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Author Topic: staying focused on a mix  (Read 897 times)

Russell Arnold

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staying focused on a mix
« on: October 13, 2019, 11:57:48 pm »

Heres a question for you all .
when I listen to a mix I hear everything and wonder why the FOH engineer is missing it.
When I mix I loose sight of my own mix and longer hear my own mix and get "lost" in my mix.
has anyone travelled down this path and or know how to re focus?

thanking you in advance.
Russell
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Scott Olewiler

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2019, 09:24:29 am »

Heres a question for you all .
when I listen to a mix I hear everything and wonder why the FOH engineer is missing it.
When I mix I loose sight of my own mix and longer hear my own mix and get "lost" in my mix.
has anyone travelled down this path and or know how to re focus?

thanking you in advance.
Russell

Know exactly what you mean. I'm listening to someone else's mix wondering why they can't hear that the vocals aren't loud enough, but have occasionally failed to notice something was completely missing from my own mix without someone pointing it out.

My wife has a simple thing she does when she mixes that I've now adopted.  Once you think you have good mix, take a real hard look at what is on the stage as one overall image in your mine, and then turn your back to the stage and listen without benefit of your eyes and see if you hear everything that you saw. 

Won't keep you from missing a guitar solo, but I find it does really help with making sure your basic mix is solid.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2019, 05:23:09 pm »

I tend to look down and away from the stage when trying to hear if my mix is on point.
As noted, your eyes can cause deception!
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brian maddox

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2019, 05:25:51 pm »

I tend to look down and away from the stage when trying to hear if my mix is on point.
As noted, your eyes can cause deception!

This^^

I will sometimes look down at the console and then do a mental inventory across the channel strips  [without touching anything] to make sure i can clearly hear everything.  The trick is to not change anything until you're DONE with the inventory or else you just find yourself trying to make everything louder than everything else....
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2019, 06:37:42 pm »

After an hour, or when I feel this is happening to me if sooner, I'll walk away and quickly get as far from the sound as possible- usually outside if show is inside. I wait just a minute or 2 and return. Sometimes I get a surprise when I walk back in and then I can be objective again.
Also, at the start of every song, I quickly go through each instrument/voice on stage and listen for it. Once in a while it gets tough sometimes because I am also singing and manually running lights but it comes quite naturally now.
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Erik Jerde

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2019, 12:10:05 am »

I'm listening to someone else's mix wondering why they can't hear that the vocals aren't loud enough,

Usually vocals are too low for me (when I'm in the audience) on songs that I don't know.  I try to keep that in mind when mixing that people who don't know the music usually need more vocals.  Same principal for the other more important parts of the instrumentation.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2019, 06:58:02 am »

Usually vocals are too low for me (when I'm in the audience) on songs that I don't know.  I try to keep that in mind when mixing that people who don't know the music usually need more vocals.
This is a very important thing to keep in mind! Your brain knows the words to the song and will "fill in" what may be missing or low level.
I just saw Massive Attack in Toronto and while the overall sound was very good, the vocals were so low in the mix, it's a good thing I knew some of the lyrics. ::)
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lindsay Dean

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2019, 02:13:51 pm »

Overall foh mixing can be very subjective .
Beyond cues missed etc etc
Before you say whether the mix is good or not, you should always make sure your most important tool is in good shape, have your ears checked yearly to make sure you're not unknowingly compensating for a hearing loss.
      Also different loudspeakers and deployments right or wrong, and different parts of the room will sound different so it's best to scrutinize at the mix point.
     Just sayin
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frank kayser

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2019, 03:37:22 pm »

Normally, my attention is all over the place - for some reason, not with mixing. Rarely do I have to re-boot my focus.  I don't get much feedback on things missing or overdone, but no doubt there are many things folks here would find.  Something comforting about small ponds.

My brand of focus is that I'm rarely "listening" to music at FOH.  I'm constantly scanning left to right and back to be sure everything is being appropriately heard. I make adjustments to both levels and EQ as I scan.  I may concentrate on, say a bass.  What are they doing? Is one string/freq blooming?  Can I hear the higher notes? Fix, go back to scanning. Revisit.  I listen to vocals enough that I can recognize what words they're using, not particularly what they're singing. Is it volume or is eq masking intelligibility?  Familiar songs do complicate judging the audibility of words.  Mind games.


Picking a mix apart like this is almost re-booting my focus each scan. I find that necessary when someone wants to chat.  Inevitably, the second I give them any attention, I've missed some type of cue.  Never fails.  Highly stressful.


I do tend to look at the iPad too much, and can miss when the band person is trying to get my attention.  That seems to be at odds with my first statement, but I guess the scan back and forth includes looking at channels and meters and listening.


