It Feels Like Christmas

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We are getting our new sound consoles.  However, we have changed which consoles we are getting.  We are no longer getting the Midas consoles and are going with the Yamaha CL5.  Pricing changed with the Yamaha CL5 which made it a viable option and some things changed with the Midas which would not allow us to get them until the middle of the summer.

The CL5 is a great board and most of you will find it very easy to use because it is the next generation of the M7CL, which is what we have in the auditorium.  So the learning curve is going to be much smaller than with the Midas.  The CL5 sounds a lot better than the M7CL  and has a bunch of improved features.  These boards also network together really well which should make services like Easter and anything combined really easy.

We are supposed to be getting them next week!  Which means I will be working on getting them installed the following week. I will be sending out an email soon for those of you who would like to help out.

You can go to the Yamaha website to check out training videos.


What Topics Do You Want to Discuss?

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When I googled “new topics pic” this picture was in there.                                                        It definitely screams “new topic”

 

What things would you like me to talk about or address?  Anything from philosophy, to  gear, to how to plug something in is fair game.  I won’t address the following types of things:

  • What to get your significant other for Valentine’s, Birthdays, or Christmas
  • Whether you should vote Republican or Democratic, but there is a right answer
  • Why the Packers are the worst team in the NFL if they don’t have Aaron Rogers, and why they’re the worst with him
  • Why what you drive speaks volumes about your manhood. I drive a Dodge Stratus
  • Whether Star Wars is better than Star Trek, and why they are both better than the Lord of the Rings

Reply to this post with anything you want to talk about.


Blogs To Check Out

Check it out

Here are a couple blogs that I go to often.

Church Tech Arts:   This blog has a great podcast that is put out into cyberspace every week.  So if you sit at a desk or drive a lot this is great podcast to listen to.  This podcast has some of the big-wigs in the church tech world but they are really down to earth and they are trying to inform small churches.  They cover a gamet of topics so you’ll need to just check the info on the podcast to see what they are talking about .

 Seeds Blog: Church On The Move:  This is one of my favorite blogs.  Andrew Stone who is the tech director is old school and thinks about things differently than most sound guys out there.

Going to 11:   This is one of the best blogs out there.  David Stagl is from North Point Church in Atlanta, home of Andy Stanley.  They are top notch with their tech and David Stagl does a great job covering a bunch of topics that will make you better as a sound engineer.


Faders… Pre vs. Post

This is a quick post about pre and post fader settings for aux sends/ mix sends.

On every input channel (vocal, keyboard, guitar…)  we have the option of selecting if we would like the aux sends/ mix sends to be pre-fader or post-fader.  An aux send/ mix send takes the signal from that channel and sends it somewhere else.  This may be to an Aviom, a floor wedge, or to a FX unit (reverb, delay).

aux_pre_post_basicIf the aux/mix send is set as pre-fader, this means that the signal will be rerouted before it hits the input fader.  As you change the input fader to increase, we’ll say, the vocal in the house mix,   the fader will not adjust the level/volume of the aux. send.  Pre-fader is what you want to use for Avioms and wedge monitors.  This way you will not change the volume for the musician/singer on stage.

Post-fader takes the signal and routes through the main channel fader.  So, as you change your input fader on the vocal it will also change the volume for the aux/ mix send.  This is bad for monitors.  If you want to get a lot of dirty looks from singers and musicians run your aux/ mix sends in post-fader.  Where you would use post-fader aux sends/ mix sends is when sending signal to an Effects Unit (Reverb, Delay).  In this situation we want the signal sent to the effects unit to change as you lower or increase the volume (level) on the input fader.  The reason for this is simple.  When we run effects we always bring back the ‘effected’ signal back to a channel on the board that is different from the original input, in this case a vocal.  We want the level of our ‘effected’ vocal, which is in a different channel, to increase and decrease with the fader movements we make on the vocal channel.  Otherwise we would have to make the same fader adjustments on the FX channel as we make on the input channel (vocal).

The typical rule is this.  When using an Aux send, set it to ‘pre’ when you are using that aux for monitoring (avioms or wedges).  When you are using an Aux to send a signal to an effects unit use ‘post’ fader.

An example that was getting us into trouble.  We use pre-service music for all of our services.  This music is also sent to the avioms and to places like the mezzanine in the auditorium.  The Aux/ Mix send for the mezzanine was set to ‘pre-fader’ which means that even though the music was being turned down on the input fader, if it was not muted or turned off on the CD player, music continued to go to the mezzanine.  In this situation we want the Aux/ Mix send to the mezzanine to be post-fader, so that fader moves will turn down the music in the event that the sound engineer forgets to mute or stop the CD music right away.

FYIs

Aux= Auxillary Mix, this is the term used on analog boards (sanctuary) and on the Midas consoles.

Mix Send= is what they are called on the Yamaha console in the auditorium


Where’d The Toms Go?

large-drum-kit-2Mixing the drums is one of my favorite things to mix.  They are the foundation of the mix and they add a lot of energy to the room when mixed well.  Most of the time we get fixated on the Kick Drum and the Snare.  And that’s probably fair since they are getting used the most.   With that in mind don’t forget about the toms.  There is nothing worse than having the kick and snare sit nicely in the mix and the drummer does a tom fill and all of a sudden there is a big gap in the rythym section.  Often it goes unnoticed because fills happen fast and usually have a cymbal hit at the end.

