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Mixing for clubs as opposed to listeners at home. Help!
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audiosymmetry
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4th May 2007
Old 4th May 2007
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Mixing for clubs as opposed to listeners at home. Help!

Hypothetical: Daft Punk is playing a live show to a blindfolded audience. Instead of bringing any gear to actually perform and rearrange the music, they just put their CD on through the loudspeakers.

Question: Performance aside, would the blind folded audience be robbed of sound quality in any way? Would the mix translate?

In other words, what are the major differences between mixing for a club and mixing for listeners at home. Are there any? Should there be any? Do electronic acts have a totally different mix they only use live? Music sounds so different when it's loud (club loud). Doesn't that play a huge factor in how I should be monitoring if I plan on DJing my music in loud bars and clubs? My main concern is for the music to sound good live, but can I kill two birds with one stone by mixing the music the same way I would if it were for a CD?
ten
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4th May 2007
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One thing worth checking is that your mixes translate well into mono. Many clubs still have mono systems so if your mixes have lots of funky stereo effects or hard panned tracks they sometimes get lost when listening back in mono or even phase issues

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4th May 2007
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Rap music in clubs

I tend to ride down the low end when doing such things as showtapes and club mixes. I've been to many clubs where the system sounds pretty bad and the engineers don't know what there doing and next thing you know, your artists are performing to mids and treble only...
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4th May 2007
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agree on the level of knowledge sometimes.
there's positive exceptions too.
and ppl. knowing how to use the room and the PA.
thumbsup

oh btw, try to avoid double posting?
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4th May 2007
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Get good full range dynamic monitors. I can not stress that enough on how little nearfields do not translate well to a top flight club PA. For me I don't super compress but like many things there is the balance of you situation. If you are playing and want you stuff to sound its best on club systems that GSA, Funktion One, etc install then let the mix breath but be well balanced. YOU have a lot of space to work with and dynamics will make your tracks kill over compressed to hell shit. On the other hand if you are just doing pub style things on little yorkville powerd speakers then a little more compression might help. Still don't over do it.

I find for the big sound I work a lot deeper in the Freq range but you also need to keep it clean. IF possible use a good mastering engineer who specializes in that sound.

Less comp though will sound louder when it hits the limiters than a squashed to hell mix. Cleaner too.
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4th May 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiosymmetry View Post
Do electronic acts have a totally different mix they only use live?
FWIW, I can make the constructive observation that I've mastered a couple of projects recently for acts in this genre that also perform live (many don't of course) and yes, they both did have separate mixes to play as a 'backing track' for their live performances. As you would expect, the tracks didn't include the main rap/lead lines and only elements of the harmonies and instruments. I can't honestly recall if they were panned more to the center or not.

I do remember that I was specifically asked to ensure that they were mastered so that they still had had the 'sound' of the release but with more 'natural' performance dynamics (ie not slammed) as I'm told this can be quite noticeable in a live performance situation as the volume gets pumped to match the excitement of a live performance. Got to keep those speaker cones moving.

I recall that one of these acts did a lot of live performance work in clubs (not in my part of the world so I've never seen them) and my guess is that they they didn't just request this for no reason.

I also have had the privilege of speaking with a very experienced and commercially successful DJ. All I can say is: You should see his rack behind the scenes. His sets sound different for a reason.
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4th May 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 807Recordings View Post
Get good full range dynamic monitors. I can not stress that enough on how little nearfields do not translate well to a top flight club PA. For me I don't super compress but like many things there is the balance of you situation. If you are playing and want you stuff to sound its best on club systems that GSA, Funktion One, etc install then let the mix breath but be well balanced. YOU have a lot of space to work with and dynamics will make your tracks kill over compressed to hell shit. On the other hand if you are just doing pub style things on little yorkville powerd speakers then a little more compression might help. Still don't over do it.

I find for the big sound I work a lot deeper in the Freq range but you also need to keep it clean. IF possible use a good mastering engineer who specializes in that sound.

