Improve Your Church Livestream Mix and Audio Online

Does your church’s livestream mix sound bad? You’re not alone. Most church’s don’t have professional audio engineers on staff. It’s usually a volunteer who’s managing the “front of house” mix and the livestream mix at the same time (and usually with cheap or antiquated sound gear). It’s no wonder churches struggle to make their livestream mixes sound great.

John Dirks (from The Livestream Mix Co) is here to solve that. In this episode, John will teach you the secrets of a great livestream mix, how to get a good mix no matter what kind of gear you’re using, and many tips, tricks, and hacks you can use to improve the sound quality of your livestream mixes.

If you enjoy this episode, please send it on to your church’s sound tech with a note of thanks and encouragement.

www.thelivestreammixco.com

 
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Transcript

Alex |

Welcome to the worship Ministry training podcast, a monthly podcast for worship leaders who are serious about growing in their craft and calling. My name is Alex, fellow worship leader. Super stoked you’re here. And if you’re a new listener, I’m going to encourage you to hit that subscribe button because every single month I’m going to give you helpful, practical guidance that you can immediately implement into your ministry. Hit that subscribe button and then go back through the past nine years of episodes and binge listen your way to a healthier ministry. If you’re someone who is really serious about growing as a worship leader, I’m going to want to point you to the worship Ministry Training Academy. What is the academy? It’s an online training platform that will give you everything you need to build a thriving worship Ministry. You’ll get 10 in depth courses on topics like set building, team building, musical excellence, vocal technique, and more. You’ll get live monthly training workshops on topics that are relevant to you. You’ll get exclusive expert interviews with some of the best worship leaders in the world. You’ll get done for you ministry admin systems and audition process, onboarding documents, team training materials, and even team discipleship materials.

 

Alex |

We will take care of you so you can focus on leading your team. If that sounds like something that would be of help to you, you can try the worship Ministry training academy for just one dollar by going to worshipministry training. Com. Sign up today for your one dollar trial and I hope to see you inside of the academy. Let’s get into today’s episode. Hello, everybody. We are talking today about improving our live stream, and I have resident guest expert joining us, and that is Mr. John Dirk. John, welcome to the podcast. How are you doing?

 

John |

Doing great. Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

 

Alex |

John, tell us a little bit about yourself, tell us where you’re at in the States and what you do and why you are the expert at live stream mixes.

 

John |

Okay. Well, I am living around Kansas City on the Missouri side. My wife and I live in our family. We just live about an hour and a half north. I grew up in the church. My mom and dad are pastors actually in our hometown, and me and my family serve at their church. I’ve been doing that ever since I was a kid. When I was six years old, my parents started the church and I started leading worship when I was 13 or 14. Then from there, I started to get into music production and really started to become a gearhead and love the behind the scenes of how music was made and worship. I ended up starting a solo project, a worship project, and I produced those records and mixed those records. Then I started doing it for friends as a hobby. Then from there, I just decided to focus only on engineering. T hat was in about 2019. I switched everything to just mixing records and called some buddies in Nashville and called some buddies in Los Angeles and started working with labels and artists and producers in that area. I’ve been doing that for the past three and a half years now.

 

John |

Last year, just through relationships that I had started with different churches, evidently, sometimes people would ask me to mix their live stream, and they would have a recording of it, and they would send it to me and we’d go in and we’d tune the vocals, we’d cover over mistakes, and we’d mix it, master it, and then they’d upload it to YouTube, or they’d stream it for a special Christmas service or something like that. And so through doing that, I thought, man, we’re getting really good results. We’re able to make these live streams almost sound like studio projects. What could we do to bring this to churches on a wider scale? How can we offer this for churches who are doing special services, churches who need their podcast mixed? How can we give them access to professional engineering? And so that’s when we started the Livestream Mix Company. And it started off basically just as a tool to build templates for live streams. And we would take church’s tracks from their live stream, and we helped them mix out a template just for them. And then from there, it grew to doing more and more podcast for churches and sermon mixing for churches.

 

John |

And here we are now doing this, and it’s been awesome to see the feedback from all the churches we’ve been working with.

 

Alex |

Yeah, that’s great. So you are the man of all things mixing for churches. And that’s why you are here because I think so many of us when we moved online in COVID, a lot of churches moved online for the very first time. And not big budgets, not a lot of tech, not a lot of trained sound engineers on staff or anything like that. Most churches don’t even have a staff sound person. And here they are trying to figure out how to make it sound good in the room and sound good online at the same time with a volunteer. And it’s just like recipe for disaster. And so you’re going to teach us how to sound good online. And you’re going to do your best to teach us. It’s up to us to actually learn and retain the information you teach us. There you go. I want to start with mistakes. What are some of the biggest mistakes you see churches make when it comes to mixing their live streams? It could talk about any direction you want.

