When Aleš got the gig mixing IEMs for Slovenia’s biggest rock band, he decided he wanted to learn everything there was to know on the subject. Unfortunately, it took a lot of digging to answer all of his questions because there really was no single source of knowledge on the subject.
Luckily for us, he kept good notes and at this year’s Live Sound Summit he shared them with us.
By the way, Aleš and I are thinking about producing a pilot course on the subject of IEM mixing. Should we do it?
If YES, click here: Do you want a course on IEM mixing?
This transcript was generated automatically. If you find any errors, please let me know.
Things I had to learn when I started mixing IEMs and will also touch on the age old question that has been asked by the Greeks and Romans all throughout the period until 2020: What do cats have to do with IEM mixing?
I’m the monitoring engineer for the I want to say the biggest, but they obviously also the best rock band in Slovenia called Siddharta. I also do occasional front of house sound for them. I also do front of house and monitor engineering jobs for other people as well as other artists, other bands. And for the past two years, I’ve dabbled with online education about audio and put on some courses together with Nathan’s help through Sound Design Live.
That’s what I’ve been doing, talking about audio, that’s what I love. That’s what I love to do when I’m not actually doing audio, as Beth mentioned already, and Nathan instructed us to sort of give you guys a glimpse of our family lives and who we are actually doing this for. So meet Lara, my better half. For the past 15 years, we’ve just reached our 15th anniversary, so it’s still fresh and exciting and keeping my fingers crossed that it will last.
She’s the reason I do all this. So here’s to you my darling. But the other family that I really want to mention, since I haven’t seen them for the last, you know, whatever months, it is my touring family. And this is the audio, video, lighting, management, production, whatever crew just finishing of the 2018 tour that we did in arenas across Slovenia.
So I miss all of these guys dearly and hope to see them soon as I’m sure you are sort of dying to see everybody who you’re working with on stagees again.
All right, I just want to touch briefly upon how it all started for me, how I became a monitoring engineer and how this process of learning about I am mixing and how it is different from the stuff that I’ve been doing before is monitoring in front of House Engineer.
So the period that I sort of call the transition period started with me being a music store salesman, which was a great gig for a long, long time because A, I got to play with lots of gear and speakers and we would be selling pay and studio gear and everything else be. I got to meet lots and lots of musicians and studio artists, producers and sort of poke my nose head into the into the workflows and kept asking questions and learning a ton from that.
You know, the amount of information people will give you if you can offer a discount on a studio, on a piece of studio gear is enormous. You should actually really try it sometime.
So, yeah, I’ve been doing during all that period, I’ve been doing audio work sort of on the site right.
During the weekends and at nights, mixing bands, writing music, producing, performing. I started out as a musician, then sort of transitioned through studio work to like sound and really found my passion for live sound in my later years. So, you know, being in the music store sort of kept my face in the loop even when I wasn’t working on stages, which was still quite a lot.
You know, I would go out with rental companies and occasionally with a with a specific band. But, yeah, it was a it was a great gig for keeping in touch with a lot of people and sort of do a lot of networking on my own.
So I met the guys from Siddharta on several occasions when I was either putting up systems or whatever, and we’ve had a sort of annoying relationship.
Also, all of the guys sort of came to the store and bought gear and we knew each other, but we haven’t actually worked together.
And then, yeah, they had a really crappy gig. They went to a festival, didn’t have their own monitoring engineer. Things went south. I’m not really sure what happened, but the sound check lasted for way longer than it should. And then when they hit the stage, nothing was as expected. So something went wrong. I don’t know if it was if it was a console crash or somebody forgot to either save or record the preset.
But whatever it was that sounded engineer on that particular gear.
Got me my job, so thanks for that. So that’s basically how it works. You know, you mess up and then somebody else gets you, gets a good lesson here is don’t mess up.
So, yeah, after that after that gig, the keyboard player from the band was like two or three days later got into the store and you just started complaining.
It was a it was a rant. It was venting.
Whatever what happened, you should you should have been there. It was like, horrible. And I’m like, maybe I should have been there. Have you guys considered that like a monitoring engineer? And if you haven’t, maybe, like, this guy could be of assistance.
So he said, yeah, sure. We’ve been thinking about it. And if we decide on it, we’ll let you know.
Two, two weeks later, I was signed on as the monitoring engineer, and it was slightly different than, you know, coming into the band where you sort of decide what your gear is going to be and then tour with them for what they were used to doing. They would just, you know, coming to stages where the P.A. was provided for them. We didn’t have our own desk. We were only mostly using badges except for the keyboard player or the other band members, mostly used and were just.
So my job was sort of getting that little consistency that was there and boosting it up, making sure that those guys could have a consistent, consistent sound on the stage, making sure that nothing is feeding back, making sure that things are working. So it was really it wasn’t really just sort of plug it in, turn it on. And you’re all set, as you know, with items we tend to tour right now.
But it was a great listening exercise because I had to sort of memorize what these guys needed in the wedges and what those relationships would be and how they wanted things to sound.
You know, I could I could I would be taking notes on the lead single once everything a bit brighter than I would prefer to be. Maybe the bass player wants a lot of high head, but not a lot of snare, you know, stuff like that. And I did that. The first gig that you do with those people or a new band or a new artist is talking with it’s just keep piling notes after notes, after notes of the notes until for the next gig you sort of get ready.
