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Church Sound: How To Analyze Your Music Mix

Each stage of the mix is a milestone -- once you pass a change, you shouldn’t need to go back

By Chris Huff July 16, 2012

Photo credit: Ulrik - CCSA
This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.


Do you ask the right questions when evaluating your music mix? 

Find out the questions you need to ask and when you must ask them during your mixing process.

You need to evaluate your mix throughout the mix-building process. 

This isn’t to say you aren’t doing that as a natural part of the process. 

There is a time, however, when it’s good to take your hands off the mixer and listen. 

When you are listening to your mix, ask yourself these questions. 

When you can answer “yes” to each question in each section, you are ready to move to the next stage in mixing.

If you answer “no,” then you need to modify your mix within that stage. 

Each stage is a milestone. Once you pass a change, you shouldn’t need to go back.

I’ve listed the questions below by each stage.

Analyzing Your Music Mix

A: Set Proper Gain Levels

—Can all instruments and singers be heard?
—Are sound volumes in the correct relationship? (lead vocal louder than guitar)
—Is the lead instrument clear in the mix?
—Are independent volumes acceptable for congregational preferences?
—Is the overall volume right for your congregation?

B. Creating the General Mix

—Have you used the high pass filter where appropriate?
—Have you removed / minimized bad sounding frequencies in instruments?
—Have you removed / minimized bad sounding frequencies in vocals?
—Does the kick drum have the right sound for the music?
—Does the snare drum sound fit the song?
—Do all the drum kit pieces have a blended, yet distinct, sound?
—Can the bass be heard distinctly from the kick drum?
—Do instrument frequencies properly overlap while giving space to each other and maintaining their natural sound?
—Have you made appropriate volume changes due to the affects of EQ changes on volume?
—Is the lead vocal still prominent after all channel EQ changes?

C. Creating the Distinct Mix

—Do the right instruments give energy to the mix?
—Are the instruments properly tucked behind each other?
—Do the background vocals sit in the right location for the song?
—Does each instrument have the right amount of presence in the mix?
—Does each instrument have the right amount of bite in the mix?
—Do the individual EQ changes benefit the overall mix?
—Can the lead vocal be clearly understood?

D. Adding Effects

—Does the use of channel compression benefit the mix?
—Do the effects benefit the mix?

E. Final Evaluation

—Does the mix match the sound which the worship team desires?
—Is it a mix that presents a worshipful sound?

The Take-Away

Mixing is an iterative process. No matter how long you’ve been mixing, take a few moments during your next sound check and ask yourself these questions. You might find new ways of improving your mix at each stage.

The longer you have been mixing, the more these stages blend together. However, when it blends, it only means you’ve internalized the stages and don’t actively think of them as stages anymore.

In my book, Audio Essentials for Church Sound, I walk you through the process of creating a mix from scratch. 

You start by learning how to set gain structure and move all the way through the process, including using effects.

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.

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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