly. The worship leader may be standing behind the mixer (hat tip to Chris Huff). What you do from the mixer affects…everything.

I don’t mean that you just have all the mics on when they need to be. I don’t just mean that your mix is musical and beautiful and inspiring. I don’t mean that there’s no feedback piercing our ears. I don’t mean that you’ve given the band what they need in their monitors. I don’t mean that you’ve stayed between your dB limits for the house mix. [click to continue »]

Mix Tolerance – Musicians, Song Arrangement, and When to Keep Your Finger Off the Fader


Let’s be honest, musicians only play the music but we’re the ones who form it into something great.  Their music pales in comparison to what we create.  We are mixing gods!

I so hope you were offended by that.  I didn’t mean it. The problem is some techs buy into that belief.  The result is they work against the musicians and not alongside them.  That needs to stop, today.

Musicians give us the most wonderful gift we can get – good song arrangements.  Song arrangements that carries the listener through the composition, with energy, with emotion.

Great arrangements make for easy mixing but if one doesn’t recognize the power of an arrangement, then mixing becomes about creating sound, not creating “music.”

What is an arrangement? [click to continue »]

Got the Low-End Frequency Blues?

Do you suffer from the low-end blues?  The symptoms include instruments lacking clarity, vocals lacking distinction, and a general feeling that “something’s rotten in the state of Denmark.” You’ve never been diagnosed with it until today.  Time to determine the source of the condition and prescribe a cure.

Consulting with churches on their audio quality, I’ve found a handful of common problems and the most common is excessive low-end frequencies in the mix.  It’s the result of many factors, three of which are outlined below.

Three Reason for the Low-End Blues

1. Poor bass definition

I didn’t say “Poor Bass EQ” because the blame doesn’t fall entirely on the sound tech.  [click to continue »]

What Your Pastor Needs From You

In the midst of all the techie stuff you do before a service, a.k.a controlled chaos, how many times have you purposefully encouraged the pastor?  Have you ever done it after the service?

A pastor’s job is one of the most isolating, difficult, and emotionally draining ministries.  A pastor gets the emergency phone calls, the prayer requests, and the unloading of burdens. They are the ones who have to keep a stiff upper-lip when every fiber in their being is screaming and crying out in emotional pain.

Pastors are not allowed to have an “off” day. I know pastors who work 7 days a week. [click to continue »]

The Art of Snare Mixing and a Frog – Yes, a Frog

I created a frog.  It wasn’t intentional.  Naturally, I’m not talking about a real frog but just look at that photo!  You’ll never read a mixing book that says, “make the snare’s EQ curve look like a frog in water.”  If you do, immediately stop reading the book.  Seriously, when it comes to snare mixing, the last place you want to be is behind the mixer.

There are three factors in creating a good snare drum sound:

1. The snare drum.

Snare drums don’t all sound the same just like all acoustic guitars sound different.  Even with a house drum kit, a drummer might bring their own snare because they like it’s sound. [click to continue »]

Video: Instrument Microphones and…Hot Sauce?

A reader emailed me asking about the difference between two instrument microphones.  His question came down to this; is the more expensive one worth the price?  If only it was that easy.  Find out how price is the last thing to consider and how it’s really about…ummmm…hot sauce.


I’m an audio guy.  Video is new to me.  The video first went out in the newsletter and after a number of people gave the same recommendations, I edited it a second time.  This is the second edit.  Let’s just say I learned a lot.  Also, when I film the next video, I’ll work on the reverb in the room – already got plans for that. [click to continue »]