High and Low Resolution

In my experience, detailed mixes flow downstream. By this, I mean detail work done on a mix will make that mix sound better even in a lower fidelity environment than where the mix was done. I believe this is why high quality recordings can sound good on speakers that aren’t great in rooms with acoustics that shouldn’t be bragged about.

The challenge, however, is it’s incredibly difficult to get detail within a mix if the environment you’re in doesn’t allow you to hear those details. Think of a camera being slightly out of focus. You can still see everything, but the picture isn’t as clear as it can be. If we take that camera and knock it way out of focus, the elements in the picture begin to blur together as we lose more and more detail.

I bring this up because I’ve been getting inquiries lately from churches looking to move into broadcasting their services over the web. Typically most people are looking to use the FOH mix for this. While I believe it can be done, it’s important to take into consideration the environment where the mix is being done.

Studio designer Carl Tatz likes to say that a good engineer can learn to mix in a swimming pool. Carl’s idea is that a good engineer will adapt to the environment he’s in, and I can agree with that. I’ve mixed and heard great events done in some truly horrible acoustic spaces on less than stellar rigs. At the end of the day, any engineer worth his salt will make it work. However, I wouldn’t expect all of those mixes to translate outside of the space they were done in because the resolution of those environments is questionable.

Have you ever seen a low-resolution picture or graphic that looked OK on a laptop’s display get blown up on a really big screen? These often look horrible because low resolution does not flow upstream. Experienced content creators know that you always need to start with the highest resolution.

Audio is very similar. Engineers like myself talk ad nauseum about getting it right at the source. I believe this then extends to the console and loudspeakers. There is one particular console manufacturer whose consoles are very frustrating for me to work on because the controls offer what I consider to be very low resolution, and these tend to be quite popular in churches.

If you are trying to move your mix beyond your room into a variety of environments, I think it’s very important to consider the environment where that mix is being performed. If you’d like some help in evaluating your current mixing environment(s) or to get some help in taking things to the next level, feel free to CONTACT me because I love helping churches with this.

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David Stagl

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High and Low Resolution