Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2012 - Synchronized Phones

As of Sunday, my work for 2012 is finished, and it feels pretty good. Before I go dark for the rest of the year, I leave you with some photos and notes from our Christmas Celebration this year which, by the way, is available on demand for the next few days over at

Mixing Christmas this year was one of the more complicated things I’ve mixed in a quite a while. I have to give a big shout-out to the rest of our audio crew because they worked their tails off backstage to make sure everything came off without a hitch.

This was mostly because we did a musical number in the middle of our welcome segment, and we just don’t really ever do these things. This led to a few more snapshots than I would normally do that were doing things I don’t like to do–namely routing changes. Those became necessary in order to facilitate some of the bussing needs I have on the console in order to get mixes to other parts of the building.

This year we opened a third venue in our Theatre with a live band for most of the music, but they were still taking a feed from me for a good portion of the morning. So I needed to make sure they had a mix that worked for them which was namely a dry, unprocessed mix of what I feed my PA. In the meantime I also needed to feed a processed program mix to video world for halls and tape along with some other needs for our campuses since they were receiving the message from my room. I needed to do all of this within 8 channels, and it’s amazing how fast those go when you start making stereo pairs. So what I ended up with was a processed 2-mix, isolated message mic, isolated robot speak(for our opening number–just in case), isolated videos and keyboards for the message, and a dry 2-mix for our local venues. It seemed to work OK, but I wasn’t happy with some of the levels on some of the isolated stuff so that will be something I’ll probably be looking for a new solution to next time.

Christmas 2012 - Actor Mics

Locally in my room, my main challenge was the musical number which was a parody of a tune from Les Mis. As I said, we just don’t really do these types of things so it was immediately a challenge. The number featured 8 actors along with a chorus of 20-30 people. The actors were mic’ed with Countryman E6’s, and the chorus was thankfully on tracks since they were moving around the stage quite a bit. The music was a mix of tracks and live band.

I initially looked at putting together halo rigs to do hair mics on the actors. I’ve never really done that so I was really kind of interested in giving it a shot. Thankfully, though, my fellow audio staffers at our campuses dissuaded me from this. It’s still something I’d like to try doing at some point, but when I looked at our scheduling for rehearsals and the time leading up to them it seemed a little riskier than I wanted on Christmas. Plus I knew that 8 open omni-directional mics on stage with music would be enough of a challenge as-is, so I opted for Countryman’s which we rented from Audio Vend in Texas.

I know a lot of people like to bag on Countryman E6’s, but they worked great for this. I know there are other mics out there that many prefer these days, but I still haven’t found anything that looks as good on camera. And that is a concern of mine since video is a big part of what we do. I don’t care if people are used to it these days. Call me old fashioned, but I think it looks tacky to have a big ol’ mic on someone’s cheek on TV. Here’s a screen capture from our online service:

Screen Shot 2012 12 24 at 12 56 13 AM

I can spot a mic, but it’s not obvious. These don’t completely disappear in close-ups, but I think they’re much more subtle. And they sounded great in the room.

Individual processing for the mics was done via channel comps and EQ’s. I then routed all the actor mics to a group where I had a parametric EQ to ring them all out along with a Waves C4 for some multi-band processing to keep things controlled when everyone was singing. I also ended up using my Shure DFR-11 on the group for last resort feedback elimination. I had plenty of gain before feedback on each mic but had a little bit of ringing at the end of the number when I had all 8 mics open. I could have used the 5045, but I didn’t think the 5045 would help me with the feedback I was anticipating. Since the 5045 is really a souped-up expander, I knew that when everyone was singing it would just stay open and wouldn’t catch the stuff that would take off running. For that I needed EQ. I got that as close as I could, and then for the sake of time I let the machine do the rest. I always feel like I’m cheating using the DFR, but I just didn’t care this time because the number was complicated in and of itself.

It’s a musical number so people are coming on and off stage, and I needed to ride every single mic throughout. I had some loose notes I used during rehearsal, but in the end it’s all about memorizing everything and thanks to plenty of rehearsals and an afternoon of virtual soundcheck I was able to get everything down. It reminded me of mixing musicals in high school, although, I had a few more tools at my disposal than I did 20 years ago.

Christmas 2012 - Musical Number Notes

Another thing that saved me during the musical number was the VENUE’s VCA spill feature. I programmed a separate VCA just for the number called “spill”. Everything I needed direct control of for the number was in the VCA. When we got close to the musical number, I simply double-tapped the “spill” VCA and had my own custom fader bank of everything I needed. I actually set this up so I could recall it before we got to the musical number so that everything was ready to go.

Overall, it was a fun service to mix because it keep me on my toes. Now I’m looking forward to a bit of time off with my family. I hope your Christmas services all went well. Enjoy the rest of the holidays, and I will be back in the new year.

David Stagl

One Response to “Merry Christmas!

  • Chad Green
    4 years ago


    Thanks for the little behind the scenes look. I was really impressed with the Les Mis number online. I think it topped the iBand opener. I could see the mics but just sorta accepted them and I didn’t think they looked bad.

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Merry Christmas!