<p>Mixing live sound is one of the most fun yet challenging aspects of music, and the ability to mix both in the studio and live makes a good audio engineer in high demand. Let&#39;s take a look at the basics of mixing live sound, and how you can be quickly on your way to learning to mix.<br/><br/></p><h3>Getting Started</h3>In most situations common for smaller bands, you&#39;ll be in a club with a less than stellar PA system. That&#39;s not to say you won&#39;t find a club that&#39;ll surprise you. In this article, we&#39;re going to be taking a look at mixing live sound from the angle of an aspiring engineer, not necessarily a band who&#39;s bringing their own PA system with them.<br/><br/>When you&#39;re faced with mixing sound, the first thing to take into account is the room itself. It&#39;s easy to overdo it; you really need to <b>only reinforce what isn&#39;t easily heard in the room</b>. When you&#39;re in a small room, amplifiers and drums are very easily heard naturally, especially in a very small space. Putting them through the PA will do nothing but make it sound messy in the room. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to keep it simple.<br/><br/><h3>Mixing Vocals</h3>The vocals are the most important part of any small-room mix. Making sure that they&#39;re loud and able to be heard clearly throughout the room is of utmost importance because they&#39;re no competition for loud guitar amps and drums. The biggest factor you&#39;re going to have to compete against is monitor feedback. Check out the <a href="https://www.thoughtco.com/monitor-mixing-101-1817737" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="internalLink" data-ordinal="1">guide to mixing monitors</a> for information on killing feedback before it starts.<br/><br/>One technique I prefer to use is <b>subgrouping</b>. On a lot of boards, you&#39;ll have the option to group channels together to one fader, with the ability to insert a compressor across the whole group. This way, you can compress the vocals all at once (saving you valuable compressor room if you&#39;re limited in the number of comps you&#39;ve got), and you can also double-bus - meaning, put the vocal in the subgroup as well as the channel itself - to get some extra gain.<br/><br/><h3>Drums</h3>Drums are a difficult thing to mix live. In order to deliver the best-sounding mix, you need to take stock of what you can hear in th room naturally, without amplification. Most drum kits, in a small room, won&#39;t need any amplification past the kick drum.<br/><br/>For a good small room, I prefer to mic the kick drum, as well as the snare. Toms generally don&#39;t need any amplification, as they&#39;re generally not played enough to warrant dedicated channels. If you&#39;re in a club that holds, say, between 250 and 500 people, you may need to mic them. If you&#39;re low on microphones, you can put one microphone for every two toms, placing them in between. Depending on the quality of the kit, you&#39;ll need to compress.<br/><br/>Overheads and cymbal microphones are of low priority. Even some small clubs that hold less than 1,000 people may not need amplification on the overheads. Sometimes, I&#39;ll mic the high-hat in a small room if the drummer plays it softly, but generally, it&#39;s not necessary.<br/><br/>I prefer to compress the kick drum separately, and EQ with a boost in the mid frequencies. I also, as usual with most channels, cut out everything below 80Hz.<br/><br/>Here&#39;s another tip: if you&#39;ve got a loud snare, but still want to add reverb to it, you can switch the reverb send on that channel to pre-fader instead of post-fader. That way you can still send the snare signal to the reverb unit while not actually putting any in the house!<br/><br/><h3>Bass &amp; Guitars</h3>Quite simply, in most small rooms, you won&#39;t need to mics the guitar amps and bass cabinets. In fact, I&#39;m almost always finding myself having to ask the players to turn them down because they&#39;re too loud in the house. Sometimes you&#39;ll find you need more definition in the bass guitar, or your drummer will want more in their monitors. In this case, I&#39;ll put a DI box between the guitar itself and the amplifier. That way, you&#39;re in total control of the tone, and the amplifier on stage can still do its job as the player wishes.<br/><br/>Acoustic guitars are a different matter. Sometimes, you&#39;ll find players with an acoustic amp, but those generally don&#39;t cut through the mix well. Putting a DI box out for the acoustic is the best way to get the best sound; you&#39;ll need to carefully EQ it to avoid feedback. I always keep a Feedback Buster - a specially-designed round disk of rubber sold in most music stores - to lend to guitarists who don&#39;t have one. These block the majority of the frequencies from entering the guitar&#39;s soundhole, which prevents the major feedback problems you usually get.<br/><br/><h3>In Closing</h3>Mixing live sound isn&#39;t easy, but once you get the hang of it, you&#39;ll be doing fine. It&#39;s really a lot more than just riding faders and setting gain, though; don&#39;t be afraid to really dig into the more technical concepts like compression and EQ. You&#39;ll be a much better engineer for it. Of course, mixing in a large club is completely a different deal - you have much more flexibility and you&#39;re fighting less with the loudness of the instruments in the room. But for most situations, following these tips will give you the best sound possible!