Who Are You Mixing For?

What’s your priority when mixing? Is it to prove your mixing abilities or to legitimately serve the people in the room?

I’m writing this in the middle of a busy weekend, because I’m giving my audio mix a bit more love at the moment strictly based around a complaint email I received this past week.

While this wasn’t a typical email with someone wanting to vent their frustrations about volume, hearing loss, and all the usual out-of-context minutiae that the uninformed seem to enjoy citing, it was one of those emails that would’ve been MUCH easier to delete. Or to simply send back a form-letter response, assuring the person that they are indeed wrong, myself and the team are always on it, and the volume is always right no matter what their opinion is. But as I read and reread this email several times, I became convinced that the tone represented was one of sincerity and it deserved a response from someone in leadership.

So is the mix good in our room? Why, yes - yes it is. Quite good actually. But to the person who sent this email, the low-end seems to be detracting from their experience. To me and a multitude of others, the low-end feels perfect. BUT does it really matter that much if I ease back the chest-thump factor? It doesn’t matter at all. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who is going to leave the church because I eased off the brown-note. So I did it — throttled it back overall just a wee bit to take the edge off AND dropped the subs back so the whole thing got a little nicer. Here at the mix position I can barely tell I did anything, but elsewhere in the room it feels great...and perhaps more “friendly”.

Here’s the point: What’s my priority while I’m mixing this weekend? To rock? Of course... BUT I contend that even after 25 years, I can still work to become a better engineer AND team player by making sure that my mixes are serving the people in the room first, not serving my own ego. This email was a good reminder for me.

Don’t you dare start bending to every single comment you receive. But ponder this: perhaps it takes a BETTER engineer to keep a mix huge and impactful, while adapting your personal preference to better serve your people.

Speaking of mixing, I need to finish out this service... I ask the same question again: What’s your priority when mixing? Is it to prove your mixing abilities or to legitimately serve the people in the room?

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Andrew Stone
Production Manager
Andrew Stone is the Production Manager and Audio Director at Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK. His 27 years of touring experience have brought a unique, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to his approach towards production in the church. He has been a key part of changing the culture behind COTM's live events and he loves sharing his knowledge with other churches. He's been married for 20 years, rarely wears anything but black, and genuinely loves to rock. You can find him on Twitter (@stone_rocks), Instagram (stone.rocks), and is a blog contributor on Seeds, COTM's free resource site.
@stone_rocks