Obviously when you are live and there are a number of performers and hopefully a lot of listeners depending on you for a great performance, any change in the house mix can be immediate and usually have unintended consequences that you cannot predict accurately.   Any change to the stage mix once the main speakers are pumping will not be known by the sound engineer.   If you accidently send a lot of delay to the monitor for example, it will confuse timing of players and can lead to feedback and other audio beasts raising their ugly heads over and over.  From the house board you will not be able to pinpoint where the beasts are coming from and what starts them – or calms them down for that matter. 

A lot of those buttons look alike and in the dark it is easy to move something unnoticed.  A number of times I have sneaked up on stage and listened from a few different positions to see what the band was hearing on stage.  Then I could usually identify how to deal with that beast. 

In the studio I can study some of the situations and find a solution when I can rewind and stop and try something and if that doesn’t work I can try this toy we just got in at the music store that is supposed to be wonderful and will solve all my mixing needs.   With the audience primed and ready for a show, it is better to make smaller adjustments and see how it affects everything and then adjust a little more.  If the location of the sound board is good representation of the venue and sounds pretty good, enjoy the view and mix as the band and performers deserve.  I try to reinforce guitar solos in the mains, and I mean really inforce the solo.  I make it so everyone will hear it, while keeping the other performers at a good foundation level.  I make sure I turn it back down as soon as the solo is over.   If there is a second vocalist, sometimes they do not have the power of the lead vocalist and might have a limited range.  It can be hard to boost them to the level of the lead vocalist even if they are using the same equipment.  Getting them loud enough in the monitor is usually the biggest challenge.  You don’t want to leave a microphone turned up a lot in the monitors that is not used very often.  It will pick up other instruments and sounds on stage and then push them back into the monitors…. It will probably not be loud enough to trigger feedback in the stage monitors, but it could create a boomy or foggy sound environment on stage and will make it harder for all performers to keep tight performances. 

I also like to add effects to a live performance. If the band is playing cover tunes for example, I try to match the effects on the vocals and percussion sounds with those on the original recording.  I usually keep the effects out of the monitors but have had situations where it went over well.  More often than not, it makes it more confusing on stage.  In either case, I make sure that when the song or section is over, I turn the effects level off.  If the band members talk into the microphones during a musical break, they will be clear and understandable in the audience during the address.  Then right back up when the next song or section begins.

When setting up the channels on the mixing console, I try to group instruments to make balancing all tracks easier.  I keep vocals together, and try to represent placement on stage. If there is a lead singer center stage and a back-up vocalist left right and the drummer also sings, I have the channels on the snake match their positions when looking at the stage left to right, for example.  If there is only one singer and I have open channels I do not need, I try to separate the vocalist from other channels in use so it is easy to find and easy to adjust.  You will probably change the lead vocalist channel more than any other.  The typical band might have a soloist – guitar or keyboards for example, and you will change the volume faders during the night.  But you will probably not change the delay patch or change reverb on instruments.  The vocals can benefit from minor changes throughout the night. 

Think about it… the guitar player and keyboard player change their sounds literally from song to song.  The vocalist does not have that luxury.  Change the effects to enhance the vocalist.  Too often sound gurus find one effect and use it all night.  If you are not comfortable with creating or even changing effects with the available or on-board FX, that is understandable.  Maybe we will cover that in later sessions if members find it helpful.  If effects are new to you or you have not mixed a whole lot of events try the following simple strategy; add effects to the instruments that need it and not to any other instrument, and keep the volume of the effects subdued in the house mix.  It should not overpower the stage sound or ‘dry‘ signal.   Use short reverbs and delays for most applications.  I bring in the effects into an open channel if available, rather than using the FX return knobs.  This way I can easily see the level of the effect, I can route to the vocal group or bus if I choose and I can EQ effect independently.  This to me also makes it easier to turn down the effects during music breaks or announcements.

