By Samantha Potter • January 21, 2019 I’ve been to my fair share of church services, and more than my fair share of contemporary/modern church services. Some of the mixes I hear are fantastic! Some of them, however, are less than stellar. I’d like to think I know it all, but know enough to understand that’s completely not true. Certain mixes hit my ear different than others, and that’s O.K. All I can offer is what I believe to be that modern, pop-y Christian mix. I need to say that my mixes are heavily influenced by gospel and R&B because these are the genres of music that I typically work with and listen to recreationally outside of the church. Vocals Man oh man, can these things get buried. Vocals are the number one priority in all of music. If I can’t understand your vocals, you’re losing the entire message of the song. I understand that things happen, but this is a no-no for me. They should fit right on top, right in between any melody-carrying instruments. I tend to cut out a lot of low end. Perhaps a lot more than others, but it’s necessary to make plenty of space for instruments whose fundamental frequencies reside below 500 Hz. So I place a high-pass filter (HPF) at about 150 Hz and do a low-end cut at about 500 Hz to get rid of any boxiness. I’ve also noticed I like the sound of a “notch-out” at about 1 kHz. In recent months I’m finding more and more “throatiness” in some of my vocalists and people speaking, likely because of the hot and humid weather we have in the Midwest. I find it fun to try opening it up a bit. Guitars I love a robust guitar sound, but what I don’t love is over-amplification of electric guitars. There’s a time and a place (read: solo) for strong loud guitars, but I don’t consider it in contemporary Christian music. (I can already hear the crowds boo. I regret nothing.) Now, if it’s a pleasant acoustic guitar, go ahead and let it take center stage (aside from vocals – never, ever push the vocals away.) I like my acoustic guitars with just a little “meat” at around 250 to 300 Hz, and plenty of sparkly high end without getting too much fret noise. Once I notice the fret noise is really prevalent, I can’t un-hear it. The low end of guitars can tend to be a little tedious as I’m balancing it with the rest of the low end. I usually end up cutting at 400 or 500 Hz while still trying to keep that previously mentioned beef at 250 Hz. This is all a balancing act you may be familiar with. In general, though, I whole-heartedly believe that guitars can’t always serve as the main instrument. They have their places and I love really ethereal licks, but this isn’t a metal show and there are often many more instruments on stage that could use some love. Drums I consider drums to be the second most important piece of the band behind vocals. We all know how poorly some congregants keep the beat, so we need to make sure that a nice crisp clear drum set can be heard. Kick and snare, most of the time, are vital. I prefer a very fat low end with a cracked snare. I boost the kick around 60 or 80 Hz depending on what the feel of the song is, and also boost just a tad at about 1 kHz to keep some of the pedal sound in. Read the rest of this post 1 2 About Samantha Samantha Potter Production, Media, and Audio Engineer Samantha Potter is senior contributing editor and worship tech liaison for Church Sound and ProSoundWeb, and she’s also co-director of Church Sound University. In addition, she serves as an IT media supervisor and system design consultant in the house of worship sector. Get in touch at [email protected] Comments Have something to say about this PSW content? Leave a comment! Cancel reply Scroll past the ”Post Comment” button below to view any existing comments. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Randy Conley says Kudos to you, Samantha! I'm a 35 year brick and mortar retailer/installer and we are actively involved in church systems and installs in our area. How refreshing it is to see a knowledgeable young woman in the industry. Wish my wife would've had the same desire and interest. LOL Keep up the good work! Jan Doorn says Hi Samantha, I think I like attending one of your services! The only thing I want to add is: be carefull at the start of the service with your volume, also with the first song after the sermon. give the congregation a little time to adjust their ears. Tagged with: Bass Church Sound Drums Engineer Guitars Keyboards Mixing Samantha Potter Sound Reinforcement Techniques Vocals Worship Audio · all topics Subscribe to Live Sound International Subscribe to Live Sound International magazine. Stay up-to-date, get the latest pro audio news, products and resources each month with Live Sound.