 

Alex |

Yeah.

 

John |

So the most common reason that a live stream sounds bad is because the church is just taking a mix off of their front of house console. And that works great if you have a really well experienced front of house engineer. I know some very massive churches who do that, and they sound good, but it’s because the inhouse mix is so dialed in that it works for online too. So let’s remove that scenario out of the equation because the mistakes are unfixable there. You don’t want to remix your live stream because then your room is going to be up. So if you’re taking a feed off of your front of House console and that’s where you’re at, that’s fine. But let’s leave that situation out and talk about people who are mixing specifically for live. So maybe they have a separate console, maybe they’re going into a DAW, whatever. For those people, I think the biggest mistake that I hear, number one is drum sampling, and number two is not enough ambience. So whenever I listen to a live stream, nine times out of 10, it feels like I’m outside looking into the room. It doesn’t feel like I’m there.

 

John |

And the goal of any live stream is to give your audience online the feeling that they’re there experiencing it with you, whether they’re shut ins, whether they’re sick, whatever it is, you need to make sure that they still belong and feel like they belong. A lack of room microphones, a lack of a revert, just plain and simple. Turn the revert up. But you want to feel like you’re there and that it’s coming from all around you. And then, like I said first, the drum samples. So many churches that I watch and you see this average band, maybe four, five, six people, and you see an average sized room, but you just hear this enormous drum kit that sounds like it belongs in a stadium, and it really disconnects. First of all, it feels a little inauthentic, but then it also feels like you’re not there because you know you’ve been to that church. It doesn’t sound like that. And so I think that creating a live stream that feels like it is a part of what you are as a church. It’s an extension of you and makes people feel like they’re there is paramount.

 

Alex |

So room mic s, where should people put the room mic s? Let’s just say someone’s a complete novice. They’re listening going like, Oh, my gosh. Where do I start?

 

John |

You could go to college to learn how to place room mic s. It can be incredibly detailed and complex, but I would say nine times out of 10, if you can get two microphones and put them right in front of the stage, preferably just behind the speaker or just underneath the speaker, facing out above the heads of the first row, you’re going to be good. That’s about all you need. Nothing fancy, no X, Y pattern, nothing like that. But if you can just get any two microphones spaced out across the stage, pointed out above the head of the first row, you’re going to be in a good spot to get started anyway with room mics.

 

Alex |

Okay. Condenser mic s or dynamic?

 

John |

Yeah, it doesn’t matter a whole lot, but you just want to make sure that whatever mic it is, it’s not driving. So if it’s a condenser mic, you just want to be mindful that you’re not completely driving the actual head, the capsule. Dynamic mic works fine too. I would recommend a condenser. That’s probably going to be your best bet to start out. But if you don’t have anything going right now, then you could put up an SM 57, and that’d be a great place to start.

 

Alex |

Okay, so just get some mikes up, everybody. Now, also wasn’t on the question list, but let’s just say there are churches listening that don’t have the option to have a separate mix to their live stream right now. And I know there are many. So any advice just on that front of like, how do you manage both the room and the live stream? And then we’ll move into some of the more advanced stuff where there are separate consoles or DAs for that. But just for the person who’s stuck with a front of house console that they have to figure out how to send a mix online, any advice there?

 

John |

Absolutely. So I think that the number one thing is, if you have the ability to mix separate levels, which usually you do, you send to a separate bus, it’s not literally the front of house mix. You do have the ability to change levels on every digital board. Let’s assume that’s the case. I think the biggest thing is going to be start with your rooms and your vocal. And the reason I say that is because since you don’t have the ability to really tailor any of the EQ, you want to make sure that people can hear the singer and you want to make sure that the ambiance is there. And you’re going to find that you’re going to actually use less of the direct drum sound because you have so much in the room and in the vocal mic. So rather than starting with the drums and then trying to push those things up and now you just got way too much drums, start with your rooms and start with your vocal, create the atmosphere, then start bringing in your drums and then fill in with the rest of the band. And that’s going to be a great place to start, getting you a better all around mix that still feels full and present.

 

Alex |

That’s such great advice. Thank you. And just for anyone listening, it’s basically like you’re sending a monitor mix to your… You’re mixing an ox channel or a bus or a monitor mix to your front of house. It’s the concept here. I mean, not to Front House, but to broadcast. Okay, perfect. So thank you and thank you for sharing some of the mistakes we make. Now, again, there are two different ways to mix broadcast. One is with just the console, like an actual sound console, sound board. And the other is through a digital audio workstation, aka a DAW like Logic or Ableton or ProT ools. And I know you have a preference and we’re going to talk about that in just a second. But before we do, what are some general methods of mixing for broadcast that apply well to both situations, whether you’re using a DAW or a console? So what are some things that we can keep in mind as we mix for broadcast in either circumstance?

