I Can’t Hear Anything

25 11 2013

Recently I had the opportunity to mix a concert with an incredible band, half of whom are on our worship team at church (including our Worship Pastor), the other half flew in for the weekend. The rented speaker system sounded great and the band was tight. It was an amazing experience for me until I went backstage after the show to connect with the leader only to hear, “Man that was hard, I just couldn’t hear anything from my stage monitors.”

Many sound techs have been in those shoes before, getting up early, pouring every ounce of Sunday morning energy into getting a great mix, only to hear the band was frustrated with their monitor mix. In my situation, we had 6 mixes on 6 wedges on a 24′ wide by 12′ deep stage, so it’s not that there wasn’t volume on stage. It just wasn’t good volume. It was hard for them to clearly hear the detail of what they were playing. I suspect a lot of the problem with hearing the mix at our concert is similar to what many churches experience: lousy monitors.

It’s said that the two most critical pieces to good sound are the first piece (the microphone or source) and the last piece (the speaker). At my church last year, we got 5 new wedges as our team wasn’t happy with their personal monitor system. You see, most of the people who used the personal monitor system would use $30-60 ear buds, so while the whole personal mixer system cost closer to $1,000 per person, it was being negated by cheap consumer ear-buds. So we did the next most logical thing you can do: we bought cheap wedges. While we did a nearly $100,000 sound system upgrade a year and a half ago for our 1,500 seat auditorium, we spent $200-250 per wedge for the musicians creating the music.

Now don’t go thinking I’m venting about my church, I was involved in the decision to purchase these monitors. We had a tight budget and we picked the best thing we could for the money we had. But it seems to me that there is a fundamental problem when we’re willing to spend thousands of dollars on each speaker for the audience, and only hundreds for the piece that allows our musicians to create art for that audience. It seems to me that speaker fidelity and quality should matter as much, if not more, for the creators than the consumers. If the artists can’t hear the detail of what they’re creating, why should we expect it to be any good.

Great race car drivers have cars that go fast and handle well. Great chefs have great ingredients, knives and cookware. In order for your musicians to produce great music, they need good instruments and the ability to hear what they’re doing clearly. If you constantly hear things like, “I can’t hear the monitors” or “the whole stage sounds muddy”, get up on stage and give it a listen. If what the musicians are listening to isn’t at least as good as what the audience hears, it’s time to get them the tools they need to do their job. Low cost monitors can have their place, but know you’re lowering the bar for your artists by using them. And if you’re using personal mixers or wireless in-ear monitors, please do not use any ear buds you can buy at Walmart or Best Buy.

Great artists are capable of producing great results with average tools. They have to work a lot harder to do so, but they can. The challenge most of our churches face is that most of our artists aren’t professional musicians and singers, so they need help raising their game to produce great results. If you’re ok with mediocre results, give average to good musicians good tools. If you want your musicians to produce great results, get them great tools, starting with the instruments they play and the monitors they use to hear





To Wire or Not To Wire, That Is The Question

18 11 2013

The other day I was talking with one of our Systems Engineers and we came across a picture of a church vocal team on their stage. Many things struck me about this picture, like seeing 7 vocals crammed in maybe a 12′ wide by 5′ deep space (on a large stage) and seeing each singer with their own music stand, mic stand and personal monitor mixer. But the thing that stood out most was the fact that each singer, surrounded by all of this stuff, was using a wireless microphone instead of a wired microphone.

We all know wireless microphones provide a high level of convenience and flexibility, and they certainly can keep a stage looking clean. If your setup features the vocalists out towards the front of the stage and you want to keep wires at bay, I’m totally in favor of wireless mics. If your guitarists don’t need access to any pedals and need to be able to move around the stage, wireless connections totally make sense. Too often people think wireless mics and guitar systems will clean up the look of the stage. That’s true, if you don’t have a bunch of other wired gear in the same space. As most touring guys will tell you, if you don’t have to use wireless you shouldn’t. In this edition I want to look at some of the advantages that come with sticking to wired microphones over wireless

Wired Microphones Might Sound Better
With a wired microphone, what you put into it is what you get out of it. A high quality mic capsule well matched to voice or instrument is the best possible way to get quality sound. With wireless equipment, you are often limited in the selection of mic capsules, limiting your ability to try different mics to find the best match. Many wireless mics use companding to compress dynamic range into a small frequency allocation. While this processing is less noticeable on higher priced wireless systems, there can be a noticeable difference between vocals and instruments on a wireless setup versus a wired one.

