5. Optimize Microphone Technique
Review the microphone selection and placements onstage. Choosing appropriate mics and optimizing placement can influence the PA mix notably by reducing leakage, increasing gain-before-feedback and capturing better sounding sources.
6. Make Or Obtain Cue Sheets
Get a copy of whatever cue/tech sheet or order of service outline is available or draw one up. Clearly mark mic and roll-in cues, and any other important audio notes, in advance of sound check. Mixing notes can be added during sound check.
If mixing on a suitable digital platform, it may be possible to pre-program some or all of the cues and mix changes. But manual control should always be available, and the cue sheet should always be visible, whether in paper or electronic form.
For very busy events, such as dramatic pageants, enlist an assistant to manage and announce the cues.
7. Remember That Sound Check Is Not Set-Up
Clearly distinguish between set-up and sound check. Sound check is the time for the audio team to dial in the mixes, with the elements (gear and musicians, etc.) working exactly as they will be during the worship service.
Complete all audio set-up work in advance of sound check, so that sound check really is just that—sound check!
8. Perform I/O Checks
Some worship audio techs add an input/output (I/O) check procedure prior to sound check. This is highly recommended. I/O check takes a sound source (such as a CD), one person on stage, and one person at each mix position (two people in many church applications). Every input and output is briefly tested over the PA system (inputs) and over wedges or earphones (outputs).
It’s a 5- or 10-minute effort at most, and this procedure verifies the entire signal paths from sources to worshippers (FOH) and sources to artists (monitors). And the occasional I/O that doesn’t work is identified and hopefully resolved before the worship team hits the stage—preserving sound check.
9. Review Mixes
If you record your mixes, review them. If you’re making a classic “board tape” right off the console’s PA mix, review it with the knowledge that it is mixed for the house sound and it does not include the live acoustic portion of the listening experience (which affects mix balance). If you multi-track your services, you’ve got a great practice and training tool—play the tracks back through the FOH console.
And if you’re fortunate enough to own a digital mixing platform that offers “virtual sound check” technology, you’ve got the ultimate tool for practicing, training and fine tuning the sound reinforcement mix.
10. Train Your Ears
Good mixing requires good listening skills, which require training and practice. Listen to great mixes that are relevant to your worship style, and “take them apart” mentally.
Discover the details that make good blends and mixes. Train your ears to identify frequency ranges. This skill is critical for sound reinforcement mixing. There are a number of useful training tools on the market. Or, simply practice with a tone generator and real-time analyzer (RTA).
For more worship audio tips and techniques, go to Sennheiser.