  1. Mhhh good to know 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. nikgee says:

    hello Mike I came by to say hi and thanks for the follow. and when I found out you were into music I knew I was in for an added treat. I have a passion for writing , but music runs a very close second.I am not that familiar with all the tech suave . I do like being around it maybe some if it will rub off. In my younger days when I used to hang out in the bar there was one place I would frequent They had a house band so I got to know them and the sound man pretty well. I have to laugh now. When he would go on break he would tell me Nick don’t touch any of those dials . it’s okay if you hang out. I don’t know how many time some chic would come up mistaking me for being with the band. What a great opening line. I always said I want to be a roadie when I grow up. It has been a pretty exciting day. For some I time now I have been looking for a small amp that I could play my harmonica through. Little did I know that all this time I had a neighbor two doors down at my apartments that had a small Pevey amp. He came by my place and my door was open and heard me trying to bang out some chords on a guitar.We started talking I found out he had some thing I needed and I had something he needed.. The only problem is now it’s loud enough to hear all my mistakes.. I am having fun with it and that’s what it’s for. Anyway thanks again for the follow. Feel free to come by any time.I would be curious to hear some of your thoughts.nick

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Wow! Thanks for the comment and history. I have done a lot of ‘impromptu’ training for a number of curious listeners. Sound guys have groupies too! Great comment about hearing mistakes and the exchanging of resources with unexpected partners. That is what I like about the blog community Nick – we can share and help others – and receive help on subjects we are passionate about. Keep making music, embrace the volume (and the mistakes LOL) and reach out to fellow creative people. I gladly accept your invitation to return and chime in from time to time. As you know, there is so much to learn, but it is all about fun and enjoying hard work.


      • nikgee says:

        Wow back at you. You don’t know how many time I’ve tried to stimulate some dialogue often times with no answer my thought maybe it is just me and I am out of touch. Or there was a feeling as if I was just talking to myself. I was beginning to have doubt as to my agenda . Thinking maybe I didn’t understand the purpose of the blogging world.

        I know it is a test to see how strongly my beliefs are. And I do expect opposition whenever I move forward. Sometime my biggest enemy is my own head

        My goals haven’t changed. I look at our world with a strong concern.. Even though we have advanced in tech giving us the resources to communicate we still have a problem getting along I know it is much more intense do to the growing transparency Deeds good and bad can’t hide from the light.

        Receiving seems to be the mind set of much of the world . It’s like what is in it for me? It’s the gimmes . I am coming to a point were I feel it is time to give some back. And if through my words and actions I reach one person and bring them closer to a peaceful unities world then that’s a start. I am totally convinced our present status is not working. War has been with us since or beginnings. One war leads to another and another there is no such think as a war to end all war. Look we have tried it.

        After much soul searching I have drawn a few conclusions. Humanity is not perfection. None of can claim perfection or being better than another. But we have , each one of us been blessed with special gifts and talents. All that said if they are not used what good are they? So I say it is time if not past time to give some back.

        Words are powerful spoken thoughtfully and not idle chatter.and I have often thought of the power music has. Personally it has kept me sane all these years. The only thing that made any sense to me. Look at Woodstock. Three days of love , peace and music that made the world stand still. And for many their lives were never the same again. How could one go back when you have had a taste of Utopia

        I don’t think we that gathering of like minds was . It didn’t stop the destruction, but it did slow it down.i truly believe that that event and others have given us some breathing time. Without them I doubt whether we would be enjoying the freedoms we still have. Sorry for being so long winded I can’t keep it inside any longer anyway I think I am done .and thank you I am so glad to make you acquaintance .nick .

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom Robinson says:

    Midimike – you write articles as sparkling as the lyrics you write. This article was absolutely technical, but you managed to make it subjective and mental. I don’t know how to work a mix board, but you do. You approach the learning experience like a friend. There will be blood. You get on to the fun side, so I am encouraged.


    • midimike says:

      Your post is very much appreciated. For the LSR series I try to look at as of I was just starting out…… what have I learned that I would LOVE for someone to have told me when I first started! There may be a little blood here and there, but there is also a lot of fun in it. And maybe most people do not want to run sound for a living, but are curious and interested, or maybe they know someone else does. Either way I want to point out general info that will lay the ground rules so to speak. After that it is really just sitting back, put plan into motion, and enjoy the results. I am glad you are encouraged to dive in a little deeper with these posts.


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