 

John |

Absolutely. I think a lot of what I would say is going to be a repeat of what I just said, and it’s that you just want to make sure that you have your rooms and your vocals feeling right. So if you’re mixing on a console and you do have the ability to change all the EQ and all the compression and all of that, you want to make sure that your rooms and your vocals are sounding great. The other thing I would recommend is a good monitoring environment. Now, a lot of churches ask me, what speaker should I buy for my room set up so that we can monitor. And unless you’re going to have a really well treated room, nine times out of 10, it’s going to be better if you just mix on headphones. It’s going to be more cost effective, and you’re going to have a much better mix because the room isn’t going to be trick ing you. And if you guys don’t know anything about room acoustic, room is about 60 to 70 % of what makes up a good monitoring situation. What I mean by monitoring situation is the combination of speakers and reverberation in the room.

 

John |

That’s your monitoring situation. Speakers make up about 30 to 40 % of it. You could get the best speakers in the world, but if you’re mixing in a closet or a room that has too many early reflections, it isn’t going to matter at all. So that said, I always recommend that people use headphones unless they’re really going to invest on a good room. What that’s going to allow you to do is it’s going to allow you to hear your low end a lot better. Another issue sometimes that I hear in live stream mixes is that the kick drum is very hot because they can’t hear that low end or the bass guitar is really loud. Or on the converse side, maybe those things are barely present and there’s no low end at all because when they listen in their room, there’s a lot of low end, so they overcompensate and turn things down. So recommendation number one, get your rooms and your vocals right before anything else. Recommendation number two, get a good pair of headphones so that you can make sure that your low end feels cohesive with everything else.

 

Alex |

That’s so good. And one of the Academy members, we’re going to answer this question at the end, Joseph, so we’ll ask this question at the end, but one of them is asking, What headphones do you recommend? But we’ll save that for our Q&A session with our Academy members. But but now that you’re talking so much about room mikes, I do have another question regarding that because it sounds like they’re so paramount to making the mix sound great. Is there a certain EQ pattern that you recommend with room mikes, so that it’s not muddy, or so that it’s not too bright, or so that it doesn’t tonally mess up with the rest of the mix? Any tips on that?

 

John |

Absolutely. So that’s going to depend a lot on the room. If you have a very boomy room, the room mikes are going to feel very boomy. On the other hand, if you have a thinner room or if the mikes are placed just in the right spot where some of the boom is being canceled out by the room modes, then you need to listen to the room mic and start by filtering. I always filter all of the room mikes down to 12K or 13 K. I don’t want any of that high stuff in there competing with the symbols or the top end of the vocal. Then I filter out the bottom end up to about 100, maybe something like that. Then the next move is to take a shelf, not a bell. And this is another thing that I recommend for a lot of people is that you use as few bells. If you know what an EQ is, you know what a bell is. It’s the little thing that you can drag up and down. Use as few of those as possible when you’re mixing for live or in the studio. So the shelf is just a literal shelf.

 

John |

And you’re going to bring down from about 4 to 500 Hertz, a nice gradual slope down, and just start shelvesving down the low end until it feels balanced with the top end. You don’t want any room. And then as you mix, if you start bringing your kick drum or your bass guitar up, you can continue to bring that shelf down if you need more clarity in the low end. But again, you don’t want to go too far because that’s what’s going to make your mix really bloom and feel wide on the sides is when you have a little bit of low mid energy coming from the outside and it makes you feel like you belong in that room.

 

Alex |

That’s good. So everybody, experiment with this, okay? Trust your ears and do what Jon’s saying. But really, every situation is unique, so you have to take what he’s saying and then put your headphones on and tweak your… And you can do all of this with a after the fact mix, like when you record yourselves and you play it back through. What is it called? Something sounds like.

 

John |

A virtual sound check.

 

Alex |

Thank you. Virtual sound check. Great. So let’s talk now about your preferred method of mixing. You got the console version, but then you have the digital audio workstation version. I’m guessing that’s your preferred method for mixing live streams. Can you tell us if that’s true and why? What are the benefits of using a digital audio workstation?

