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. …keep reading »

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.  I’ve been there, without the lucky socks. …keep reading »

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.  Bottom line, what sounds good in the headphones can sound…umm…is there a Christian way of saying “crappy?”

When you CAN use headphones

When necessary. …keep reading »

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.  Whether it’s songs on the radio, iPhone, or 8-track player (remember those?), the ears have been listening to PRODUCED MUSIC.  This is music produced, in a studio, with mix nuances in EQ and volume.  The ears hear the music. …keep reading »

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.  Let’s change that. …keep reading »

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.  I’d like to direct focus to vocal mixing. …keep reading »

Do Digital Mixers Lead to Laziness?

lazy_cat

The automobile wasn’t invented because someone wanted a new means of travel.  It was because someone was tired of walking.  The recording device wasn’t invented because someone wanted a technology that could capture sound.  They were tired of taking notes in class.  Are those statements true?  Oh, I’d guess there is a shred of truth in them somewhere.  What IS true is that automation-through-technology can lead to laziness and when the church service is in full swing, you shouldn’t look like this sleeping cat.

I’ll admit most of us would quickly deny being lazy behind the mixer.  But, looking at this age of technology and what the future holds, audio production technology has reached a point where it does allow you the ability to be lazy,  specifically through the use of recall-able mix scenes. …keep reading »

How to Create a Song Mix Blueprint in Five Easy Steps

Architects plan for more than walls.  Even a staircase needs to be planned out in advance.

Have you looked at the set list for next weekend?  Do you have any idea what songs you’ll be mixing?  The standards, right?  A worship team worth their weight in salt (that’s a lot of salt) will be rotating in new songs now and then.  The musicians will practice their respective parts, the worship leader will have an arrangement selected, and as a team they will practice the song until it’s good enough for playing for the congregation.  You are the final musician on that team, mixing all of their sounds together into a song lifted up in worship.  What have you done to learn that song? …keep reading »

How Do Techs Magically Pinpoint a Problem Frequency?

It takes a few attempts.

So there I was, hunkered down in the sound booth with the congregation rioting around me.  Two instruments were vying for the same dominant frequencies and I could hear an elder yell, “MAKE THIS NIGHTMARE END!”  Sweat was pouring down my face.  “Think man, think,” I told myself.  “You’ve trained for this very type of scenario.”  My hand reached for the channel EQ.  I moved the mid-range sweep knob to 1257 Hz.  Suddenly, confident of my next move, I applied a 6 dB cut to that frequency…and the congregation went wild!

This story seems outrageous but in the mind of some audio techs, it reflects a question I occasionally get via email; “how do techs pinpoint a frequency so easily?”  

There are four ways that techs learn to pinpoint frequencies…but “pinpoint” isn’t the best description.  Let’s look at the four and you’ll see what I mean. …keep reading »

Detailing My (Our) Weekly Audio Production Process

“We don’t practice until the morning of the service.” “We have a mid-week practice.” “Practice?  I get a five-minute sound check and that’s it.”  I’ve heard from audio techs the world over regarding their weekly practices / sound checks and it usually falls into one of those just mentioned.  It seems time I detail how my church goes through our production routine.

I’ll note that I’m not sure on the timing on the video and lighting behind-the-scenes prep work like programming the lighting scenes.  This will cover what do know.

Wednesday Nights

This is our mid-week practice in which the worship band practices all of their songs.  Consider this the FIRST practice.  They’ll work on the overall songs, timing, problem spots, etc.  From a production point of view Steve or I will have all the equipment on stage and running.  Microphones, in-ear monitors, everything.  This is a great opportunity for us to set our channel assignments, channel gains, and dial in a rough mix for the overall band. …keep reading »