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 »]

Avoid These Four Costly Production Assumptions – I’ve Made Them All

My mom used to say, “never assume anything.”  This is never truer than with audio production.  I’ve made many a costly mistake because of an assumption.  I made one just last wee…um, never mind I said that.

I’d normally jump in with a story but today, I’m getting right to the details!

The Costly Audio Production Assumptions:

1. Assume the last sound tech had it right.

Unless the band and stage setup changed between the last service and the current service, “most” everything should be the same.  Same musicians, same instruments, same channel assignments, same gain settings, etc.  A good audio tech knows that even with the same band and instruments, EQ work will vary week-to-week and in many cases, from song to song. [click to continue »]

The Excellence Mantra Has to Stop!

Aiming for excellence has become a church tech mantra and it has to stop! This post will attract many comments on both sides but, I’ve never been one to shy away from a good, rousing discussion so here goes!

I’m guilty. I’ve written about constantly improving your knowledge and skill at audio engineering. I’ve talked about aiming for excellence, both with equipment and with your skill level. Numerous church tech blogs talk about the same thing, to the point where I’m beginning to get a little tired of hearing it. It’s become a church tech mantra.

We’ve become so focused on the “doing” that we’re forgetting about the “being.”

I live and breathe the church tech stuff. [click to continue »]

Do You Have a Case of Big Church Envy?

Prepare to be uncomfortable.  You have fallen prey to Big Church Envy.  You know who you are and what I’m talking about and you’re starting to squirm in your seat.

Just because a church the size of Willow Creek or Saddleback has a fantastic mondo sound, video, and lighting system doesn’t justify YOU spending that kind of money on equipment. These Big Churches are a different breed and can set the bar for the rest of us. That doesn’t mean we should copy them.

The Symptoms

It’s fun to drool over a Big Church’s latest $50,000 digital mixer or $100,000 lighting setup.   [click to continue »]