Reliability
One well-known microphone manufacturer (of both wired and wireless microphones) had an engineer that used to start off his classes by holding up a microphone cable and saying something like, “The most expensive wireless mic in the world is ALMOST as good as using this.” Wireless technology is not perfect, and even a really great wireless has a higher rate of failure than its wired counterpart. In the world of production, where so much can go wrong, wireless introduces one more finicky area of possible failure. Wireless interference, intermodulation distortion and drop-outs happen for a variety of reasons and can kill a moment when you least expect it. As long as your cable is of decent quality, a wired microphone just won’t have these issues. If you want to go wireless, invest in a well designed antenna and RF distribution system to give your wireless mics the most reliable signal possible.

They Don’t Require Batteries
If you mix audio with wireless equipment for any length of time, you’ll run into the dreaded situation of someone’s batteries dying while on stage. Even for those particularly diligent about replacing batteries, it will happen at some point. Whether it simply has run its course or maybe it came with bad cells, batteries can and will die without notice where a good microphone cable typically won’t. And there is a significant ongoing cost to the batteries you use for wireless equipment. At the first church where I was on staff, we ran something like 10-12 wireless microphones for 3 services per week and had a battery budget in the neighborhood of $1,500 per year! Add a few more wireless microphones and some wireless in-ear monitors and the cost of your batteries per year can double. Do you know how much ongoing expense your wired microphone has? Maybe $25 if you need to get a new cable? It’s not even close. For those situations where you are using wireless, get a professional rechargeable battery and charging system designed for professional wireless microphones like those available from Ansmann.

More Economical
Last but not least, wired microphones simply cost less. Average wired microphones often amount to 1/3 the cost of their wireless counterparts if you compare apples to apples. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t need the mobility, I’d much rather buy two good microphones than one average wireless.

Wrap Up
Make no mistake, I like high quality wireless microphones and love them for many applications. That being said, I think too many churches today go to wireless first when a wired microphone would actually fill the need better. Wired microphones generally sound better, are more reliable, don’t require batteries (saving money and increasing reliability) and are significantly more cost-effective up front. I’ve said it many times before in this newsletter, and I’ll say it again: before you buy anything, really weigh out what features you need in order to be successful, then buy the equipment that will meet those needs. My recommendation is this: don’t buy wireless where wired will do just fine. Take those funds and add versatility and diversity to your wired mic selection. We have wired mics designed to bring out the best in female vocals, male vocals and a wide variety of instruments.

As published at www.ccisolutions.com under Worship Tools





Mix Sound Like a Pro Ten: Wrap Up

19 10 2012

As we wrap up this series, I think it’s important to talk about one of the most important elements of great mixes. At the end of the day, the mix will only be as good as the music created by those on stage. In reality, the work of the FOH guy is to take what the artists on stage create and work it to create one great sound. I used to watch some of the cooking competition shows, and I think there are some great analogies there in the roles of the musicians and the sound tech.

The Cooks in the Kitchen
The musicians and singers are the cooks in the kitchen, responsible for the quality and flavor of each dish created and presented to the audience. A Sous Chef and a variety of cooks will all have a hand in creating the dish, but ultimately the taste of the dish is the responsibility of that team under the guidance of the Head Chef. The quality and flavor must be great, but right before that food goes out to the audience, one last person arranges the food with a beautiful, meaningful presentation that hopefully impresses the audience at first glance. As the FOH tech our role is to give the food created for us the most fantastic presentation we can.

I don’t care if you have an amazing gift for mixing, poor content will ruin great presentation. Amazing food has to taste just as good as it looks. It’s rare that someone walks away from a meal saying, “It tasted awful, but the presentation was awesome.” The same holds true for mixing. When is the last time you walked out of a music experience thinking, “The musicians weren’t playing together and the vocals were pitchy, but man the mix was blended well”? It all comes down to the content, and if the content isn’t there, none of it matters.

Worship Team Carries the Weight
If you are a Worship Leader, musician or singer who is called to lead our congregations in worship, I want to bless you and honor you. I always marvel at those who have the skill and talent to play an instrument, remember both their notes and lyrics and lead 100’s to 1,000’s of people in worship. I cannot do that. I’m not gifted to do it. Frankly trying to do so in front of all of those people would terrify me. You carry a weight on your shoulders that most techs will never truly understand, and most of us are very grateful that we get to play a small role serving alongside you.

