In Lesson 7, we talked about one of the main uses for Aux Sends: Monitors. In this lesson, we will continue to discuss uses for Aux Sends other than stage monitors.
Most mixers have from two to six aux sends which are usually labed “Aux 1” to “Aux 6” if you have 6 of them. Generally, churches will use 1 or 2 Aux Sends for the monitors. That leaves maybe 4 aux sends for other tasks. So, what else can we use the additional sends for:
- Sends to video equipment or audio recorders
- Feeds to additional rooms or locations
- Effects Processing
In this particular lesson, we will talk about using the aux sends for sending to video and audio recorders, other rooms or radio/tv feeds. Even if you are not doing this right now, please read through this lesson. It may give you ideas about your particular environment.
Many churches record their services for a variety of reasons. I wish I had a quarter for every time I have heard someone complain about the quality of sound on a church service recording. The sound quality is notoriously bad on this type of recording. I have even heard feeds on the radio of church services where the sound was so bad that it was hard to listen to. Why is this? Because someone somewhere who is running the sound doesn’t know what they are doing and are not paying attention to the sound feed they are using for this purpose.
There is no way that you are going to send the main mix to an external source and get a good sound. Why? Because of ambient sound. Ambient sound is the sound that is in a room without any amplification. When we run a sound system in a room, we are actually augmenting the ambient sound in the room, not creating the entire sound in the room. The actual sound we are sending to the mains is just a part of what we are hearing in the room.
Ideally in these situations, you would have a completely different sound board to be used for recording video, audio or audio feeds in addition to several strategically placed microphones that are capturing the sound in the auditorium that are dedicated to this task alone. However, most churches struggle to have one sound board in place with a qualified technician running it … let alone two. So, how do you use one sound board to send a decent audio signal to another location or a recording device? Aux Sends.
For the purposes of the lesson, we will assume that we are going to need to send an audio signal to a video recorder. The video recorder has a microphone on it, but the pastor has complained that the sound that we are getting is bad (yep. If this is how you are doing it, it is). So, we advise him that we need to send a good audio signal from the current sound board to this video recorder. He says “Great!” and expects you to make it happen. So now what do we do?
First, we choose an available Aux Send for the task and label it with one of those inexpensive labelers (by the way… all of the Aux Sends that you are using should be labeled in a non-cryptic way so that anyone can tell what they are being used for. No … that SHOULD NOT BE YOUR SECRET! Remember … it’s not about you). So, after we have labeled the aux sends on the channel strips and the output section, we need to “mix” the audio that we are sending to that aux out. How will we be able to tell what it sound like? You must use headphones in this case to monitor what is going out. Set your mixer so that the aux send that you choose is being monitored by the headphones. If there is no way to do that on your mixer, you will need to monitor from the recorder (plug headphones in there). You must have the ability to hear what the mix sounds like that you are sending to the recording device.
As you are running sound, you will need to periodically check and potentially adjust the mix on that aux send channel in order to have a good, balanced signal. If you can swing it, it would also be nice to have a dedicated 27-band eq in line to give you a little more control. As I stated above, if you are flush with money and good sound people and/or you need to have professional quality sound, you should invest in mics to pick up the ambient sound and run them into a dedicated sound board that also contains the stage inputs with a dedicated sound guy on that board.
Well, hopefully, this has not been too “techy” or dry, but this is complicated stuff. In our next lesson, we will examine using aux sends for effects processing.