Skip to main content

Mixing Live Sound

Lesson 17 of 17

Final Q&A


Mixing Live Sound

Lesson 17 of 17

Final Q&A


Lesson Info

Final Q&A

We've got some questions from the chat rooms we're gonna answer really quick the czar asks to avoid phase issues is time aligning the main potato let's say the kick drum always necessary so I assume you mean aligning the p a distance wise from the er distance between the kick drum and the actual speakers and I would say I definitely wouldn't worry about that the time difference between the back of the stage and where the a is should not be that significant plus and hopefully you're not getting that much bleed from the distance between the kick drum and the stage three only different the only time you want to use time alignment or time delay on speakers is when you have two sets of speakers on bose speakers are are not on the same vertical plane but one is further into the house you definitely want these time adjustment on those but you shouldn't have to worry about time aligning the speaker's unless the speakers are so far in front of the band that it makes sense but yeah I would I wou...

ld just use best judgment on that probably um I noted you mentioned earlier dave says I know did you mentioned stereo are live sound systems now typically stereo or a stereo feeds some tamano that's a great question on guy didn't really go over that specifically most venues that I mix in for festivals are stereo it's not I don't know use a lot of panning with stereo but stereo effects come through really well especially with clear speakers there's actually two options with mixing for stereo too you have true left and right stereo and you have what's called an lcr mix if you have a really wide venue like like a stadium for example with seats on either side sometimes an lcr mix khun b really helpful on guy can show you really quick here just in the set up and the system set up with your buses or your system. Actually the main bus can either be left and right plus motto or else e r and elsie are mix actually has three mixes across the front and as you pan it mixes from left to center too, right? If something is pan uniquely center, it actually only sends it to the center phil andan if something's pan left right it pans atm or to the outside you can change what's called the center divergence of that the mix to center the lower the percentage of the center diversions them or the center mix actually spills to the left and right I usually keep it like forty or fifty percent and then use the center phil for just for a little more little more you know centre gain if I need to in the middle on that helps spread the stereo mics out really well again you don't want people all over the venue to have different mixing experiences so you don't want to do a ton of drastic panning it's mostly effects, and maybe it's like somebody staged right? You compan their guitar a little bit stage right? And it kind of gives a good stereo imagery for some of the band, but you never want to do any hard panting or extremes, eh? So that's really helpful you cannot there's also a lot of enemies that do just mix in mono because they're keeping it very, very similar, and they want the same mix everywhere and that's definitely a possibility to there's there's. Nothing wrong with doing it that way. I I always like to mix in stereo so that you know, the percentage of the audience that is in front of the stage still has some sort of a stereo image and has stereo effects that they're hearing. Aztec audio says artie is with the arte and built in graphics on a desk like the x thirty two b c efficient to set up speakers, or would you recommend an external device are ta mike for this purpose? Also, is it necessary to artie and monitors and on stage sound too great questions the avid council has? Well, it doesn't have an rt a built into it, it has a signal generator, and it has an onboard e q on dh I've used that in plenty of situations, the speakers that we use, the mire speakers have a great, really incredible system with the compass galileo set up that allows you to control very, very specifically, we showed it earlier. The frequency of each speaker on dh smart is probably the most common, most advanced arte that you can use it's kind of expensive it's like, I think it's like nine hundred dollars, but it's a really, really advanced our system. I've never actually used the baron's your ex thirty two art specifically have mixed on that desk before, but I've never used the, but if that's all you have, like, make the best of it there's nothing wrong with using that? If you do have the opportunity to get a more advanced system like a smart system, it definitely helps tohave that advanced specificity. As far as artie and monitors, I was due by ear, I have seen people walk around with s sir with a with a mic and actually try to arte each individual stage wedge. But for the most part, you're not dialing in tiny changes, you're making pretty big, sweeping adjustments to monitors to prevent them from feeding back, so you should be able to do that by ear, basically by taking your vocal mike. Just like you saw in the video and walking around and wringing out the frequencies and just pulling out the frequencies that you hear feeding back you shouldn't need to do much more than that uh jeff says what if your ceiling is eight feet? What type of speakers set up should you use wow that's a really tough one eight feet for a venue would be very, very difficult you're getting a lot of reflection I would use something that's very linear something like a three way speaker on dh try to use as much dampening on the walls as possible you're gonna get a lot of reflection off the ceiling obviously so you want to keep the volume as much as you can down I don't know that there's a specific type of speaker that would be best it's more about trying to figure out how to avoid reflections just because you're gonna get a lot off the ceiling and the floor uh rodrigo's says when dealing with a large system with multiple sets of speakers going out into the crowd how do you compensate for the delay and sound as it goes further from the stage? It's really easy you basically set those satellite speakers is what we call set those on their own matrix on dh then I can even show you in the output here I can select like let's say I set up matrix to to be my satellite speaker halfway through the house um well actually let me get out of router oscillation mode so if I click matrix to for example I can go up here and turn on the delay and set the delay toe whatever time I need based on that chart search on the internet there's great calculators that put in measure the distance between your main front of house speakers and your satellite speakers put in that distance and will tell you how many milliseconds to adjusted by and then on your desk put a on a matrix fader and then adjust that delay with the matrix feed her so that those sound that sound is delayed from the front of house mix what headphones are using how do you rate sony mdr seventy five or six is sony's seventy five sixes are great I've used him for years and years in the studio they're definitely the most popular pair of headphones I've moved away from them just because the high end is a little too harsh for me I used to sets of speakers are headphones the sennheiser oh man I can't remember the seven eighty hds I think I'll have to check the actual model number but the senate is their headphones there really great the one hundred dollars um these I've used audio technical technical actually gave me these the th and fifties these on awesome they're really great too I like both these and the sun visors um let's see, how do you prevent ear fatigue when mixing festivals? That's a really good question it's super important, I have a parrothead it should have actually talk more about this. I have a pair of custom designed in ear monitors that I have that I use s o I will pull those out when I'm sound checking the band and then once I get the first song done, I'll actually put those in you khun get specific types of earplugs that will on ly damp into a certain decibel level so it's not like completely cutting out the sound like, you know your standard earplugs would you get them to just drop the d b by like twenty deby and your head and your headset? Twenty dbs pl are in your ears on that really, really helps a lot, eh? So I'll usually mix without those during sound check and maybe the first couple songs and then throw those in because if you're mixing, you know, ten bands in a day starting at noon and working till midnight, you definitely want to make sure that you're taking care of your ears. Otherwise it's going to be you're going to be totally exhausted by the end of the day what's the difference between vcs and d c a s I think dc is from what I've understood our digitally controlled um, failures and vcs or voltage controlled vcs come from the analog world where it was actually the fader was just changing the voltage level of the actual fader I'm guessing that d c I've never I don't think I've heard the term dc a before, but I'm assuming it's a digitally controlled vcs, so instead of actually controlling the voltage it's controlling, um, the digital level, but I mean that's, basically what the cia is on a digital desk anyways, it's all digital to begin with. So the vc a word is just kind of a metaphor, sort of, I guess, um, what advice would you give to a front of house text starting out and wanting to improve and have a career? No question, the best thing to have that's a great question, be kind to people be really nice to people that's the best thing you can have most engineers that I know that are successful, they get picked up by bands to go on tour are people that were pretty good engineers that were awesome people to hang out with. If you think about it, a band is going to bring you on the road to tour, they're going in the van with them every day, so they're much more concerned about do I want to hang out with this person every day? In the back of my van or they're going to be super annoying in the back of the van with their feet off stinking up the whole place, you know, like that's what bands think about so be super kind be respectful on dh be prepared like come ready to know what you're doing don't let yourself get into a situation where you're over your head I have known a few engineers that signed up or got opportunities early on that they weren't ready for they didn't have those skills yet t work at that level and they went on a national tour and next thing you knew, like they were mixing it big venues and completely choking because they weren't prepared and a lot of people were watching and so your reputation spreads really fast, so taken in by it sized chunks make sure that you're prepared for whatever gig that you're getting into and you're not biting off more than you can chew and be super kind of people those those two things and maybe a third thing I would say is anticipate problems before they ask for them. So if you see a band member frustrated with something they're not asking for, but you can see that there, you know their guitar isn't working run up on stage and find out how you could help him or good example was I was mixing a band for this fundraiser for the president and the band was playing and before president obama came out and they were really frustrated because the secret service had a limited amount of time that they could soundcheck and his guitar wasn't working. And it was because his battery had died in his d I and so he didn't ask toe like, can you please come get me another battery? But I saw what was happening, and I grabbed a d I and ran up to the stage and replaced it for him before he even asked for it. That kind of stuff really goes a long way because they noticed that you're actually looking out for them. You're one step ahead of them. You're much more prepared andan, an intense situation like that, where there's a lot of people watching and you have very little limited time. You have to be on the ball, so yeah, be kind, be prepared and look for problems to solve before they happen.

