You are constantly faced with making crucial decisions about volume levels, EQ, monitor mixes, and channel muting cues.
This can be used to great or terrible effect!
It’s a big responsibility, which is why it is so important to practice and refine your craft.
Make the right decision, and everyone is happy. Make the wrong decision, and you might end up hearing about it, or worse.
You may need to compromise the sound of one instrument or set of channels for the sake of maintaining intelligibility and clarity. And you might need to remix everything you thought was right in soundcheck because of a change in the service structure, schedule, or event flow.
It is very helpful to be clear about your mixing priorities before your live mix starts so that you can prepare for whatever decisions you may be faced with in the midst of a critical moment. Feedback, muddy mixes, and equipment failure are obvious things to be avoided and to be on the lookout for, but it is also crucial to be proactive when building each mix.
Work with the worship leader to understand his or her priorities when it comes to worship.
- What instruments are most important to the sound and style of worship?
- How should vocals be layered and arranged in the mix?
- What role does congregational singing play in your mixing decisions?
- Is there an average volume level or acoustic atmosphere that should be achieved?
This knowledge can help you anticipate mixing requirements and prepare for things that may need to be adjusted during a worship service or event.
There are also fundamental sonic qualities that can be prioritized to help you build a great sounding mix. Here are a few basic concepts:
- The musical foundation is formed by the drums, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, piano, and keys.
- Texture and ambiance is added by the lead guitar, pads, percussion, and other solo or melody instruments.
- Clarity and focus is provided by the lead vocal and supported by the choir or backing vocals.
Building your mix around these musical principals can help you craft a sound signature that is full, rich, and clear.
Start with the things that matter most, then add in other elements as needed.
Beyond simple volume control, subtle EQ adjustments can also help prioritize an instrument or vocal in the mix. This can dramatically improve clarity and focus if a mix is muddy or thin.
Remember, communication is super important. Consider setting up a time to meet with your leadership team and clarify the priorities for your sound quality requirements and sound system performance.
Portions of this post originally appeared on the Twelve:Thirty Media blog.