And by the second gig, you should have all that information down, referring back to the notes.
And it really comes across as cool. If you can go, hey, last gig you had a setup like this. I set it up the same way. Can we just check instead of going through the same motion of. Yeah.
How much more volume of the lead vocals do you want or high hat or whatever. So keeping up with the flow of information was really, really great and a great listening exercise because for six months I would be doing that, taking whatever desk I was given, taking whatever which I was giving and making a very consistent sound for these guys on a regular basis from every show.
Oh, if you look at that and that picture, just if somebody is wondering, that’s me behind the console. So I’m really doing that job, just if somebody is sort of incredulous, I could be wrong.
I could be. Could be.
But it is me now legally, I have the bank transfers to prove it. So after six months of doing that, the decision was made by the band with a lot of sort of gentle pushing from my direction, you know, whispering in the ears, go, I go.
I am because I wanted to have more consistency.
And it it was like the greatest idea for them and I would recommend it to every band. From a theoretical point of view, it all makes sense, right? It’s all consistent.
We would be using our own console. We would be using our own IBM rig, get most of the microphones, maybe rent out a couple of them. And Bob’s your uncle set and forget every show.
Same sound in theory. And that’s the theory that I’ve been pushing for.
Now, why do I say that? In theory, it’s because I haven’t done that before and I have a mixed items. Theoretically, IBM sound great, but, you know, then the decision was made and it was I was faced with.
The the the guy saying, OK, let’s go on Irons, but you have to make it work for us. And I’m like, Yeah, sure, we’ll do that. If you remember if you remember pooch’s presentation, say yes, figure it out later. And that’s exactly what I did.
And as with all great visionaries that we know and love, everything starts with Google search on how to do it. Yes, Google it. That’s basically what I was going for.
That was in 2015.
And what I realized was there is no one place online or anywhere else, for that matter, where you could go and learn specifically everything you need to know about mixing items.
You have to dive into the belly of the beast that is called the Internet and do your research.
So I did, you know, had to decide on what if as earphones we would be using now on the right hand side you can see custom item manufacturers and trust me, all of them can make really, really great erm headphones.
But every one of them has like between ten and gazillion models, between one and 26 or 23 drivers internally.
And I had to go through all of those sort of manufacturers and figure out what would be the best solution for the band.
And sometimes it’s nothing to do with the quality or the driver count or whatever it is. It has to do with other things like, you know, do we have access to them where we regionally are? Where is the service department? What happens if they break is their warranty? Who do I call in case of emergency? So if there is a great product and I am a phone that you can only find in South Korea with their representative in Hong Kong and I’m based in Slovenia, Europe.
Sorry, guys, no sale there. I need to have reliability and I need to have accountability on the manufacturers side to sort of, you know, be able to support my artist in case something goes wrong. And as we all know, things will eventually go wrong. It’s just a matter of time.
So once we decided on the earphones and we can if you guys want, I can talk about specific models, but we can open up a whole can of worms there.
We decided on the mix and as with everything, we go through the same process. So exactly what is the input output count that I need, especially at the output output count? Because smaller format mixes sort of tend to run out of those very, very quickly. Everything, if you consider the band has five members and that’s 10 outputs like of physical output that need to go out of your console or, you know, whether you’re running through Dante, Mudi is fifty, whatever digital, digital, digital protocol you are using.
But the output side for I am mixing can sometimes be even a more deciding factor than the input side, especially if you have to run communications in other systems that. You might be doing recording on that console as well, so there is a lot of things to consider and please also add contingencies, right? If you know that you have five members in the band.
Think if there might be an occasion where they might want to have special guests appear during their concerts and say, OK, I’m ready to maybe do another three or four mono mixes or maybe two stereo mixes for two more special guest stars and have that mindset of anticipating things when you are specifying you’ll get.
The question was presented to go wired or wireless, how do you decide on that? You know, it’s it would be easiest to say, OK, we’ll put everybody on wireless because then I can monitor everything through my wireless body pack and have everything down, then sound wise, but. Experience has shown that if you can avoid wireless, you should you don’t have to deal with that many frequencies of coordination becomes easier, it is more reliable.
There’s no there’s I shouldn’t say no, but there’s less artifacts going through the wire than through the wireless systems. If you remember what Drew was talking about in his presentation on how much of the frequency spectrum you lose with the with the RF system. So all of those things need to be considered who is moving on stage, who is static on stage. So we already established that the keyboard player is not going to move so he can be on a wired system.
And then the drummer, you know, is moving through throughout the performance.
If he’s not and he’s OK with being connected to a drum amp, then that’s great. If not, then you have to find other solutions.
So all those considerations came into play, add all of the rest of the gear, but kicker’s, amplifiers for butt kickers. So you have maybe a drum stool that needs to rattle when the drummer hits his kick butt.
Those butt kickers can also be attached to platforms for bass players if they want to have something rattle on underneath them. And they’re not getting that from the subs.
Maybe the subs are directional and moving away from the stage, but they need that something, especially if you try to eliminate all of the amplification from the stage as well.
Yeah. So you decide on the antennas, the antenna combine as the cabling. The batteries has been a consideration of mine since we have started this journey, so how much do you actually spend on batteries?
