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 »]

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 »]