Live sound mixing

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A monitor engineer and console at an outdoor event

Live sound mixing is the process of electrically or digitally blending together multiple sound sources at a live event using a mixing console. Sounds used include those from instruments, voices, and pre-recorded material. Individual sources may be equalised and routed to effect processors to ultimately be amplified and reproduced via loudspeakers.[1] The live sound engineer balances the various audio sources in a way that best suits the needs of the event.[2]


Audio equipment is usually connected together in a sequence known as the signal chain. In live sound situations, this consists of input transducers like microphones, pickups, and DI boxes. These devices are connected, often via multicore cable, to individual channels of a mixing console that allows these inputs to be modified in various ways before electrically summed. Audio signal processing may be applied to (inserted on) individual inputs, groups of inputs, or the entire output mix, usually using processors that are internal to the mixer or external (outboard).


Front of house mixing[edit]

Two FOH consoles at an outdoor event.

The front of house engineer focuses on mixing audio for the audience, and most often operates from the middle of the audience or at the last few rows of the audience. The output signals from the FOH console connects to a Sound reinforcement system.

Other non-audio crew members, such as the lighting console operator, might also work from the FOH position, since they need to be able to see the show from the audience's perspective.

Foldback mixing[edit]

The monitor engineer focuses on mixing the sound that the performers hear on stage via a stage monitor system (also known as the foldback system).

The monitor engineer's role is important where the stage area is amplified. Usually, individual performers receive personalised feeds either via monitors placed on the stage floor or via in-ear monitors. The monitor engineer's console is usually placed in the wings just off-stage, to provide easier communication between the performers and the monitor engineer.

For smaller shows, such as bar and smaller club gigs, it is common for the monitors to be mixed from the front of house position, and the number of individual monitor mixes could be limited by the capabilities of the front of house mixer.

Sound checks and technical rehearsals[edit]

For small events, often a "sound check" is conducted a few hours before the show. This allows the sound to be fine-tuned prior to the audience hearing the first song.

In recent times, many bands and venues use digital mixing consoles. The settings of previous shows can be saved and recalled in the console and a band can start playing with limited or no sound check.

On a larger scale, technical rehearsals may be held in the days or weeks leading up to a concert. These rehearsals are used to fine-tune the many technical aspects (such as lighting, sound, video) associated with a live performance.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mixing Principles". Leonard Audio Institute. Retrieved 2013-01-03. 
  2. ^ Tim Crosby. "How Live Sound Engineering Works". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 

External links[edit]