 

John |

Sure. So it is my preferred method, and here’s why. The reason that people love to use a console is because it’s much faster than a DAW, and there’s no denying that. You can bank between faders way faster than you can scroll with a mouse. You have the faders literally at your fingertips rather than having to work with a mouse. And so it is much faster. With a DAW, you have to be a little more cautious, you have to click more buttons, but you can buy a controller that has faders to control your DAW. With every downside of a DAW, there is something out there to fix it. That’s why I prefer a DAW. It’s more versatile. And if you’re willing to put in the work or the money, you can make it as simple as you want. We’ve made some extremely simple DAW templates, up to very complex ones with auto tune, midi switching, and control surfaces to control the faders that are in the DAW. There’s a lot of options out there. But DAWs are my favorite just because of the flexibility. And I can explain this more later, but they end up being a lot more volunteer friendly in the long run once you get a good template set up.

 

Alex |

Yeah. And I think also with the DAW, you just have so much expandable power. If you have a console, you’re stuck with what you get, what you bought. But if you have a DAW, you can keep adding plug ins as long as your computer can handle. And honestly, Mac with the new M processors can handle a bunch of plug ins. And so really, you can take your mix as far as you want to and make it as complicated as you want to as well. So the flexibility there and the power there is huge. And like you said, now they sell faders that can map on to your computer so you can actually mix like you’re mixing live. One thing I didn’t ask you that I want to go back and ask you before we move on, is you talked about the importance of having a designated room that sounds good and is potentially, I don’t know if you said this or not, it’s detached from your sanctuary. Because one of the problems that we have at our church is our broadcast engineers mix in a room. It used to be the nursing mother’s room, and there’s glass windows there.

 

Alex |

It’s attached to the sanctuary. And all of that low end is just rumbling the wall. And so they have to, like you said, they’ll overcompensate by turning the low end down in the mix because they think it’s there, but it’s not actually there. So do you have recommendations? If someone’s thinking about setting up a little broadcast room somewhere, do you have a recommendation for placement?

 

John |

Yeah, just what you said, get it as far away from the sanctuary as you can, or build a double wall with an air gap in between. Do a two by six wall with a small air gap and then build it out with a lot of insulation to try and mitigate some of that low end. But at the end of the day, if you feel like you’re in a compromise listening environment, you’re going to want to jump into headphones. If not to be on all the time, at least to check because I still do it. I have a well treated room, a studio, and when I’m mixing studio records, it’s just me. There’s no bass coming in, but I still check on headphones because the room, it’s just always going to play a little bit of a trick on you. Plus, a ton of people are going to be listening on headphones anyway. So it’s a great idea to just at least have that option.

 

Alex |

Great. Thank you so much for going back there with me. Okay, so DAW is the preferred method. And let’s say someone’s listening and they’re like, Okay, I think my church can squeeze that out in the budget. What do they need to do to set that up? How do you set up a computer to get signal from your front of house console? What’s the technical set up? Let’s not go overly technical, but general overview.

 

John |

Sure. So if you have a digital console, which I’m going to assume that most churches do at this point. If you don’t, if you have an analog console, the first step is going to be to upgrade the digital. And you can do that for pretty cheap. You can do it for anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. You can get a Behringer X 32, about $1,000, $1,500, and that’ll get you there. Let’s assume now you have the digital console. If you have a Behringer or maybe an Allen & Heath SQ or a Yamaha, you’re going to want to run a USB cable out of the back and then you’re going to run it into a computer and that console will now act like an audio interface and it’ll be recognizable on your computer as an input device. So you’ll go into your DAW, whether that’s Logic Studio One ProTools, and you’ll go to options and you’ll select your board as the sound card or as the input output device for that DAW. And then as you create tracks, it’ll be one to one just like your console. Track one in your DAW will be channel one on your console.

 

John |

There’s a lot of consoles out there that do not have USB capability. I was working with a client just the other day. For those situations, you’re going to have to buy a card that goes in your console. Like, if you have an console by Allen & Heath, you’re going to need to buy a Dante card. If you don’t know what Dante is, it’s pretty simple in a nutshell. It’s a network that connects mixers with other mixers, mixers with stage boxes, mixers with computers. It’s called an audio redistribution protocol. Once you set that up, you’ll be able to use Dante to get the signal into your DAW.

 

Alex |

That’s great. Yeah, we use Dante at our church. Just so everybody understands, it’s basically like an internet port and Ethernet cable connects your devices and it sends the audio through the Ethernet cable. So if that helps explain further what John is saying. Okay, so let’s talk about actually mixing then. So let’s say we’ve figured out how to connect our computer to our front house console via Dante or via USB and the different methods you described. And now we’ve got signal. First of all, do you like to lay out your channels in a specific order? Does it matter? Is it just preference? Do you have any thoughts on that?

