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Mixing Live Sound

Lesson 15 of 17

Things to Consider


Mixing Live Sound

Lesson 15 of 17

Things to Consider


Lesson Info

Things to Consider

Okay so things to consider these air some final thoughts to consider about mixing live sound your training is super super helpful so how do you your train is an engineer understanding what frequency sound like on dh knowing be able to hear feedback or here freak a frequency in an instrument and immediately know what frequency that is is incredibly important especially when you're ringing out monitors so you need to be able to hear an associate that it's really simple to train yourself I'm gonna go ahead and show you really quick even just on a council right here if I bring up miscellaneous I have a um sine wave generator and I'm going to send um just random frequencies to uh to the mix to be able to train my ear which frequencies I'm hearing so I can start to hear which one's air feeding back so I'm gonna route this oscillator out to mainz um just a little warning here this is going to be kind of a loud signal so we'll start with uh we'll start with kind of low frequencies will start w...

ith like four hundred hurts so this is what four hundred hertz sounds like ah that's four hundred I would listen to that and train yourself to hear what does that sound like then let's go up to some of the big ones will do eight hundred ah so that's what you're like hi part of your low meds we'll do one k that's that's kind of your one case signal will do for k. These are kind of the big ones. Oops. So if you hear that's that frequency that's four que andan obviously could go up to ten thousand. This is where it starts to get a little out of control. And then even if you can hear this, we go all the way up to sixteen k. Some of you might not be able to hear, but you feel it or kind of sense it I would. I encourage you, teo, sit around with you can get aps to do this for free, sit around with different frequencies and just quiz yourself. Have somebody play one and see if you can guess what frequency it is, just train your ear. I would practice this a bunch, the better you can get it. Memorizing frequency is the better you're going to be able to quickly troubleshoot feedback, you're going to be able to e q instruments better just listen to those frequencies and train yourself understanding deby and gain. Go back over understanding decibels understand things like if I go up three d b that's, doubling the sound or doubling the acoustic pressure or the electrical sound pressure, acoustical, some pressure, excuse me or electrical level, understanding those things, understanding to keep your gain reduction or your gain staging sorry, even so that every stage in the process is appropriately managing gain, and not one of them is way out of control away under, um, that's super important. So here's your sort of standard monitor workflow on the biggest thing is like having a system down that you know what you're doing and you're confident in your system is so helpful because the band whoever's on stage feels like you're in control and you know what you're doing, don't be bossy or demanding, but know what your system is? The worst is to walk up on me like I'm just going to try this for a little bit. And what should I do now? And I forgot to do this have a system down and perfect it, whatever your system is, and then be ready to execute it over and over again so that they know exactly what's happening and you're in control. Greet the band first, always meet them first and shake their hand. Make sure that they know who you are, it's the worst tohave see somebody sitting down a console that you've never even seen before and you're trying to communicate with him always line check everything like I said, make sure all the lines are clean before the band ever gets there if you can so that there's no issues with them standing on stage and you're running around trying to figure out why you're not getting signal on channel seventeen it's the worst feeling in the world this is a big one especially for monitors when you abandon sound checking before when they start don't have effects on their vocals at all when they're first starting because they're using the mic to talk back to you in front of house and if you've got like a bunch of echo and delay and reverb and it just sounds messy and they can't understand it's super frustrating so wait until the very end to put effects on their vocals while they're singing and playing not while they're trying to talk and always mute it when they're ready to talk so that they're not distracted by that um work on your main mix first get every instrument and line up up to par as quickly as you can and then always ask the ban what they want to start with sometimes the band always wants to start with the drummer sometimes the lead singer goes first everybody's going to be different so ask have no problems say hey who do you want to start with? We start with drums you know and if they don't care they they'll tell you they don't care but if they do care then they'll let you know exactly what they want to start with move through each artist eso once you identify who you're going to start with, work your way around this stage and don't move on to someone else until you know that that person's happy if there's an issue don't be afraid to jump up and run on stage and talking next to him. One of the best ways to sort of eliminate frustration with people is if there way up there on your way back here, your talking through, talkback, mikes and they're getting frustrated you can tell that they're getting irritated, run up on stage and stand next to her and say what's going on, what can I do to help? What do you hearing? And then they feel like you're connected to him right next to them and not way off behind a consul somewhere. Um and and then save this mixes a snapshot as soon as the band's done. Make sure to remember to save the mixes. I can't tell you how many bands I've heard of it have told me horror stories where they've got up on stage, they spent an hour sound checking their really happy with everything they walk off stage, another band gets them to sound check and when they get up to play, the mix is completely different than their sound check or they don't have any monitors at all because whoever was mixing monitors didn't save their sound checks things if it's an analog console right down with their settings, where if it's a digital consoles save it as a snapshot or is a file, make sure that you're absolutely sure that the band is going to know what to expect when they walk on stage. It's the worst feeling in the world for band tow, walk on stage and have it be totally different than what they spent an hour sound checking as um so yeah, that's sort of like your monitor workflow uh, let's move on here, front of house work flow pretty similar you want to meet the band, make sure the line check everything the thirty seventy rule when you're mixing front of house, you're not so much concerned with getting the perfect mix on every single instrument. If you have her studio engineers, this is going to be very different for you, because in the studio you want to spend as long as it takes to get the perfect kick drum sound, do not do that in the live environment, spend a little time as you can to get a decent and then, as the band starts to play that's when you start to actually dial in the mix, thirty percent up front, seventy percent when the band's playing, especially when you're in sort of high intensity situations because they get frustrated, um work quickly make it seem like you're working quickly and you know, what's happening if you're taking too long toe understand where things are on the console, you're getting frustrated, you're going more likely be prone to make mistakes um talk back regularly the worst thing is with the bands on stage and something's going on and they can't figure it out and you're not communicating with them at all and they don't know is he paying attention? Is he trying to fix it? Is is he close to fixing it? Can it not be fixed? Let them know exactly what's going on if there's a problem say hey guys, I'm really sorry we got to figure this out just hold tight really quick let me figure out where this line is going bad or why the bases distorting or whatever and then work on it so they know exactly what's happening over communication is great be polite but assertive, so obviously be nice, be polite, but also make sure that you were in charge and you're guiding them through the process. If it's your venue, your sound system, you don't want them to be telling you what to do unless they were a very specific process make sure that you know ah, what the process is and they can feel comfortable to trust you on that, um front front house and monitors oh yeah so if you're working if you're doing both front house and monitors which a lot of sound a lot of clubs are always start with the monitor's first don't ever get to the front of house mix until the monitors air done so if you're mixing both monitors and from the house from the same desk start with line checking everything get the channels up do the main channel mix like we did with monitors then work on all the monitor mixes and then when they're happy with the monitor mix is then you can worry about front house what's most important is the band being happy on stage because you can always get the front of house makes sounding good while the band is playing it's harder to do that when they can't even hear each other yet um leave enough time for the band to play through a part of a song I know sometimes sound checks get cut really short sometimes they're just line checks if you could even have them play thirty seconds of a song it's better than just line checking everything because they're going to play differently when they're playing and then when they're lying checking it's just an absolute rule andan always check in when you're done rock up to the stage we finished sound check and say how is everything guys are you happy with it in person not from beyond the consul run up there and say, how did everything work out? Okay, can I get you guys anything? They know that you've got there back, and you're going to be much more successful on by by the end, like smile and be nice. I can't say that enough. Don't be arrogant, be kind, and you will be amazed at how much you can get away with. If you're nice to people, they will most likely return the favor and be nice to you.

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.