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Church Sound: How Do Techs Magically Pinpoint A Problem Frequency?

Four ways to better deal with frequency problems

By Chris Huff October 15, 2015

This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.

So there I was, hunkered down in the sound booth with the congregation rioting around me. Two instruments were vying for the same dominant frequencies and I could hear an elder yell, “MAKE THIS NIGHTMARE END!” 

Sweat was pouring down my face. “Think man, think,” I told myself. “You’ve trained for this very type of scenario.”

My hand reached for the channel EQ. I moved the mid-range sweep knob to 1,257 Hz. Suddenly, confident of my next move, I applied a 6 dB cut to that frequency…and the congregation went wild!

This story seems outrageous but in the mind of some audio techs, it reflects a question I occasionally get via email: “How do techs pinpoint a frequency so easily?” 

There are four ways that techs learn to pinpoint frequencies…but “pinpoint” isn’t the best description. Let’s look at the four and you’ll see what I mean.

1. It’s what I do every day.

It takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Working weekends and maybe a mid-week practice, it would take 24 years of working 8 hours on live mixing each weekend, every weekend. Professional audio engineers are putting in a lot of more time and thus they have trained their ears to identify frequency areas in relationship to vocals, guitars, drums, etc. 

Even with that type of near-every day experience, could they pinpoint a specific frequency? No. They would be able to be very very close in finding the frequency area for their first modification.

2. I trained my ears.

It’s possible to get a jump on mastering frequency area identification if you train your ears. There are a number of products which help with this training. Quiztones is a great one.

Some people have golden ears and it’s easy for them to identify the frequency area they need to change, but for most people, it takes training your ears.

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About Chris

Chris Huff
Chris Huff

Chris Huff is a long-time practitioner of church sound and writes at Behind The Mixer, covering topics ranging from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians – and everything in between.


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