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Church Sound: Are You Blinding The Congregation With Your Mix?
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This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.

 
My eyes felt like they were as big as dinner plates and any sunlight was blinding. Welcome to having an eye exam. During the exam, your optometrist will insert eyes drops that widen each pupil to the size of a grapefruit. This enables him to check the back of your eyes for signs of diseases and medical conditions.

The problem with the eye drops is they keep your pupils in that WIDE OPEN state for about, let’s see, it’s 3:42 now, so….about six hours. During this time, sunlight is your enemy. It’s your kryptonite. It’s blinding.

Mixing audio, you have a natural bias in your mix style. You might mix bass-heavy. You might mix with a strong tendency towards boosting high frequencies. You might push an instrument a bit too loud a result of your personal preferences. To you, it seems natural but to others, it’s BLINDING!

This isn’t to say all mix biases are bad. I’ve heard song covers that were better than the original. I’ve heard re-mixed songs that brought new energy or a different emotion to a song. 

However, it takes a lot of talent to be able to do that and you need an audience accepting of “something different.“Today let’s consider if your mix bias benefits the music or blinds your congregation.

Two Signs Of A Blinding Mix

1. You get regular complaints from different people about the same problem.It’s one thing to get an occasional complaint about volume (overall or instrument-specific) but if you are getting a weekly dose of complaints from different people about the same thing, then you are blinding them with your mix.  You must reconsider your mix and remember your purpose in mixing.

2. The congregation doesn’t engage in worship as when someone else mixes. You might think the other tech’s mix is sub-par to yours, but if the congregation is more engaged in worship whenever they’re mixing, then it’s your mix that’s sub-par.

Please know that comparing mixes isn’t a competition. It’s not about who is better, it’s about who is doing what’s best for the congregation, the room, the music, etc.

Are there other signs of a blinding mix? Probably. But these are the two which should give you immediate cause for consideration.

What Can You Do?

1. Take it personal. I mean this in a bad way.

You could think things like, “the congregation doesn’t appreciate the quality of my work” or “I don’t care what the congregation thinks.” Ummm, too bad for you, if you do. You have missed the point of church audio production. If you are at this place, please read this article.

2. Take it personal. I mean this in a good way. 

You might mix on weekends for a country band and create a phenomenal mix. But that same mix might not be best for your church congregation. It’s different people, it’s different music, and it’s a different purpose. Accept that you have a mix bias and learn to adjust your mix style for the congregation.

For a month:
—Listen to how the other church techs mix.
—Listen to worship music via iTunes or Spotify (or whatever works for you).
—Listen to how volumes are different.
—Listen to how individual instruments are mixed.
—Listen to how the overall mix is shaped.
—Listen for similarities in how you mix and listen for the differences.

The Take Away

Working behind the mixer, you can be as creative as you wish to be. The problem is you can be blind to your personal mix bias. That, in turn, can be blinding to your congregation. Be aware, mix smart, and let the Holy Spirit be the only thing that shines on your congregation.

 

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, and can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown. To view the original article and to make comments, go here.


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