As creative artists serving in the sound ministry, we hope you understand that for the most part, we can only sweeten your content so much. The flavor, the content, needs to come from you and your worship team. As your sound team strives to produce professional sounding mixes on your behalf, their ceiling will be the one your content provides. It’s up to you to set the bar for flavor, and it’s up to you to create content that the presentation can support.

Feedback
We’ve had a blast diving into some of the keys to mixing success and have had great feedback from many readers. If you have feedback or ideas that you’d like us to expand upon, I’d love to hear from you! If you have a topic that I haven’t covered, or topics you’d like me to go more in-depth on, please let me know.  The heart for the Worship Tools newsletter is to help those of you serving week in and week out be successful in ministry. And since this newsletter is about helping you, you have a chance to influence the topics we cover here.

Thank you for all that you do to serve God, your family and your community. We are grateful that we get to serve you as you serve those with whom God has surrounded you.





Mix Sound Like A Pro, Part Nine: Listening

7 10 2012

Great audio people listen more carefully and intently
Over the past few months we’ve discussed much of the mechanics needed to become a great Front of House (FOH) operator and what your mix should sound like. Mechanics and process is necessary, but won’t quite get the mix you’re looking to achieve. One of the most outstanding traits that great pro sound guys have is a passion for listening.

We all use our ears everyday to listen, whether to our surroundings, to speech to music. The difference between the average listener and pro audio folks though is the intentionality of their listening. Great audio people listen more carefully and intently. They listen to the nuances of natural acoustical sound, especially sounds that need to be reproduced in a sound system. To achieve a musical mix, it’s simply not enough to make louder sounds.

Being A Fan
When it comes to music, I find the best FOH people are also some of the biggest fans of music, period. It’s not about knowing one style of music or even one generation of music, but becoming such a fan of music that your musical base includes a wide variety of styles, artists and even decades of release.

Some of the most creative, expressive and artistic music can be found from decades ago. My friend Mike Sessler, a Technical Director in Southern California and the author of www.churchtecharts.org, hosts the podcast Church Tech Weekly which I am generally a guest on, and we ended up devoting an entire episode a few weeks back with an all-star audio panel discussing how important it is to become a great fan of music in order to become better at mixing FOH. I highly recommend listening to the episode, which you can find here.

More Than Listening
While it’s a great thing to crank up the tunes and listen to the artistry of another’s musical creation, great audio people will often dig deeper into the music. Critical listening is a great skill to learn. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had a new instrument to mix into a band setting with little clear instruction as to exactly how to mix them in. In order to be prepared for every occasion, I often listen to music that incorporates a wide range of instruments, carefully listening to the different ways they sound and can be used in a mix. I apply the same level of thinking when I know I’m going to be mixing a band I’ve never worked with before. If available, I will spend a decent amount of time listening to their own music (or something similar if they don’t have anything recorded) so when I get behind the console I have a good idea of what I want the instruments to sound like and how I want them to interact with each other.

My friend Dave Stagl, the Audio Director at North Point Church in Atlanta recently discussed some of the strategies he likes to use when listening to music critically. His list, found here, looks at many different angles of what you are hearing when you listen to produced music. The difference is instead of listening at the surface of the finished product, spend some time listening with a focus on each instrument. Critically listen to music that is similar to the style of music you mix and listen to the nuances of how the lead instruments blend with the rhythm of the bass and drums, and how the spacing of the music was crafted. If you’re like me, you’ll find exercising critical listening will help shape your view of how you EQ, compress and mix every instrument.

Wrapping Up: The Main Idea
Great audio people love great music. By great, I’m not talking simply about high fidelity recordings, but music that moves them and elicits emotion. After all, we want art to move and inspire us. If you’re going to create mixes that are moving and inspiring, you must be moved and inspired yourself. It doesn’t have to match your personal preference of style, but great musicians and audio guys love getting lost in the artistry of all kinds of music.

If you looked at my iTunes list of music, you’d see every kind of rock there is in addition to pop, folk, gospel, southern gospel, movie sound tracks and yes, even a little bit of country. Many of the artists are well-known, while some are most decidedly not. Some are moving scores from blockbuster movie hits and others simply are independent artists that I felt made great art. And I go through seasons listening to different music.

In order to move, you must be moved. In order to inspire, you must be inspired. In order to elicit emotion, you must experience emotion yourself. In order to mix music well, you must become a fan of great music. Become a lover of all kinds of music and a frequent critical listener and I promise you’ll see your mixes improve dramatically.





