How to get the most of broadcasting live, a sound engineer’s perspective.

The liveliness of the music scene given current events is a true testament to the creativity and tenacity of musicians, this can be seen by the number of live sessions popping up over Facebook and such like. We thought it would be useful to ask, Calum Martin of CMPS, how to get the most of your live broadcasts.

I am writing this in regard to the recent surge of online streamed house concerts and or videos, especially on Facebook, YouTube & Instagram of late. It is becoming ever more popular by the day, which I can’t see stopping anytime soon. If you have, in the middle of planning or keen to indulge your audience with such online content and if the sound is important to you, (it really should be), then please take note of what I am going to tell you now:

PA Systems – Yes or No?

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If you are planning to do this, then I would imagine you are fortunate enough to be stuck indoors, with not only your instrument/s, a microphone or two and all necessary cabling. Great, you are set!

You DO NOT need to setup a pa system in order to perform!! – I can’t stress this enough. (The majority of people will be listening via tiny speakers on their phone or tablet), why does this matter you ask? The pa will more than likely be too loud and your built in mic that you are using to stream will overload,(distort) quickly and in turn make you sound bad! So leave the pa system packed away. On the plus side your neighbours and your back will thank you for it over time.

Digital FX – Less is more!

A large number of the streams I have watched and more importantly listened to, the reverb, delay and echo people have had in the mix is just far too much. I imagine you won’t have lots of control when it comes to the type, decay, pre delay and so on.

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If you can only dial in how much you want, then just add a little to thicken things up. If you have lots of reverb – when you are chatting between songs, then you will still sound distant like you are in a hall for instance, washed in fx when talking isn’t good. (It isn’t helpful when trying to engage with people during the stream).

A small side note:

I can’t imagine you will mute the fx between songs either. If you keep it quieter in the mix, use a short reverb, then this will be less noticeable when you are talking. Remember it’s just an effect, it doesn’t “make you sound better”, it just reinforces what is already there.

Conclusion

If you want to do this properly – get your mixer that you use with your pa, plug in your inputs as you would, then connect this into your computer or laptops audio input. (If you have a small interface, then use this if you can). Try not to over EQ your inputs as you would at any normal gig. You shouldn’t need to boost any bass on vocals, boosting low end on backing tracks is also pointless for this application.

The more and more you decide to stream, you’ll be glad to have a break from carrying around a pa system, when you don’t need it. Hope this can be of some help to you all. If you have anymore questions, please email calummartinaudio@gmail.com. Good luck with streaming your music online. Calum.

You can check out the CMPS website here.