Pro-Audio Blog!

Live Mixing Tip: Loud Keyboards

You learn something new everyday: Last night’s mix included a keyboard player – always a nice touch. Though I was surprised to hear, at their last big song, a lot of high pitch squealing coming from the keyboard! (Yes, direct in, listening on the cans). Weird! motifApparently, if the keyboard player is using something like a rock piano, or some other fairly bright piano patch (from a recorded sample library (as is the case with many of the best piano synths out there), and is really hammering on the keys, the inherent slight ring that all real pianos have, can take over in a most unnatural way. This is because when each key is hit, it plays the recorded sample of that specific key, at that specific dynamic. – So we can end up with six, seven, eight keys being pressed at once, with all corresponding samples playing at the same time. Now with an acoustic piano, there is only one piano body or frame. With these samples, we end up listening to many of the same piano frames, greatly exaggerating their response. Add it all up, and bang! 7 notes, and effectively 7 entire piano’s worth of inherent acoustic properties.
So pro tip, remember to check with the keyboard player during sound check, to see if any of their patches react like this. Get them to play some of the material from their loudest parts, and listen and see. It’ll really make a difference!

An Introduction to Our Passion

Fate would have it that I’m writing my first post while looking from the window of an Air Canada flight back from London, England. It makes me feel like I’m one of those well travelled and slightly quirky entrepreneur types you read stories about. In reality, I’m based in Ottawa, Canada and support a variety of sound and AV ventures here. My name is Alex Benn, live sound consultant and purveyor of all things to do with how sound and audio equipment behaves in your real world/space/church/studio… 

My goal here is to do my absolute best to explain the practical and relevant concepts that we as sound engineers, integrators, production directors, and designers are faced with every day. But I want to convey it all in a way that your techies at a local church, music venue or meeting space will understand. To give them the knowledge to tackle the challenges that I know (because I’m the guy they call) these places all undeniably face.

Maybe you’re wondering, “why should I read what this guy is writing? What does he know?” Well after working as an assistant at a hidden gem, but certainly big-ticket studio called The Signal Path (www.thesignalpath.com), I quickly wore in my boots freelancing for a variety of production and AV companies in the region. I’ve handled sound broadcasts, church services, you name it.
Currently, I spend my days at Wall Sound in Ottawa, as their service manager. I’ve also taken on what is called a “Portable Church” in vibrant Westboro called Westvillage Church in Ottawa. I like to keep up my chops mixing concerts at Carleton University in the evening. Between these places, I get to continually learn, design, experience, and teach all aspects of how sound and sound systems work.

Well enough about me, I’m sure through these entries you’ll get to know me, but lets get on to the fun stuff (I call it fun, some people think I have a strange definition of fun). I’m off to help a few churches next week with problems they’ve been having with their BOSE automated mixing equipment. Maybe I’ll fill in a post about that?

Thanks for reading! – Alex Benn