Mix Sound Like a Pro Part Eight: The Pyramid Architect

13 09 2012

In nearly every church, the Senior Pastor truly is the Principal Architect of what happens in your church. When it comes to every ministry aspect of your church, the Principal Architect is responsible for the whole picture. Regardless of whether they know music or mixing, the Principal Architect is still accountable to God for it. For this reason they have the final say, and as a FOH person we should be periodically checking in with our Pastor to make sure they feel good about the worship mix.

I mix at my church 2-3 times per month and I’ve made it a habit for years to check in with my Pastor between first and second service to make sure the sound felt good. If he has concerns, I listen. Generally that check-in tells me that I’m on the right track and can continue the course. But on the rare occasion that the sound does jump the track, it’s much better to know that before another service than to wait until after a complaint is made during next week’s staff meeting.

Project Architect

For most churches, the Senior Pastor has entrusted the Worship Leader to handle the details of your worship architecture. While we need to check in periodically with the Principal, the person that understands both the vision and the details to the pyramid we should be mixing is your worship leader. Whether paid or volunteer, your Project Architect is the person entrusted to lead the body into worshiping God. His task is to define the structure of what the musicians and singers do in worship. That arranging and sculpting is also what defines our mix pyramid.

The Project Manager

I learned many years ago that I am not a musical architect. I’m great at taking the vision of the Principal Architect, combined with the details from the Project Architect to build a beautiful mix pyramid.

Sure, I absolutely have great ideas to include for the design of the pyramid. But I have to realize that as the FOH operator (or guitarist, drummer, singer, etc.) I am not the architect. My role is that of a Project Manager who plays a crucial role in building this masterpiece. My job is to take the materials that the musicians are bringing and create the pyramid masterpiece the architects designed.

Frankly, that is a freeing place to be when you’re behind the console. Complaints on the mix used to ruin my week. Having to mix to a volume cap used to drive me nuts. Complaints still bother me for a minute and I still prefer to mix with freedom, but I learned that there is freedom in mixing within the plans the architects created. When you’re building according to the plans the architect drew, complaints and differences of opinion will no longer be personal to you. And when you get a comment, you can check in with the architect, fill them in and let the architect decide what should and shouldn’t change. I have never mixed with greater freedom than I have since I had this revelation.

Project Architects (Worship Leaders)

If you’ve been entrusted to lead your congregation in worship, be sure to lead everyone. Most leaders understand they have to direct the band to play in a certain way and at certain times, but if you’re not communicating what you’ve designed to the FOH operator, your Project Manager, don’t be too surprised if the pyramid comes out a little differently than you intended. Great communication and collaboration between the designer and the builder is critical if the architect wants the building to come out right. Worship Leaders and FOH operators should be talking regularly about what the goals and desired outcomes are, and occasionally to course-correct as well.

Project Managers (FOH Operators)

Most Project Architects are wonderfully gifted at designing a worship environment, but not all are naturally inclined towards great communication. If your Worship Leader isn’t communicating with you regularly about what they are trying to accomplish with the music arrangement, you’re determining your mix pyramid on your own which means you’ve inserted yourself into the accountability chain. I don’t know about you, but as the person behind the console, that’s a responsibility I don’t want.

Unless I’m directing the band and singers too, I have no business giving myself that responsibility. If you’re determining your own mixing priorities without the worship leader’s input, I highly recommend you share this article with them, along with your desire to submit to their direction, and enjoy the freedom that mixing under proper authority brings.

Putting the Final Stones in Place

Communication gets a bad rap for being difficult sometimes, but in this case it doesn’t have to be complicated. Most Worship Leaders will reuse songs regularly as the congregation knows them and can follow along easily, so it’s not like you have to relearn 4 to 6 new songs every week. If you already know how 4 of the songs have been arranged, a quick conversation to get the vision for the 2 new songs is all it takes to be mixing to the Architect’s plans. If my Worship Leader doesn’t clearly tell the band on his own what is leading, what is leading second and who is filling or supporting, I’ll often walk up to the stage and ask during a break. While I’m experienced enough to usually get a good idea of what he intends pretty quickly, I ensure that I’m mixing to his vision when I ask. In addition, I build trust.

I get to mix free from stress, happy to serve and carry out the vision that the Principal Architect has worked with his Worship Architect to create. Through vision, detail, communication and submission, God is glorified, which is our mutual goal!





Mix Sound Like a Pro, Part Six: The Rest of the Channel Strip

1 08 2012

As originally posted in the Worship Tools Newsletter at www.ccisolutions.com

So far in the last five Worship Tools newsletters we’ve gotten into some of the more critical and complex features on the traditional analog console channel strip. We’ve spent considerable time on EQ and gain, but this week we’re going to pick it up a little bit and cover a number of other buttons and knobs that typically exist on each channel. These all exist on a digital console too, but may not be in the same order as we’ll tackle them here.

