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:
Ways for isolation on stage
Drums - Gated? Triggered?
I figure we are all here together and we may as well learn from each other. :-) Happy Posting!
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.
Well, most of my compression is for tone rather than limiting dynamic range. Things like compressing an acoustic with a slow attack and a fast release to get a little pumping going on and to emphasize the pick attack. And then there things like toms, which aren't really being compressed, but to access the gates I have to have them in the chain. If I didn't gate those they'd just sit there and ring every time the drummer played the kick.
And there are no audix mics in the worship center anymore, we use beta 98's on toms, a 421 on floor tom, 57 for snare (still haven't found a better snare mic), an e602 for outside kick, one of those Sennheiser boundary mics for inside kick, and e914's for overheads. I haven't had any problems with phasing overheads, because I do indeed pay attention to mic placement. And yes, I've got a comp/gate on every drum in the kit (2 on kick), there's a comp on the kit bus and one on the overhead bus. So that's 9 right there, add four more for two roving handheld's and two lav's, so make that 13.
So let's add one on bass, acoustic for the aforementioned acoustic, e.gtr because the settings on their pods are hardly ever consistent level-wise (don't get me started on what I think of pods), and then I compress the bgv's on a group and the star. That's 18. Really doesn't seem excessive to me. Usually I've got one left, it might go on keys depending on the player, or I might just throw it on the 2 bus (really the 1 bus because the system runs mono) for a little glue. Bear in mind I'm not usually compressing more than a few db, I don't like to squash things.
But of course, that room changes completely when it's half empty. I hazarding a guess that when you were mixing there it was usually fairly full. It's not anymore. At best the first floor will be 80% full, and the balcony will have maybe 50 people up there. So it's probably a bit different. We did have about 1100 people there a few weeks ago when Bill Johnson was in town speaking. And I got plenty of compliments on my mixes that weekend from total strangers, so I must be doing something right. You're welcome to come and listen anytime you like, I'm off this weekend, but I'll be there the following two.
In support of your compression, I run a DM2000 and use light compression on just about everything. I am surprised you gate everything so extensively though. If the toms ring that much and are annoying then something is way out of whack with their tuning or the kit itself is suspect. Ask any drummer if they like gates and let me know what 9 out of 10 say. I figure that if there is anybody that should know more about drum sounds than me, it's a drummer. Also, I don't use gates live because of the very inconsistent nature of setting the threshold and the huge swing of dynamics you were referring to earlier. I wouldn't want the constant worrying with gate thresholds to draw my attention away from the most important aspects of the mix. But that's just me.
I am totally with you on the mic holding techniques :)
Also, I am not trying to say what you are doing isn't working. If you are getting compliments then by all means keep doing what you're doing.