It’s also valuable to know when the drummer is playing a tom-part in the song, where the toms are keeping the rhythm and not the snare and high hat.  This is a very popular thing right now.  During these times push those toms up in the mix and let ’em be big and than bring them back down.  You’ll notice that in the sanctuary and auditorium that we have a DCA/VCA group that is assigned to just the toms.  This is so you can push just the toms up for those parts.

Your toms should be just a little quieter than your snare drum (remember your snare drum should be the loudest drum in the mix, not the kick) and about the same level as the kick.  So watch your meters and sliders and more importantly listen to make sure you can hear each individual drum.


Drums: Part 4

Let’s talk about mixing the drums when you are not using a shield or maybe a partial shield.  If the conditions are right and if you have the right drummer it is very possible to leave the drums open and allow the ambient sound to mix with your house speakers.  Something that is key to remember is,  just because you can hear the drums coming off the stage doesn’t mean you don’t mix them into the house mix.  We are trying to create energy with our mixes and run levels that mimic concert sound without the excessive dB’s.  To accomplish this we want to mix the drums so that they compliment what is coming off the stage.  We also don’t want to hear toms and the kick coming out of the speakers and nothing else, that just plain sounds wrong and off.  Either you need to have zero of the drums coming out of the speakers or a little of each to compliment the sound coming off the stage.  Otherwise it doesn’t sound natural.

Starting with the kick drum bring your level so that it masks the sound coming off the stage.  This will add the low end that we desire to give the music energy. This also allows you to EQ the kick drum to get the desired tone.  In this situation you may not need to boost the mids-highs to help with the attack because the ambient sound from the kick will help with this.

The amount of snare you mix into the sound system will vary depending on how hard the drummer hits.  In most situations the snare will cut through the mix and it might seem like you don’t need any in the house system, but it is important to bring the snare up in the system so that it matches the snare coming off the stage.  This will help the drum kit sound more realistic and not like it’s sitting behind the rest of the mix.

The toms are usually easier to mix because they are a softer part of the kit.  You almost always have to have the toms up in the house system.  Again you want to mix them so that they compliment what you hear coming off the stage.

The cymbals are the hardest part of the kit to control.  You might have to coach the drummer so that they lay off the cymbals.  If the drummer is using in-ears make sure that they hear themselves really well.  A trick you can do is to turn up the overhead mics in their ears. This will force them to hit the cymbals softer.  Again if you can get a little of the cymbals into the sound system this will help reinforce the drum sound so that it is full and not sound like it is behind the mix.

Mixing the drums without a shield will change your EQ’s and any compression/gates you might use, so take that into consideration as you build your drum mix.


Drums Part 3: Thinking Outside the Box or Maybe Inside the Box (Part 2)

So when should drums be fully enclosed and when is it ok for them to not be?  I would suggest that anytime the drum sound coming off of the stage gets to a point that I can’t push the mix above the stage drum sound you need some kind of treatment or adjustments to how the drummer is playing.    Another time would be because of drum bleed into vocal mics.

The trouble makers in the drum kit are always the cymbals and the snare drum.  If you have a player that is heavy-handed and they can’t control how loud they play then it is pretty hard to not need a shield and sound absorption for most of the rooms we mix in. I feel that anytime the cymbals get to a level that ‘washes’ out the instruments or vocals and all they do is resonate in the room you need to do something.   And anytime that the snare doesn’t sit nicely in the mix you need to do something.  Just because you can hear the snare doesn’t always mean it’s sitting in the mix where it needs to.

As sound engineers it is our responsibility to reproduce the best sound possible and to go to any length to do this.  So if you are in a situation that you are not using a shield/lid or don’t have one make sure to be proactive in giving ‘positive’ feedback to the drummer on how loud he is playing and help them understand what they need to do to help you out.  But the truth is, it can be pretty hard as a drummer to get the dynamics you want out of the drums and not hit them hard and this is especially true on songs that are meant to be loud.  If the drummer can’t or even won’t play at a level that helps the mix use a shield or lid.  Again this is about a great end result not always about what looks cool or about a drummer’s ego. If you do go without a shield or lid be sure to walk around your room and into the front rows to make sure the sound is the same.

One of the reasons I like to fully enclose the drums is because you get total control over the drums.  I not only control the volume but I control the tone, compression, gating, and any effects on the kit.  Most of our listeners are used to music that is highly compressed and EQ’d in the studio.  When this is the sound you are used to I personally think it doesn’t sound that good to have ambient drums. Now you could argue that you have to mix the drums into the mix so that you can hear them in the house speakers which gives you some of the tonal control and compression you are looking for, but sometimes those crazy cymbals and snare don’t allow for this when we are mixing in smaller rooms.  Now if you are in the right room and it is big this changes everything, but most of us don’t have this luxury.   Unfortunately on Sunday mornings we don’t have the luxury to run our levels at concert levels to cover the cymbals and snare coming off the stage.  I guess my point is this. When the drums are enclosed you put yourself in a situation that best allows you to create a mix that sounds more like the music we hear on the radio and you are put into a situation that allows you to have a successful mix.  There is nothing worse than knowing that the cymbals are killing your mix and you can’t do anything about it.  When the drums are out of the box we are faced with some challenges because of the size of rooms we mix in.

In my next post I want to talk about mixing the drums without a shield and talk about some of my experiences without a drum shield or lid to help you be successful without a shield or lid.

I would also love for some of you to comment about your experiences with mixing drums or with your experiences of not using a shield or lid.


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