QuickTip: An Empty Room
My friend Andrew Stone has been writing a bunch of articles lately on how to ruin a mix, and I want to piggyback off his latest edition regarding to the use of FX with a quick tip.
Stone talks in his article about how the lack of FX can ruin a mix, and I completely agree. In nature we are used to hearing things in spaces so when things don’t sound like they are in a space of some sort they can sound unnatural; I’ve talked about this before. The trouble is, sometimes the space we mix in can get in the way of us getting any additional artificial space we need for the mix right.
One thing that has helped me get this “right” more often than wrong is to mute my PA fill speakers during rehearsals and virtual soundcheck. Once again I have to thank Mr. Scovill for putting this in my head.
Where I stand/sit to mix, I’m in the coverage of our main arrays. However, when the rest of the PA is on and the room is empty, the PA excites the room more since the fills are bouncing sound off empty portions of the room. This gives the impression that the mix is more reverberant than it actually is. The problem with this is once people get in the room they absorb a lot of that room stuff which then makes the mix feel too dry.
However, if I mute the fill speakers, my experience at FOH sounds much closer to how it will sound when it’s full which actually makes this a great trick for making all my mix decisions and not just FX. I actually have a control page in my driverack’s software so I can click one button and mute all of my fills so I’m just listening to the mains and the subs.
Next time you’re mixing in an empty room, try muting or turning off your any fills for the PA.