 

John |

I think it’s probably just preference. Ever since I started this, I’ve always done drums, bass, guitars, keys, vocals, percussion, and room stuff at the end. And so that’s how I’ve always done it. It makes sense in my brain because when I mix a studio project, I’m usually starting with the drums, and then I’m getting the bass in there because I want to get the low end foundation first. Then I add the guitars because there’s a lot of power there, and then keys, a lot of it can be in high end stuff. But all of that is just preference. At the end of the day, what you want to do when you build a mix is you want to start with the most fundamental part of a mix. If it’s worship, that’s going to be drums, the hook line, whether that’s coming from a key or a guitar, and the vocal. That’s what people need to hear. And so it doesn’t really matter how you lay it out as long as it’s the same every time, you know where things are at, and you have a good color coding system too, is where everything is separated by color.

 

John |

And so you can remember, anytime I see a yellow fader, that’s a bass guitar and helps you navigate a whole lot quicker.

 

Alex |

Great. Okay, so with that set up out of the way, then, let’s actually make our mix sound good. The first thing I want to jump ahead in the questions I sent you and ask you, how do we fix a dull live stream mix? Because I think that’s probably the number one question that everyone here is like, my live stream mix sounds so dull. Where’s the life? So how do you breathe life into a mix? What’s your secret, Jon?

 

John |

Absolutely. So let’s talk, I guess, about it from a philosophical point of view, because this is how I understand things and I understand engineering, and I hope that there are people out there who see it the same way. When you think about a term like warm or bright or loud or full, what we’re trying to do when we use those terms is convey a feeling that we get when we listen to something. My job as an engineer is to take those terms and break them down into practical, technical things that I can do to give my client that feeling that they want. Just this morning, I had a client text me and say, Hey, this mix, it feels like it needs to open up, were the words that they used. It’s my job to interpret, open up into an action plan and figure out how to do that. So let’s take what you said. How do we make a dull mix come to life? I think of three things. Number one, I think of top end, brightness, the high frequencies that come from S’s that come from symbols that come from symbols, that come from the top end of a guitar or the fuzzing of a key texture, it makes me think of that.

 

John |

And then the other thing it makes me think of is transient, which is the beginning of any audio wave form. So let’s take a drum, for example. If you’ve ever seen a drum hit, it has a sharp peak and then it has what’s called a decay. That peak is called the transient. A vocal has the same thing, it just isn’t as sharp. But when you start a word, there’s always a front and then there’s a decay to any word. So when I think of dull, I think of no transience. I think of just a bunch of decay. And so we want to come up with an action plan to get our mix, those two things, brighter, bring up the high end, and get more of that transient, which you could also call attack. So the best ways to do that are number one with EQ, number two with compression. Compression is going to help you get the transient to pop out. So if you put a compressor on a vocal and you adjust the attack time, I don’t want to get too technical, but as you adjust the attack time, it’s going to allow transient to pass through the compressor, and then the compressor will clamp down on the decay time, in effect, bringing the transient up, making it feel more aggressive, punchy, alive, giving all those energetic feelings.

 

John |

Same thing with drums. So compression is a great thing to use. Eq, also a great thing to use. If the vocals are dull, take a shelf, not a bell, take a shelf and bring up the top end. Start around 5,000 Hertz all the way to the top and just start bringing it up until that vocal feels more alive and you can do that with every instrument.

 

Alex |

Yeah, that’s really helpful. And that’s the how to make your live stream come alive. And I love how you talked about translating what people want. You have to take these very vague musician terms. I need it to open up. And you have to figure out what is this guy talking about, or what is this girl talking about? And you have to translate and then make it happen in reality. I love that. What are the most impactful tips, tricks, hacks that you use to make a live stream sound great?

 

John |

So I think that the primary thing is not over processing. And it feels a little contradictory after I just said that you need to use compressors and EQ. But at the end of the day, we want things to sound as much like themselves as possible. When you begin to overdo things, you shoot yourself in the foot and it makes your mix feel very small, very tight, and very closed off. I think that number one, what I like to do is I like to get the leveling figured out and bring up the instruments without any compression, without any limiting, nothing like that, and let them breathe, let them do their thing. Then start to identify what’s the problem here? What is jumping out at me or what is too loud or what is whatever? And before you think, Let’s put a compressor on it to bring the level down, try just turning it down and then see where you’re at after that. And once you’ve got all that figured out, then start to use limiting or compressing. Now, again, without getting too technical, I prefer limiting to compressing because what a limiter does is it allows the instrument to behave as it normally would until it hits the ceiling and then the limiter says no more.

