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!
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.
Something that I've seen nobody mention is soundcheck time. I toured with several of your country "favorites" for 12 years, and I've heard nobody mention psychology as their number 1 trick. As a live guy, you should have the PA and or Wedges tuned (depending on your responsibility), and hopefully all lines checked prior to anyone entering the stage. I tried to keep my soundchecks to 5 minutes or less when at all possible. I realize their are circumstances from time to time that require more attention, but in general this rule held true. Bands typically don't like to soundcheck, and things certainly change from check to showtime......including how they are playing their axes, to how the venue fills with people. Don't wear out your guys, and you will be very popular! Pay as much attention to prep as you can, and be prepared for anything going wrong. I always told the new guys that you don't get paid for "when everything is going right", you get paid to know what to do "when everything falls apart". Knowing how to react in any situation is key, and keeping the guys/artist happy is a major key to earning their trust and confidence.
One nice thing about the church gig is that the band rehearses for about an hour and a half prior to the service, so I typically don't even do a soundcheck. I'll get my sounds while they rehearse, which is really better anyway because, as you said, they play differently all together than they do solo.
One "tip" I like to do came about from mixing IEM for guitar players. I found it always hard to get a good guitar sound in the ears, especially in a highly reflective room. What I started to do was blend a mic signal with a direct signal from a "HK Red Box ". This approach works specifically well for IEM players that like the "one in, one out" way. The Red Box gives a "in your face" sound that lacks any stage noise and, when blended with the onstage mic, provides a nice balanced guitar sound perfect for IEM.
Another common trick I use a lot outdoors to fatten things up is to take something like an acoustic guitar, or the background vox subgroup and send it to a stereo pitch shift. Ill hard pan the signal to the left with -1 cent and hard pan to the right +1. This spread things out, and is very helpful outdoors.
As far as Drum Micing tips I like the 52/91 combo.on kick From the posts above no one seems to be big Audix fans, though I myself like the sound of the D2 and D4 on toms. I also heavily compress the snare (57 or b57).
Hope this helps someone.
Cool Site. Thanks Bret!