1. Know Your Routing
Most live stream mixes are created by an aux mix from your mixing console. It’s important to know if that mix is setup pre-fader or post-fader. If your aux mix is pre-fader, the levels for your live stream mix will operate independently from your main mix. If your aux is post- fader, the levels of the live stream audio will be affected by the house mix, and respond to any changes in the house mix. Depending on how you want your workflow optimized, this could be either advantageous or frustrating. Additionally, many digital mixers have various options for signal “insertion points” in your aux mix, so it’s very important to know how your mixer routing is setup for your live stream aux mix.
2. Monitor Your Mix
Since you’re creating a mix that’s disconnected from the energy and live room sounds of the vocalists and instruments performing, it’s very important to have a way to separately monitor your live stream audio. This can be done from your mixer, possibly from the video encoder you’re using, or from listening to the live stream itself on the platform you’re streaming to. However you choose to do it, make sure you’re monitoring your mix!
3. Adjust the Mix
As mentioned above, to get a good sounding audio mix for your live stream, you’ll have to mix it a bit differently than your typical house mix. What’s most considerable is that sources that are very naturally present in your house mix, like drums, electric guitar amps, and sometimes even acoustic, may need to be mixed into your live stream audio more significantly than in your house mix. If you use subwoofers in your house mix, you may also have to account for differences in how you mix the sources that would typically be handled by subs. Bass may not seem as present, and backing tracks may sound either brittle, weak, or even louder than normal. If you’re monitoring your live stream audio separately from your house mix, you’ll be able to notice these differences and make changes accordingly.
4. Use More FX
Don’t forget to mix your FX returns into your live stream mix! A mix without any reverb will typically sound small, boxy, and very flat. Adding in your vocal reverb will give a sense of space to the vocals. Also, it may be helpful to add some reverb to a few other instruments like acoustic guitar or piano to help open the mix up and help it feel more natural. Remember, nearly any live sound mix you’ve created would have natural reverb from the room, so you are probably used to hearing more reverb than you think! Additionally, sources that have a large dynamic range can become a bit unwieldy in a live stream mix. Don’t hesitate to use more compression than you’re used to on sources that have a large dynamic range. Finally, remember you can use some compression and reverb on your live stream mix as a whole if necessary.
5. Mix for the End User Device
It’s important to consider the device through which your live stream audio will be consumed. Most end users will be viewing your stream on their phone, tablet, or television, all of which generally have very small speakers that are not made to reproduce music the same way your house PA system does. You’ll never be able to get the low end of your mix to sound great through the speakers in a phone or tablet. Boosting too many lows in your live stream mix will likely cause the speakers on the end user device to distort.
On top of that, many of these devices are optimized for vocal reproduction, so you may actually want to mix your vocals a little quieter than you prefer in your live stream aux mix, knowing they will come through a phone, tablet, or Tv louder than you are used to. Of course, monitoring the live stream on the type of device your consumers will be using will help you solve these issues. Make sure you’re monitoring your mix! If you have any questions or concerns about any of the above mentioned live stream audio tips, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the installation department at Off The Wall Music. You can contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a message at the store at 330.365.9726. If you’re currently experiencing difficulty with your audio, livestream setup, or PA gear in general, please contact us. We’d love to help!