• Subtractive Mixing for a Cleaner Mix: Part 1

    8 comments / Posted by Bruce Ohms

    Subtractive Mixing for Cleaner Mixes

    The engineer and I had just spent several hours balancing rhythm tracks but the bass guitar was still not out front enough. I asked for more bass, but he turned to me and said, "That's as loud as we can get it." He reached up and hit the solo button on the mixer for the bass channel and pointed to the meters. Sure enough, all on its own the bass guitar was right on the verge of overdriving the board. But when those other instruments were turned back on you couldn't hear it. It was the first time I'd ever seen a visual demonstration of the limits of ever-increasing volume in the mix. The bass was as loud as we could get it without distortion, but the other instruments were masking the sound. And I had just learned a lesson that was useful far beyond the recording studio.

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  • PFL: The Sound Tech's Secret Weapon Part 1 of 2

    6 comments / Posted by Bruce Ohms

    PFL: Pre Fader Listen

    A high-performance sports car can be exciting to drive even if you don't know anything about auto mechanics. But if you are having performance issues or you want to tune the motor to perfection, you're going to have to look under the hood. With all the great features that the latest generation of mixers have to offer it is easy to get distracted by bells and whistles and overlook how useful the simple tools can be in helping you to achieve a great sound. One of those important tools is PFL (which is an abbreviation for 'pre-fader listen'). If the Digital Signal Processor on your mixer is like the sports car's turbo boost, then the PFL would be like the headlights. Sometimes you need to be able to focus your ears on individual sounds in order to make sure you're going in the right direction with your mix. But to get there you need to learn the techniques which make PFL the Sound Tech's Secret Weapon.

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  • What Can Gain Do for You?

    9 comments / Posted by Bruce Ohms

    What can gain do for you?

    If you've ever used a sound mixer larger than a tiny portable head-type, you probably noticed that each channel strip has a knob marked "gain" (or on some it could say “Trim”) at the top. You might even have figured out that when you turn it up the signal gets louder.  But what does the gain control really do, and how do you set it optimally to make your system sound its best? It turns out there is a very important reason for this almost universal feature.  Let's talk about "What Can Gain Do for You?"

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  • 4 Channel Power Amp? What Would I Do With That?

    7 comments / Posted by Bruce Ohms

    4 Channel Power Amp? What Would I Do With That?

    50 years ago The Beatles performed at Shea Stadium to a crowd response so enthusiastic that you couldn't hear the band. From the moment that Ed Sullivan introduced the band, rock music history was changed forever. It was August 15, 1965 and Beatlemania had definitely infected the US rock audience, spawning the famous scenes of them running away from crowds of screaming girls.

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  • What Your Mixer’s Gain Knob Does and How to Adjust It

    9 comments / Posted by Bruce Ohms

    Man Mixing Console

    Knowing how to properly set the gain on each channel of your mixing console can go a long way in ensuring an optimal live or studio mix for your band. The gain knob, also referred to in some instances as the trim knob, is the first point of amplification and entry into your mixer. The term “trim” is also used, because it relates the high gain of the microphone pre-amp and the knob’s trimming back this gain. The purpose of the gain knob is to control the input volume of any instrument or microphone that you have plugged into that channel of the mixer or console.

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