"Sound training for a sound mind" Live mixing - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 33 Old 06-13-10, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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"Sound training for a sound mind" Live mixing

I put this training manual together a few years ago and thought that it may come in handy to this community.

I will also include the PDF of this as well once I upload it.

The purpose of Sound Reinforcement

The main purpose is to CAPTURE, CONTROL and DISTRIBUTE sound.
CAPTURE is done by using microphones or other pickup devices
CONTROL is done by using a mixer and other processing equipment.
DISTRIBUTION is done by using amplifiers and speakers.

Is everyone capable of doing sound

I think Yes, but to do it well you need to:
Be able to use your ear to analyze and assess what is happening at the event you are at. A good musical ear is an important asset.
Attention to detail and being able to focus on individual sounds.
Understanding the correct terminology.
Balancing a mix.

System Startup
  1. Before turning on power to soundboard and amps, check levels on masters for monitors and mains as someone may have played with levels do not assume that all is the way you left them. Turning on the board before doing this could cause serious damage to speakers due to feedback from microphones or excessive volume from CD or other source.
  2. If possible, Turn on soundboard first then amplifiers as reversing this causes a BOOM sound in the speakers and possibly cause damage to speakers.
  3. Run main faders up slowly to there usual position. (if you don’t know what that is ask someone who does)
  4. Send a signal through system for example a CD or Tape. Again bringing levels up slowly.
  5. Check main speakers and monitors to see if they are working properly.

Operation of a Soundboard

A soundboard is a crucial part of a sound system. It is used to combine and mix many individual sources into one or more separate output mixes. Many different paths exist for the incoming signal to leave the mixer.
Common outputs are Stereo, Main bus, Group out and Auxiliary out.
The input signal can come into the board from several sources XLR (Mic in as it is usually referred to) or LINE in and now even a digital input.

Channel layout

Now first of all this is where there are many different layouts and this gets even more complicated with the new digital mixers being used but this is a basic layout and most mixers will have these adjustments.
  1. Phantom power is used for sending power to microphones that require power to work.
  2. Mic / Line switch used to select which signal is being used.
  3. Phase reversal switch used for when you use two microphones in close proximity of each other.
  4. Pad used to reduce the signal level by a certian level if turning down the input gain is not enough.
  5. Input gain is used to adjust the level of the incoming signal so as to not clip or distort the signal.
  6. High pass filter used for cutting off the low frequencies.
  7. Equalizer used to shape the sound of the incoming signal.
  8. Equalizer on / off switch will bypass EQ. If off.
  9. Auxiliary sends used for sending level to monitors or efx. such as reverb.
  10. Auxiliary pre / post switch used to send the signal to monitors or efx. Before going through the fader or after the fader meaning that the fader controls the level as well.
  11. Pan used to move the signal to the left or right speakers or both if using a stereo mix.
  12. Mute used to turn on / off a channel completely.
  13. Sub master assign switches used to select where the signal will go before leaving the mixer to the speakers.
  14. PFL switch (Pre Fader Listen) is used for listening to the signal over headphones (this works even if channel is muted)
  15. Fader is used to send the signal to the main output or sub master.
Output groups / sub master section
  1. Returns used to receive the signal from a processor i.e. reverb so you can send it to the main output.
  2. Auxiliary masters these send the signal form the independent auxiliaries on each channel to the monitors or efx unit.
  3. Sub master section is used to control several levels with only one fader rather than having to adjust several channels independently.
  4. PFL level adjusts the volume to the headphones otherwise known as Pre Fader Listen.
  5. Mute groups are used to turn off several channels at once (not a common feature on soundboards)
  6. Stereo and Mono master faders are the final stop before the signal leaves the mixer to either a recording device or speakers.

