Saturday, March 10, 2012

Guest: Karl Maciag - The Mix (Part 2)

 We are blessed to receive our second installment from one handsome devil named Karl Maciag.  If you missed the first part of this post it's HERE.
Devilicus Handsomicus
Is that enough on EQ? next, the auxillary section. Pay attention to pre/post fader, and if it’s available, which is on most digi consoles now, pre/post EQ. Be creative with how those are used when sending to effects, and monitors. Aux sections are kind of boring, but be aware of what pre/post options you have when you’re setting things up.

After the aux section, you’re going to run into a pan section that will  allow you to route to odd or even busses. Don’t think about pan as left/right. When you think of it as odd/even, you’ll view your use of subgroups differently…After you pan you should have the ability to assign your input to a bus. That could be a main L/R bus, or a  subgroup. Typically I do not like to route inputs to a subgroup unless I specifically want to process a group of inputs as a group. The reason is, a subgroup is another audio path for the signal to run through. I like the signal to get back out of the console as fast and easy as possible. It is possible to use subgroups as a group volume control, but if you can use a VCA, use that instead.

After assigning to your bus, you have the fader. The almighty fader. Think of this as a separate device. Faders have a specially marked line which is labled “unity”, or “0”. This means when the fader is at unity, the fader is not adding gain, or subtracting gain. What is going in, is going out. SO….start with your faders at unity, because your signal is going to come the same way as it was going in. Fader adjustments are of course necessary, but if I’m making a +/- 7dB change or that neighborhood, I start thinking I have a gain structure issue somewhere else earlier in the chain. This thought process applies to all faders. Subgroups and main faders operate the same way, so get that signal out of the console as pure as possible. Get it good up front, and send it through. The best illustration of this is lavalier, or headworn talking head mics. Gainstage the person talking, and before you bring up the fader, gain it all the way up to 0dB. Slowly bring up the fader. Chances are you won’t be able to get the fader past -15 before you have feedback, and the voice is going to sound thin and choked. Now, pull the fader down, and turn the gain down. Then, put the fader at 0, and slowly bring up the gain on the preamp. You will be able to get the mic louder, and the input is going to sound more natural and full than the other gainstage. Pass the pure audio through the faders.

After the fader, the audio moves on to the assigned bus. If you are using subgroups, remember that pan can be used to send an input to just one subgroup. Hmmm how can we be creative with this? I had a band I mixed for a couple years, and I ran typically 2 mics on the lead guitar player. In one of the songs, the guitarist played a part that sounded really cool when I panned it rapidly from left to right. It was an effect, so making it dance in the PA was fun. Twisting two pan knobs at the same time is not ideal. SO, I routed both of those mic inputs to the odd bus of groups 1&2, and then used the pan on group 1 to pan the mics from left to right in the PA.

After the subgroups, we are home free to the main bus, and up and out to hopefully some processing before we hit the amps. We’ll dig into that next time….

Stay tuned for more from Karl next Friday as he continues his guest post series.
Karl also writes his own blog at Karl's Empty Space

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