Saturday, November 15, 2014

Men With Hats

I don't like to wear a hat when mixing because it blocks out some of the sound. Tonight, I mixed the show with the hat on -- because it blocks some of the sound.

Specifically, the way I'm configured now, reverberant sound dominates at the mixing position, but direct sound is prominent in most of the seating (I'm located behind and slightly above the audience, not within them as with a proper FOH position). And the psychoacoustics are drastic; with the reverberant sound in my ears, the mix sounds muffled and boomy. With the reverberant sound partly blocked, the mix sounds clear and possibly over-bright.

It gets even more complex since the band is in a pit under the forestage and being pushed out of stage monitors; their sound has a higher fraction of its energy sent into the reverberant sound of the hall. Which means that using the reverberant sound as a guide, the voices are low in relation to the band. Using just the direct sound as a guide, however, the voices are too loud in relation to the band.

And a hat turns out to be about the right level of partial blockage to give me confidence in the house mix but not steer it in the wrong directions.

I'm also making a conscious effort to keep my head up, looking at the stage. "Everybody look at your hands" is bad advice for an FOH mixer. Dave Rat goes so far as to turn his mixing desk sideways, to further reduce the temptation to bury his head in the knobs and meters. I've got this show programmed and trimmed to where I really don't have to look down very often to confirm I've got the right thing up. And I'm basically done with tweaking EQ, so no need to be staring at the displays during the show, either. Like a lot of recent shows, though, there are so many scenes, I still need to flip script pages occasionally to remind myself of what's coming up.

The eye is one of the stronger guides to localization of sound in an environment with conflicting or confusing sonic clues. Watching the stage helps you hear the show the way the audience does, with your attention pulled into lips and faces and the input of those additional clues to help sort out the sonic mess.

So all to the good...even if it is not, yet, safe to dance.

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