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #2 of 33 Old 06-13-10, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Re: "Sound trainning for a sound mind" Live mixing

Mixing Techniques
  1. The first thing you need to do is turn down all AUXILIARY levels and the FADER then determine what kind of input signal it is. (LINE or MIC) and what channel it is pluged into
  2. After that you need to adjust the gain so it doesnít clip the input. To do this look at the indicator lights for that channel and see if you are overloading it (the red light or LED as it is called) should only flicker occasionally at the highest level. If it is on solid turn down the GAIN. The opposite is true if you canít see or have a very low level. On a Digital console The level should be much lower than clipping and normally should be set to run in the low yellow or about halfway up. Clipping a digital signal makes it unusable.
  3. Then you need bring up the FADER slowly up to around 0dB Remember to have the MONO or STEREO masters up to there normal levels and have the signal selected on the SUB MASTER assigns to send to mono or stereo. The channel faders should be up ĺ of the way and use the mono master to control the volume. (START LOW)
  4. Listen to what you hear as this is where you need to use your ear and adjust the EQUALIZER so as to make it sound as natural as possible (this can take a while) do not adjust the EQ so it looks pretty use your ears not your eyes.
  5. Once that has been completed send the desired level to the monitors by first determining what monitor channel is used for that part of the stage than bringing it up using the AUX sends for that monitor. Always use caution when doing this as this is where feed back can develop this is where you use the pre/post buttons located just below the Aux sends with the exception of wireless mics these should be on the pre setting, again listen to the mix. The monitor mix should NEVER be louder than the mains. (at least 5% under)
  6. At this point you are done using this channel for now go on to the next signal and do the same until you are done.
  7. Now you need to decide if you want to use your SUB MASTER assigns or just continue sending it straight to the master.


Mixing is a lot like driving a car

Keep your head up watch the performers not the knobs and meters
Hands should be on the mixer not the coffee mug!
Pay attention donít be talking to your girlfriend / boyfriend
A map is a good thing to have when driving so is a service outline or program when doing sound Know what is coming up and be prepaired.

Structure of a mix (a 3 layer cake)

Lead vocalists are the icing or top layer of the cake and should be slightly louder then instruments and other sounds.
The instruments that provide support to the vocals i.e. piano or keyboard and Acoustic Guitars need to be the next layer, background vocals can be placed here also.
The bottom layer consists of the drums, Bass and percussion.
Marbled throughout the cake are the sweeteners that add to the mood and make music interesting i.e. woodwinds, strings second keyboards and guitars.
(Remember we are mixing for a Church service or other worship event not a rock concert)

Selective listening

Once you have mixed it all together it may sound muddy or not clear i.e. the vocals donít seem to be understandable or the piano is not cutting through. Than you need to EQ them so they have more edge adding some high mid frequencies (4-8KHz) will help this even though by them selves they seem too shrill. You also may need to cut back on some low mids (200-600Hz) on things like Bass and Keys.

Stage setup / Sound check

A sound check is essential; an event should never take place unless one has been done.
A good rule of thumb is a sound check should last 1hr. 15min. And you should be done Ĺ hr. before the event starts or doors open giving you time to do system checks.
It is NOT a practice for the musicians itís for the sound technicians.
Should be of a verity of fast and slow songs (no need to do complete song)
Specials should be done as well so as not to have surprises
If need be go through each instrument and vocal one at a time to adjust EQ and other settings.

As sound systems very from church to church and venue to venu and acoustics play a large role in how sound is heard. An empty building will usually sound completely different than a full one. Do not assume that once you have a good mix that your job is done a sound technician must be ready for the unexpected to happen i.e. a wireless mic picking up interference or a bad cord that worked during sound check. Also depending on if the soundboard is used for Sunday services or for other functions will be a factor on how much you will need to do for each setup.

Final Sound Adjustments

When you finally have a good mix of sound that you are happy with the next thing you need to do is establish an overall volume level for Sunday services or concert. Again acoustics play a large role in how you assess the situation but a good rule of thumb is look at the seniors in the congregation and see if they are holding there hands over there earsÖok just kidding. First, you need to get your hands on a sound level meter this is not an expensive device that reads sound volume in Decibels or dB as seen on most meters. Once you have one of these you want to have it where you can see it and adjust the house sound to around 90dB with peaks never above 100dB (for a concert most people expect it to be a bit louder in the 90-110db range) remember that each dB is 10x louder than the last. Next walk around the room with the meter and check that you donít have spots that are louder than 100dB reflection off of walls and ceilings can also affect this. Remember that once the room fills up this reading will change.

Microphone Types
  1. Unidirectional come in various pattern sizes designed to pick up sound only from the front and slightly on the side called Cardioids, Hypercardioids are a little more sensitive and Shotguns that only pick up whatís in front of it.
  2. Omnidirectional pick up sound from all around even behind
  3. Dynamic mics have a good overall frequency response are used for vocals are rugged and do not need a power source (Phantom Power)
  4. Condenser mics have a much higher frequency response and are very sensitive, great for choir or group pickup as well as cymbals and percussive sounds they are not good for holding as they tend to transmit the handling sound into the mic. These mics need Phantom Power to operate and feed back very easy (using around monitors or speakers is not recommended).