Should you be using batteries that can be reused to rechargeable batteries, which is in the professional wireless audio world, always considered as a no no, because they tend not to output the same voltage as the ones that you have for just a single use. But you can get manufacturer.
Supplied batteries or battery packs that you can then we charge and those will give you great, great value for your money, especially if you have a lot of these systems and otherwise would have to schlep around another truck of batteries for every show.
And then there’s just in case gear. So when you start building an iron rig.
One of the main considerations that should be going through your head is what happens when shit hits the fan when everything goes south. What happens if a body bag sort of goes out on you, which has happened to me?
What goes out if there’s a there’s a cut in the, let’s say, wired systems connection, how do you approach that? What are your backup scenarios in that in that opinion? So for wireless systems, we decided to go with additional body packs that I can that I can then use in case of an emergency and just swap them out really quickly between band members and myself for earphones.
Know earphones will die on you, especially with with people that sweat a lot like heavy hitting drummers and people that really running around on stage.
They will they will die on you. So you better have a backup solution for that.
It can either be the same model, but universal fit instead of custom and is so they maybe they can be shared between various people or maybe just from user to user.
Whoever is experiencing the emergency, there could be a secondary padded pair of earphones that it is cheaper or if, you know, if you can do the right thing, you can actually order two pairs of the same custom items and be really, really secure that whatever happens, you have a pair in your rack, in your bag or wherever that you can swap out really quickly. Again, had to do that on more than one occasion.
So think contingency even before you start doing anything, planning ahead, anticipating what might go wrong can save you a lot of issues down the line.
OK, and just a quick notes on on this. The question that I get asked all the time, universal fit earphones versus custom molded earphones. I think that for any serious use of IBM systems, you have to have a custom molded event for several reasons.
One, rejection of stage noise so you get better isolation from everything else that is going on around, meaning that you can run your indexes at a lower level, preserving your hearing right to the consistency of sound, because if you have your custom items, not move in your ears while you’re performing, that sound can be extremely consistent.
Please take notes about the way manufacturers sort of instruct you how to take the impressions that your impressions.
So Ultimate is the company that we worked with. And I know that other companies do that as well, but for people who are singers, they ask you to take the impression with your mouth open. So when you go to the audiologist, they will put like a piece of foam in between your teeth.
You sort of sink your teeth into that and wait for the molds to to dry out and then have them taken out. And that is because as you are moving your jaw, you are basically effectively changing the shape of the of your ear canal or your shape of your ear, basically.
So if you don’t have that, when you start singing, you will be losing you might be losing a lot of low frequencies. But even if you’re not losing the low frequencies, you will still get like a frequency shift. It would be like somebody adding a band. And passed a band pass filter whether, let’s say, three dB gain and just moving the frequency around as you’re singing. So that’s no good, right?
Yeah, so custom items will absolutely be necessary for anybody who is serious about doing live performances and can be a lifesaver, and then I decided to use the same. The same model and make of earphones as most of my band, so the drummer and the bass player have an extended bass range model that allows them to hit the lower frequencies better. The rest of the band has another model, which is basically just all around. And that’s that’s the one that I am using and sort of adapting my here listening experience for the ones that have the extended bass range just by talking to the band members and adjusting what they are hearing to their taste in the ears.
So you don’t necessarily have to have the same make and model. But there always a question, can I monitor what I’m mixing in items through my weg if I don’t have earphones? And the answer is. Only as a last resort, and you will get very, very iffy results, so it’s always better to use the same model and make as the as your is using, that will give you the best resolution and the best consistency be using another brand, custom ear.
So it doesn’t have to be the same model. But you can still have some sort of you can still make a mental picture in your mind. What is the difference between what you’re hearing and what they’re hearing just by talking to them, checking, you know, if it’s bright enough or dull enough or whatever they want in there is a third option. Universal fit, universal fit earphones out again, not as good, but will get the job done. Fourth option over over your headphones will still work better than using the wedge.
And you know, only as a last resort can you use a wedge to monitor what I mean. You just don’t get the resolution. You don’t get the stereo field. Even if you if you’re using stereo wedges, it just doesn’t sound the same way.
So if you if you absolutely have to and have no other way of doing it, that’s the only way you should be doing it.
But in any other case, bring a pair of headphones, use those, OK, and then after all that rig and gear acquisition and all of that was settled in, my Google search was done and, you know, plugged up with all of the manufacturers of Iyengar in the world. Then you can start setting up your Dex, Dex, Dex, in your favor by setting up your desk correctly. The main question that I was pondering the entire time as how to monitor all mixes and the question and the answer is you don’t you pick a reference mix and then monitor that one.
And it can either be a separate mix that you have built for yourself and then go off of that by adapting it for everybody else or listening to a mix of your money, the guy who’s signing your checks, basically.
So in a band that would be usually the lead vocalist, unless the guitar player is the manager, then you have a judgment call to make.
But I listen mostly to the mixes of the lead singers because I want to know what’s going on in their head. And I would listen to that all the time and then reference everything, every other mix of that mix. So. I listen to what they want to hear. It doesn’t have to be the mix that I would mix necessarily for myself, but I make a mental image of that and then reference all the mixes to what I’m hearing. It’s like playing chess with a people if there is four members in the band, but somebody’s screaming in your comms and production manager trying to talk to you while you’re doing your work.
