Tape the gain knob down

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One of the most common mistakes many people make with their audio mixers is using the gain knob to adjust the volume. If you do, I understand why: because it works.

However, there’s a good chance you’ve also experienced feedback (wow that squeal was loud). By the time you fix that, too, your preacher’s voice just doesn’t sound natural.

The right way to adjust volume is to use as little gain as possible, then lock down the gain and adjust the volume with the fader. Here’s why:

  • The gain, in simple terms, adjusts how much the microphone hears what is happening around it. When you lower the gain, you are basically telling the microphone to only hear what is happening close to the mic and ignore what it hears farther away. On the flip side, when you raise the gain, you are now telling the microphone to hear what is happening both near the mic and far away.
  • The volume fader, in simple terms, adjusts how loud the microphone is played out of the mixer into your speakers.

Note: if you use a wireless microphone, then you may also have gain or sensitivity adjustments available to you both in the microphone and the receiver.

Feedback happens when audio loops continuously in and out of the microphone and speakers. The higher the gain, the more likely you will experience feedback.

So, in an ideal situation, you want the volume fader set near parity (zero) on the mixer with the gain turned down as low as possible. This will allow you to then adjust the EQ settings to keep the preacher’s voice as natural as possible when amplified through the speakers.

Once the gain and volume are adjusted to where you want it, then lock down the gain knob and only use the volume fader to adjust the loudness of the microphone. Tape it, glue it, hide it – whatever it takes to resist the temptation of adjusting it constantly. The gain should simply be one of those knobs that rarely needs adjusting.

I won’t take the time to give you a tutorial here on how to specifically adjust your mixer and microphones, because everyone’s setup is different – the settings that work for me may not work for you because of the differences in the shape and design of your church auditorium. However, I would encourage you to do a Google search for help on adjusting your mixer, because the more you know, the better your worship service will sound.