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Tips for Mixing a Great Show.

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...

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How musicians can work with the sound engineer to have a great show.

live sound soundcheck Dec 31, 2019

A well run soundcheck can make a world of difference in your show. 

A great sounding show is the goal of every live musician and sound engineer. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if from the first downbeat your stage sound was dialed in and you could just enjoy playing instead of trying to dial in your tone, monitor levels, and fighting to be heard over stage volume?

Lots of things need to happen prior to the performance and depending on the circumstances, there is often not as much time as would be desired. 

What can you do as a musician to help make the most of the time available?

Whether your band just plays for fun on weekends or you are a full time touring musician, here are some tips to help you work constructively with the audio crew and get the most out of your soundcheck time so you can have a successful show.

Where’s the soundguy/gal?

Your sound engineer is here to help you. We (band and crew) are all working towards the same goal- a great show.


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How to get the most out of Soundcheck

A well run soundcheck can make a world of difference in your show. 

Wouldn’t you love to start the show with a great mix instead of spending the first several songs trying to pull it together?  What can you do to get the most out of soundcheck?

Line Check

Prior to doing a soundcheck with the band, it’s very beneficial for the audio crew to run through a line check of all the inputs.  This can be done with the band technicians or another audio tech.  During line check the house and monitor engineer should be making sure all of the inputs are patched and working correctly, no buzzes, crackles, or pops.  Listen for things like bad cables, noisy lines, interference, etc. repair or replace as needed.. Line check is also time to work on getting inputs dialed in. 

Line check has several purposes-

1- To make sure all inputs are working correctly.  All signals should be clean and strong and patched in the right channels.

2- To set input...

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What do you do when the soundboard won’t fit in the gig?  You mix outside!


A few years back I was on tour mixing the Goo Goo Dolls and encountered this peculiar problem.   When we arrive at our gig in Birmingham England, we find that it’s on the third floor of a large building.  I take a preliminary walk around the venue to scope out the FOH mix position and find a small booth in the middle of the room.  With just enough room for the house lighting desk and their digidesign console,  I quickly realize that there is no way my Midas H3000 analog beast is ever going to fit in this booth.  The house audio tech tries to convince me otherwise and begins preparing to remove his desk.


At the same time, load in is beginning at the back of the building and it is a brutal carry straight up a long staircase.  Did I mention this was on the third floor and there is no elevator?  Goo Goo Dolls do not travel light.  There is an entire semi-truck packed full of gear that the stage hands are hefting up the stairs to the...

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Setting up your workflow


I want to talk about setting up your workflow on the console.

Once you start mixing more than a few shows, you’ll start to find that you have some preferences in how your console is laid out.  Everyone has their own particular way of doing things and it’s all a matter of what works for you.

For instance: How you do your input patch will determine where things show up on the surface.  It doesn’t have to be 1-1, you can patch inputs to come up in whatever channels you like.

If you are mixing on a digital console with a limited number of faders available on the surface, you’ll have to think about how you want your inputs to populate them.  If you have 42 inputs and only 16 input faders/layer, how do you want to build your layers?  

It’s a good idea to have all of your drums on the same layer or page so you can easily make adjustments to the overall drum mix.

Likewise, if you have numerous inputs for keyboards and tracks.


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Your First Tour

We are in the midst of summer, the height of touring season here in the US, throw some festivals on top of that and there is plenty of work to go around.

In previous blogs, I talked about how to prepare for a tour from the technical side of things.  For this blog, I am going to talk about preparing for your first tour from the practical side of things.

Before leaving home

Get yourself a passport and if you have one make sure you have enough blank pages in it and it’s not about to expire. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of a tour and find out you can’t get into Canada for example, because your passport is expired, or spend a day off at the consulate in a foreign country getting blank pages added to your passport.  

If you live in one of the states whose Driver's Licenses are not valid with TSA, you'll need a Real ID if you don't have a valid passport and plan on doing any air travel.

If you are not already a member of the major airline's frequent...

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