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How do you -know- that youve done a good job mixing?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Arr MiHardies, May 13, 2011.

  1. For those out there that run sound boards and the like, how do you -know- youve done a good job with the mix?

    For me, I know Ive done a good job when people are really getting into the music. Granted, a lot of this also relies on the playing of those on stage, but it doesn't matter how well those on stage are playing if the mix is bad.
  2. I've always used a few basic rules:
    1 - Can you hear every instrument on stage?
    2 - Do the instruments/vocals sound natural? (If possible, I like to hear each instrument/vocal before they are turned on in the house. My job behind the board is to make everything louder, not necessarily "color" the signal)
    3 - Is there an instrument (or vocal) that is sticking out (that shouldn't)?
    4 - Is there a general frequency range that over powering the others?
    5 - Is it too loud? (Sounds weird but sometimes a mix can sound bad simply because it is painful to listen to)

    P.S. - It is also important to be familiar with the material you are mixing. There is a reason bands will hire a FOH engineer and that engineer will be with them for years on end. They are familiar with the music and will make it sound how it is supposed to.
  3. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    I'd add:

    6 - Can you understand the words that the singer(s) are singing? That may depend to some degree on individuals' techniques & sometimes you can only do so much.
  4. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Watch the crowd. They may not tell you if the mix is good, but they will tell if you if something's wrong. I.e.,

    1) Nobody on the dance floor means either that the band stinks, the material's bad, or more often than not, it's too loud/shrill. People are literally backing away from the mains.

    2) Fingers in ears or hands over ears.

    3) People shaking their heads, pointing to their ears and leaving.
  5. This wasn't so much meant to be a thread for advice, but since running sound tends to be a thankless job, the band gets all the attention, I was just wondering how -you- -know- you did a good job.
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    to me, it's when you just hear a band up there playing music, and don't really notice the PA anymore. if you can get your system "out of the way", so people are just enjoying the music itself.
  7. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Yup. As an audience member nothing will send me out of a venue faster than harsh vocals/guitars and/or excessive volume just for volume's sake. If there's a mixing error to be made, better to err on the side of extra lows and not as much volume.
  8. ric stave

    ric stave

    May 6, 2006
    Buffalo, NY
    When nobody bitches....
  9. Compliments. Most (non savvy) people will compliment the band if the sound was good. If you have a good relationship with the band, then they'll pass those compliments on!

    Also, making the musicians happy with a good monitor mix is never a bad thing.

    And of course sometimes you just take a step back, listen for a second, and say 'that sounds great'.
  10. I had one of those moments a couple weeks ago during pre rehearsal when I stepped back and said and felt " this sounds magical...." Then a couple hundred bags of water (people) came into the room and I had to adjust again, since they absorbed the sound by their mere presence.
  11. mixing monitors - the band is in the zone. nobody even looks at me. no news is good news...

    mixing FOH - the audience is in the zone. nobody even looks at me. no news is good news...

    any direct compliments are icing on the cake.
  12. The nice thing about the avioms we use is that the band manages their own monitor mixes. I only have to worry about mixing a pair of front monitor for the singers, who don't usually use the in ear system.
  13. When there is an appropriate blend of smooth and lumps in the mashed potatoes (I prefer smaller lumps. but at a higher than 50:50 lumpy to smooth ratio).

    The rest is just butter on top.

    (or +1 to the band not bitching and +2 to the crowd not bitching) :D
  14. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    When I don't have to ride the sliders or EQ looking like Jerry Lee Lewis playing the piano! If I can kick back & enjoy the show, that's good.

    Most compliments go to the performers, which is as it should be. If people think the performance was great, & sound is taken for granted, that's just fine.
  15. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    To me there's a difference between good sound and a good mix. Most of the time a show can get by with good sound where everything sounds convincing and nobody gets hurt. But a good mix is special. Anybody can push faders and turn knobs. Few know when and why to stop.
  16. uhdinator


    Apr 20, 2010
    1. The band is not bitching at me
    2. The Audience compliments the band members and me sometimes
    3. The band thanks me after getting good audience feedback
    4. The band calls me to confirm I am available before they book another gig
    5. They are glad to pay me and don't want to do a gig without me
    6. Chicks dig me because I rarely wear underwear, and when I do it's usually something very unusual (oh wait, that was Bill Murray not a gig.......I'm getting too old)
  17. I get a louder round of applause than any band member during the part of the show where they introduce everyone.

    Also, when my bands keep getting booked farther in advance, for more money.

    And I've never been fired.
    Must be doing a good job.
  18. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    When you get hired again.
  19. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    If I have bad musicians, a bad band , it's impossible for me to be satisfied , even if it's a good mix for the crowd or the organizers.

    When I have a good band , I just "know" it.

    There will always be un-satisfied customers. The mother of signer "X" will never hear enough of him/her. :smug:

    Some people HAVE to say something about mixes , it's stronger than their will , they just Have to.
    I don't give attention to those comments anymore , but it took me years to be like that.When I started , with the lack of self confidence , It would touch me deeply. But I later found out that you simply can't satisfy everyone , impossible task.

    I'm hired for the mix that I'm doin' so if I get the gig year after year , then I must be doin' something right.
  20. When my youth pastor doesn't have anything to critique ;)

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