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Vocal(s) house mix/blend question for sound engineers

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  • Vocal(s) house mix/blend question for sound engineers

    My pastor commented at a recent meeting that he had noticed a consistency in the vocal mix at a couple of mega churches he had visited where the vocal mix, in general, was such that they simply blended so well that you can not differentiate any particular vocalist. That is the best way I can put it. He further stated that of course the lead vocalist stood out, but even then it was contained. Again, I realize that the way I am describing this may be a bit esoteric, but it's what was described to me and I am seeking solutions. My pastor assumes perhaps there is a piece of gear that might be in use by these churches to get that sort of blend?

    I told my pastor that this could simply be a well EQ'd/mixed vocal mix and that I am not aware of any specific gear that you could run the vocals through to get such a blend, but I am open to suggestions from you folks that could correct me on this. We use a Behringer x32 mixer. My pastor has stated that from time to time our vocal mix is inconsistent.

    Thank you in advance for any suggestions, opinions, and advice you may offer.

    Blessings, John

  • #2
    John, there are countless things that could impact what you are trying to reproduce.

    I don't know you or your church, so please understand that these thoughts are generic. I'm not assuming anything about your situation and also just throwing out the first things that come to mind. Not an exhaustive list.

    1. Everything starts with good inputs. Better the singer, better the sound. When you say mega church, they may even be using professional musicians and vocalists. Are your inputs as good as theirs? (The comparison game is dangerous in the Church, but in this situation, it is about comparison.)
    2. You're right that a well EQ'd/mixed vocal blend works wonders. The engineer has a TON to do with this.
    3. The whole sound system, not just the desk and speakers. Are they on IEMs and you on floor wedges? What kind of effects and processing is used? Stage volume has a big impact on clarity.
    4. Do you rehearse enough? Practice makes above average. Our team rehearses for a couple hours during the week and then has a run through on Sundays before our first service. There are some weeks where that still isn't enough time. This goes back to point 1 & 2, but in many larger churches they are using professional musicians and engineers and (because they can) they spend long hours rehearsing and then more time in virtual sound checks.
    Travis Paulding,
    Production & Technology Director, St. Simons Community Church
    www.sscommunitychurch.com
    twitter.com/tpaulding

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    • #3
      Thanks, Travis...I know that it is difficult to offer up any tangible advise without knowing much more information. We are a church of approx 200 members (or attendees on a given Sunday morning). I am the worship leader. My typical Sunday morning team consist of 1-2 electric guitars, 1 acoustic (me), bass, keys, percussion, drums (electronic), and 3-4 vocalist (including myself). We use the quiet stage concept (all in-ear monitoring). The only noise bleed coming off the stage is from the acoustic guitar or the various percussion instruments. The "input" is solid. Our vocals are very capable.

      One of the mega churches I was referring to is as big as any across the country and I just found out that while all their worship leaders are paid positions, I was surprised to hear that none of the pool of 470 musicians available are paid. This church now has 8 or 9 campuses. I would imagine however that their sound/production crews are professionals. They can well afford it. So it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that their great mix is simply a product of well-trained professional sound engineer(s).

      My sound man is very technical, but I don't how good of an "ear" he has? By the way, we do have a mid-week 2 hour practice, as well as a Sunday morning 1 1/2 hour practice. As far effects go, I know that have/use compression on each channel and we have reverb on the vocals, but I have no clue (at this time) what those effects settings are. All of our guitars run through pedals/PODS. All the vocal mics are wireless. Our PA speakers are all mounted high up in the ceiling (16-18 feet up) and we have Crown power amps.

      Lastly, I will soon be adding a wireless pack for my guitar so that I can go out in the house during practices to hear for myself what we sound like from time to time.

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