Less comp though will sound louder when it hits the limiters than a squashed to hell mix. Cleaner too.
Very good post. Couldn't have said it better! thumbsup
In fact the BIG sound IS my specialisation.
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I did just that, a couple of months ago. I was finishing mixing and mastering an album of a new local act (singing and rhyming over loops and guitars) and they got their first gig. I have been asked to prepare a backing CD.
I removed the lead vox and I added 2-3 db to the drums sub group. Nothing else. Your milage way vary.
I was at the audience at the night, and it came exacly as I have imagined it will. Nice and punchy. And people were moving. The band was happy too.
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4th May 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 807Recordings View Post
Get good full range dynamic monitors. I can not stress that enough on how little nearfields do not translate well to a top flight club PA. For me I don't super compress but like many things there is the balance of you situation. If you are playing and want you stuff to sound its best on club systems that GSA, Funktion One, etc install then let the mix breath but be well balanced. YOU have a lot of space to work with and dynamics will make your tracks kill over compressed to hell shit. On the other hand if you are just doing pub style things on little yorkville powerd speakers then a little more compression might help. Still don't over do it.

I find for the big sound I work a lot deeper in the Freq range but you also need to keep it clean. IF possible use a good mastering engineer who specializes in that sound.

Less comp though will sound louder when it hits the limiters than a squashed to hell mix. Cleaner too.
I recently purchased a pair of KRK V8II's. For full range dynamic monitors, do these fit the bill at all? Also, I have a 10 x 10 square foot studio. How should I go about treating the wals if I wanna sound good in a club?
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once i get the mix sounding good in the nearfields, i switch over to a pair of jbl ion's.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiosymmetry View Post
I recently purchased a pair of KRK V8II's. For full range dynamic monitors, do these fit the bill at all? Also, I have a 10 x 10 square foot studio. How should I go about treating the wals if I wanna sound good in a club?
Well far from it!

This is a good question and probably useful for studio engineer stepping into live situation.

Studio and live mixing are quite different worlds.

Studio: clean setup, many takes for recording and you can rewind to mix it again. Two sequential jobs with many chances.

Live: non ideal and potentially hidden defaults setup. All is happening real time. Many job: tuning main audio system, often tuning and doing monitor mixes and satisfying audience with FOH mix. Only one chance per show in quite short time.

SCOPE OF WORK:

- Getting in early to identify club situation (prior phone call is good idea)
- Checking band wardrobe
- Tuning main audio system (some cabling issues, burnt speakers/drivers maybe)
- Preparing your console, insert cabling, compressor/gate and FX preset, basic gain preset and group assignments (non familiar equipment, not exactly high-end, some cabling issues)
- Tuning monitor speakers to have up to very loud monitoring without feedback (some cabling issues, burnt speakers/drivers maybe)
- Loading in instruments and setting up stage (identifying& solving problems such as ground loops humming)
- Getting complete stage setup done
- Preparing monitoring mixes
- Band comes in
- Sound check: performing FOH channels tuning & dynamics and rough mix in <15 minutes, getting band mixes about right in another 30 minutes
- Walking on stage to make sure musicians are comfortable and acoustic sound is balanced
- Band is done and walks off stage to prepare for diner
- Immediately solving remaining issues
- Crank up all mics and monitors to identify key feedback

So be ready to have to handle a very new situation which requires being methodic to prioritize problem solving from preventing the show happening.

it will require some diplomatic skills with the house engineer or any local audio person willing to help.

TARGETS:

A) 2 audiences to satisfy: the artists on stage (monitoring) and the audience in the room (main PA system)
B) If you can hire an experienced monitor engineer to handle the sound on stage and please the musicians. Well if you have to do both FOH (front of house) and monitoring -- you will need to negotiate reasonable requests, as the task is specially difficult (especially without prior experience)
C) Avoid any feedback from stage monitors with open microphones (also valid from FOH system but meaning you are ear bleeding loud)
D) Live situation is about to have an audience having fun and enjoying the performance (not having the best sound actually) and making sure that musicians are happy on stage (if not they will screw the performance, the audience will not be happy and you will be the one to blame anyway)
E) Make sure the club owner still likes you at the end of show (selling tickets were OK and you did not blew up anything)
F) Just one notice: make sure things are safe (electrical power cable, rigged or hanged equipment, cabinet to not fall over … someone's foot or fingers)