PAD
Most of the time you won’t likely need this, but occasionally inputs send a much stronger signal than usual and you run out of room to turn the gain down. Engaging this button will give you a cushion, usually 20 dB, so that you can have room to go up or down with gain without having way too much input.

Phantom Power (48V)
Phantom power is required to operate certain types of microphones and is usually supplied by the mixing console. While we’re not looking to cover all types of microphones in this edition of Worship Tools, we’ll make a distinction between dynamic and condenser mics for the sake of our discussion on phantom power. Dynamic microphones like the Shure SM57 and SM58 are relativel inexpensive, durable, moisture–resistant and less prone to feedback. Condenser microphones tend to produce a higher quality sound (flatter and extended frequency response) and are more sensitive to picking up sound. Condenser microphones are good at picking up more of the detail and nuance of acoustic instruments and vocals. They also require power, and that’s where our 48V button, otherwise known as phantom power, comes in. You might have the gain set correctly and the fader set to a normal level, but if the 48V phantom power switch is not turned on, you won’t get sound out of your condenser mics.

AUX (or mix)
Just as you use your faders to mix your house send, your AUX sends are simply another mix you put together. Working the exact same way your faders do to create a mix, you turn the AUX knobs to increase or decrease the level of input sources into each mix. For most people, your AUX sends will feed monitor wedges, in-ears or your effects. Regardless of where the final send goes, your AUX sends are simply a different way to mix inputs into an output.

PAN
If you are mixing a stereo house, one where you actually hear both the left and right speaker from most seats in the house, the pan knob can help you create a little bit of space in your mix and create a stereo image for those listening.  When operating with a mono system, or a stereo system where each side of the house only hears one of the speakers, it’s best to leave the pan knob at center so everyone gets to hear the entire mix you are creating.

MUTE
Simple enough, this button will eliminate that channel’s audio from its output destination. On some consoles (Yamaha especially), the mute button is replaced with an On button. In that case, turning the On button off will eliminate audio.

PFL / AFL / Solo
Known are Pre-Fader Listen and After Fader Listen, this button is also known as Solo. Pressing this button will give you the opportunity to monitor only that input in your headphones, allowing you to check for anomalies or other specific things you’re hearing. Some mixers have a Solo with the ability to choose whether you hear the solo pre-fader (the input right as it comes into the mixer and after the gain knob) or post-fader (the input with channel strip processing and the channel fader volume applied).

Assign / Subgroups
The assign buttons allow you to route the signal or sound of that channel directly to the master output or to a subgroup. The more technical term for a mixers subgroup is VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier) and the digital mixer version is DCA (Digital Control Amplifier).

When mixing 24-48 inputs, it can be tough to keep up with the dynamics of all the live musicians when dealing with each fader individually. Creating relevant groups by assigning multiple channels to a single subgoup allows you to adjust that group of channels with just one fader. For example, let’s say we have 8 inputs for our drums, bass, acoustic, electric, two stereo keyboards, a variety of orchestra instruments, 6 vocalists and a choir. In order to make mixing all of those inputs more manageable, we’ll assign them to the subgroups. One possible break down for grouping could be:

  1. Drums
  2. Guitars
  3. Keyboards
  4. Orchestra
  5. Lead Vocals
  6. Background Vocals
  7. Choir
  8. Playback sources (CD, i-Device, DVD Player, etc.)

While you may prefer a slightly different arrangement (which is fine), right off the bat mixing has been streamlined through the use of subgroups. Find that your background vocals are getting a bit lost, but your blending of them is solid? Just push up the entire group a bit. When you hit that big accapella section of the song with just the drums, you can push just the drums and vocals a bit with two faders instead of grabbing 12. If one song is guitar led and the next one is keyboard led, you can make that adjustment quickly too without changing the overall balance of what is in each group. If you’re going to be an active sound person, and I hope you are, assigning inputs to subgroups will help you make group changes quickly.

Now that we’ve successfully navigated the channel strip of your console, in the next Worship Tools newsletter we’ll jump into what goes into creating an effective mix. As always, if you have questions about this newsletter, ideas for future ones or if our team can serve you in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me at ddejong@ccisolutions.com.





Mix Sound Like A Pro, Part Five: EQ Tips

17 07 2012

As originally posted in the Worship Tools Newsletter at www.ccisolutions.com.

