Mixing for Streaming: Account for Differences Between Room, Stream Sound

Many components go into a successful livestream: lighting, camera work, lower-thirds, graphics, transitions and audio mixing. The last of these is often overlooked, though, when churches put together a streaming production.

Mixing for Streaming: Account for Differences Between Room, Stream Sound
A sound board operator at Hillside Community Church works on an Allen & Heath QU-32, along with an iPad for mixing.

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Mixing for Streaming: Account for Differences Between Room, Stream Sound

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Livestreaming services has become the church’s latest way to reach people not only locally, but worldwide.

Hearing the sound in the room and trying to mix your video feed is nearly impossible to do well.

Many components go into a successful livestream: lighting, camera work, lower-thirds, graphics, transitions and audio mixing. The last of these is often overlooked, though, when churches put together a streaming production. 

Examining the basics of a streaming audio mix will give you an overall production that can seem high-budget, but achieved with a low-budget price.

Step 1: Get It from the Source

No matter what type of video equipment you’re using, be sure you’re getting your audio from your front of house sound board. While there are many things you can do after that, getting the original source will simplify things down the road. From there, you can route to another sound board entirely, use different output sends to your video switcher, or use an auxiliary output to feed a smartphone or tablet.

Most camera manufacturers are focused on getting the picture you’re seeing right. The built-in microphones simply won’t be sufficient for a space, even one as small as 50 seats. The cost of getting your feed from the sound board you’re already using is minimal, and adds immediate benefits to the quality of your feed.

If your audience can see your pastor, but can’t hear him, they will quickly tune out and probably never return.

Step 2: Understand Your Feed, Room Are Different

What you hear in the room is completely different than what will be heard on the stream. Rooms have chairs, people, amplifiers, and/or drum sets that may not be miked. There are also walls and echoes that are all part of your normal worship and preaching mix.

Over time, your sound engineer has accounted for these factors, and the mix you hear during service accounts for all of this. The mix you are getting out of your sound board has to be adjusted to compensate for these things. If you have an acoustic drum set, it may be miked but turned down in your worship space. When you listen to the livestream, it may sound like you don’t have any drums at all. The same goes for an amplified electric guitar.

If you’re using an auxiliary or headphone out to a smartphone or tablet, your options with mixing music are going to be rather limited. Doing this will still be better in most cases, though, than simply using your camera’s built-in microphone. Most digital sound boards have the ability to have different output groups or sends. This will allow you to have your main house mix and a separate video stream mix. Changing the levels on one won’t impact the other.


More About Todd Heft
Todd Heft is the director of media arts at Hillside Community Church in Bristol, Connecticut. He also serves as the Social Media Coordinator for Racing with Jesus Ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Eastern Connecticut State University and a Master's degree in Computer Information Management from Central Connecticut State University. Todd also has a full-time position at ESPN as a Senior Systems Administrator, and enjoys spending time camping with his wife and their four children.
Get in Touch: todd.heft@hillsidebristol.org    More by Todd Heft

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