“The levels are all pre-set. Don’t touch any of them”.
Has anyone said this to you before a service? Maybe today?
If so, we know one thing for sure. It is going to be messed up. At least it will if anyone shows up for the service. Creating a mix in an empty auditorium has little bearing on how it will actually sound once the room has people in it. Anyone who has any A/V skill knows this and has experienced it. One might be able to argue that you can set up the “relative” mix ahead of time and all that needs to be done is change the “overall” volume. But human bodies are going to absorb sound of one frequency more than another. One instrument or voice may utilizing that frequency heavily and therefore, the mix is off. A much approach would be “We have it pre-set to a good starting point. I’m sure you will need to make adjustments as we go.”This is one of the more remarks that someone (who obviously isn’t a “sound person”) can say. Essentially they telling you that they got the mix to sound like they want and they don’t want you messing it up.
I just had an experience where I was playing guitar on stage with a group. After the service was over, several people noted that my guitar was “way too loud”. I simply said, “Not my thing … I’m just playing. I have absolutely no idea how loud it is and no control over how loud it is” (I was not using an amp. The House PA was the only amplification). So, when the Sound Guy was asked why he was running the guitar so loud, his response was that someone had “told him” that everything was preset … leave it alone.
Now, I don’t know who would have told him that … and at this point it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that as a Sound Guy, it is your responsibility to make the sound good. Whether someone else thinks they have it set or not. Again, it goes back to “playing the sound board”. You are a musician. Listen, adjust, listen, adjust, listen …
But, in the final analysis, as we all know, whether you touch the sound board or not, whether you have the mix perfect or not, there will be someone who finds the mix is not to their liking. Such is the lot of the sound guy.