Mixing in a Different Room? Don’t Make This Assumption

Don't let the room fool you!

One day it happens.  You’re asked to mix someplace new.  Could you mix our band at another church?  Could you mix in the kids venue?  Or the big one, are you ready to mix in a new sanctuary…because we are building a new one!?!

A definition of sanctuary is a place of refuge and protection.  If you’ve always mixed in the same venue, you’ve been protected from a cold hard truth; what works in one venue will not work in other venues.  I’ll be honest, I used to think the same thing.  I recall standing behind the mixer thinking, “this sounds good at my church, why doesn’t it sound right here?  [click to continue »]

The 13 Things to Know Before You Start Mixing in 2015

Thinking about working in church audio in 2015? Perhaps you started this year and want to accelerate your skills. This post is for you!

Church audio production (all live audio production for that matter) has two paradoxical characteristics:

  1. The work and processes never change.
  2. The work and processes change.

For the people who believe only number one, the quality of their work eventually stagnates and they won’t be the star audio techs they used to be.

For the people who believe only number two, they’ll be so caught up trying to be cutting edge or learn every new piece of gear or DAW plug-in that they’ll forget – or never learn – the fundamentals of audio production. [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.”

OR

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 »]

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

arrangement

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 »]

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 »]

How to Mix Two Electric Guitars

Guitars can energize a mix or absolutely destroy it.  I’ve watched rookies look dumb-struck at the mixing console because they didn’t know how to handle mixing two guitars.  Mixing two guitars is a simple process in which you do the same thing to each guitar channel EXCEPT with one added step.

First of all, you MUST identify the role of each guitar in the song.  A guitar is either going to play rhythm or lead.  Take the two guitars in the song and identify the role of each.

Let’s say, in this example, there is a rhythm guitar and another guitar that will play rhythm with the occasional lead elements in the song. [click to continue »]

Which Four Wireless Microphone Mistakes are You Making?

There are four wireless microphone mistakes that get a sound tech in trouble.  The first mistake is one I’m often asked about.  I will be upfront and say that I’ve made two of these mistakes. Two, maybe three.  No, two.  Forgive and forget, right?  [sigh]

1. Allow signal seepage (that sounds… disgusting!)

It goes like this;

  1. Channel gain (trim) knob is at zero.
  2. Fader is at unity or below.
  3. The wireless signal still seeps (bleeds) through into the channel and out the main speakers.

Why does this happen when the gain is turned to zero?  The answer is simple and the solution even simpler.  [click to continue »]