If you’ve just joined the Sound Engineering team then this is the place to begin. We’ve put together some content that will help you grow as a Sound Engineer and serve the team and sunday services well. Have look at the content below for some videos, blog posts and more.
Next step, the desk
>>> DESK AND SCENE SELECT <<<
The Drum Cage
>>> DRUM CAGE <<<
Running a sound check
Flying a service
Sound Engineering a service is such an integral role on a Sunday, and can make a huge difference to the experience of the congregation. There’s no real roadmap or guide on how to do it perfectly, in fact it’s more science than skill, tuning the instruments to work within the ever changing landscape of a room filled with people. Juggling vocal microphones, preaching microphones, videos, feedback, volume levels, a band mix and so much more, all live and in the moment.
Whilst there’s no way to be able to plan for everything we put together some tips below that we believe will help you fly a service well.
Arrive Early - This might be the tip that has the least to do with sound but will make the most difference in your experience as a Sound Engineer. Arriving early (and using your time well) will relieve the stress that can happen when trying to figure everything out on the go. If you’re able to have the desk turned on, Scene loaded up, additional instruments added, preaching mics tested, lines tested, all before the band show up you’ll have capacity for creativity and you’ll maximise your mixing time during rehearsal. You’ll also know that everything works without 5 different people badgering you to test their instrument or mic at the same time.
Know The Songs - Learning and listening to the songs that the Sunday team are playing will give you a much better reference point for mixing than if you were to arrive without having done so. The role of the Sound Engineer is to assist the worship team to create the sound they want, if you mix a big rocking worship song like a folk band you’ll have miscommunicated it to the congregation. Knowing the songs also means you’ll know what’s key to the song, if it’s high energy guitars at the start, a driving kick drum, or a vocal lead change, mixing adaptively is best done with prior knowledge of the songs.
Take Notes - Knowing the songs is a great starting point, but taking notes during the rehearsal is a great way to prepare for any planned changes across the service.
Lead Lines - If a piano or guitar has a lead line, make sure it’s singing out over the top of the band, lost lead lines lead to boring interludes.
Worship Leaders - Know who is leading which song and make sure you know what level their fader needs to be at for them to be sticking out over the top.
BVs - Backing Vocals are just that, there to add to and support the melody, but never to overtake it. Err on the side of less.
Immersive Mixing - Our aim is to bring people into moments of encounter with God, one of the ways we can do that is by mixing immersively. Try to lift the overall volume of the worship to a level that involves the congregation, where they feel they are a part of the sound, as it encompasses them. The lower the volume the further away the band feel and the more separate the congregation feel from the worship.
Stay Alert - There’s nothing more awkward than someone on stage speaking whilst their mic is off. Eyes up, keep focused on the job at hand and make sure as soon as someone walks on to stage their mic is live. If the band is onstage, they need to be coming through FOH, there’s no point them playing if nothing’s coming out.
Take Charge of the Preach/Host Mics - Preachers and Service Hosts have a habit for taking their microphones on walkabout, putting them on poorly, or not having any clue on how to work them well. They are also most often the least interested in spending time learning. Take charge, give them their mic, and put it on for them correctly and don’t let them take it off again. Show them how to use it and verbally confirm with them how you will manage it from the desk “I’ll mute you” OR “you’ll mute yourself”. Finally, at the end of the service, find them and retrieve the microphones to return them to their boxes.
Keep the MD Mic Cue’d QUIETLY - During a service you can keep one ear to the headphones with the MD mic cue’d (PFL) to keep up to date with what’s happening on stage. Instead of waiting for the worship leader to sing the entire first verse of a spontaneous song before ProPresenter remembers what it’s called, just listen out for the MD to call the song name to the band. Keep your headphones quiet though, too loud and the whole back row will hear as well!
Take Advice, But Only From Some People - There are three people you can take advice from about your mix on a Sunday, everybody else send their complaints or advice to me instead. These three people in priority order are: Me (Worship Pastor), Andy (Worship Oversight), Service Host. If I’ve asked you to mix it a little louder and the service host comes up saying it’s too loud from the front row, smile, touch some buttons and send them to me.
EQ Cheat Sheet
If you’re wondering how to get the most out of the instruments on stage, making them sound amazing, then this EQ Cheat Sheet is a great place to start. It’s a super helpful resource and good reference for what your EQ is doing to each instrument. You’ll find a copy at the Sound Desk, and you can also download it here.