The Broadcast Mix, Pt. 4

This is one of the things I'm still tweaking. This little dynamic EQ keeps the vocals from getting harsh as they get louder.

This is one of the things I'm still tweaking. This little dynamic EQ keeps the vocals from getting harsh as they get louder.

Today we’ll wrap up our series on the broadcast mix. At least for now. We’ve talked about the approaches to creating a broadcast mix, the hybrid group-based approach I’m using and some of the secret sauce to take it to the next level. Today, we’ll look at what’s next.

Continuous Improvement

Toyota is famously known for their continual improvement philosophy. I’m all over that. I never stop thinking of ways to make what we do better. I listen to the mix every week, make notes and tweak. So even though we’re at a place that I’m pretty happy with, it’s not done. 

If you email me in a few months and ask me what I’m doing, some of this will probably change. Plus I’m putting in a new PA and moving the tech booth, so that will by necessity shift parts of my process. As our worship style evolves, and we start adding new elements to the service, my broadcast mix will have to adapt. 

But there are a few things I know I want to do as soon as we have the proper logistics in place.

Add Two House Mics

This is another Andrew Stone tip. He has a pair of AKG C414s at the front corners of the tech booth to capture the “room sound.” These are in addition to the audience mic’s that are aimed to capture the audience. The goal of the house mic's is to help recreate that feeling of “liveness,” of being in the room. I hear some broadcast mixes that are very sterile and studio-like. I suppose that’s one way to go, but I’d rather have a more live vibe. 

Since these mic’s will most likely live in the booth (or the front corners of it, anyway), we’ll need to time everything back to them. That will start another whole process of time alignment. Continuous improvement…it’s never done.

Refine and Tweak Comps and EQ

I feel like we’re close on our processing, but we’re not there yet. The hold up for me right now is one of real estate. My video position is very crowded, and we don’t have decent audio monitors there. So making EQ and compression decisions is hard. On one hand, listening through the cheap computer speakers we have is good, as that is what many people will be using at home. But it’s hard to make proper decisions based on limited information. 

When the rest of tech moves to the floor this spring, I’ll be spreading video out and deploying a set of Equator Audio D5 monitors. In the meantime, I listen to the mix every week in my office (on decent monitors) and at home, then translate my impressions into minor tweaks. 

For me, this is a process that will never likely be completely “done.” Music styles change, tastes change, people come and go, and we have to adapt. I believe I can get the mix to a point where we don’t touch it much week to week, but I will revisit it every few months to see if we’re drifting. 

I should point out that one reason we’re able to do what we do is because of our baseline show file system. We start with the same master show file each week, and that master is versioned like software. We’re at 10.2 right now, and the minor tweaks I’ve talked about are incorporated into that starting point. This system ensures all our engineers are starting from the same point each week. And if we have one week that is significantly different, requiring some modification of the broadcast mix, we go back to our normal setup next week. 

Well, that’s it on the broadcast mix. For now… Any questions?

Gear Techs

Today's post is brought to you by Heil Sound. Established in 1966, Heil Sound Ltd. has developed many professional audio innovations over the years, and is currently a world leader in the design and manufacture of large diaphragm dynamic, professional grade microphones for live sound, broadcast and recording.