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A Guide To Worship Mixing: Prep, Setup And Sound Check
What you need to know about worship mixing from a veteran sound operator when it comes to dealing with talent, getting gear prepared, and more
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A sound check is not always the easiest or the most fun thing to do.  However when it is done in an orderly and proper fashion it will set the tone for the service.

Sound check vs. rehearsal
There is often a debate of what constitutes a sound check and what makes a rehearsal, the lines between the two often get blurred.

For me a sound check is a maximum of 15 minutes with the band where I check input levels and do some initial EQ work. 

During that time I take the lead and control the flow. Musicians may provide input or ask to use a different order, but I am in charge. 

Following the sound check, I turn over control of the stage to the worship leader who’s running the rehearsal portion. 

During this time the worship leader is in control and I can ask to stop or redo a section, but this is his time to get the band comfortable and tight on stage. 

This also is the time when monitor levels are set and tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked…

Are musicians ever satisfied with the monitor mix? More on that later. 

Ten Steps To a Powerful Worship Service

1. Be Prepared!

Being prepared means “being all there” ready to engage and doing your best! I realize that sound checks and rehearsals can be tedious.  However this is your opportunity to get off to the right start.

You need to have all the tools and “stuff” necessary right down to the board tape to label the console. 

If you know you will get thirsty have your bottled water handy so you don’t have to chase it down.  On the same note, use the facilities ahead of time, not during sound check or rehearsal.

2. Have an input list and keep it handy!

Under pressure, my brain throws up the blue screen of death.  Because of that I have learned to write things down! 

At all times I keep a pen in my pocket and if I don’t have a piece of paper, my original palm pilot (my hand) becomes the notation point. 

Before the first musician arrives I make sure that the board is labeled and that I know where every input is plugged into and patched to!

3. Stage Layout
Another thing which I feel is of utmost importance is to have the stage layout pre-determined and all of the equipment in place including mic stands, music stands (with stand lights if necessary), direct boxes, monitors, etc. 

I also make sure that all of the chords are dressed and neat so that when the musicians arrive they will have plenty of open space to set up their equipment.

Note: If the drummer is bringing his own kit and will be setting it up, have all of the microphones for the kit set in place about 5 feet in front of where the drummer will set up.

If you are using drum claws to hold the tom mics, set the mics in the claws on the floor in the mock set up.

In this process make sure that you don’t forget about electrical power at the appropriate locations. 

Also, never assume that the musician will have an extension cord, power strip or even the correct line cables to connect into a direct-box.  Make sure you all cables that will be needed in place.


Comments (2) Most recent displayed first
Posted by Gary Z  on  01/06/11  at  11:46 AM
Bob,

Good point "I guess you must mix as much as it takes to maintain a good sounding mix that fits the mood of the service"

I too have sat through services where I wanted to get up and adjust the level of a singer or instrument.

I would say it all comes back to confidence. You need to be confident enough to make changes and you also need to be secure (confident) enough to not feell like you have to fiddle the entire time.

Posted by Bob  on  01/04/11  at  09:42 AM
Re: "A good sound engineer that has conducted a proper sound check and worked with the mix during rehearsal does not need to be constantly “fiddling “with the mix."

On the other hand I see many beginning sound engineers not adjusting the mix at all during the service or not enough. Especially with less experienced worship team, their volume/energy/mic technique warrant staying on top the mix and making changes as needed. Many medium/smaller churches do not have compressors to help even out inexperienced vocal mic techniques or a bass player with uneven volumes.

I guess you must mix as much as it takes to maintain a good sounding mix that fits the mood of the service.

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