QuickTip: Look Up!


It’s very easy to get lost in our technology when we’re mixing. In addition to the consoles we’ve used for years, I find more and more screens everywhere I go. All of this stuff is just screaming for us to look at it, but it’s important to keep it from occupying all of our attention.

When I’m mixing, I try and keep my head up as much as I possibly can. Part of that is to see what’s going on on the stage so I don’t miss a cue. The audience in the room is watching and listening, and what they see affects the way they will hear things so I want to figure that into my mix as well. In addition, though, I also like to watch the audience.

Here is some video from a recent FOH gig I did at one of Christ Fellowship’s campuses.

Ignore the crazy iPhone audio recording and just look at the crowd. Don’t they look engaged? There are hands in the air and almost the entire mass is moving with the music. For me, this is what I want to see because it’s the goal. Getting people engaged is why we’re making a bunch of noise on a Sunday morning.

Now, there are a lot of things that go into audience engagement ranging from talent on stage to song selection to set order to experience getting into the room to environment and on and on and on. Somewhere in all those factors is the mix, though. We are a part of this.

Something I see at times, though, is a lot of guys have their heads down in the gear chasing things they don’t need to chase when the room is already engaged. The mix I put up the day I shot this video was not perfect. I would have loved to have had a couple more hours with virtual soundcheck to have refined things a bit more. I’ll probably try a couple of slightly different things the next time I’m back mixing in that room with those particular players because I’m always trying to make things better. But I’m not losing any sleep over things because the room was engaged from the front to the back.

Of course, there is another side to this. When my audience isn’t engaged, I start evaluating things. Is the mix right? Is the volume right? Is there something I’m not doing or could do better that would engage the audience more?

My point, though, is I would have no idea on how engagement is going if my head is buried in a console or a screen. So don’t just look at your console and the people on stage. Keep an eye on your audience.

David Stagl

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