TOOLS:

1) Anyway bring your soldering iron, a Leatherman, a Petzl headlamp (to work in dark), spare connectors and spare fuses of different types ... and most precious aid: duct tape rolls
2) Live mixing is more about getting rid of problems (to reduce feedback risk), filtering off instruments to bare minimum (to reduce bleed from everywhere) and get somehow working live sound (with practice really good one)
3) Bring your own microphones if you can (they work, you know them, avoid high-end condensers)
4) The console will be your best friend (you have a great board with great preamp, EQ and lot of headroom … daydreaming) or worst enemy (it is precisely a beaten low cost club console featuring incredible amount of dust, drinks spill, and possibly leaving spiders)

OUTCOME:

Show went well: great! the audience was pleased, band also, nothing is broken (or not so expensive stuff anyway). You have been quite lucky...

Show went not so well: hopefully it was not something that could have been technically expected, band was not in the mood, audience did not show up (poor promotion, unknown style, etc.) or was not also in mood. Even a small audience can be a great one! Encourage your band: next show will be better. Energize your working crew: they did their best in given situation.

Learn from experience and be cool.

Being really professional is being cool, leaving ego at the door, focused on show happening well, working well with the local crew (they will remember if you were not particularly nice), being diplomatic with the band and show promoter and ... enjoy working on a great live show for the pleasure of the audience!

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5th May 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiosymmetry View Post
In other words, what are the major differences between mixing for a club and mixing for listeners at home. Are there any?
On the rare occasions that I play live (electronic) I always seem to wind up in big garages and warehouses. I typically go much dryer on reverb (if any) and a little more exaggerated on other effects like delay and such. I also use less compression on the master buss than I might if I were burning a disc. Seems to make a more exciting live mix and doesn't get so washed out in an already reverberant space.

Oh yeah, and more bass of course.
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13th May 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiosymmetry View Post
I recently purchased a pair of KRK V8II's. For full range dynamic monitors, do these fit the bill at all? Also, I have a 10 x 10 square foot studio. How should I go about treating the wals if I wanna sound good in a club?
Well I have a pair of speakers that way about 200lbs each. They use a compression driver and two ten woofers. They are based on JBL K2 speakers but I have done extensive work on the Xovers and stuff have been modified. I also run Classe power amps and sometimes little tube amps. They will hit clean 115dB levels and are flat down to about 25Hz. Of course I use other speakrers and get treated now and again as I do audiophile reviews.

I should also say a couple other things. We hear music different at different levels. Any good PA installer knows how to change and eq curve for a club based on that. Also you could take a 20K pair of speakers in the wrong room and have a moderate priced set of speakers in a well controled and tuned room sound way better and be more accurate. Still all things being equal I rarely play loud and for me personaly I find a good dynamic speaker similar to the ones I have running on little Class A power will give you a good idea once you learn how to adjust. Still I rarely use nearfields but I have been known to press a few dubplates to test things out.

To me its all like film. If you look at something all the time in an ipod video screen expect the compression and artifacts to be amplified on a Imax theatre. The closer you can be to seeing that product in the first place the larger your canvas to work with.

A good mastering engineer will save your day though.
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14th May 2007
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Get it mastered by someone experienced with full range monitoring, including subs, make it sound great, ensure it's mono-compatible and it should translate fine.
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26th May 2007
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Our crew has a funktion one rig with a double infrahorn. I do special mixes with no hi passing to exploit the extended range of the system. I also back off the limiter because of the rigs headroom and dynamic range. when I play out on other rigs i have a Hi pass filter, compressor and limiter that I can use to tune my set to lower performing PA's One of the advantages of using ableton, you can do quick on the fly mastering (of sorts). I agree that you dont want loads of harshness on a mix for soundsystems. Careful mixing of the bottom end is important to keep the bass energy without pushing the amps with loads of 10hz grot. generally people make too much use of the L2 and hi pass at too high a frequency (35-40hz). This will make the mix thin and brittle, not what you need when the average PA sounds harsh already.
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