I go home with a combination of exhaustion and being wired even after a briefcase job.  Hours before I wind down enough to hit the sack.


frank
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2019, 04:31:18 pm »

Mix?  Sorry, I was on my phone. ::)
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2019, 12:56:11 pm »

I used to mix at our church all the time-and fairly often pastor would fuss at me-"I can't hear so and so"-even when I thought I had a good mix (no band typically piano + vocals).  It would frustrate me at times-and I think some of it was subjective listening.  But, now that I usually run media with some of the same people singing, I find it easier to pick out the voice that's not where it should be in the mix.  Or is it just that I want to hear something different than the guy mixing??
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2019, 01:48:37 pm »

Half the problem is our minds 'fill in the gaps' so much and sometimes if I am familiar with the song - which is most times - I think I can hear something even if it's not there. If vocal harmonies are missing for example, I'm already singing them in my head - so they are there - right?
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David Sturzenbecher

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2019, 11:41:15 pm »

I will often cover my ears for 5-10 seconds.  Try to figuratively step away for a quick bit, and maybe even try to listen discretely with my ears covered.  Then really focus for the next 5-10 seconds after you take your hands off your ears.   I have found this incredibly helpful for loud shows.
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John Sulek

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2019, 07:59:36 pm »

Heres a question for you all .
when I listen to a mix I hear everything and wonder why the FOH engineer is missing it.
When I mix I loose sight of my own mix and longer hear my own mix and get "lost" in my mix.
has anyone travelled down this path and or know how to re focus?

thanking you in advance.
Russell
Best advice I ever got from an older mixer when I was a new guy...
After the first song or two, when you think things are good.
Put your hands in your pockets, take two steps back and ask this question...if I paid to hear this show, would I be happy?
Then think first and adjust second.
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John P. Farrell

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2019, 09:59:29 am »

I mix basically in the dark.  No console lights, screens etc as dim as possible.  I find it helps me focus more on the band and less on the "stuff" I have surrounding me.  Usually if something needs adjusting I will hear it before I see it (too much compression, weird eq, whatever).  I like the experience to come from my ears as much as possible.  Kinda hard these days and definitely easier said than done!

JF
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Jonathan Hole

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2019, 11:24:38 am »

Heres a question for you all .
when I listen to a mix I hear everything and wonder why the FOH engineer is missing it.
When I mix I loose sight of my own mix and longer hear my own mix and get "lost" in my mix.
has anyone travelled down this path and or know how to re focus?

thanking you in advance.
Russell

I've mixed literally several thousand church services over the years and to this day I still have to remind myself to keep my head / eyes up as I have a tendency to start tweaking on the desk and mixing heads down for a good bit of a song.  When my head is up, I'm hearing a bit more clearly and associating the mix I'm hearing with what I'm seeing, which for me seems to gel things together. So once major problems are solved, especially in a festival or short sound check situation, I try to listen as an audience member and just find that it increases my own enjoyment and I can follow the audience's response and vocalist energy and direction better as a result. 
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2019, 11:36:55 am »

One of the bad habits I started when I first started mixing on an iPad was to not watch the band enough - the lack of physical faders was tough to get used to. Once I realized what I was doing I tried to force myself to look up more which I now do.
I agree that watching the band whilst mixing is helpful.  Quite a few times I have been able to 'find' something with my eyes that I couldn't tell was missing with my ears.
Then again, it is a blend of the 2 because I have seen too many BE's mix by eye TOO much.
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john lutz

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2019, 01:26:46 pm »

I have noticed that having a friend or guest come up to me to chat for a moment seems to reset my ears to a more neutral state – also pulls me out of being hyper focused on the mix.
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Geert Friedhof

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2019, 09:14:31 pm »

^ This
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Jordan Wolf

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2019, 01:27:01 pm »

I think that mixing music is much easier to stay “involved” with than mixing speech, playback, etc. (corpy audio).

Depending on the subject matter, i’s hard enough just staying awake sometimes, haha. But seriously, I have learned what works for me is to step away from the room for a moment or two without looking back to pay attention to any production upfront. I try to come back in with no expectations of MY mix, but how it SHOULD ideally sound.

I also will listen to my headphones at a similar perceived SPL to where I am in the room as a tonality reference. This helps change up what my ears are exposed to and lets me recalibrate in-situ.
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Carl

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Re: staying focused on a mix
« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2019, 09:10:53 am »

I used to mix at our church all the time-and fairly often pastor would fuss at me-"I can't hear so and so"-even when I thought I had a good mix (no band typically piano + vocals).  It would frustrate me at times-and I think some of it was subjective listening.  But, now that I usually run media with some of the same people singing, I find it easier to pick out the voice that's not where it should be in the mix.  Or is it just that I want to hear something different than the guy mixing??

No two people hear the same thing even when listening to the same source.  Expectations further complicate matters, and when the person who writes the checks expects the mix to sound a certain way, then that's the way I make it sound, even though I might think it's a horrible mix.  Been there, done that, many times over.  Often, someone who does NOT write the check tries to tell me how to do my job, but they usually walk away after getting completely ignored.

Back to the original post - we all know that, when mixing live bands, each song is different, and even parts of the same song can require an adjustment, so there is no such thing a "right mix" for the show, or a set it & forget it approach.  I, too, catch myself looking down at the board too much, and I remind myself to pay more attention to what's happening onstage.  My eyes frequently give me a visual cue or reminder that I need to make an adjustment.  Even with stored cues for specific songs, bands almost never do a song exactly the same way twice, and they will often change something on the fly.

We as FOH audio engineers are the ultimate and final determinants of what the audience hears, regardless of what happens onstage.  Hopefully we're successful in reproducing the unique sound of the band we're working with, and the person who writes the checks isn't demanding that we do otherwise.
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Mac Kerr

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Re: staying focused on the Posting Rules
« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2019, 11:05:46 am »

No two people hear the same thing even when listening to the same source.

Please go to your profile and change the "Name" field to your real first and last name as required by the posting rules displayed in the header at the top of the section, and in the Site Rules and Suggestions in the Forum Announcements section, and on the registration page when you registered.

Mac
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Re: staying focused on the Posting Rules
« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2019, 11:05:46 am »


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