So, yeah. The second thing that I was wondering is where and how to add ambient mikes and. If you guys are going what are ambient mikes?
These are probably the most important microphones that you will be using with AMS, and there is always a question of how much of those ambient microphones will be added to your mixes. But the reasons the reason we add those ambient microphones into the mix is to have the response of the crowd when something happens on stage. It was a response. So if it’s the end of the song and there’s people clapping and yelling obscenities, whatever is happening on as is happening on stage and in the audience, the band has to feel connected to that.
They have to feel and hear that energy.
So. There are several techniques of how to add ambient microphones, but, you know, the most basic one is just have two microphones on stage pointing into the crowd, one stage left, one stage right, maybe turn them towards the center slightly and mix them into that is with the right panning position. So it doesn’t help the artist. If somebody screams on that side and they hear it in the left ear, it turned their head over that. And look look dumb.
You’re not helping your job. You know, you’re not getting paid for that. That that’s all I’m saying.
So, yeah, ambient mikes are the mikes that I tend to ride most of all out of all the channels on my desk.
So it could be somebody it could be the singer saying and how everybody and he wants to hear the crowd sing.
So ambient mikes go up at the end of the song and everybody’s clapping. The ambient mikes go up. There is the quiet ha. Well, you know, the band has to be intimate.
Ambient microphones go down and how much you do that will depend on on the end user. Basically, some people want to have a lot of that crowd in them. In the mix is some of them. They really want to sort of stay in their own bubble.
But at the end of the day, they will have to have some sort of communication with the crowd at ambient microphones will be the ones that will do that for you. This is a big one for me. How do you set it affects when you are sort of planning your eye and strategies on the board?
Because if you think about it. Let’s say that I have three effects.
Three effects on my board, so short with a long reverb and a delay.
If you have the long reverb sent into one of the auxiliary mixes, how do you do that? Right?
You have an auxiliary, you push that, you push that channel into that auxiliary, that auxiliary gets returned into a channel return and that channel return then gets sent to the IMX of that performance. Right. Everybody following that. So let’s do it again. Auxiliary of the channel, get sent into the effects and effects and gets into the effect, comes back into the effects return, which is basically effectively a channel on your console that inputs channel gets sent into the auxiliary send of your performance.
So you have to be very meticulous about how much of that return channel gets fed into that particular artists wedge, especially if you’re using one receiver for multiple artists, because that effect return will have the same level of effect for even if you don’t want it to for, let’s say, specific of the remixes, one trying to say is that if your lead singer wants to have a lot of reverb in their own mics, that level of return will stay on that channel.
Right. So when the other, let’s say, backing vocalists want to have less of their vocals, the ratio between the dry and the wet signal is then totally screwed up. Especially if they want to have a lot of reverb in their own mics, so you start sort of chasing your own tail and the best way to sort of eliminate that is to have specific effects for specific band members.
If you can’t do that and you’re running out to try and figure and try and figure out how much effects you can get away with over reducing the effects once you add the ambient microphones, because ambient microphones will sort of.
Run you as additional effects like reverb of that particular room, of that particular arena, and that is usually in proportion to the level that is in the front of house mics, right. Because you’re listening to the ambient microphones and they will be picking up the P.A. and you will get like more presence of the lead vocal, less presence of the backing vocals because the backing vocals are usually just tucked underneath the vocal. So that can really help you in solving that effect.
Conundrum, push up the ambient microphones, see if everybody is complaining about anybody, complaining about facts, then start adding effects. On top of that, it can be a lifesaver if you’re working with a mixer mixing console that doesn’t have that many effects and you know things for you to play with.
So that can be a lifesaver and then auxillary.
But set up Drew already mentioned that in his presentation, if you remember it pre or post Fada mixing.
What I tend to do is, like he mentioned, put the console and post Frelimo just so that I can have all of my all of my main layer or what you would usually say, like the main bus faders channel faders at zero.
And then if all the auxiliary sensors are in that post fader mode, picking of that channel, fada moving it up and down will influence all of your auxiliary mixes.
Right. Everybody good on that one. On that concept.
So if you’re running audio, all of your auxiliary mixes in failure mode, moving, controlling the channel fada of that particular channel will affect the level and all of the mixes. Now why is that desirable? If there’s if there’s an emergency on stage, something happens.
Some somebody trips over something and there’s a microphone that was supposed to be two meters away from a source is now like twenty seven meters away from the source and is blaring in your in your ears, but it’s blaring on the input side. Right. So instead of fixing it at that gain and trying to figure out what went wrong, the quickest solution is to put your finger on that channel, to bring it bring it down for everybody involved, deal with it later so it’s an emergency can be treated as an emergency failure for everything that is going on on stage B, it can be a great mixing tool.
So if you just want, like a couple of dB on the guitar solo for everybody involved, then you can use that.
You can use the technique that Drew showed you. You can use post Fader for all of the remixes, but only use the channels for that particular user and prefer remotes.
So if you have a bass player and you have a bass, the bass mike and. Bass vocal, let’s say those three channels will get sent in pretty remote into the bass players and everything else is getting sent in. So there are various strategies that you can work out. But when I started out, I started out mixing, as I would from front of everything and preferred mode, and then I would have to go in and figure out every position, every cent on its own.
