We have, in times past, done recordings of the service in order to check the sound mix. We have also video taped the services to kinda grade ourselves as to how we engage with the congregation as we lead worship, whether we smile or look like we just ate sour grapes and such.
More recently I have put more trust that our sound people are on top of how everything sounds and mixes with the voices, instruments, etc., which keeps me free to concentrate more on leading and working with the team on the platform.
Good question! I don't know what we sound like. I tried listening to feedback from different people in the congregation and that was just confusing. Talk to 5 people after a service and you get 5 totally different takes on the sound. "It was great!", "There was too much bass", "I couldn't here the bass", "The blend of voices was good", "I couldn't hear ____'s vocals". So I gave up on that.
We tried recording a service but sometimes we use an unmic'ed piano instead of a keyboard and our drums are acoustic and not mic'ed. So that sounded odd. We did the video thing and that helped visually but the sound on those is kind of mush and unbalanced.
Now I tell my sound techs how I want the sound mixed in general and any special notes on certain songs. Like "___ is going to sing the first verse of this song then we all come in at the Chorus so he/she knows to make sure ____'s mic is up in the mix at the song. Then I leave it to the sound tech to do the right thing. I do ask them to walk around and listen from different places in the sanctuary during the service to check the mix. I also gauge it somewhat by how engaged the congregation seems to be. I have 4 sound techs that rotate weeks. I have noticed a slight connect between how engaged people are and who is on the sound board.
So, does everyone hate the sound of their own vocals? I'm not terribly fond of mine either.
I think a recording off the sound board isn't any better than what the monitors put out. the vocals are almost always hot and we don't mic our drums (Micing and mixing drums is an artform in itself) so they aren't there at all for us. The sound is mixed for the room so the recording is whack!
We have several band members that may not play each week and they listen for the mix and report back to us. We have a youth band play and also kind of judge the mix from that. the truth is you don't really know what it sounds like you have to trust one of your most important band members The sound guy! Person- whatever..
I hate listening to myself also
I have been playing drums for the past couple of months and it is truly just a leap of faith that the mix is correct. This past week, I had the week off while another drummer was playing. It was an ear opener -- not just for the drums, but the mix as a whole. Mainly, the worship lead vocals were very buried and sounded like they were very muffled. They almost sounded like they were coming strictly from the monitors and not the FOH. The drums were not sounding very good to me, but I am heavily biased to my electronic kit or hearing them straight from the acoustic kit and not from the congregation. The guitars all sounded pretty good. We have had a problem with out main speakers and they have lost their high frequencies and that's part to blame. What you hear on stage can be totally different than what the church hears. If you want to hear what they hear, you would need to have a recorder like the Zoom H2 or H4 or similar record the sound "live" to pick up all that is heard including the room.
I say have faith in the sound guy unless you are hearing lots of complaints saying the same thing. As Pete said, opinions vary.
Well, once you're performing, you really DON'T know.
Should you choose to walk out past the speakers with your microphone, all you'll probably hear is the squelch from the mic. This is why it's REALLY REALLY important to train your soundguy or girl correctly.
This is what I do - take it or leave it!:)
First, we set the levels for each instrument independently, making sure that each musician plays at normal volume and then at solo volume (usually guitar players like to crank it up after things get going) and make a note of that on a piece of masking tape next to their slider.
For drums, we set the trim for each piece, kick, snare, etc.... then set an overall mix grouping for the drums by themselves, keeping the symbols, kick and snare on their own channel in case something is just too loud on some songs.
Then we set the mix for bass and kick, eq'ing so as not to blow out speakers or making it too muddy.
Keys and guitar are relatively easy - if you have a good bass player, I'll usually pull some of the low end out of the keys, because that can really wreck a mix when performing live.
If you have several guitars, time to eq. Acoustics can generally have the lows pulled out some, and maybe add a touch of high end so that you'll hear the strumming during the song.
As far as recording the worship session:
unless you've really got a great setup, AND a dedicated person focused on the recording, plan on a disappointing sound. You're probably not going to have your vocal effects running to your input for your recorder, which can really make a big difference. You're sound guy is probably not going to be as worried about your recording as much as he will be about your live sound, with good reason.
Your drums will probably sound like mush, unless you've got each drum miked perfectly. If you have a choir singing as well, forget it.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing to do to make sure you sound ok in front is to make sure everyone is tight on what they're playing. If you've got some 'showoffs', help them understand the importance of supporting the music, not playing solo parts all through it. Get your bass player and drummer together to lock in the 'pocket' and hit the bass note with the bass drum for that tight/ together feel.
Oh and above all - PRAY before practice. PRAY before performing. PRAISE while performing. God will make sure His message gets out, even if the sound goes wacky once in a while.
That would be Ron Popeil. Set it....and Forget It!
I would add that you can praise when practicing too... : )
I find that it is better for me personally to trust that the sound person is doing his / her job properly - and that it is his / her responsibility and service to the kingdom. If they are not adequately trained or equipped, that is a separate issue. Likewise, the sound person trusts that I am going to play what I'm led to - although I'm usually open to suggestions.
Nothing can break the anointing of even a practice time like negativity about things such as these.
I can also recall a number of times that I perceived things as being 'off' and the congregation had no clue - in fact they seemed to dig it more. Sometimes my perceptions are not everyone else's.
Being a sound guy and a worship leader I know the importance of both and knowing that the mix must be good. The simplest thing to do has already been suggested and let the sound man/woman run the sound you make the sound as good as you can from the stage for them to mix with.
At the church I youth pastored at the sound was pretty bad most of the time before I had done some major tweeks to the eq and the way the sound went out. I simply used a cd that was professionally mixed(studio) and that was typical of what we would do on a sunday morning style wise. Then I flattened out the sound board eq. That left the eq in between the board and the speakers. I leveled that out to sound good. After that I would be tweeking the sound during practice to allow for use to get an approximate mix but i was also on stage playing during service. That meant that I would have to trust my sound person. I did work with them to train them better as to what a good mix really was. I worked a lot to lower stage volume as we were a very small church and I taught my sound person to say not what I need to hear but what don't you need to hear therefore doing a subtractive monitor mix versus additive.
I'm straying but the truth was that when I controlled the stage sound better the house sound improved as well because the house sound was just that the house sound. They had better control and less bounce off the stage.
I had to trust them and still do, luckily the sound person that runs our sound department at my current church is about as expert as I could ask for. It also helps me trust him when I learned a lot of what I know from him.
It isn't a bad Idea to jump out during practice and hear how it sounds during worship practice while taking your mic with you, just mainly to get a feeling for if it sounds the way you want it to sound. Also making sure the sound person knows any special things that might help them mix it just as it should be. That was shared already but I wanted to re-enforce it.
You can never really know but you can trust your sound person as long as they know what you are wanting. if you get alot of complaints then you would be good to try to be more aware of the situation, but until you hear complaints then I wouldn't search for problems the majority of the time.
Well that's too much info any way. Thanks for reading.