Whether you are going on tour with a new artist, running sound for a local venue, or working for a sound company there's a lot more to mixing a great sounding show than just turning knobs and pushing faders.
Step 1- Do your homework-what kind of music will you be mixing? Learn the artist's songs and get familiar with the style of music. If you are going tour with them as their sound engineer you'll want to deconstruct the songs and make lots of notes.
Step 2- Communicate with the artist, band, or client on what their needs are. What ideas do they have for their sound? How many inputs do they have? What are they? What do they need in the way of monitor mixes? What songs have solos or instrument changes, go through the set list so you know what to expect for each song- different vocalists? BGVs? Solos? Are there any specific cues?
Step 3- Show up prepared. Have an input list, stage plot, and audio spec. Advance the gig so you know what equipment you’ll have when you get there. If you find out that you'll be using an unfamiliar desk, review the manual for it prior to the gig.
Step 4- Get good sounds from the source. If you have a chance to be at band rehearsals, work with the musicians to dial in their tone. If there aren't rehearsals do it prior to soundcheck. Choose the right microphones and use proper mic placement.
Step 5- Spend some time listening to and EQ'ing the PA.
Step 6- Know Signal Flow and Proper gain structure. They are two of the most important things to know in getting the most out of your system and great sounds.
Step 7- Ring out your vocal mic in the monitors and the PA, this will help prevent feedback.
Step 8- Do a line check with the crew before the band arrives for soundcheck. Set optimal gain on all of your inputs, apply dynamics where needed, set up your effects, etc.
Step 9- Run a proper soundcheck. if you’ve done everything right up to this point and have a stage full of good musicians, you are way ahead of the game.
Step 10- Build the mix. Focus on the key elements first- if it’s vocal driven music, get the vocal dialed in. If it’s a Guitar hero- get the guitar dialed in. Then build your mix around it. USE VCAs and Groups to make mixing easier and for control and efficiency.
Step 11- Be at FOH no later than 15 minutes prior to show- or as soon as set change begins. Run through a line check in the headphones again with the crew to make sure all inputs are still working and there are no issues.
Step 12- Mix the show. Look up and pay attention, trust your ears, bring up solos, make sure you can hear everything and the mix is well balanced. Have fun, get in the zone and let your creativity fly!
Step 13- Load out- Thank you and Goodnight!
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