 

John |

You shall not pass. I like that because for the majority of the time, the instrument is still flowing and it’s still free to get loud and quiet as opposed to a compressor, which most of the time is always clamping a little bit, depending on how you use it, but it’s a little bit more heavy handed. So I would say don’t overdo things. Start by just leveling. And once you get your leveling down, then start to make subtle moves. Don’t boost 10 DB on the EQ right away. It may need that. I have done mixes where it needed that, but not right out of the gate. Make sure that there isn’t something else that’s bothering you and your attention is misplaced. I’ll give you a great example. I was working on a mix and I felt like, man, it just needs to be brighter. I just need this whole thing to feel alive. And so what I did is I went in and I started bringing the brightness of the whole mix up with an EQ and I started brightening the vocals. I had to go back later and undo it all because really all I needed to do was turn the overhead symbols up and then fix the whole thing because I was missing top end information.

 

John |

And so instead of trying to generate top end information out of thin air with an EQ, just bring the top end instruments up a little bit and see where you land then.

 

Alex |

That’s a great point. And I always say the best way to improve your mix is to start with a great source. And so if your mikes aren’t placed correctly on your stage or your symbols are cheap or whatever your guitar is cheap, or you don’t know how to pick a good DI that makes your guitar sound warm, whatever. If you’re sending bad signal, you have less to work with and you have to do more work to make it sound good. And it’s better just to get it right at the source at the capture point. So I love that you bring that point up. With that in mind, are there any things that you can’t fix via post processing or mixing? I’m thinking of drum bleed in the vocal mikes. What are some of the things that people try to fix with the live stream mix, but it needs to be fixed downstream. Is there anything like that?

 

John |

Drum bleed is a great example in vocal mikes. That’s just something that everybody struggles with. Even some of the biggest churches with the biggest stages are still going to struggle with that because the drums are just a very loud source. So I’ll dive in on that really quick, and then I’ll do another example. But I think that a good myth to disband is drum shields. Drum shields do very little to affect drum bleed whatsoever. So having one is fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. And it does help, but it’s going to help a whole lot less than you probably imagine. The far better approach to eliminating drum bleed is teaching your singer’s better mic technique. If your singer’s are closer to the mic, you’ll be able to half or even third your drum bleed. Whereas if you put a shield up, you’ll reduce it by maybe 10 %, maybe 15 %, and even then it’s only going to be some of the symbol bleed. You’re not even going to touch the low end because, again, frequencies just pass through a piece of glass like it’s nothing. It’s nothing to them. Anyway, I would say the number one thing is get your singer away from the drums if possible.

 

John |

Teach them not to walk right by the drum kit while they’re singing. Walk around the front of the stage or stay off to a side. But the other thing is keep that mic close. And if you’re going to do a moment where you want to pull away, do it in a ballad. Do it in a slow moment because that’s when mic technique and playing the mic really matters anyway. If you’re starting off with Only King Forever or something like that, there’s never really going to be a need for you to back off the mic because the whole song is pedal to the metal the whole time. So stay on the mic, drums are going to be rocking, and give your front of house guy a leg up by giving him a good, clean signal. He can turn you down if it’s too loud for him. But then during a ballad, you can always pull away a little bit because it’s just since in a guitar and it’s not going to matter as much. So that’s drum bleed.

 

Alex |

Hold.

 

John |

On, let’s stop there. Another thing…

 

Alex |

Everybody, that is amazing. And please go back and listen to that and teach your singers how to sing properly. And in the musical excellence course, I actually have a mic technique module. And just simple thing is it’s not an ice cream cone. You don’t hold it down here. You hold it with the diaphragm pointing at your mouth and two fingers away from the cone, the mesh thing. I did not sleep well last night. Sorry, my brain is not working. So two fingers away because if you’re tissing it, it’s going to give your sound guy the proximity effect, which means all your base frequencies are boost. But if it’s too far, you’re losing information as well. And so let your sound guy not have to gain you up a ton. Give them two fingers away distance with the diaphragm pointed right at your mouth, not below your mouth like an ice cream cone. Okay? So great, great, great tip. Thank you so much. And if you do that, your sound guys will love you more and your mix will sound better. That was a free way to fix your mix right there, everybody.

 

John |

Yes, 100 %.

 

Alex |

You said you had another example. What was the other one?