It’s just a lot of work. You have to find a way to be very quick, very quick and very efficient when mixing items specifically. And we’ll get to why later on that presentation.
And then we’ve been talking about this like in within is it’s all about panic.
That’s why we try to encourage people to use stereo, if at all possible. So with mono, everything is collapsing. It sounds really unnatural and it just gives you the disadvantage of spacing out things and not having to deal with level that much.
But you can sort of get clarity and separation between different elements of the mix by placing them in the position, mixing ions.
It is like creating studio stereo mixes for, let’s say, five people and each of them.
It’s like the band’s greatest moment. And the sound engineer, if you’re a studio, cyanogen your worst moment. It’s like, you know, you have the album and then you have the guitar player say, hey, can we bring up the guitars? And you’re like, yep, yep. That’s the mix that you will hear. And then the bass player comes and say, hey, can we get more bass? Because I play that part. And so, yeah, absolutely bass up.
And if you have to decide on which of those mixes. Now is the first one you have right in between the band, the good thing with EMS is everybody gets to be right there on mix is what they need to hear.
But panic will allow you to do that. And it also creates a great or intentional device.
So it looks like looks like I’m going through puberty again. Great orientation of device on stage. Right. So if I am the lead singer setting standing stage center and I have my top layer on the left and the bass player on the right, then I should hear my guitar players vocal from the left. My bass player is vocal from the right, my guitar players guitar from the left. Bass can’t really do much about that. Probably put it in the center, but you know what I mean.
So when I’m facing the audience, the position of things in my ears should resemble the placement of players or artist members on stage. So that is going to be one of the things that you will have to play with. Whereas as you start working with items and then EKU, which is sort of related to padding because.
If you do the planning correctly, you have to do less IQ, right, instead of that, if you have spatial separation, you don’t have to have the same amount of frequency separation.
You don’t have to notch every instruments, space and the frequency spectrum that meticulously because you have separated and the stereo failed. Now you can maybe have a fuller sound. And also when we come to 3-D mixing technologies and all of that, that is like their major argument. So if you have more spatial awareness and basically more space to put your elements in, that increased separation in a space can reduce your Kumuls cut.
Don’t boost, at least for your first and second move.
That is going to be huge for IM’s because you don’t want to be, especially if you’re using wireless technology. You don’t want to be overloading, especially the higher frequencies or the extremely low end frequencies just because of the wireless RF propagation. And it’s a good practice trying to shape the sound with cutting first and then boosting as a last resort.
And then one more thing that we have been talking about a lot, that it is crucial, crucial, crucial for IBM uses latency. If you think about it, when a singer sings into her microphone. She needs to hear that as instantaneously as possible into the air, because when she’s producing that sound, she’s already resonating in her head. Sorry for touching my mike. I’ll try to avoid that.
She’s already resonating in her head, and that is instantaneous. Right.
So when she introduced the loop from the microphone through the cable of ad convertor, optical fibre, whatever it is into your console, DSP processing, all of those processes will add latency, especially if you have a digital microphone, let’s say adds a millisecond. I’m just pop, I can hear your digital console at three, two milliseconds if you have DSP processing on that. Let’s say if you’re using waves or UTI or whatever, which is something that we shouldn’t do without consulting Robert Scoble first, then that will add latency as well.
So by the time you reach that is that latency can be six, seven, nine, 10 milliseconds. And that is absolutely unacceptable for the person singing. There has to be no disconnect between what they are hearing into the resonating head.
And you will basically, because of the occlusion effect, have more bass frequencies with the higher frequencies and everything else of the spectrum that you are supplying through the IMS. So latency reduction game becomes your number one pastime. Know forget Netflix, try and reduce latency in your systems. You will be greatly rewarded. I remember a presentation. I think Fulker was talking about a very famous singer who was who was performing in Las Vegas and she said, I can’t I can’t use that.
I can’t use this wireless microphone because I can sense the latency and the latency on that microphone was one point. Six milliseconds, I’m I’m ballpark here, but I think I got the numbers right and they had to she went to the Sennheiser because she’s a very famous performer and the guys from Sennheiser said. Right. And they designed a special analog. Receiver transmitter. Not really sure, but an analog analog part in that chain that reduced the latency from one point six millisecond to one point three milliseconds and one that once that reduction was made, she was happy.
So there will be people who will not react to latency and there will be people who will not be able to perform with that same the same exact amount of latency.
So check with your artist whether or not they are having issues, if they’re not bringing it up and safe, that they don’t have issues. But if they keep bringing up something as if something is off, something’s off. Latency should also be one of your considerations.
All right, break. Oh, sure. Let’s go. We’ve got a handful of them. Where are you originally from?
Slovenia, Europe, if you look at the map of Europe, where right between Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary, so all the fun states of the states, a lot of people were concerned.
Why in that image you’re on stage, right? They really want you to be on stage left.
Let me see if I can get to that slide show.
Sure, yeah, they let it go, what you are seeing here is a stage where we had a gig with two bands, so there was Siddharta Band and left of the band.
So stage left of the Siddharta Band with another band, and they would sort of play each other’s songs and switch band members in between them. So there was no way for me to do monitoring for Siddharta and be on that side of the stage. So that’s why I’m I’m standing over there. Eliot wants to know if you’ve used the butt kicker thing often, do you think it makes a big difference? Yeah, I suggested to basically the I that I encounter.
