Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mixing Sound from the Side Stage

Last night I mixed sound for a gig on a stage, under a covered pavillion, while it rained outside nearly the whole time. Due to all the water on the ground around the audience space, it was decided that I was going to mix the show from the side stage facing the bands. I didn't really want to get buzzed, if you know what it mean!

The gig went well and I able to achieve a good sounding mix. Of course, there is always something that goes wrong during a show and I wanted to tell you about it.

The first band is a 4-piece with two guitarists, bassist and drummer with all four on vocals. Recently, the lead guitarist has added more gear to his guitar setup and is now running his rig in stereo. This requires the use of two input channels on the mixer panned left and right. It works great for his setup and he had a good sound during the show.

The second band is a 3-piece with guitar, bass and drums + vocals. During the break to change the stage over to their setup, I proceeded to plug in one mic for the guitar amp and patch it into the mixer. I got the levels checked and then the guys started their set. After a number of songs, I decided to go for a walk into the audience and take a good listen to the mix. That is when this one person comes up to me and says "there is no guitar coming from the right side speaker".

So, I go back to the mixer, take a real good look at my channels and then I realize the mistake I had made. When I did the repatch of the guitar amps from the first band to the second band, I forgot to reset the pan control on the guitar mic channel. It had been panned hard left for part of the show! Man, did I feel like an idot when I realized my mistake. Since I was mixing the show on the sidestage, I never heard the problem because, I was never out in the front of house area mixing the show. I waited until a break in between songs and then adjusted the pan back to centre for the guitar microphone. Problem solved!

Even when you think you have a great mix happening, you should always check and re-check all the mixer settings to make sure everything is good. Sometimes the simplest things gets over-looked.
Next time, I need to mix side stage gig, I am going to do the front of house walk during the sound check to make sure everything is in the mix.

Tonight, I was on the ProSoundWeb site and I came across an article by Dave Rat of RAT Sound. It is called:  A Great Mix? Sometimes It Depends On Who You Ask…

In the article Dave mentions an example of a scenario where a band is playing and then the sound engineer realizes that there is no guitar microphone in PA left. A very similar sitution during my gig! 
For any sound engineers who have ever had this happen to you during a show, I invite you to read the article. Click on the link below to view.

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