recording vs. live

what the heck happened to the forum?

Good grief, apparently it’s been a while since I’ve been on this thing – seems like the forum changes fonts, color and size every time I login!

So the question is this: you all have taught me a lot about EQ’ing, panning and effects in the recording studio. I understand the principle, “trust your ears”, but there’s a lot to learn from looking at the various EQ tweaks, reasons to pan, reasons NOT to eq (and how and when and where and why).

Now, how do you feel about that information --STUDIO information, mind you-- as it translates into a live gig? Do the same rules hold true (obviously the room could and most likely would over ride your desired settings a lot) in the live gig, or are there other, more important considerations?

In other words, when you’ve got a 24 channel mixer board and there’s drums (no mikes – too small a venue), 3 vocals, two guitars, a keyboard and bass, do you try to pan, eq and in essence separate parts like you would in a studio, or is this an entire new skill set? Does one skill set compliment the other, or do I need to throw everything out the window, and learn all over again?

Your turn.

The biggest difference is that you’re mixing to enhance what you can already hear. In the studio there isn’t anything coming off the stage. Most of the same stuff applies thought.

Live the idea is to give everyone in the room the same mix. That puts a huge damper on studio type panning since someone sitting in front of the left side of the PA isn’t going to be hearing what’s panned to the right.

Most PA’s aren’t stereo so it doesn’t matter, but if you are lucky enough to have a stereo PA the there are effects that can be used that won’t take away from the mix when hearing just one side. These are ambiance effects (reverbs), and most stereo chorus and phase effects. They can be used to widen the stage and make it sound like it’s coming from “out there somewhere” instead of “right there”.

I used to make great use of a Roland Dimension-D for that purpose. I also used an Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress (flanger) to make fake stereo through the PA by panning the dry signal to one side and the output of the effect dead centered. Since the effect also contained the dry signal 180 degrees out of phase there was some neat effecting that sounded great when combined with the sound coming off the stage. That effect will work in studio mixes but it’s much more picky in the studio. It’s almost a 3D effect coming out of two speakers.

Regardless, the idea is that if something is coming out one side then it needs to be coming out the other side so folks over there can hear it, but it doesn’t have to be effected the same way.

Phoo gives excellant advice as usual. One other thing to keep in mind in small and mid size venues is stage volume. Keeping stage volume down and letting the PA do the work makes for a better room mix.