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 »]

Technically Transparent Worship: Organization (Part 3)

Part 3 of 6 in the series Technically Transparent Worship

Here is where the rubber hits the road. This is where the vision casting and planning starts taking shape. Here is where you’ll hear my mantra:

“Everything we do for the service we do to impact someone and help open the door to their heart for God to speak into them, no matter if it’s the first time they’ve stepped into church or the 1,000th time”.

It doesn’t matter the vision being cast or the plan, that should be the 100% focus working up to the step of organization. Pin it up in every room used for planning and implementing the worship service. [click to continue »]

Behind the Mixer Welcomes Brian Gowing

brian gowing

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that Brian Gowing is joining Behind the Mixer. Brian brings a wealth of knowledge, both with his level of technical geekdom but also with his vast experience working with tech teams, worship teams, and church staff in creating unified teams. He’s also a great guy!

Brian and I met a few years, through the normal online arena of church audio blogs. Then, in 2012, we met face-to-face at the Gurus of Tech conference. We hung out the first day and stayed up late talking all things audio.

Since 2012, I’ve re-posted a few of Brian’s articles, emailed him with technical questions, and tried to convince him to move to central Indiana. [click to continue »]

Why Doesn’t My Mix Sound Right? (What Works for Me)

Make your mix good to the last drop.  Photo by Mart1n

“I’ve done this before, I’m not an idiot,” I thought while making the third pot of coffee in three minutes.  The first time, I put in the coffee grounds but forgot the filter.  The second time, I’d rather not publicly discuss.  Let’s just say hot water sans coffee.  I’ve made hundreds of pots of coffee, usually while barely awake.  Why was this moment different?

Similar to making coffee, mixing can become second nature; set the gain, blend the volumes, blend vocals, clean up an instrument’s signal, etc.  But then it happens.  Mixing the same song for the 10th time, with the same band, with the same arrangement, wearing the same lucky socks, and the mix doesn’t come together.  [click to continue »]

Can You Create a Great Mix with Headphones?

Keep the headphones handy. Photo by Merene.

Are you mixing with headphones?  If not, you should be.  If you are, you shouldn’t be.  Confused?  Good.  There’s a right time and a wrong time for using headphones.

When NOT to use headphones

All of the time.

I get it, headphones provide sound isolation and therefore make for easier mixing.  The musicians can be heard without the distraction of other people talking in the room.  How do we listen to a lot of our music?  We listen through headphones.

The problem with sound isolation is it disregards the acoustic properties of the room.  I’ve mixed in two similarly-sized rooms and one room has a lot of reverb while the other has almost none.  [click to continue »]

Can’t Get the Mix Right: Blame Your Eyes

Hide those lyin' eyes.Photo by juliaf.

One sentence.  One sentence should drive music mixing.

Close your eyes and listen.

What you SEE affects what you THINK you should HEAR.

  • “I can’t hear the keyboard.”
  • “I can’t hear the bass.”
  • “I can’t hear my wife.”

Ah, words spoken by the seeing.

“I can’t hear the keyboard,” the intern said to me.  She trusted her eyes.  She was subconsciously saying, “I can’t hear the keyboard as loud as the other instruments.”  

For some reason, the eyes convey the idea, “If I see it then I should clearly hear it.”  But the ears have been listening to music for years.  [click to continue »]

4 Vital Production Tips to Propel Your Audio to the Next Level

Vital…Propel…Next Level…Can four production tips actually make THAT MUCH of a difference?  Yes, they can!  The sad part is a good number of people aren’t using these tips and their sound is suffering.  Answer this question; when does your mixing work begin?  Before you answer, I’ll give you three choices; once you enter the sound booth, once you enter the sanctuary, or once you get the song list?  

The problem is there are many of you who want to learn but there aren’t that many good teachers.  That’s where this list of 4 vital tips comes into play.  These are the simple things that should be done, could easily be done, but many times aren’t being done.  [click to continue »]

Mixing Vocals: The Slightly Shorter Guide

[Guest post by: Jose David Irizarry. Jose does a great job of capturing the work required for vocal mixing.  I call this the "shorter" guide because if you've read my vocal mixing guide, you'll know why. That being said, Jose brings in some great stuff not  covered in the guide, such as mixing vocals like musical chords...read on to see what I mean.]

In general, bass and drums are the cornerstone of a musical theme in a band. Then guitars, keyboards and other instruments complement the harmonic setting of the musical arrangement. Finally, on top of all this, vocals are the crown jewel of the song.  [click to continue »]