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Hints for mixing backing tracks for live performance
Old 16th November 2006
Gear nut

Thread Starter
Question Hints for mixing backing tracks for live performance

I play guitar along with backing tracks (from a laptop) and recently I had several debut stage performances. I took backing tracks from my studio CD and found out they sounded not really good in the venues where played live. Any hints how to achieve better sound of backing tracks. I understand ideally it should be mixed for each certain venue but it’s just impossible… I wonder how DJs work live in a different clubs (with different PA and venue acoustic).
Old 16th November 2006
Gear maniac
LK7's Avatar

what genre of music?
Old 17th November 2006
Gear nut

Thread Starter
Originally Posted by LK7 View Post
what genre of music?
Blues-rock, old-school stuff
Old 19th November 2006
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
Did you just take the backing tracks dry straight from the masters? If you did IMO, it's not the way to do it...

You must produce a new mix of those backing tracks. You got to over produce them or spend the time at each and every venue adding the proper effects and such.

If you did remix those backing tracks and added everything you had to make them sound good in your studio, now's a good time to reconsider your monitoring situation or those vocals in general.

The right mic for the right vocal is always key. Standing in the right position at the perfect distance from the mic is also very important. As obvious as it may sound, a good sounding room never hurts.

It really doesn't need to be mixed for each and every venue, it just has to be mixed right just like a mix for CD/DVD/radio/Internet. You're not mixing for everyone's different laptop, player or receiver.

A good mix will sound great (well sort of) on any system!
Old 19th November 2006
Lives for gear
foldback's Avatar
I played with backing tracks for several years (and made a lot more money than I do with my band :-)

My PA kept growing and growing. I used eight Bose 802 speakers and a Crown CE-4000, not a lot of bands around here could get louder or sound as good.

I wanted to achieve a real band sound with backing tracks (and did). I found that I needed to mix my backing tracks on my PA to get the best and most authentic live sound.

A year ago I threw in the towel and formed a 3-piece blues band, best thing I've done in a long time.
Old 19th November 2006
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
What a cool concept -- Mixing on the PA you're gonna use...

Why didn't I think of that?
Old 19th November 2006
Lives for gear
foldback's Avatar
I should have mentioned, I recorded all my backing tracks using a real LA drummer. I tracked real bass guitar too.

I always got a good crowd reaction, they appreciated how much I put into the backing tracks and nobody ever put me down for being a blues Karoke guitar boy singer. I just got bored and lonely doing it.

I have another friend who does a solo act with backing tracks. He works 16 nights a month. He grabs general midi files off the internet, doctors them up a bit and plays them from an ipod. It does not sound the same as my rig did but he plays all the time and people like his watered down sound.

Two different approaches, both worked.

Personally I could not face an audience with a watered down sound. It has taken a year for my new band to find a home and some success but it's slowly building and I'm having a lot more fun. sorry to go off toic.
Old 19th November 2006
Lives for gear
foldback's Avatar
OK a shameless pitch for my drummer bro in LA. His name is Jim McCarty. He sells backing tracks with drums and bass. They are licensed and legal to use. He and his bass player get a good feel and sound. You can buy the files as MP3.

His addresss is:

You won't find a nicer harder working drummer anywhere (unless you are one).

If you contact him, tell him Mark from St. Louis sent you.
Old 19th November 2006
This may seem obvious... but, I've found that recording my tracks without much compression made the biggest impact on how live they sound. The drums and bass, of course may need some, but I've found that using compression sparingly made a huge difference. I record the tracks at lower levels than normal, leaving the dynamics virtually untouched, and just crank the PA.

foldback, I think your idea of mixing on your PA is Brilliant with a capital "B".
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