FOH Essentials For Every Sound Engineer

20 October 2014

Andrew Starke is one of the finest audio engineers on our team.  He mixes Front of House for many of our key events around the world, including Hillsong Conference, Hillsong Worship tours, and most Sundays at our Hills campus.  He’s incredibly gifted and diligent in his craft. He works hard to bring his very best as worship unto God.

Here are some great tips he’s learnt along the way about what every FOH engineer can do to get better.

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1. Mix to the room.
Every room is different and every room sounds different when it’s filled with people. You always have to change what you do to fit the space.

2. Learn the parts.
As engineers, we don’t need to know how to play all the parts, but we do need to know what to listen for and where it features.

3. Don’t fixate on the little things and miss the big things.
It’s easy to become so preoccupied with trying to get one mic to sound better, that you miss making the other 40 work together (I see this happen ALL the time).

4. Look up.
Don’t bury your head in the console; look at the room, gauge the response and respond accordingly.

5. Mix to connect people to the song.
You don’t win prizes for making it sound like a CD. Mix in a way that engages and not just entertains.

6. Take the congregation on a journey.
Every song builds, with peaks and valleys, so don’t set your mix and leave the faders in the same place. The mix should move as the song does.

7. Step out of the booth.
Connect with other people in church! Build relationship and trust with your team and leaders.  Go to the platform before and after services and chat with the musicians and singers. Begin to work together on crafting sounds and tone that don’t just work at home, but also in the FOH mix.

8. Use your ears, not your eyes.
It’s music—not a formula.

9. Set yourself up for a win.
I see so many people chase their tails because they haven’t taken the time to setup their console in a way that supports what they are trying to achieve. They end up spending more time trying to ‘make it work’ than they do engaging in the creative process.

10. Mix to connect people to Jesus.
I believe the best FOH engineers have a prophetic edge to what they are doing. They can understand what God is doing and know how to mix to support that moment.

Starke