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Mid range instruments competing with vocals?

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  • Mid range instruments competing with vocals?

    I often hear a complaint from my sound guys that the guitars and keys are competing with the vocals. But what tends to happen, is they then BURY them in the mix. We're not the only church where I've heard such a mix, basically consisting of vocals, drums & bass.

    So I'm wondering if the real problem is that our novice sound engineers need training on EQ and need to learn to 'carve' out space in the mix with EQ before dropping levels of potentially competing instruments.

    What do you guys think? If I'm on to something, are there some good EQ bands to target?

  • #2
    There may be some of that at play, but more commonly I tend to hear mid range instrument players that don't leave enough space for the vocals. You can carve out notches in the EQ to bring out the voices, but that won't compensate for a guitar or keyboard that's way too busy during vocal passages. Take any professionally recorded song and listen very closely to all the instruments. You'll notice how those instruments will come in and out between the vocal lines to fill space but not interfere with the vocals. Some of that is done in mixing, but most of that depends on the discipline of the musicians know when, where, and how much to play in a song. Because a lot of worship team musicians don't come from professional environments they may not have learned the "less is more" playing styles that come from working in a studio and how to translate that into live performance.
    The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE

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    • #3
      The dragon has it right! What I do as well, because I have a very experienced keyboard player, is ask her to play an octave above what is written, especially when the acoustic guitar is playing open chords...it really opens it up.
      Love ONE woman...MANY guitars!

      www.davidsproblem.wordpress.com

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      • #4
        I often hear a complaint from my sound guys that the guitars and keys are competing with the vocals. But what tends to happen, is they then BURY them in the mix.
        ...

        What do you guys think? If I'm on to something, are there some good EQ bands to target?
        There are guidelines. but no hard & fast 'frequency map'. Like the other guys have mentioned, it's a little more holistic.

        Check out this article- it describes it pretty well. Actually it's part of a whole series of articles about recording and mixing, etc. Really worth the read.

        http://www.independentrecording.net/...ndex.php?id=93
        If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

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        • #5
          The key to all of this is for your keyboard player and guitar player to not play as if they are the only accompaniment to the singer. It's different if it's just one voice and a keyboard or one voice and a guitar because the guitar or keyboard has to carry the entire load of both melodic instrumentation as well as bass and percussion, and that's how many guitar players and keyboard players learned to play. Let the bass and drums carry the majority of the percussion and chord progression and develop strumming and keyboard patterns that are mostly legato with light fills within or at the end of phrases.

          Here's a pretty good example of what I'm talking about. This is a live recording of us doing the Casting Crowns song "Does Anybody Hear Her". Notice the interplay of the instruments. There are two electric guitars a bass and drums. Not everyone is playing throughout the entire song, sometimes coming in and out at appropriate moments to build intensity or to soften it. They aren't competing with the voices, just supporting the voices, but each are playing their own distinctive parts that don't walk on the singers or each other.

          http://www.soundclick.com/player/sin...=12578194&q=hi

          Hope that helps give you some ideas.
          Last edited by DunedinDragon; 04-20-2015, 11:41 AM.
          The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE

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          • #6
            Something else I just thought about that might be worth a look- many modern mixers have a 'high pass filter' button on the channel that cuts down the lower frequencies. The idea is they are designed for vocal mics to cut down on the 'boominess' of the microphones. It's not a huge impact, but mixing is often a situation of many little adjustments that compound on each other. Might be worth a look.
            If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

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