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Church Sound: Risky Business—The Only Way To Truly Improve Your Mixing
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2. Mix the song as an arrangement. This can turn out great. It can also end in a fiery pile of XLR cables, mixing equipment, and your body being roasted on an open spit. (Well, it’s not that bad.)

Seriously, it is something that can take your mix to the next level. Actively mix the song so you’re making EQ and effects changes for a bridge or for a chorus. Make EQ changes on the last verse.

A few examples would be adding more reverb to vocals during a chorus or bringing down the volume and impact of the bass and drums in the last verse of a song. 

You might even do the opposite at the beginning of the song. In such a case, you’d have the drums / bass farther back in the mix when the song starts and in the first chorus, you push them forward for more impact.

I’ll be honest, the first few times you do this, it will feel risky. Once you do it a few times and see the positive impact it makes, you’ll want to do it more often and it will feel less risky.

**Please note that you should respect the worship leader and follow any specific mixing arrangements they might have in place like “keep the drums soft in this song.” 

3. Start from scratch. Walking into the sound booth with the same band on the same channels, it’s easy to leave the EQ and other mix settings the same.

Set everything back to the defaults and build the mix from scratch. This might sound risky, and if you aren’t comfortable mixing, then it will be.

**Tip: many digital mixers have scene settings so you can save your standard mix and call it back up at any time.

4. Try something new. Need I say more?

The Take Away

Your mix and mixing skills will improve when you start taking risks. You will fail.  And that’s totally OK. And most of the failures will be during sound check when you’re the only one that notices. 

I’ve mixed a song as an arrangement during sound check and it sounded great; then, doing so during the service, it didn’t sound right. I wasn’t roasted over an open pit. I simply returned the overall song mix to the original mix settings and let the rest of the song play on without active mixing.

Go, be risky with your mixing!  You can always say, “Chris said it was OK.”

Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians. He can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown.


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