Cheat Sheet for Local Church Audio Training Sound Essentials. Kick:

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1 Cheat Sheet for Local Church Audio Training Sound Essentials Thank you for attending this session and supporting your church s ministry. I believe that, as a sound technician, you are a vital part of the worship team. The soundboard is your instrument. Many guitarists will say that their instrument is an extension of themselves; they know it so well that it is part of who they are. I hope that this session will be a step towards passionate pursuit of intimately knowing your instrument. This Cheat Sheet is intended to give you a place to start in shaping the sound of your instruments. Results will vary depending on the microphone, the instrument being mic d, the soundboard you are using, and the room you are mixing in. Trust your ears. Kick: - If you need to control low- end presence, set your HPF at around 100hz. (If you re not sure what I mean by low end presence, ask yourself Has anyone s grandmother come up to me and said that their heart hurt while sitting in front of the subs? If the answer is yes or is a form of yes, then you need to control low- end presence) - Get rid of trouble mid range frequencies. Lower mid gain and sweep between to hear when it sounds punchy. 400hz is a common frequency to reduce for good punch. - Add attack to the drum. Check mid- highs around 4k or highs around 10k. Which sounds better? Don't add too much. You are looking to compliment the sound, not recreate it. - Add low freqs. Add between 50hz and 200hz. This will add body and depth to the drum. Set Gate: - Turn on the gate and set the threshold where it is turning the gate on consistently. - Adjust the key setting. Hit LPF and roll the frequency down to about 100hz. This will allow only frequencies that are under 100hz to open the gate. - Adjust the threshold between 5-10db lower so softer kicks will open the gate. - Set hold decay and attack. Hold = 30ms, Decay = 170ms, attack = 0. - Make sure Threshold is still good. If it needs adjustment, set that now. Make sure that only the kick is opening the gate. If other sounds are opening the gate, adjust the LPF as needed. - Set the range to - 15 or so. It will allow the drum to sound more natural and not shut. - You are going to compress the resonating sound. You are shaping the sound, not adjusting the volume. - Turn on the compression. Set attack all the way fast. Set release fast to about 100. Ratio set around 4:1. - Lower the threshold until compression becomes completely enabled. - Start to slow the attack down to let the kick sound happen. You should have a very punchy kick sound. Don't compress too much. If it's too compressed, adjust the attack and/ratio as needed.

2 Snare: There s two schools of thought when it comes to a snare drum. Some people think they like a snare that sounds like a crack of a baseball bat. Others like their snare to sound like a gun blast. Listen to the type of music you re mixing and evaluate how the drum sounds. The gun blast sound is the one that I tend to steer towards. To shape the sound of the snare, we will first compress before we EQ. This will remove much of the ringing resonating snare sound. - Turn on compressor. - Add punch to drum by upping the ratio pretty steep, around 8:1. Set attack all the way fast. Set release around 150ms. - Reduce the threshold until the drum is compressed. Slow attack down until there is a nice pop. - Be sure not to slow the attack too much. You may want to try to keep it between 30 and 50ms. - If the drum is compressed to where it is becoming quiet, add some output gain. - Set HPF around 100Hz. We don t want to pick up a lot of low end from the kick - Add some body to the drum by increasing between 200 and 500Hz. (Keep your ear on the compressor. If you add volume, it will compress quicker). - Adding high freqs will add attack to the drum. Check between 5-10k. Revisit Compressor to check threshold as needed. Toms: - Start reducing the low- mids with a semi- narrow Q. Sweep around 200 1k until the drums sound OK. If you are having a hard time finding exactly what doesn t work, you can boost to find worst frequency, then once you found it, you can reduce that frequency and take out as much as needed. - Add lows using a shelf as needed. - Add some mid- highs between 3-5k to add attack presence. Be careful though, too much of this sounds like 2 pieces of wood slapping, and less like the drum. 10k is also a good slap frequency. Set Gate: - Turn on gate - Set the attack to open immediately - Set your hold time to at least 200ms ~300 - Set the decay to somewhere around 500 or 600 ms - Set range around - 18 and adjust until it sounds open - Set the threshold to allow the drum to open and be sure that the snare doesn't open the gate.

3 Acoustic Guitar - Start in the mid- highs and take away some in the 2-5k range. Don't take too much out, it ll flatten the sound of your guitar. - 1k is another common area for harsh freqs. Sweep around to hear bad frequencies between k and take out only what you need. - You may want to add some lows to add warmth. Increase in the hz to add body back to the guitar. If it starts to feed back, but the guitar sounds good otherwise, you can set the HPF around 100hz to help with feedback. We want to set compression to allow the quiet guitar parts to be nicely placed along with loud guitar parts. - Turn on compressor - Start with the ratio at 4:1 - Set attack fast - Set release to start at 150ms - Listen to the guitar and set the threshold during loud strumming until it compresses. - Increase the output gain to compensate for compressed volume level. 2-3db should work. If you have a stereo system, you may want to pan your acoustic guitar opposite of the hi- hat since they often play the same rhythm. Vocals Vocals are VERY subjective. Everyone has a different voice, and therefore there is no exact way to EQ vocals, so here is a quick guide to certain vocal frequency characteristics EQ: - Low Mids add warmth, but may add muddyness. - Mid range frequencies can sound like the singer has a cold. Adding 1k may add nasal sound. Removing 1k will remove some life. - Don't take away too much mids. Mids add punch. - Don't allow too many other instruments to 'live' in 700 hz. - If 700 doesn't work for the vocals, try to add between 2-3k. This WILL sound harsh alone but it will cut through the mix and may sound good in the mix. Too much is bad but removing 2-3k takes away clarity. Try to find a good balance. - Sibilance lives between 4-8k. Don't add too much to this area unless there are no sibilance problems.

