Mixing live sound can be a fun and challenging part of music and the ability to mix both in the studio, and live, can make an audio engineer find plenty of work due to all of the demands. But how are you supposed to get started with this exciting way to work?
You need to be ready to learn some of the basics of live sound production and mixing, but it is not always as easy as it seems. Some of the basics that you should know before you get started with live sound and mixing include:
When you first get started, you will most likely be in a small band in a club that does not have the best PA systems. There are some exceptions, but it is always best to plan for the worst when you get started. You will need to be prepared to take on the sound, no matter the location. You are in.
When you need to mix sound, take some time to look around the room to figure out what you really need. It is easy to overdo some parts and ruin the song. Your main goal here is to just reinforce what isn’t easily heard inside of the room. For example, if you have a smaller room, the drums and amplifiers are already heard and you do not need to add them to the PA system.
Keep things as simple as possible when doing this. While the drums and amplifiers in the previous example will be heard fine, it may be harder to hear the guitar or the main vocals. You will want to make those go through the PA system to help them be heard in the crowd.
Mixing the Vocals
Next, we need to move into the vocals. This is one of the most important things to consider when you are doing a mix in a smaller room. You want to ensure that the voices are loud and can be heard in all areas of the room. No one wants to go and miss out on the lyrics because the voice was too light with all the other noise.
When working on the vocals, you will need to compete against the feedback on the monitor. You need to be prepared with how to mix the monitors to make sure you stop the feedback before it is able to start.
There are different techniques that you can use with this. One of the popular options is subgrouping. You will be able to use your board to group a few channels together to make them into one fader to help keep them in the background. Try out a few methods to make sure that you are taking care of all the distractions.
Mixing the Drums
Another thing that can be difficult when you do live sound is the drums. You need to make sure you know what is heard naturally around the room before you add the amplification. Most drum kits will not need to go through any type of amplification, especially if the work is done in a small room.
One option to use here is to mic the kick drum and the snare. Any tom drum will not need the amplification because they are not played enough to need this. If you are in a larger room of up to 500 people, then it may be necessary to mic them. It is often enough to do one microphone for two toms if you are short on them.
The drums will need the least amount of amplification for everything. If you do not have the supplies to do it all and you are not in a very large room, you will do fine to just leave the drums without any type of amplification in the first place.
Mixing the Guitars and Bass
Again, you will not really need to mic the guitar amps and the bass cabinets when you are in a small room. In fact, you may find that you need the players to turn down their own stuff because they will be too loud and can drown out everything else.
There may be times when your bass guitar will need more definition or the drummer would like to have some more in their monitors. If this does happen, add a DI box between the amplifier and the guitar itself. This gives you all of the control that you need for the tone while the amplifier is still up there doing what the player would like.
However, things are a little bit different when you work with an acoustic guitar. Sometimes players will hook up an amp to help make these a little bit, but this is not common. Even if they are there, the amplifier is not going to do well with the mix.
To solve this problem, you can put out a DI box out of the acoustic to get a great amount of sound. Just EQ it carefully to make sure that you do not end up with a ton of feedback. The guitar’s sound hole is going to cause some problems so you need to take some time to look at different ways that you can avoid this kind of problem.
Mixing the Live Sound You Need
You will quickly find that mixing live sound is not always as easy as it seems. The more that you do it and experiment with some of the sounds that you get with different tasks, the better you will get at doing it. There are many who do not understand the artistry and hard work that goes into mixing live sound, but those who are good at it are in high demand.
When you are ready to mix in some live sound and really impress those who need it the most for their performances, you need to take a look at some of the tips above to see the best results.