Mixing for Streaming: Right Mics, Placement Crucial to Quality Stream

Your live stream will benefit greatly from nice, consistent levels, so spend some time experimenting with parts of the signal chain, until it sounds natural.

Mixing for Streaming: Right Mics, Placement Crucial to Quality Stream
When working on the right mix, recognize that from your front-of-house console, the FOH mix and a broadcast mix have a couple of big differences between them.
Mixing for Streaming: Right Mics, Placement Crucial to Quality Stream
When working on the right mix, recognize that from your front-of-house console, the FOH mix and a broadcast mix have a couple of big differences between them.

Mixing for Streaming News

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Mixing for Streaming: Right Mics, Placement Crucial to Quality Stream
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One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “How can we get our church’s live stream to sound really good?” It’s a great question, and a lot of churches struggle with this.

Whether you choose to hang microphones or place them on the platform, make time to experiment with getting the placement just right, as it makes an incredible difference.

I wrote an article on the Worship Tech Director website back on June 22, 2016, about this very topic, entitled, “Mixing for Streaming: Finding The Right Levels For Music, Speech.”

That piece provides a nice overview of the various components of a good broadcast (live stream) mix.

In this piece, however, I will go into greater detail on two particular points that come up often in conversation: getting great audience sound, and building a broadcast mix from your front-of-house console.

One of the most important objectives in mixing for broadcast is to make the viewing audience feel like they’re connected to the live, in-person experience. The way we do that is by careful use of audience microphones, just like the way the video team may use wide camera shots of the room to establish perspective. Without audience microphones, the broadcast mix will feel disjointed and the viewers will feel isolated.

The hardest part about using audience mics is simply experimenting with where in the room they sound best.

You want an overall sense of the space, especially during congregational singing and applause, but you need to get the distance just right. If the mics are too far away from the congregation, they will sound dull and uninteresting; if they’re too close, you’ll single out just a few people. You’ll also want them spread reasonably far apart, to give a sense of spaciousness, and don’t forget to hard pan them in the broadcast mix.

I am often asked about which type of microphones you need to capture the audience for your mix. The good news is that you can use just about anything as audience mics, although small-diaphragm condensers (SDCs) are very common for this application. However, I’ve seen people successfully use just about every type of microphone available. Ideally, I think you should probably start by experimenting with SDCs if you can, but don’t be afraid to use whatever you have; something is better than nothing. 

In many cases, you’ll get the best results by having the microphones hanging overhead, as long as their location and aiming will reject sound from the PA. For example, we use Neumann KM-185’s at Lakewood, because we can hang them straight down and let their hypercardioid pattern naturally reject the PA. On the other hand, many people get good results from having the microphones on the platform, pointed toward the congregation. And, microphones with this “stage perspective” can also be used as “ambiance” for worship leaders wearing in-ear monitors.


More About Brad Duryea
Brad Duryea is an audio engineer based in Houston, Texas, where he is the director of audio technology for Lakewood Church. He can be reached via Twitter: @bradduryea.
Get in Touch: brad.duryea@gmail.com    More by Brad Duryea

Latest Resource

For Lighting Design, What Software Is The Right Match For Your Needs? (Part 3)
Dig into this final part of a three-part series that looks into choices for lighting design software, including Vectorworks and LightConverse, and how each can best serve the needs of your church.


Article Topics

Technology · Audio · Team Management · Leadership · Spiritual Health · Team Development · Broadcast · Condensers · Congregational · Console · Dynamic Range · Experimenting · All Topics

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