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Church Sound: Knowing When To “Trash” Your Mix

Getting to a better place while saving time and focusing on the fundamentals

By Chris Huff February 11, 2016

This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.

 
WHAT’S WRONG WITH IT?!

Have you ever mixed the band and felt something was wrong with the mix? You tweak and tweak but the sounds just don’t gel.

Time to trash your mix and start over.

The Two Benefits of Trashing Your Mix

1. You save time. It’s hard to start over on a mix when you consider how much time you spent building it. However, when you can’t identify the one or two elements in your mix that are off balance, you will spend less time if you start over than if you tweaked for an eternity.

2. You are forced to focus on the fundamentals. Yes, this is a benefit because it forces you to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Just like professional basketball players still practice dribbling and passing, focusing on the basics of your work keeps you sharp.

How to Rebuild the Mix in Nine Steps

Here is a basic outline for what you should do…

1. Reset everything. Reset all your EQs, turn off your effects, turn off any compression, and take channels out of sub-groups. You are now back to a simple baseline mix with only your channel gains being set. I mention removing sub-groups as you might have EQ specific for subgroups.

2. Review your channel gains. I’ll say 99 percent of the time, my gain levels are good. It’s usually a vocal microphone I might boost a little. Boosting gain means you can kill your monitor mixes or blow out the ears of a musician with IEMs, so make sure you notify the band if you need to boost gains.

Here are a couple methods for setting gain:

How to Set Gain Structure
Dave Rat’s method for Setting Gain (An Alternative Method)

3. Set your general volume balance with all your musicians and singers. There are two ways of doing this; starting with drums or starting with the vocals. You will want to start with drums. move from drums to bass to guitars to vocals.

Starting with vocals is helpful when you are dealing with a strict decibel restriction. Setting the vocal level’s first, you are ensuring they will be prominent in the mix.

4. Mix in your drums and your bass. The kick drum can cover up the bass and vice versa if you don’t mix them properly. Decide which instrument owns the low end sound. Using a sweepable mid on an analog board, consider sweeping the bass mid’s far down [250 hz range] and then cutting/boosting. I find I cut in the low-end eq and then using the sweepable mid, I can give the bass a distinct clear sound.

Check out these articles for more information:

Foundation of the Perfect Mix
The Art of Bass EQ


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About Chris

Chris Huff
Chris Huff

Writer/Teacher/Author, BehindTheMixer.com
 
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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