mixing

4 Mixing FAQs for New Church Sound Techs

New church techs ask four typical mixing questions and today I’m detailing my responses. Three of the questions aren’t so much technical as they are situational – but it’s a situation we all face every time we mix.

Make sure to check out the quote at the end of the post – it’s a tip we should all follow.

1. How loud should it be?
The answer is, “it depends.” The ideal volume is like the ideal temperature; it’s different for everyone. Some like it loud, some soft. Some want to hear their voices when they sing, others don’t.

The general rules are thus;

  • The pastor should be loud enough to be heard and understood by everyone.
  • The band (or piano or however your church leads) should be at a level where the most people will participate in worship.
  • Whatever the pastor says goes.
  • Whenever you get a volume complaint, ask two questions; where did you sit and what was too loud. We dream of even coverage in a room but often this isn’t the case. Their seats could have been right in front of the speakers. During the next sound check, visit that spot in the room and compare it to other spots. It might mean a speaker adjustment is in order or you recommend they sit elsewhere.

Also, if it’s a complaint about the band volume, ask if it’s a specific instrument or vocal. Maybe your mix was off or maybe they just didn’t like the song or music style. Every complaint should be reviewed for legitimacy.

2. What should I do with the pastor’s microphone mix?
Do something! Do anything! I wish I were joking but the truth is new techs spend a lot of time mixing the band but little time mixing any channel used for the spoken word. Most pastors don’t have a voice for radio so they need a good bit of mix work done.

The primary goal should be clarity of the spoken word. Imagine a gruff voice, a high voice, a raspy voice, or an overly-nasal voice. If the person’s natural speaking voice is hard to understand or can in itself be distracting, then do something about it.

Aim to remove sibilance. Decrease sibilance by focusing in the 3-7 kHz range for males and 5-9kHz for females. Then focus on mid-range clarity.

A common complaint in small churches is, “I can’t understand what the pastor says.” This is not about volume, it’s about speech intelligibility. You want them to sound like who they are – just less so.

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