All Posts by Kevin Ward

About the Author

Live Recording Mixing Tips: Mix The Audience Last

I’ve been mixing the web broadcast for a church in Denver called Flatirons. Their video production is the absolute best I’ve seen. I went to Denver to check out what they were doing and ended up mixing for them for a while. It’s been a pleasure and I’m learning a ton. Here’s a tip that I’ve been doing on the Flatirons mixes.

There are 3-5 songs each week plus a teaching segment. All in, it’s
little over an hour of material. I mix each song individually… even though it is a linear file that’s 48 tracks or so.

I import my template (that I’m custom designing for this process) then dial in the first song. I then mix that song (name it 01 SongName-mix)… tweak it, tune it etc. then I move to the next song and name it… you guessed it 02 OtherSongName-mix).

After I’m finished mixing the musical pieces, I send the mixes to the musical director for approval. but then I add a 5th session to it. I call it the “layback”.

Since I print the mix inside each individual song, all of the mixes are right there on a track. I then make all of the tracks “inactive” and hide them from view leaving only the 4 mixes, the audience response mics (house mics) the host mic, and the teaching mic (the pastor). I then do another linear pass adjusting the audience mics accordingly to make you feel like you were there.

I leaned something from a man named Eldridge Fox so many years ago. If you remember the legendary Southern Gospel group the Kingsmen, you will remember it seemed they did as many “live” records than they did studio records.

“I want to hear that little old lady in the back if she laughs or if she cries”

Eldridge Fox

Eldridge told me that the most important part of a live recording was the response of the audience. “I want to hear that little old lady in the back if she laughs or if she cries”. The Kingsmen’s live records were VERY energetic… and not because of the giant personalities on stage, but because Eldridge was so adamant about audience response.

So I do a whole automaton pass JUST to get the audience response up. When the speaker says something funny, I want to hear people laugh.

I believe that live worship recordings is the way of the future. If you are interested in the future, you should learn to master the art of “capturing” a worship service.

Is Gain Staging Important?

Are subtle fader moves as subtle if your fader is not close to zero?

Check out this video I did on Facebook a few days ago.

As I was #mixing #vocals in #ProTools, I discovered something cool. #gainstaging is important… here’s why.

If you want to learn more about gain staging, check this out too.

Easy Way To Make Drums Sound Big

I was doing a full tutorial the other day and thought I would show you some of it.

In this particular video, I concentrate on making sure that the phase is right... Nothing really complicated... just listening in mono and inverting phase when the need arises.

Hope you find this helpful. We have TONS of these kinds of videos in their entirety on

How To Uncompress A Snare with A transient Designer

Ever had a snare that was compressed too much leaving you with too much attack and not enough body? This little trick saved me on my last mix. Maybe you can use it too!

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This is a song that we are covering on MixCoach Member right now. Try it out for 14 days for a buck!

Mix Like Monk

Have you ever watched one of those great detective shows like Monk or Columbo where the he asks seemingly random questions and then, without fail, he solves the mystery?

Mixing can be a lot like solving a mystery sometimes.

If you have mixed with me at any time you know that I’m a big fan of cross-referencing mixes. But I want to talk to you about cross-examining your monitors.

Sometimes when you are talking to someone about a story, the story gets skewed depending on who is telling you their version.

I think of my speakers and my headphones and my car as witnesses that each have a slightly different version of the story… and therein lies the truth of the mix.

Pictured: Barefoot MM27Gen2 and Not me.

Pictured: Barefoot MM27 Gen 2 and not Kevin Ward… or Monk or Columbo.

For example, I have a great set of Barefoot MM27 Gen 2 reference monitors. You’d think that with the price tag they came with, they would tell the complete truth all of the time. They don’t. They give a great story about where the low end is.

I have a set of NS-10Ms that I use for mixing too. The have been pretty much a staple in the industry, but they don’t tell the whole story… they tell me where the vocal and snare drum sit in the mix.

I have a set of Yamaha RHM-5a headphones. Now you would think that given the price ($50), that you really couldn’t believe what they say, but you can. Especially if you interview these witnesses and compare their story with the others.

I also have a Honda Element that is proving to be much more than a solid form of transportation.

If I over compress… even a little, my “most expensive monitors” will tell me that I need to go back and lighten up a bit on the limiters.

ColumboIf you are learning to mix, do yourself a huge favor and “go Columbo” on your mixes.

Figure out which questions your speakers can answer the most accurately.

Doing this consistently will tune your ear to what really sounds right in most places… and over time, you will become quicker at hearing the truth when you hear it.

So what am I missing? What speakers are you using and what is their story?

How To Unzip without Unzipping Software On A Mac

The other day, I was having trouble unzipping a file that someone had sent me.

After a short panic, I did some research and found a very cool way to unzip files using the Terminal command line.

Sounds intimidating, I know, but this is a quick and easy way to unzip files without external software.

PLUS, you’ll see a bonus hack on how to move files around on your mac


The Dropbox Mix Hack

In the not-so-distant past, we had to run a CD to listen to a mix on my most expensive monitors (My Honda Element). And before that, we had to listen to mixes on cassette! I know, I’m showing my age here.

But in the past few years, I’ve found a great way to listen to mixes without having to take the time to burn it to disk.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or maybe you are just now getting into mixing, you’ve heard of Dropbox. It’s a virtual hard drive that lives in the cloud… meaning you can access it from anywhere you have an internet connection.

So here’s my hack to use it to listen to it anywhere I have an internet connection.

Create a folder on your computer called “Listen” or something you will easily recognize. Then, as you finish songs, you can just drop a mix (I recommend an mp3 for sheer download speed) in your “listen” dropbox and then go to your car, pull it up on your phone and listen with new ears.

The Dropbox Mix Hack

There’s even a place for you to comment on each mix there in the side bar.

When you get a mix ready for your client to hear, just share the link to the song or the folder. Then use the comments feature to get input for your revisions. You can even @tag them!

Since I’ve found this hack, it’s saved me tons of time from having to burn CDs.

So do you have any “let’s listen to this in the car” hacks to share?

Crazy Trick To Help You Hear Details In A Mix

Have you ever wanted to take two mixes and be able to tell EXACTLY what the differences are in them? Or maybe just to verify that there ARE not differences?

Maybe it’s two guitar tracks that look the same… maybe you get a master back from your mastering engineer and you want to hear what he did to make it sound that way?…

Extreme Triggering – How To Trigger The Un-Triggerable

Hey guys.  I just came across this bonus content from MixCoach Member earlier today and I though it might help some of those who have problem drums that no triggering software will help.

Have you ever had one of those snare drums that no matter what you did, it seemed that you were just guessing how to trigger a snare?

This is a tutorial that I did for my members at MixCoach Member a little while ago.

You can watch how I go about triggering a difficult snare to make it sound radio-ready.

If you are not a member at MixCoach, you can actually try it out for 14 days for only $1. We’d love to have you as a member.

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