It’s a feel thing, I I think they can play better if something moves them, since you are sort of removing the sound of the subs or the rattling of the subs that they are that they’re used to from from their ears by isolating them with MS.
When they when the kid hits, there’s absolutely nothing that’s going on right. In terms of vibrations, because everything is transferring or pushing away from them in terms of the kick. Like when you hit a snare, you can sort of get the sense of the vibration of the snare through your hands.
But if you’re used to playing gigs where the subs are rattling and you get used to having a drum filled with two subs right next to your ear, you will miss that vibration. And that vibration can be can be crucial for trauma when performing well, especially if you want to have dynamics.
Having said that, you have to play with the volume knob on the amplifier to get it just right. And you have to let the drummer know that they should expect the drum throwers or the drum seats to come undone after a certain period of time.
So if they’re used to having the same drum throne for them to last in like five to six years, that should probably be reduced now to one one and a half, maybe two years just because, you know, it’s shaking so hard that everything sort of starts coming apart. And that’s just a consideration.
OK, Jonathan wants to know what might you’re using for the ambient mics?
I’m sort of switching between depends on the venue and what I want to achieve. So if it’s a really large venue and I want to sort of penetrate through the crowd, I would use Graylin microphones, shotgun’s.
I’m not picky with those with those microphones. And it’s more about direct to the T and what part of the audience I’m trying to bring into the into the is then specific make a model. Most of the time I’m just using too small diaphragm condensers, you know, whatever we have on board is great.
It gives me, it gives me a bit more detail and I can sort of use them as reverbs better if they’re condenser mikes and if it’s a small club.
I have also done just placing two dynamic’s placing them on the stage, capturing, capturing the audience for the first couple of rows of audience there, because that’s what they would be experiencing. Right. If you’re in a club and you’re used to to people like being right there in front of you, that’s what you want to hear in an arena. If you take the eye off, you want to hear the entire stadium. So I might add a couple of minutes left and right to pick up different portions of of of the stage or sorry, the audience.
So it depends on what I’m what I’m going for. And the answer is all of the above. So every microphone that I can get, I will test out and use for specific specific uses.
OK, Alice, do you create a mix also for your friend’s house just in case the desk went down?
The answer is no.
What do you think of immersive audio for interpersonally? I think it’s genre instrument specific. Some genres and instruments dB more technical listening than it’s an immersive one. Let me know your opinion.
Thanks from Itoh. That’s a big, big question. I don’t really have an answer for you because I haven’t tested it out on the roads. I’ve seen a few demos. I’ve heard a few demos. In theory, it’s great. Once I have 10 shows done with that, I’ll give you my honest opinion.
But, you know, until that it’s a it’s a great concept and some people swear by it and some people say it’s totally useless.
What is in between that spectrum until I actually get to play with again. OK, anybody else? Yes, God wants to know what’s the longest amount of latency is acceptable for, and I feel like it’s around two milliseconds that again, like I said, it would depend on your end user.
I would shoot for everything lower than five milliseconds. That sort of tends to still work for me even.
You know, you can you can you can try that in the studio. Right. Get a W get a microphone. Start raising the raising. Yeah. Raising the buffer size. The W will tell you what the latency, the total system latency is and just try it out for yourself. Right.
The second thing that you can that you should do is get on stage, get the singer’s microphone saying that’s going to be a big one for you if you if you can hear it because you want to test for latency and are listening for it and can’t detect it, then chances are that if somebody is not listening for it won’t be detected. Does that make sense? Yeah, definitely, um. Bigman says, do you ever polarity reversed and am or are you cuing and I am, and I guess he means the outputs.
Just the last output of the polarity reversed no IQ all the time.
I don’t really see I don’t really see a way where I could be like the reason why I would be inverting polarity of I am mix’s on the outputs, on the inputs of course, like getting the input channels to sort of sit well together. It’s fine, but on the outputs it just doesn’t make sense.
Right. Cool. All right, that’s it for now. Thanks, Alex. Cool. I guess I’m running out of time, so let’s just get through slide 10 through. Two hundred and fifty in the next ten minutes.
So when you are building a mix, this is. This is the key question, how to mix for someone else. And we have talked about this and other people have talked about this, but building references, that’s why I said, you know, touring with a band without I am listening to the wedgies, seeing or hearing what works for them level wise, ratio wise between instruments works is such a great learning experience.
And when you start mixing for somebody else, you have to you have to sort of put yourself in the shoes.
And something that Potch also mentioned, virtual sound check nowadays is a must for engineers as well.
You know, grab a multitrack of the performance. That’s what I did before I sort of started transitioning the band. I would record every show that I could build a library of of their shows. And once it came to building mixers for them, I would run the virtual sound check, create a mix. Relative to what I knew would sort of suit their needs and their preferences and have that as a starting point so they don’t feel thrown off the first time they hear it.
So it sounds like I think one of the best thing that happened to live sound since going from monarch to stereo. I really do. It’s it has that it can have that big of an impact on your work.
Plus, you know, in situations where the things that would freak you out the most when you were using wedgies are now actually working in your favor.
You know, we all have that band member that says, hey, mommy, please.