 

John |

Yeah. So another one is out of tune instruments. And it sounds dumb, and I don’t want that to be offensive at all, but it’s just really, really important. If you have a keyboard, it’s fine, right? It’s not going to go out of tune. But if you have an electric guitar or if you have an acoustic guitar, those things matter a lot. They just do. They matter a lot. There’s no way to fix it. Just like an out of tune vocal, you can fix it, but not really. You can make it a little bit better, but you’re never going to fix it. People are still going to know it’s an out of tune vocal. And so that is a huge thing. Another thing that I think goes untalked about is the pocket in a band. There have been a lot of mixes that I’ve done on the post side, not live, but on the post side where we’re just not feeling the mix. No one’s liking it. It’s not working. And we’re trying to do all of these EQ compression, all of these processing moves. And then we realize, oh, wait, I think it’s just because the acoustic guitar is dragging.

 

John |

And so it’s hitting like a slam against the the Snare Drum. And we start tightening those things up, and all of a sudden everybody loves the mix. And so I think pocket and playing in time and having a good performance obviously. You guys are all probably shaking your heads, but that is going to be more important than anything you could do on the postproduction side. And this isn’t a course on how to get your band right. This is a thing on mixing. So I’ll leave it at that. But definitely don’t underestimate tuning and pocket to making a live stream mix just sound amazing.

 

Alex |

Yeah. And I do have a course on how to get your band right. Go to Alex. Yeah, everybody who’s already in the academy, please go through the musical excellence course. It’s literally 43 lessons. It’s the longest course I’ve ever made, and it’s as in depth as I possibly could have made it. So check it out if you have academy access. If you don’t have academy access, join us inside. That would be great to have you, worship ministry training. Com. Okay, commercial over. All right, so let’s talk about a couple of final things. Do you put any limiter or mastering plug in chain on your output that you send to broadcast? Because I know in the olden days, back when I was a kid, broadcasting mix. It had to have a certain amount of DBS to be broadcast via the satellites and stuff. And obviously, when you go to watch something on your computer, you want the volume to stay consistent, whether you’re watching a video on YouTube or something on Netflix, there’s probably some industry standards. So what are you doing on the final send out to the world to make it complete?

 

John |

So what I shoot for, and there are some technical standards out there, more for the TV side of things and broadcasting to networks. But if you’re just on the Internet, there is really no standard. Those companies will turn you up or down to fit their criteria. But a quiet mix sounds like a cheap mix. So rule number one is you want to air on the side of loud. So when I’m mixing, I am always shooting for the loudest possible mix that I can without making it sound distorted and without making it pump and crunch with the limiter. I have a limiter, I have a multi band compressor, I have some harmonic saturation. I have a bunch of things that we put on the mix bus because not only is that for loudness, but it’s for glue. There’s something special about affecting all of the signals at one time rather than each individually. I’m not a cooking expert and I don’t know if this even applies, but I imagine it in my brain as you add salt to the tomatoes and then you add salt to the oregano and you add salt to whatever, or you could just add salt to the whole thing in the pot all at the same time.

 

John |

And I don’t know if that would make any difference or not. Again, I’m not a cook. cooking guide, but on the mix bus, it matters. It is a really nice touch to add a little bit of saturation to the entire thing all in one pot. And then, of course, the limiters and compressors are really good too. So the answer is yes, put stuff on your mix bus, get it as loud as you possibly can without it crunching and distort. And when people click on your live stream and it comes out loud, it’s not going to blow them away. You’re not going to be able to get it that loud to where it’s going to be painful for them. It’s going to be really hard to do that. But if it can be louder than the last thing they heard or the last video they watched, it’s going to give a sense of professionalism that you… It’s like a cheat code. It affects people in a very powerful way when things are loud. The clients that I work with in studio projects, there’s something called the loudness wars in the music industry, especially in the mainstream or the pop side, and they want it loud.

 

John |

They want it to be the loudest song ever released because that’s what’s going to give them a leg up. When people are listening through a playlist on Spotify and they hear that loud song, it just always sounds better. That’s why when we get hyped up about a song, what do we do? We turn it up, not down, because it sounds better. It affects us and it hits us in a more emotional way. Same thing goes for live streams.

 

Alex |

I love that. Yeah, because if it’s too loud, people can turn it down. But if it’s too quiet, they can’t turn it up enough. And so it’s better to air on the side of loud. I love all of that. Okay, couple of things I want to do. I want you to tell people where to find you, what you offer. But I also, if you’re willing, I want you to give us some one or two secret sauce things that you do that really no one has thought of, or it’s like your signature thing that really makes a mix sound great. So let’s start with where people can find you, so they have to listen to that. And then you can tell them this awesome little tip at the end to close things up. And then we’ll move into our Academy Q&A.

