Using these ten simple ways of improving your audio, you’ll be hailed as a master! Well, maybe not, but you will be sounding better.
1. Start with the Drums
- Start with the kick drum. Sculpt the sound so it fits in the room and with the general musical sound. It’s more than just a thump. Does it have a long rate of decay? A short one?
- The drum kit is more than the kick and snare; it’s also the toms and the cymbals. Make sure you spend equal time on these kit pieces.
- The drums can dominate the volume in the room. Set their level in the house so you’ll have room to layer other sounds on top and stay within an allowable volume range for your congregation.
- Mute channels when they are not needed. This eliminates feedback potential such as a pastor who walks too close between an open mic and a monitor.
- Mute channels when they are not needed (sound familiar?). Musical instruments can have audible line noise when they aren’t being played. This makes muting them during the sermon a great way to clean up your sound.
- Don’t mute it, fade it! (Tip from Dave Stagl) Fade out sounds completely, like the band or an accompaniment track, and then mute the channel. If you mute instead of fading, it will break the mood every time. Tip from me: don’t fade the pastor if you feel he’s preaching for too long.
3. EQ the Pastor
- Focus on clarity (speech intelligibility)
- Cut in the 5kHz to 7 kHz range if you have sibilance problems.
- Just read this article: How to EQ Speech for Maximum Intelligibility
4. Create Unique Sync’d Guitar Sounds.
- Two guitarists strumming the same rhythm shouldn’t sound the same. Bring out the warmth in the warmer guitar. Bring up the highs in the brighter guitar.
- Consider slight panning if your setup has that ability.
- Make two into four – add a bit of delay.
5. EQ the Video
- Video’s are either for music or speech. Eq them as such so the audience can clearly hear them as they were meant to be presented.
- Bad video quality? Cut the lows and see how much that improves the sound. Cut the highs for a bit of hiss removal. If it’s the congregation that’s hissing, you can’t do anything about that.
6. Experiment with Reverb Settings
- Just because you always use the same reverb setting doesn’t mean it’s the best. Try the others during a sound check. Pick a reverb type and then crank the effect so it’s noticeable. Reduce it to the point where it benefits your sound.
- Add a little reverb to younger singers (teenagers) and those with a harsh edge to their voice. Only do this after appropriate EQ work.
7. K.I.S.S. troubleshooting
- When problems occur, first look for the simplest explanation. The channel isn’t bad…you probably forgot to unmute it.
- Follow the signal path for any problems. Fader up, unmuted, gain set, wireless receiver on, microphone battery…dead.
8. Think Proactively
- Check battery levels before the service.
- Review band layout on the stage – any open mic’s too close to a monitor?
- Got a lot of stage changes during the service? This happens a lot during holidays (Christmas and Easter). Place channels in Subgroups / VCA’s for quick on/off and easier control.
9. Take Notes after the Service
- What did you learn today that should carry over to next week? Make note of it.
- What did you learn during the service that would be helpful for the rest of the audio team to know? Email it to them.
10. “You’re only remembered for your last time behind the mixer.“
This is a phrase common in the pro-audio field. It’s a reminder that you are only remembered for how you did the last time you were behind the mixer. I’ll spin this to say you should be ever improving and while your last time might have been good, focus on making your next time even better.