Method, Man

Let's look at what order we do things - get a logical order and things just fall into place!

  1. Line Check - Check you're getting the right sound through the right channel! The quickest way is to check that there's a signal on the channel meter (lights up green) and un muting it in the foldback. A better, slower way is to use the headphones as it makes things easier to hear.
  2. Monitors - Having unmuted the channels and foldback (but not the main), get the band to do a song. Standing near each monitor/musician, adjust the levels to what you think they need, turning down what they don't really need (the bassist doesn't need to hear the violin).
  3. Groups - We can now unmute our band groups (known as DCAs) Rhythm, Instruments and Vocals, and our main out. The easiest things to do with these is set them at 0 or -5 and leave them.
  4. Individual channels - Unmute the Main and listen to each channel on it's own so you can hear it clearly over the foldback, this is the point at which you do the EQ (more next week). 
  5. Complete mix - Bring up the channel volumes, in the order drums, instruments, vocals

A place for Everything

And everything in it's place: Not all instruments should be the same volume all the time: below is a simple guide for setting volumes.

Drums: The kick and snare drums are the most important and should be the loudest. They're often loud in the overall mix too.

Instruments: The leading instrument (often the guitar or keys played by the music leader) should be the loudest instrument. 'Solo' instruments like violin & lead guitar should be quieter in sung sections and louder in instrumental sections.

Vocals: The lead vocalist should be louder than the backing vocals or harmonies, and louder than everything else.

The best way to set levels is to start with the drums, move to instruments and then vocals, finishing with the lead vocalist. This will make sure that the vocals are louder than the instruments and the lead vocalist is louder than anything else.

Next week we'll look at mixing our EQ! This is where things go from 'sounding' to 'sounding good'

Photos by Mike Petrucci & Vania Shows on Unsplash