Next Level Sound :: Recap

Next Level Sound :: Recap

Opening Discussions

In November of 2014 we met as a group to discuss sound here at Pathway and how we could get a consistent sound from week-to-week regardless of the person mixing. This led us to implement two things to help with this.

  1. Copilot
    • In short, during that meeting we said that mixing a lot of times is more subjective than wrong. So, if we were going to have a common, consistent sound here at Pathway we needed to shape some of our subjectivities and preferences to a common, consistent ear.
    • I would be that common ear because church leadership liked the sound of the mix I produced, and wanted that to be reproduced and repeated. Also, because I'm on staff, I would be one of the most consistent people among our different venues.
    • It's not a dad walking along side a child on a bike with training wheels, or a puppet master controlling a puppet. Thinking about it this way really devalues and diminishes what it is we're doing when we're behind the soundboard. The weight of responsibility is MUCH bigger than that, so we viewed it more like flying a large plane rather than riding a bike or putting on a puppet show.
    • This allowed all of us to learn together from a common resource.
    • We would use some of what we were learning as discussion points during our copiloting times.

Serving in the Church

We need to fit under the umbrella of what's happening in Worship Ministry. There is leadership in place that helps drive the direction we go in our venues when it comes to style. We need to be sure that our egos and preferences are left at the door and we're mixing within that style and under that umbrella.

We are part of the worship team. So, just as a drummer would be expected to play within the confines of a song and what we're after here at Pathway, we as audio mixers need to mix within the confines of the song and what we're after here at Pathway. This wouldn't fly at Pathway. 

The mixing console is your instrument, so you need to rehearse with the band. Questions are welcomed during rehearsal. If you need to hear something again, ask the worship leader to go over it again.

Looking Forward at Consistency

  • Copiloting
    • Why?
      • This has worked very well in our Live service and there is a consistency week-to-week.
      • I can't think of a better way to get all of us in rhythm and on the same page.
    • Copiloting Beyond Live
      • We will start being more intentional about copiloting with those in our other venues.
      • Brian Clark will be coming on board as a copilot because he and I are in a consistent rhythm in Live after working all summer together. Brian has invested beyond our typical mixing responsibilities and continues to educate himself with tools like
  • Board Configuration
    • Why?
      • Better for new recruits. Those training will not need to learn multiple board setups.
      • Helpful for people who need to fill in for a service that they're not accustomed to serving in.
      • Helpful for additional training and trouble shooting with our current mixers.
      • This is beneficial for our band members. Many musicians play in multiple venues throughout the month. Having a consistent look will be helpful when it comes to in-ear monitor mixing.
    • Layout
      • Color, labeling and channel assignments can be found at our X32 Layout blog post.
      • The use of DCA groups. Using DCA groups shortens the real-estate that needs covered to mix, allows us to quickly, easily and consistently adjust attention demanding elements like lead vocals.
      • The use of scenes. Every song should start as tight and dialed in as possible. Using scenes helps us accomplish this goal.

Listening Exercise

We went through a 24 question sound test from and discussed our results following the listening test. This showed us that there is a lot going on and we can miss things if we're not listening closely (another good reason why a copilot is helpful).

We watched Listening Part 2 from and talked about sonic landscape. The big take-away was that some things need to be heard louder than others. It's okay if we don't hear everything equally or evenly. Much like this landscape portrait, the use of depth is intentional and needed.


Mixing is active, you can't just set it and forget it. If you're not actively mixing then your mix isn't as good as it could be. When we hear a song on an album it's mixed perfectly. What's happen is that their digital boards are programmed to make hundreds of adjustment while the song is being played. This is what we hear. If a perfect mix requires hundreds of adjustments throughout a song then we can't make none and have a good mix.

X32 Layout

X32 Layout

One of the things that we discussed during our Next Level Sound is how the layout of our mixing consoles will change and become more uniform across both campuses and among all venues. Here is a layout for each of our venues.

Listening Exercise

Listening Exercise

During this portion of our Next Level Sound Session we will use the form below to comment on the audio being played. The source audio is from and will be played through our sound system for all to hear the same audio clip at the same time. Please use the form to comment on anything you're hearing in the audio clip that's wrong. Note, sometimes there isn't anything wrong. In this case, just fill in the answer field with "ok."

Next Level Sound

Next Level Sound

Hello all,

I hope everyone's new year is off to a great start! About a year ago we met to talk about what consistency looks and sounds like at Pathway. From there we implemented a couple of different things that would help us move in that direction. We started a co-pilot program where someone, mostly me, would team up with the person running sound and serve as an extra set of ears to offer feedback as to what's happening with the mix. We also offered access to an online tool called that is designed to help deepen our level of knowledge and give us talking points during our co-piloting.  

As we go through 2016, I want to continue down this road of consistency by broadening our co-piloting program beyond our Live Service to our other venues and services. I also want to utilize the online training tool better as well as give us opportunities to gather and grow as a group. 

To get the ball rolling with gathering opportunities, I'm inviting you to a Next Level Sound Session on Sunday, January 31 from 1:00pm-4:00pm in our large auditorium. Lunch will be provided and will start at 12:30. Those coming from Moon, don't worry, we'll save you some if you can't get there by 12:30. During this session we'll discuss some changes that we'll be implementing to help us build consistency across all of our services. We'll also take time to mix audio from a band so we can talk through some of the things we're after when it comes to mixing here at Pathway.

As we get closer to January 31 there are a few things you can do to help make this time as productive as possible.

  1. If you're running sound in the next two weeks, will you take a moment to fill out this board configuration chart and send it back to me by Monday, January 25? In an attempt to make our board layout more uniform across all services, I would like to know how you label and route your board. Here's a completed chart from Live so you have an example. In the notes section also include any specifics that you find most useful in your layout/configuration. This can be anything, really. I just want to give you the opportunity to have input as we come up with a more uniformed configuration.
  2. Let me know if you're running into any particular issues or have any questions, whether technically when setting up or artistically when mixing. You may not be the only one with that question(s), so to address it in a group setting can be very helpful.
  3. Please confirm that you can be there so we can plan appropriately for lunch.


I look forward to spending time with you guys! Thank you for all you do at Pathway!