Live sound mixing is a fun but challenging part of the music. It can also make or break your show, no matter how good you think you sound. Live sound mixing is a very different venture from studio mixing. With live sound mixing, there’s no chance to make corrections as the mixing occurs at the moment.
It might be stressful for you to figure out live sound mixing as a beginner, but if you work to learn live sound mixing and the various important equipment that produces the sound, you’ll find the experience rewarding.
Furthermore, things can go wrong with your sound setup, such as the dreaded feedback sound. However, with the right ear, sound gear placement and settings, you can achieve a good sound experience for your next live mixing job. This article will discuss five live sound mixing tips for a better sound experience.
Live Sound Mixing Tips That Give a Better Sound Experience
As a live sound engineer, your main priority is to ensure your sound quality is clear and good. The following tips can help you make the most of your sound-mixing experience.
Place Emphasis On The Position of Your On-Stage Monitors
One of the most stressful experiences you can have as a singer during a live show is not being able to hear yourself. Not being able to hear yourself while singing or playing means you won’t be able to make the necessary adjustments to your notes or keys. How you position your monitors on stage is critical to ensuring the band can hear themselves while playing.
Furthermore, when the stage volume is high, audio from onstage sources like the amplifiers and drums bleed into the microphones that should be picking up other things. It becomes more difficult to get a clear live sound mix out when this occurs.
Do not place the stage monitors too close to the band. This can make the sound waves from the monitors travel around their feet and not reach their ears. You must also ensure that the monitor isn’t too far from the band as they can get covered or buried by the stage sounds. The best place to put your stage monitor is in front of the microphone. This way, the performers can hear themselves. However, you must ensure the monitors are facing away from the mics to avoid feedback.
Turn Off Every Unused Channel On Your Mixing Console
Most digital and analog mixing consoles have on/off switches for individual channels. So to create a better sound experience with your live sound mixes, ensure all unused channels on your mixing console are switched off. For example, if your microphone is not in use, switch off its equivalent channel on your mixing console.
One of the benefits of switching your microphone channel off is that the signal going to your PA system becomes clearer. This is because only the sounds you need go through the PA system. However, remember to switch the channel back on when needed.
Feedback during a live show doesn’t bode well for the artists, sound engineer and crowd. Feedback occurs when the sound from your mic goes back through your microphone, usually when your speaker volumes are very high. The resulting sound can be ear-splitting. Experiencing this unintentional feedbacks are unprofessional and can cause disruptions of a good live sound.
To prevent feedback from happening, you have to turn off all unused mics and keep your functioning mics away from the speakers but close to the sound source. However, you can reduce your volume if feedback still occurs after turning your mics away from the speakers. Also, ensure that your mics and system can take the high sound levels you want to give them and avoid turning up the high volume to the point of feedback.
Theoretically, avoiding feedback might seem easy. However, it requires good practice and an understanding what causes feedback before it occurs.
Endeavour To Train Your Ears
Some live sound engineers started their careers as musicians. These individuals are already familiar with notes on a guitar or piano and can notice slight changes in a live sound. However, if you’re starting as a live sound engineer without any musical experience, it would be best to train your ears and learn the basics of musical pitches to pick any changes in the live sound.
As a new live sound engineer or technician, it can take months of training your ears before you can spot the small variable that impacts the live sound. However, keep going, as the learning and experience gained will help you produce a better live sound mix. One way to train your ears is by attending live shows and listening for buzzy guitars or muddy vocals.
Avoid Loud Amplifiers
Avoid using loud amplifiers when creating a live sound mix for a live show or concert in a small venue. If guitarists turn up the volume of their amplifiers, they might compromise the live sound mix you’re trying to create.
Prioritize semi-quiet amplifiers and a good stage monitor positioning to solve stage sound problems. Guitarists that insist on turning up their amplifiers should be turned away from the crowd so the sound from the amplifier won’t bleed into the PA system.
Much planning goes into planning a live show or concert. To have a smooth sound experience, you must ensure that whatever sound you mix is perfect and meets its target. As mentioned earlier in the article, you can’t afford to second-guess yourself when mixing live sounds.
All musicians live for their live performances, so you must create a perfect live sound mix. You must keep the band’s overall vision in mind for every live sound mixing session. Once you know what type of music the band wishes to create, you can tailor your mixes to meet their vision.
If you need help creating a standard live sound mix, refer to the tips in this article to see how you can achieve a better sound experience.