Welcome back to our Mix Like a Pro series! Today we’re going to wrap up the EQ portion of our series – a topic that many church FOH folks struggle to understand. If you haven’t had a chance to read our first two EQ articles, before you continue I recommend that you read Understanding EQ and Making EQ Work For You.

Now that we’re on the same page on what EQ is, how it works and we have a tool to help us know what frequencies to focus on, we’re going to finish our discussion on EQ with some helpful hints to help you successfully EQ your mix.

1) Before You Touch the EQ, Consider The Source
Our first tip about EQ’ing successfully actually starts before the EQ. If you have to make big EQ changes to an instrument to get it to sound good, or maybe you can’t get it right at all, go listen to the instrument at its source. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fought an instrument’s EQ only to go on stage and find out that the sound I didn’t like is actually what the instrument sounds like. Instead of trying to fight the EQ, I should have been working with the musician at the source to get a better tone. As the old adage goes, garbage in equals garbage out.

2) Before You Touch the EQ, Consider Your Mic
Poor mic choices or placement will actually hurt or help your tone more than an EQ ever can. If you find yourself having to make big EQ adjustments to a particular vocal or instrument, EQ is likely not your primary problem. Be sure to use microphones that are appropriate to your source and if you’re having trouble getting the tone you want, play with mic placement or a different mic before getting carried away with EQ. For example, if the sound I get from my electric guitar amp is thin and edgy, I’m better off adjusting the mic towards the outside of the woofer (the center of the driver is where the high end comes out) than making a big boost in the low frequency of the EQ.

3) Cut Before Boosting
As we discussed in previous newsletters, boosting or cutting frequencies is actually adjusting the gain of those frequencies. Increasing gain significantly on a frequency range often will decrease clarity, increase muddiness and can even go as far as introducing extra noise if you boost too much. If you set your input gain appropriately in the first place Mix Like A Pro: Part 1 , you don’t want to add more gain through EQ. Instead, work on eliminating the things you don’t need or have too much of instead of adding what you think is missing. If your vocal is missing a lot of clarity, instead of putting in a big boost at 3,000 Hz, try cutting some at 315 HZ or 1,000 Hz. You’ll be surprised how much better that will sound than boosting one frequency.

4) Apply The High Pass Filter
If your vocal or instrument doesn’t produce anything below 80-100 Hz, you certainly don’t want whatever noise your mic is picking up down there to come through your sound system.  A great way to clean up low end mud in your mix is to apply the High Pass/Low Cut filter to inputs that aren’t producing any real low end.

5) Don’t EQ Based on Soloing Inputs In Headphones
Sometimes you have a lot going on and you need to solo an instrument and make adjustments based on what you hear with the input isolated. Don’t let what you hear in solo through headphones be your final say. It matters less what your instrument sounds like individually than what it sounds like in the entire mix. For example, an acoustic guitar may sound big, round and full on its own, but when added to the mix with a piano, electric guitar, drums and vocals the mix sounds muddy. Taking some of the low-mid range out of the acoustic, making it sound a little thin on its own may be the very thing that helps it sit better in the mix.

6) EQ On Purpose
An easy trap to get into, is to use the same “stock or regular” EQ settings for all male singers or all electric guitars. While it’s true that your “regular” vocal EQ might be a good place to start, every vocal has a unique sound and tonal signature, therefore each vocal is going to need its own variation of EQ. And when it comes to things like guitars and keyboards, not only will each guitar or keyboard have its own unique tone, but keyboard patches or electric guitar pedals will all have their own variations too. When it comes to EQ, one size does not fit all.

7) Don’t Be Afraid To Make Adjustments
Adjusting EQ should not be regarded as “set it and forget it”. Each input is a living, breathing and often changing thing, and you need to be active in making adjustments. Especially in rehearsal, if something doesn’t sound right, try making adjustments until it does. Even during a service, it’s better to make small, gradual adjustments to get it right as opposed to leaving something sounding average. The best way to learn how to EQ is to try making adjustments and see what they sound like. Just be sure that, when in a service, you make gradual, non-distracting adjustments.

That’s a wrap on the EQ portion of our Mix Like A Pro Series. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I also want to give a big thank you to all of you who have sent encouraging notes about our Worship Tools Newsletter and the Mix Like A Pro series. We greatly appreciate the feedback and it helps us serve you all better by knowing what is helping. And of course, if you have audio, video or lighting topics you would like to see us cover, please don’t hesitate to let me know that as well.