Microphone Technique

Hold the mic as close to the mouth as possible on the chin is best (Its an ice cream cone if you canít touch it with your tongue than its to far away)
DO NOT EVER blow into mic or stand close to a speaker or monitor and cause feedback* deliberately.
Pull the mic away from your mouth if you are going to get loud or yell.

*Feedback is caused by a microphone or other pickup device hearing its self. Pointing it at or by just having it too loud in the speakers or monitors. To fix this you can do three things:

1)Turn down the volume of the device feeding back**.
2)Move the speaker or monitor away from the device feeding back or vice versa.
3)Use your EQ on the soundboard to get rid of the frequency that is feeding back.

**Always do this first as feed back will cause serious damage to speakers if left to get out of hand not to mention itís hard on the ears.


Connecting Instruments to Soundboard

1)Using a Direct Box (DI) this box converts a line or guitar High Z signal (Unbalanced) to a Low Z mic signal (Balanced) so it can travel farther distances over 20 ft. (you may create noise in the system if you donít)
2)Using mics designed for instruments i.e. SM57 made by Sure (using vocal mics can damage them as they have a much larger pickup aria and can easily be overloaded)






Information prepared by Tony VandenBerg

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #3 of 33 Old 06-13-10, 05:26 PM
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Re: "Sound trainning for a sound mind" Live mixing

Looks really good Tony! I think it could be easly used as a basic guide on a Sound Reinforcement workshop.
I liked the "Mixing is a lot like driving a car". Nothing is more of a turn down than a guy who is messing up your monitors without even looking at you!

Cheers,
Marco
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post #4 of 33 Old 06-16-10, 04:47 AM
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Re: "Sound trainning for a sound mind" Live mixing

See, this is great 'till the two guitar players each turn up to a 200 seater venue with their four 4x12 speaker stacks and 200watt valve heads and complain that they can't get 'their sound' unless the gain is set to 11 out of ten!

The two guitar players are generating 118dB at the mix position from the back-line alone and wonder why the audience can't here the vocals very clearly...

Seriously though Tony, this a really GREAT starting point for anyone approaching live sound in their early days

Well done mate

Cheers
Anton
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post #5 of 33 Old 06-16-10, 09:13 AM Thread Starter
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Re: "Sound trainning for a sound mind" Live mixing

Thanks Guys, I hope this will come in handy.

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #6 of 33 Old 06-16-10, 10:48 AM
 
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Re: "Sound trainning for a sound mind" Live mixing

That's fantastic Tony! Definitely a great way for someone new to the industry to get better acquainted with everything and written in a way that an amateur would understand as well. Great job!
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post #7 of 33 Old 06-16-10, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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Re: "Sound trainning for a sound mind" Live mixing

In the 30 years Ive been mixing live and studio sound the one thing I've learned is that when a new person comes on board particularly in a volunteer position they usually get overwhelmed by all the buttons and knobs on the mixing console, by focusing their attention on just one channel and getting them comfortable with what each setting does and that each channel is just a duplicate it becomes much less stressful.
In our church Its very hard to train someone when they only are around for a training session once a month they forget half of what you taught them. I found with this manual they remembered allot more.

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #8 of 33 Old 06-17-10, 09:50 PM
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Re: "Sound trainning for a sound mind" Live mixing

Tony,

Great job! I've got a client whose trying to recruit volunteers for sound and has asked me to come up with a "Sound Guide" tailored to their FOH equipment.

Hope you don't mind me using a few bits here and there.. it's really very well written.

Thanks for posting this.

Pep
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post #9 of 33 Old 06-17-10, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: "Sound trainning for a sound mind" Live mixing

Quote:
PepAX7 wrote: View Post

Hope you don't mind me using a few bits here and there.. it's really very well written.

Pep
No problem.

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #10 of 33 Old 06-29-10, 03:24 AM
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Thumbs up Re: "Sound trainning for a sound mind" Live mixing

Thanks a lot for this manual, Tony. Very well written, and easy to understand. Good job!
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