And we know if you have attended Loreen’s presentation, we now know that that might differ between male and female performers, which was a great insight for me as well.
But in in situations, mommy principal works for you because, you know. That that particular band member would want more of their own signal into their own mix, which makes sense, but if you are sort of building a front of house mics so you have a reference level, maybe you can start that. You can start there. If you haven’t worked with the band and have no idea of what they’re listening to and what their habits are, chances are if you build a nice front of house mics and then just push their own channels up five dB sixty five sixty B, let’s start with that, that you will be golden.
Eighty five percent of the times. Right. So the stuff that might be driving you mad when you’re mixing monitors from the house can actually work in your favor when you’re just mixing items.
We talk about this stereo placement again, spacing out the elements relative to the band members position on stage. So think about that.
I mentally, you know, when I’m planning, I mentally stand on stage and see where the other members are and decide what that means relative to my mix. So that can be a great, great opportunity for you and then what do I listen to? I mentioned that the previous segment, either a mix that I have built on my own or the lead vocalist mix, probably because it probably will resemble the front of house mics the most if you think about it, because the lead singer wants to have the most amount of lead vocal in their mics, which is something that you would Nessa’s that you would probably have to do if you mix in front of house, but you wouldn’t necessarily build a front of house mics with a keyboard blaring 20 dB over everything else.
If you listen to the eye of a keyboard player, for example. So, you know, picking your reference levels will be reference mixes will be something that can really get you going.
Now, let’s talk about just briefly about two things that I feel are really, really important and have nothing to do with the technical side of things, everything to do with keeping your job as an item.
Once a Nixon commanding the stage, we start we start transitioning into the interpersonal communication stuff.
Might you, as the monitoring engineer for AMS, have to have total control of the system? You have to decide when the body packs get turned on and if you delegate that, that’s fine, but it’s still your responsibility. You have to say, OK, you can turn them on, but you can only do that because I know I have everything muted on the console. You have to have the option of saying, OK, I will only deploy the body parts that have been checked and double checked, triple checked by me.
You have to have total control of the system. It is your gig. Nobody else’s, even if you have assistance, if you have stage crews, they chance whatever it is, the blame stops here. Your responsibility, OK, total control of the system in relation to that, you have to have absolute control over the users.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a local band or if you’re mixing for Beyonce. If you know that there is something going on that might damage the air they are hearing or that might seriously disrupt what they are listening to in their headphones because it’s something that they are doing.
You are the one that has to you have to stop it.
OK. Just an example. There was a user that decided just because it was his IBM rig to go and change the frequency on the IBM transmitter while he still had his body pack on and his inner ear earphones in his ears.
And if you’ve done any work with digital with wireless systems, you know that when you have a frequency mismatch.
There are increasingly loud digital digital white noise that comes out of the body, packs into your ears, you are the person responsible for that, right? Total control of the system, total control over the users. So once the band walks and you have to be behind the console and not leave until every user, even if it’s the guy on the comms, hasn’t stopped using a part of your system, if anything else you take away from my presentation, that is the one safety is key.
Then we go to reading cues, as is a whole whole section that we could touch upon, but we don’t have time for them. I just want to mention that, you know, when you stop working with a band, you have to decide on what the cues are by talking to them and saying, OK, more, this means more. This means less for this means less. This means OK, because sometimes that happened, somebody was doing this and I’m then not sure if that means everything is OK or I want more of whatever it is they’re talking about.
Catch my drift. So communication is going to be key once you work with the band for a long time, you discover cues on your own.
It’s like magic because when you stop listening to the same song, the same mix, you can figure out if maybe there is a band member who is slightly out of time and, you know, it might be beneficial to just slightly turn up whatever it is time wise that they need to hear.
It can be a sampler or a click or high hat or a snare into their own IMX. Should you do that with every performer? Absolutely. Not only do that with people that, you know, you have developed trust with, know the material really well, know how it usually sounds and do it very gently. So these are not like five or six to be. It could be one dB to dB, Max. But if you can do that right, you can get throughout a tool, a leg up, a tool without any communication from the band.
Hey, bring this up. If you can anticipate it, you’re going to be good. Nobody wants to talk to.
I am an engineer and that’s the the great challenge of our lives.
You know, once the gig is going, nobody wants to wants to have to have to keep eye contact with you. They might want to, but they never want to have to go. I just made that completely complicated for no good reason.
And of course, established chain of command. If people know of it, you’re the guy who’s responsible, you are responsible. So be there. If you delegate work, then let people know what the other person is is responsible for and what they should maybe talk to them about.
The last thing maybe I want to discuss before we go into the questions in the age old question, what do cats have to do with it as the philosophy of IM? Now take a look at that picture.
That’s me during a gig for my band. And some engineers would take a look at that and say, dude, what are you doing? You should be focusing and my answer is I am. That’s exactly what my band needs from me in that particular moment.
So. It’s all about trust and trust is the most important part of itemising, and you build trust through communication, getting the job done right and having the right attitude. That’s all three key components and you’re done. But you have to do that consistently day in, day out. They know that they can lean on you and trust you.
That’s it. Supporting your artist in that particular picture and that particular moment. I knew that the guitar player had a really difficult solo for a one off gig that he was practicing on for practicing for for like maybe two months. And that was the moment of him finishing the solo and looking at me.
