How To Ruin Your Mix (Pt. 3)

When’s the last time you actually went through your audio peripherals to make sure they were rocking? You know, peripherals - those secondary items that might not seem as important to the actual mix. Little things like the actual PA system, power amplifiers, microphones. Things like this don’t really matter THAT much do they? If that’s what you believe, please quit reading this...

One of THE most overlooked ways you can ruin your mix is by not paying enough attention to these factors. There are NUMEROUS times over the years where I’ve fought a mix and have beat my head against the wall, while the whole time the culprit was right in front of me — AND most times, it had nothing to do with the mix at the actual console.

While I will submit that the console CAN be a huge contributing factor to a potential world of suck, remember that it’s only one element in the chain. Until you have a properly tuned PA system, until you pay attention to what microphones you are employing on stage, until you REALLY dig into the way your system is limited, equalized for the space you’re in, and dialed in correctly based on your mixing level, you are nowhere. Let me say it again a little more clearly: Until you pay attention to the bigger picture of your specific audio situation, all the time spent just fiddling around on your console IS A WASTE OF TIME.

It took me far too many years to figure out this seemingly easy premise. Yes, I have submitted before that I may be a slow learner, but how much do things like proper sub-woofer deployment, phase cancellation, room equalization, and proper microphone choices really matter? Well, put quite simply, IT IS EVERYTHING.

One of our worship leaders accurately described this a few weeks ago. He noticed that the first thing I did when making adjustments to his vocal was to change capsules on the microphone. I didn’t change his equalization. I didn’t stare at the console. I most certainly didn’t have a discussion about mix technique. We just changed out microphones to something that would do the job better. There’s one part of the mix that DIDN’T get ruined that day all because of an informed decision made at the proper time.

Look around your own audio situation. Is your mix getting ruined because you are overlooking some of this? Use the resources at your disposal! Look up the information on your microphones to determine if they are indeed the right thing for the job. Get some info on your amplifiers: are they set up correctly for your system? Download some tools to assist you in the proper deployment of your PA system: Have you equipped yourself with the right software to determine if your PA is even aimed correctly? Here’s one: Hire someone to come in and PROPERLY tune and set up your room. And another: LISTEN to your room and see what your own ears tell you.

With so many ways to ruin a mix these days, how about we all consider working smarter, keeping our eyes on the bigger audio picture and potentially NOT contributing as much to the world of ruined mixes?

Who’s with me?

comments powered by Disqus
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