4 Building a Mix Every audio engineer has a way that they build the mix every time. In reality, there is no secret formula to make everything come together. However, there are some pieces that work very well to give you a solid start. The mix basics will change with each application, of course. The way you build the mix will differ greatly if you have a full band (with drums, bass, percussion, keys, electric, acoustic, vocals) versus if you have a very acoustic setup (with percussion, 2 acoustics, and 2 vocals). For this cheat sheet, I will give suggestions about building a mix with a full band. No matter what application you are using, you WILL want to start by setting the gain properly on your soundboard. Every board has preamps built in. 99% of preamps work best when the signal is hot. However, without proper mic placement, hot signal can cause feedback. Make sure that you understand polar patterns and how to set up mics to use the polar patterns to your advantage. Shure.com has great FREE documentation for these subjects. Proper gain structure is crucial to getting the most out of your soundboard. The mix starts with the drums. With all the faders down, start with the kick drum. Make sure that the low/high frequency is set well, that you have punch and presence. Next, bring in the snare. Listen to the relationship between the snare and the kick. Think about the gunshot/cannon sound. You want the kick and snare to work together. Think how a clock has the tick- tock. Kick and snare NEED to work together. Bring up overheads. Make sure that they re not too bright. If you need to, take out some mid range, and in all cases, a high pass filter is necessary. You don t want lows in the overheads. Add your toms. Listen for a balance. Hear EVERYTHING, but verify that nothing sticks out. Make sure toms fit in within the mix. As mentioned, make sure the kick and snare have the 'tick- tock' sound and that the volume is pretty equal. Add the hi- hat as needed. In most cases, the overheads pick up enough of the hi- hat. Note the fader positions of all your drums and move on to the bass. Bass is next. I like to drop all of the drums out and leave just the kick. The bass and kick NEED to work together. The kick will give the initial attack and start of the bass note, and the bass guitar will finish it out. The kick drum starts the note and the bass guitar finishes the note. Then bring the snare back and make sure that the kick and the bass work together AND the kick and snare work together. Bring the rest of the drums back in. Keys are next. Unless there s a specific piano part being played, keys are often a pad. They sit in the background they set the foundation that the mix will sit on. Don't give too much low end on the keys because it will step over what the bass is doing. If mix is muddy, take out mid's in the Hz range. Next, add in your acoustic guitar. If your worship is acoustic guitar led, the acoustic guitar should be the most present instrument that sits above the other instruments, but not so much that it s awkward. As with the keys, you want this instrument to sit in its own acoustic space. Higher frequencies need sound good when there s a full band. If it s a stripped down acoustic set, low frequencies are VERY important to be added but only if there are no other instruments in the lower range. Electric guitars give the mix a lot of texture and body a lot of character. Electric guitars will probably be the instrument that keeps you the most busy. Many modern guitar parts sound very textured like

5 pads on keyboards, but in the next verse, they may be playing a driving lead part. I like to keep the electric guitar out towards the front of the mix, either sitting alongside the acoustic guitar or just behind it. If your worship is electric led, make sure the guitars are out front. Make sure they cut through the mix, but it's not too painful. At this point in the mix build, it may sound painful. We EQ d the instruments by themselves. If adding electric guitar made the mix sound bad, the problem may not be with the electric guitar. You need to listen to isolate what, exactly, is causing the offending tone and adjust the EQ. Once the instruments sound good, add vocals. Vocals are the most important thing in the mix. Make sure the vocals sound great. Dynamic singers will need to be compressed slightly, but not to where it sounds awkward. Remember: if no one knows you did something, you did it right. Quiet singers do not get compressed. Make sure the vocals are warm and present, but not painful. The most important part is to make the vocal sit ON TOP of the mix. Think of a boat in the water. The water is the instrument mix, the vocals are the boat. The boat isn t hovering over the water, and it s not sunk lost under the water. It sits on top of the water. Work a LOT on vocals. They need to sound warm and clear. Tweak everything. Listen for things that need to stand out and make adjustments. If there are a lot of instruments in the same area, take one or two down in certain frequencies that are causing problems. If you have a digital board, try to save different songs in the setlist to different scenes. If you have an analog board, TAKE NOTES. Paying close attention in practice and soundcheck will make all the difference during service. Always be practicing. Try to know your instrument. I spend much of my day reading blogs and trying to learn different things about microphones. I spent 4 hours researching SPL and the difference between A weighting and C weighting. While doing this I learned about the Fletcher- Munson curve. If you don t know about these things, check them out. The way that we perceive loudness greatly affects our ability to mix well. Here are some of the sites that I visit often to learn. Perhaps they ll help you out: also Look for Links on these pages for more resources. If you ve got the time, the information that s out there will help make you an excellent sound person. Here s information from Shure that was talked about earlier: to/index.htm And finally, here s Simple Feedback Trainer. This will train you to identify problem frequencies:

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