Skip to main content

Mixing Live Sound

Lesson 12 of 17

Soundcheck with Live Band


Mixing Live Sound

Lesson 12 of 17

Soundcheck with Live Band


Lesson Info

Soundcheck with Live Band

And finally, now, with the last time we're gonna talk about mixing front of house s so you're ready to mix the front of house band the band gets on stage there's sort of some things to walk through, so this is sort of the standard thing we're going to cover. We're going to talk about setting up the consul for front of house differently from monitors. Talk about soft patching from a festival patch for front of house, setting up a specific patch for a band, so go through doing that gain staging, which we're going to go through, is a really important concept to understand building your gain staging, ik dynamics will talk about vcs, new groups, reverb effects and tap tempo, and we'll talk about seen saving for each song. I'll do a little bit of work with some scenes and snapshots in on the avenue c forty eight before we get started, we're just going to actually jump right into sound check so you can see a sound check and really time at capitol block party. We had the opportunity to record ...

a band so you can actually see a sound check and real time. The key things to look for in this video we've worked out a system with myself in the monitor engineer. So that it's not confusing as to who's leading the sound check which is important both of us created the band and told the band up front john's going to be running the soundcheck zach will be a front of house he'll be asking you for things and basically the process that we use is john leads the soundcheck by getting through instruments but before moving on he looks to me to say, is there anything else you need? So I've got my talkback mic in front of house the whole time and I'll tell him to stop if I need to spend more time in an instrument and then he continues going on if I don't say anything then he just continues going through to the instruments once they're all set, they get their monitor mixes up and then the band plays a song, a song or two and I actually start to build the front of house makes from there something that's important to realize with live sound, especially in a festival setting unless you're actually touring with the band and you know the songs really well. If you're the first time mixing a band, they show up to a festival your most of the time going to be working under pretty intense time crunch is so you don't have a lot of time to mix how you want you want to be really quick on the console and noah inside and out you want to know exactly what you're going to do and you want to be able to set up things teo to speed up your work phone but you also want to realize that you're not going to be able to get all of the mixed done ran off right out of the gate so the first when you first sound check every single instrument you're only looking for about thirty percent the the other seventy percent is sort of the thirty seventy rule is going to happen when the band's sound checking a song so when they're going instrument my instrument you're just getting a rough estimate of what you want the tracks to sound like when they actually come up and start playing through a couple songs that's when you're going to dial in the rest of the seventy percent um because most of the time even when bands are you know super experience, they still will play very differently when they're sound checking when they're actually playing a song. If you tell a drummer give me snare drum and he's kind of like yawning and hitting the snare drum it's going to be very different than when he's actually playing it and into the song so get thirty percent during the sound check park, get a rough idea, get everything set up and then focus on the song when they're playing toe actually really dial everything in um so check this out, watch this clip and now we'll come back in just a second so we're just setting up a sound check right now so bands on stage they just loaded on got on channel set we've confirmed the patch on all the inputs with both modern engineer myself just running kick in and out snare top and bottom rack tom for tom overhead left an overhead right? We're using stage guitar one and states guitar three from the festival patch vocal one andi I think that should be it we're gonna get started here in just a second and I can already knows the band has a lot of stage volume so we're going to try to bring the drums up and focus on those as much as possible go ahead ok forty one got you sure? Okay sounds good. Um so the guitar player also plays a flute which was running through an effects box. We're just going through a mike on the flute put it on channel forty one on, then set it up. They just ask for a bunch of reverb so I'll just make sure to note that c go here forty one call this flute so now I know I've got flute here I'm gonna go ahead and bring up in mute will do that last I'm gonna keep all the other channels unm you did and trust it favors all the way down so we could just start working one by one and as soon as they get that set up we should be good to go wait, I give you it's one thing to notice about gain staging here is I have multiple points that I'm working on the game preempt the compressor input and output that I'm using is a plug in the queue on the snare and then the master baiter so there's sort of four points of gain on if I'm pushing any one of those too hard I'm gonna end up with distortion it's not gonna end over the clear mix so you can see the stairs already running pretty hot on going into the group I want to make sure that I have plenty of volume to be able to back off so when we start to build the mix gain staging and understanding how much each stage is pushing is really important yeah so I got kicking snare the kid was pretty good for a little bit of compression on it instead of four to one ratio with the snare I was looking for that ring looks like just below one day right about eight hundred hertz you hear it they're going to pull it out I can kind of narrow band on that cue get on something go ahead bring up a high pass on the hi hat set that at um uh hi zay women like really like fifty hurts definitely throw much of a plate on that plate reverb I'll take out a little bit of four k's they just try to keep it so they're not so sharp go ahead, tom so what's the time I'm putting up the gate to the gate only opens when the time is playing instead of pretty fast attack on a decent threshold I'm also gonna pull up a compressor and we'll do a lot more fine tuning with this once we get the full band playing but right now we're just sticking with me for put a little bit of compression go back to you you look for you there four hundred six hundred herds first on toms booth I'm going with you wait, we're gonna get a bass guitar now he's using the second case d I, um on stage left you got a base mike and basically I wear a patch in eleven, seventy six ways base mike sounds really good somebody's a lot of them I can just use the d ie for definition someone a high pass the base d I I'm at about one hundred fifteen hurts way a lot of the low incomes from the mic naturally on stage and everything else it's like we're slipping a little bit back off the game on the base stay dry guitar wait, I'm really not gonna like it starts with a as much well, cities in the aid of dr trumps the booth really loud guitar onstage. It's not that big of space, so yeah, we're good. Ah, a little bit of two guitars are pretty low range there. Not a lot of high end, so I'm not worried about it too much percy with the vocals, but I won't know until they fully start playing with the man, so we'll just waiting guitar levels and they're wedges simon away from locals. Ah, a lot of it's really sort of paying attention to what's going on stage, getting in their way. I could tell that they're doing something. So I'm not gonna jump in until I see that they're ready to move on. Hey, want to she wait for check? One two. Hey, hey, check one day she waited for check. Check you get check one two. Yeah, going just like just a little bit more. Check a she waited for wei hey, hey. One, two check. Check. Check. Okay. One, two, three. Check. Check. Hey, hey! She weighed at for that seems. Get up for me. Here, check one two here's the flute way. Eyes not on what you can do to put overdrive on a flute which is what they want we're going to try as much as we can but it's just gonna be a lot of issues with feedback if it's not a d ay way can't put a ton of reverb on it what should be cool first thing I wanted to make sure it's high past so we're not getting too much low end ah wait okay so what send three bring up some delay oh yeah way to start with vocals and I wanna get the vocals to sit before anything else so stay with the local failure once I get that to sit and work on the rest of band and usually try to bring the band down around the vocals so I'm not pushing everything up but bringing everything down in the states wait wait so the funny thing was the song that they ended up sound checking we actually didn't even have any mobile so well strategy you starting with vocals didn't really work but that is typically what you want to try to do with getting is work around the vocals typically that's using focus with most bands and then try to get the band to sit around with wade wait and again I'm to switch my sound pressure reader too wake sure the world stayed with it wait wait serial way theo way great thank you guys so everything on me group so that as soon as they're done, sound checking, I commute all the channels. I put every channel, one through forty eight on a mute group, except for, um, the ipod playback. So now when I pull up, I could put in place a pretty music. So the doors come up, there's, a music playing and, um, should be good to go.

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.