Board Layout: My Take—Part 2

Yesterday we started talking board layout. Today, we’ll finish up by looking at how most of my faders and VCAs look on a given weekend.

Because I have 36 faders, I’ve found I can get my whole band, including vocalists all on the surface at once. Since our bands are usually fairly small, it’s quite easy for me to mix a weekend strictly on the faders. If I want more bass, I can easily reach the fader and push it up. More piano is one fader away, right in the center. Here’s how it lays out.

The left fader bank always houses the drums (8 faders), bass, perc or winds (1 or 2 faders) and drums spank. Sometimes I’ll drop a second guitar (or my double-bussed “monster guitar” fader) if I have the need and the room.

The center fader bank contains our worship leader’s guitar, piano, keys (all stereo but 1 fader each), B3 (2 faders, 3 mics), worship leader vocal & smash channel (2 faders), background vocals (2-4 channels) and when I have room, iTunes playback. 

On the right side, I have our announcement mic, the teaching pastor mic, 3-4 faders full of effects returns (vocal hall, vocal plate, vocal delay and drums), and my VCAs. I typically have 6 VCAs employed; drums, guitars, keys, perc/winds (it’s an either/or instrument for us), BGVs and wedges.

Here is where I diverge from some FOH engineers; I don’t really mix on my VCAs much, I basically use them as remote controls to turn the whole band on and off with a few handles. Sometimes I’ll push or pull on the BGVs, and occasionally will move the drum or keys VCA. But not often. It’s just as easy for me to grab their channels. 

What I do tend to do during transitions is to pull down all the VCAs except the keys (which goes to -20 or so) while they underscore a prayer. I should point out that the reason I have my wedges on a VCA is to make it faster to turn them on and off. I don’t like having open wedges when the band is not up there. So by assigning all my aux masters to a VCA, I can turn all the wedges on and off with one handle. We normally only have 2-3 wedges on stage for vocals, but the aux masters fall on a different page, so it’s faster to grab them from a VCA. Of course, most of those transitions happen using snapshots, but that’s another post. Still, it’s a lot easier than grabbing twenty-some-odd faders. 

For a typical weekend, I rarely have to change layers. On some weekends we’ll do an interview that will require me to drop down a layer in my center bank to get to the rest of the wireless mics, or we may roll a video (also on that page). But most of the time, it’s all faders on the surface. 

As Dave & Duke pointed out on our last podcast, the it’s less important how you lay your board out, and more important that you do what you do on purpose. There are dozens of ways to get good results, and what you do may not be what either Dave or I do. That’s OK. Take ideas, merge them with your requirements and come up with something that works for you.

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