Class Description

Mixing Live Sound can be one of the most daunting tasks for any engineer. In this class, Zach Varnell will walk you through the entire live sound production workflow, from loading in a PA and rigging and flying speakers to soundcheck and mixing on the fly.

In this class, you will get to see an entire day of load-in from Seattle's Capitol Hill Block Party along with a complete breakdown of a live sound production workflow and interviews with some of the country's top touring live sound engineers. 

You will learn:

  • Scaleable components of a live sound PA
  • Power distribution and management
  • Tuning speakers with a SMART system and FFT analysis
  • Mic Placement and tips for an effective soundcheck
  • Mixing front of house
  • Mixing for stage monitors and in-ears

We'll also walk through a live mix setup and interview with two touring engineers from their FOH mix position: Adam Jackson and Andy Frost (FOH and Monitor engineers for Christina Perri) and Shane Bardiau (Twenty One Pilots).

Whether you are a working live sound engineer and just want to brush up on some core concepts or you are a new engineer looking to get into live sound production, this is the place to learn all about live sound in one location.


user ee67bf

A very good overview of live sound presented by a professional sound technician. Good supporting video of a real event that Zach worked. He explained everything very well and I enjoyed the split screen views of his console work. Good job.

Navinder Gill

Zach has been Amazing ! He made it so simple to glide through the entire course ... Learnt Quite a bit .. Specially when I have an Avid Sc48 Board to work with.. Cheers !


Was fortunate to watch this live. Zach clearly is a master of his craft. I am a home studio drummer but learned allot about mixing and sound. Thank you Creative Live and Zach Varnell.