And I was like, Yeah, dude, you nailed it. That established a bond between us. Right? It was the perfect reaction for that moment. I could have been focused on my mixing console and intently staring into one of the other band members. But, you know, that wouldn’t create that special moment between us. And it’s all about that supporting your artist with whatever is necessary for them. Some people would hate that, but it’s your job to discover what that would be.
Some people want you to stay calm, reserved, focused, just looking in their eyes whenever they whenever they turn around.
Some people want that energy, but it’s up to you to provide it, OK?
Nerves of steel. I am engineers and monitoring engineers in particular, but I am engineers since they are so close to being the people who talk to the artists ears and stuff like that. We are also the first fence that all the shit hits.
So if they’re having a bad day, if they had a run with around with their spouse, if something was off for breakfast, if somebody forgot to brush their teeth, it might it might be your fault. And you should know that it might be your fault and not make a scene about it. But you are there to support your artist. It’s not about you don’t take crap. I never said that. Don’t take personal abuse. Don’t take misogyny.
Don’t say you know.
Don’t take it, but also be aware of the fact that you are the guy that has to have nerves of steel and stressful situations, and these live gigs always are stressful situations, especially for artists.
We talk about all about the technical stuff and mixing just always imagined. As an artist, you are on stage performing for people. There’s stage fright, there’s baring it all. If you’re a singer songwriter, you know, people are judging you constantly and sometimes it gets to you if you have support from your team and monitoring engineer in this case, it will go a long way. Nerves of steel and also being present, like I mentioned, notice when there’s a guitar.
So be ready for that. When when there’s a keyboard solo, be ready for that. Keep your eyes locked on at least one man band member.
It might not be the exact one who’s wanting your attention, but they can’t say, hey, you were doodling on your phone while you were doing your job, OK?
So for the final question, and I know that we only still have like five minutes to go, but I would sort of want you guys to guess if you can handle it yourself and see what the cats have to do with mixing amps.
All right. I’m really curious. What are people going to say? What do you think? Kim, Connor, Scott, Kendall. Carrie, Scott. Lamb, Penny. Nothing, no anchor says Cat five five. Yes, I mean, yeah, go ahead.
All right. You see the question I asked earlier about reversing the polarity on your Henia or frustration’s there on the air where we’ve got low wages. And. Elsewhere. So I was wondering if you have ever had a suspicion like that where. You’ve got eight years and wages. So would you reverse the polarity of the year? And secondly, there was a time of Mustansiriya around the. The drama Seraglio will tell you that one, the site fills out fully and they also want anyways.
So in situations like that, what would you do? How would you undo it? Quick question. Now, answer my question, what the cats have to do with mixing before we go. I’ll I’ll I’ll do the answer for this slide first, if you don’t mind, then get back to your question.
If I don’t get to it, I’ll answer in the chat.
Is that OK? Sorry, but it’s like I know how this works.
Right. So what do cats have to do with mixing? And Cats is an acronym that I have decided on four key concepts of I am mixing. Take out your pens, ladies and gentlemen, if you have been snoozing and, you know, sort of doodling away while I was doing this presentation, this is the key concept you should take notice of and write down that this is this is the money money channel right here. Consistency, you have to perform every night with the same level of consistency so that when the artists get on stage and play that first note doesn’t matter whether or not they had a sound check or not, they should hear the exact same thing.
Number one, cat number one. Cat number two, altruism. We have heard it time and time again. And I’ll repeat it again. Check your ego at the door. It is not about what you think they should be getting into and is. It’s what they tell you. They should be getting into the ears. And that’s exactly what you should be providing. You are providing a service for them and they are the customer and they need to get what they need to get to perform.
I’ve had Mix’s that sounded nothing like I would have done if I were mixing for myself, but that’s what they need to perform. OK, cat number three timing. Do whatever you have to do to anticipate things before they happen. And B, when you get a request for a change from somebody on stage, that change should be immediate and not talking ten seconds. I’m talking like yesterday. So whatever you have to do in terms of prepping your console and laying it out.
So it’s always the same channels on the left and the same channels on the right. And you know exactly where to go for the E q exactly where to go for the dynamics, exactly where to go for that axillary send. You have to be there on time. And the final one, which I have mentioned before, safety first, you are putting. Elements that are capable of extreme levels of sound pressure level, you’re putting them like millimeters away from the eardrums.
Take care of your artists is please, please, please, if nothing else, that’s your number one priority. And this is the concept that I have sort of put at the last as the last thing of my presentation, because I want you to walk away with this safety first, OK? Now, since I have eaten up all my time. Questions maybe get one or two in so I can answer Bigman. So, yeah, polarity reversal on items when you’re using and I don’t tend to polarity reversed.
What I could do is a sort of.
No, no, not even that, because think about it, I am a constant the distance between the speakers and the the the ears are constant. So if you polarity reversed with a wedge or with whatever they have and it’s going to only be OK in that particular spot. And as they move, that polarity is going to, again, get out of phase.
So you might do a trick where you. Sort of roll off the low end of your IEM mix, if you know they’re getting a lot of sub or monitor mix from the wedges, but I wouldn’t do polarity reversal on IEMs. And the second question I really can’t remember. So I’ll answer it in chat.