Live sound mixing is the art of combining and processing a number of audio signals together to create a "mix" that the audience or performers at a live show hear. There can be a variety of different mixes required, depending on the performance requirements. Three types are: Front of House (FOH), which is primarily for the audience; monitor, which is exclusively for the performer(s); and recording or broadcast (cue), for special purposes.

Whenever sound reinforcement is needed for a live performance of either music, theater, spoken word, or sporting events, a specialized sound system is required. The primary goal is to cover the audience area and stage with a sufficiently amplified signal. The stage or monitor mix is necessary to enable performers to hear themselves and any other parts of the performance as needed. Also, the proper monitor mix can minimize time delays on large stages to help synchronize the performance. In addition, the stage mix can overcome the level of the house sound which can be confusing to listen to on the stage.

The source of sounds for a mix can be electronic musical instruments, acoustic instruments, playback of pre-recorded sounds and music, voices, other sounds ambience, and/or sound effects. This part of the sound system generally comprises a number of microphones on the stage, to pick up acoustic sounds, and/or a wide variety of other electronic signals.

If the mixing is to occur at a distance from the stage, it is customary for the individual signals to be balanced, low impedance in order to have noise immunity and retain their frequency spectrum. Widely differing levels can be accommodated in modern sound reinforcement systems. An additional requirement is to run the signals with standardized connectors and wiring.

A mixing board, a number of speakers (passive or active), power amplifiers, a number of audio processing devices, and the cabling, rigging, and power system to connect all of these components is usually what makes up a complete Sound Reinforcement System. Having the sound mixed or manipulated in real time is required as things are happening live and need constant minor adjustment. Some performers prefer to have the interactions of live musicians translated to the audience directly. An example of this is the old style bluegrass group using only one microphone. The musicians balance their ensemble sound by ear, and move toward the mic to emphasize solos. On the other end of the spectrum are musical or dramatic productions which can have many dozens of individual sources and dozens of sub-mixes out to dozens of speaker systems to deliver the proper mix to each of the performers.

A live sound engineer can mix the sound from the audience position, from a specialized control room, from the stage, or a remote truck, depending on the performance requirements. A trend in large scale theatrical productions is to minimize or eliminate the amount of sound equipment in the audience area so as to retain more seats for the audience. Elaborate digital control systems can be utilized for this purpose. For larger and more complex sound systems, more engineers and technicians can be required. The two primary engineers are the Front of House (FOH) engineer and the Monitor Engineer. The Front of House engineer mixes the sound that the audience hears in the house and the Monitor engineer mixes the sound that the performers hear on stage. A live sound engineer refers to a person that is experienced in the set up and operation of a sound reinforcement system.
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    Front of house engineer
Two FOH consoles at an outdoor event. Each console is typically dedicated to a single band or artistThe front of house engineer controls the mix for the audience, and most often operates from the middle of the audience or at the last few rows of the audience from an equipment area known as the "Front Of House Position" or "FOH". A front of house engineer will often use a variety of processors and effects to provide a particular style to the mix. As with the monitor engineer, front of house engineers are constantly listening to the overall blend in order to make decisions about adjusting the volume and frequency of each instrument or voice on stage. The front of house engineer often makes decisions about which effects devices to use and adjusts their relative levels and blends to meet his or her interpretation of the musical requirements of the song.

โดย: BaCkSTaGe...หล่อ ๆ [10 มิ.ย. 53 10:07] ( IP A: X: )
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    Monitor engineer
The monitor engineer's role is most essential at music events, as opposed to spoken word events. In most cases, each performer on stage has their own individual mix that is custom tailored by the monitor engineer to suit their audio needs. The monitor engineer is then faced with the challenge of pleasing anywhere from four to ten or more musicians with a good mix. Though monitor speakers are still in use today, the newest monitor system is what is known as an In Ear Monitor (IEM) system. In Ear Monitors look somewhat like hearing aids, and they are basically a pair of headphones that are custom molded for the musicians' ears and therefore greatly reduces the outside noise that they hear. This isolation protects the musicians' ears from being damaged from the long durations of high volumes that they are subjected to on a large stage. It also allows them to hear their individual mix with more clarity. At the largest and highest budgeted of concert events, each musician is hearing their own individual in ear mix. This involves much more than simply mixing the sound, but requires a great deal of additional audio processing to increase the quality of the performer's mix.

โดย: BaCkSTaGe...หล่อ ๆ [10 มิ.ย. 53 10:08] ( IP A: X: )
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    Set up, tear down, and technical rehearsals
The other duty that the live sound engineer serves is the set up and the tear down (removal or striking) of these sound reinforcement systems. For large tours and events, this is often a long (sometimes multiple day) and strenuous process. This will involve unloading the equipment, moving it all into the venue, setting up the systems and then sound-checking. For larger events the engineer will be assisted by a number of audio technicians some of whom may be responsible for maintaining the system during the show while the mix engineer focuses on the sound of the show. After the show is done, the live sound engineers and techs must tear down and load out the sound system for the next show on the tour. The tear down will often take significantly less time than the set up, due to the fact that there is a much more obvious end objective (i.e. having all the equipment packed into the trucks).

Live sound mixing is an art form in its own right as there are a number of different ways that the mix can be done and a number of different ways that the final mix can sound. The live sound engineer very often has at least a basic musical understanding so that he can make the proper decisions on how to mix different types of music and different types of songs at a concert.

โดย: BaCkSTaGe...หล่อ ๆ [10 มิ.ย. 53 10:10] ( IP A: X: )