Saving and recalling mix settings is a tremendous benefit with digital mixing consoles. Called “snapshots” or “scenes,” these make quick mixer changes (volume, EQ, effects, etc.) at the touch of a button. Are they worth the time to set up? Most definitely.
Growing up on an analog mixer, I didn’t have the benefit of saving and recalling scenes. At best, I had…nuttin’. It came down to making notes on the service schedule and twisting knobs as fast as I could when we’d go from one song to the next. Then came digital mixers which could save scenes. Would I need it? How much did those song mixes really change? Upon reflection, more than I realized at the time.
There are four benefits to using scenes, no matter how many services you run each weekend.
Benefits of using scenes
- Recall a scene in case of a problem. For example, you might change up a mix so much that you don’t like the result. Recall your original mix.
- Continual improvements from week-to-week. You might have the same band each weekend. While song mixes can change, you can still work out a vocal or instrument channel sound that’s not quite what you want.
- Produce the best mix for each song, not a compromise. In the analog world, yes, it’s possible to make mix changes from song to song. For a lot of professionals, they still run analog and this is part of their process. However, if you have the ability to set a separate mix for each song that you can instantly recall, then why not use it?
- Use for training. You can train a volunteer using saved mixes so they hear the right mix, examples of bad mixes, and they can mix during a practice while you can always recall your mix at any time.
Tricks to using scenes / snapshots
There are five tricks and I apologize if the first one seems simple but it’s important.
1. If you can use snapshots / scenes on your mixer then by all means USE THEM. You might be thinking your digital mixer has more functionality that you need. But don’t think scene recall is beyond your need. No matter how many services you run each week, there are too many benefits of using scenes to not use them.
2. During the service, if your mix changes are “best for the mix” then save them. We run three services at my church but we want the mix to be right the first time. However, we recognize the presence of the congregation in the room does change the sound of the mix, particularly on the low end. Small mix changes do occur and therefore we save those so they are present for the next service.
3. During the service, if changes are service-specific, don’t save them. A perfect example is the lead and backing vocals. The worship leader might sing noticeable louder the second service than the first or vice versa. Keep that base mix and know such changes are natural differences in the services.
4. Save new scenes before you need them. For example, you set the mix for the song “Worthy is the Lamb” and you are about to mix the next song. Save the same scene into a new slot with the name of the next song before making your new mix changes. This way, you don’t save over the previous scene.
5. Once all scenes are created, copy the last scene. Copy the final scene and add it as one more scene. In case you accidentally hit the button to advance scenes, you have a safety measure built-in.
The Take Away
Digital mixer scene functionality provides a wealth of benefits not available in analog mixers. Scenes are helpful for training, resetting a mix, and building the best mix for each song. Remember to save the mix changes that benefit the mix but don’t save the changes that are specific to a service. Once you start using scenes, you’ll never want to go back. Trust me on that one.