Now shipping....

Everyone has their "thing" that they do that makes them special. What is one of the tricks you have learned throughout your career that is outside the normal audio engineer routine? What is the reason that it works for you? Why would it work good for someone else?

For example, this may include:
Mic Choice
Mic Placement
Monitor Placement
Ways for isolation on stage
Drums - Gated? Triggered?
Anything really!

I figure we are all here together and we may as well learn from each other. :-) Happy Posting!

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Give away all my secrets, are you insane?!?! OK, maybe a couple.

- I always do a 2 octave scoop centered around 4k on the keyboards so they get out of the way of the vocals.
- My favorite mic for E Gtr is an E906 - hands down.
- I recently rediscovered how much I love a RE20 on a kick drum.

The rest I keep for me.
I'm not sure how many other people do this, as I'm not really a live sound guy (although I have been lately), but I've been compressing the 2 bus a little.
I usually put drums on one bus and overheads and hat on another, and compress them separately.
well, at my regular live gig (which is at a big church on music row, high expectations) the drums are in a "booth" - just big enough for the kit and the drummer. So the drums can really overtake the cymbals in the overheads if you're not careful. I usually set the OH bus comp with a fast attack and release, and set the threshold to get about 6-8 db of gain reduction on the snare hits, and maybe 1 or 2 db on the crashes, if at all. It just keeps the snare from overwhelming the rest of the kit, and it kind of smoothes out the cymbal attacks a bit. It also keeps people off my back about the volume.
In similar circumstances "live" you can actually go without, yes I said without, overhead mics. This is not for arena type shows and works best on smaller 4-5 piece kits, but usually the tom mics pick up plenty of cymbals and cymbals tend to cut through anyway so you solve a myriad of phasing and bleed problems that way. Plus, a side benefit is you can really set the tone of the drums the way they should be. Also, I see guys set OH mics 2-3 feet above the cymbals. I think that is crazy. To get any cymbal sound you have to crank them to the point of causing yourself other problems. Drums are hard enough without inducing the phase problems that occur from that technique. I've just always been a proponent of getting the OH mics as close to the source as possible without interfering with the drummer.
Very good point. In my case though, I have to mic overheads because all the tracks are split to the recording studio downstairs, so even if I didn't need them, they would. Not a problem though, as I've got 19 channels of compression and 18 channels of gates at my disposal. Which is really quite a bit for a live/church gig (but still not enough for me).
Do you have to use them your mix?
No, but it sounds good, so I do. Most of the time the music is very dynamic, some passages get reeeeeally quiet (it's worship music). And here's something I've noticed: everyone's on in-ears, which is a great thing for keeping the stage volume down, but since everyone can hear themselves so well (they all have personal mixers, so of course everyone turns themselves up the loudest), they tend to play too softly in the quiet parts, and I have to pump them up in those sections. With drummers, they're trying to be really conscientious, and without the overheads all their cymbal work would just be lost.

So what you're saying is true, just not really applicable in this situation.
Well, it is a matter of personal choice, but I am in the exact same situation as you, booth and all, and I can tell you in my situation the cymbal work never gets lost. The only person on in-ears is the drummer but we're trying to get others to move to them. That's like herding cats, and we have all studio players for the most part :) I've been doing this particular gig for 3 years now and I have yet to have anybody tell me it's too loud. In my experience, I have found that if that is happening it has more to do with the nature and tone of the mix than actual sound pressure level. I tend to agree with Chris' post below.
I do these crazy karate kicks when I'm playing live....people go crazy:)
WHAT?!? 18 comps and gates aren't enough?!? Holy crap!! Do you have this thing about not having any dynamics in your music?!?

I have gotten further and further away form using either as the years have gone by. When I advance shows these days I only call for 3 comps at the most: K, B, Star and that's it. I have found that what you want to achieve by using comps/gates can often times be accomplished with mic choice and placement.

Personally, I think that's a problem that a lot of (especially younger) engineers deal with. They just throw up a mic where it's "supposed" to be and not listen enough to find out where it "should" be. Fortunately I had a mentor who really drove that into me.

I mixed FOH at Belmont or almost 6 years so I know all about the "tool shed". I barely used any comps there either because with all the reflections in that booth there was an almost FET-like compression going on naturally. Also, I never put the OHs in the main mix. They were just too ripe with phasing issues.

Hopefully by now Dan has gotten rid of those POS Audix mics and thrown them in the Cumberland. Since Stan's gone (what a waste of time he was - not to mention being a horrible engineer) maybe you all can get some good gear in there - finally.
I try to make sure I have enough comps to cover my vocalists, and then the K, B, and A Gtr. This is becoming less of a problem now that most venues are moving to digital boards.

Which Audix mics are you referring to? I love my I5, and my VX5 has been gold on everything I've used it for - every range of vocalist, guitar, fiddle, perc... it's my workhorse.


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