 

John |

Sure. So you can find us on Instagram, the Livestream Mix Co, on TikTok, the Livestream Mix Co, YouTube, the Livestream Mix Co. And then you can find us on our website, the Livestream Mix Co. Com. And you can check out some of the different videos we put out and more about our services there. In a nutshell, what we do is we help churches get their live stream to sound great. And we do that through two paths. One path is post mixing for churches who just want to send us tracks or sermons or podcasts, have us mix them, and then they can take them and upload them to social media for promotion, YouTube, TBN, wherever they’re putting their stuff out to. We’ll mix it. You can put it out to your people. The other path is actual live stream help, in which case we build templates. So we’ll take 4 to 6 to 8 weeks worth of multi tracks from your church. We’ll import it all into a template. We’ll create an individual channel profile for every member of your team, and then we’ll send you back a fully mixed template that your volunteers can sit down and use every Sunday.

 

John |

And we’ll give you training material to help you get started with that as well. So that’s what we do. And you can book a consultation with us through the website or send us a DM on Instagram if you’d like.

 

Alex |

Yeah, guys, I highly recommend it. And, John, you have the perfect business because you’re educating everybody to the point where they realize, This is too complicated. I don’t want to do it. He’s smart. I’ll just hire him.

 

John |

That’s right. You don’t want to do it.

 

Alex |

By yourself. So if you guys feel that way, you can go through all the pain of trying to watch every YouTube video on how to compress each person, each instrument, and all of that. And that’s great. If you want to educate yourself in that way, do it. But if you’re just like, Please save me, I’ll pay you. It’s worth my time, or it’s worth the church’s time. It’ll immediately improve your mix, and it’s very affordable. So reach out to John on his website. That would be great. Okay, John, what is your secret or one or two secret hacks, secret sauce that really, really just bring things home? And then we’ll move into our Q&A time.

 

John |

Okay. So there’s a lot of smart guys out there, so I’m not going to claim that I’m the only guy doing this. But these are a couple tricks that I use on studio records, and I don’t know of many studio engineers who are mixing live. So I hope that these are unique things that I can bring and that can grow the live world. But the first thing is, never 100 % replace your Snare drum. Always, always, always leave the bottom Snare mic completely raw and let it be the life of the drum kit. Also, leave your top Snare in there mixed in as well if you can. Use a sample, but leave that bottom Snare to give life to your drum kit. I think that’s a great one. And then I already said it before, but not filtering out your overheads too much, leaving some bottom end in those is massively helpful. That’s my drum thing. My other thing is limiting. And again, this is a technical thing, but when we build out a template or any mix that I do, all of the vocals go into what’s called a vocal bus. So they all send to one single channel that contains all of the vocals.

 

John |

The drums do the same thing. They all bus into one drum channel. And I’m sure a lot of you already have this on your sound consoles. You have a drum fader. You might call it DCA. This is a little bit different than that, but it’s a single source where all of the instruments in that food group are being fed to. I limit on every single one of those busses just at the end about one DB, one and a half DB. And what that allows is it allows me to get about an extra two or 3db of loudness on my master chain and you really don’t even hear it. And it saves me from having to compress so much. And limiting sounds way more natural. So that’s my second hack. Try and limit where you can. Limit on your busses before it goes to your final mix bus. So if you get the chain here, it’s like individual channel, routes to bus, bus channel, routes to mix bus, limit on the bus and limit on the mix bus as well. And you’re going to get a lot more open, a lot more lively, a lot more authentic and musical mix.

 

Alex |

Awesome. Well, guys, I hope this episode was encouraging to you. And if you are listening after the fact, God bless you as you serve the Lord. Just keep working and hacking at your live stream mixes or reach out to John at the Mix Co. Is it the mix co.

 

John |

Com? The live stream mix co.

 

Alex |

Com. The live stream mix co. Com. Thank you. And yes, so God bless you guys. If you’re listening after the fact, I’ll see you in the next episode. For the Academy members, we’re going to jump into our Q&A. Hold tight, just one second. Thanks for tuning in today. I hope this episode encouraged you, helped you, and pushed you forward in your ministry. If it helped you, can you take a second and help us by sending it to just one person that you think needs to hear this? And if you’re feeling extra nice, leave us a nice, shiny, five star review on Apple podcast or like this video if you’re watching it on YouTube. If you want to discuss this episode or ask questions, we do have a free section in our Academy where you can post comments and questions and chat with other worship leaders just like you and also sample some of our courses. And you can go to worshipministry training. Com free to join us inside the free portion of the academy. If you’re looking for more, check out the Full Access Academy. You can get 15 days for just one dollar to start and try things out.

 

Alex |

Again, you could try all of it for 15 days for just one dollar by going to worshipministry training. Com. Hope to see you inside the academy, or else I’ll see you next month for another helpful episode.