9 Hacks to Build Your Audio Skill

If you’re like me, you develop a new interest in something and immediately try learning everything you can. There are good ways to do this and bad ways. Those good ones go beyond reading books, watching videos, whatever type of standard one-way learning you like. And it’s those added steps I’m listing today.

You might be surprised to know these hacks aren’t just for newbies. Any audio tech can apply these. They could be just what you need to take your skills up a notch with less effort than you think.

The Nine Hacks to Faster Growth

1. Set goals.

List out what you want to learn and set these as goals, like “become better at mixing electric guitar.” Then, when you’ve got extra time during a band practice or sound check, focus on the electric guitars.

If you have a console with virtual sound check, make time to practice with the recordings—and here’s the key to real progress, don’t get sidelined working with something else. Yes, you could start playing with effects on vocals but this is the time for focusing on electric guitar mixing!

2. Perform post-service reviews of your work.

What worked out better than expected and why? Maybe it’s something you can repeat. What didn’t work out and why? What can you learn from it?

This step seems obvious, but I see people skip it. I can tell because the following week they make the same mistakes.

3. Get a mentor.

Identify a tech team member who has the skills you don’t and pin them to the wall and scream, “TEACH ME!” OK, so that’s a little extreme, but the truth is when it comes to church audio techs, skill levels are all over the place, so if someone is better in an area, ask them for help. If you need help getting vocals and instruments to sit in the right place in a mix, consider talking with musicians you know who have done recording.

4.  Join a group.

Outside of training classes and educational resources, there’s no better way to improve than to get a mentor and (or) join a group. One of the benefits of joining the Behind the Mixer world-wide tech team is access to our private group. We talk about mixing, equipment and pretty much anything that has to do with audio. Got a question? Ask it and you’ll get answers faster than you’d think.

5. Don’t compare yourself to others.

This is really easy to do if you’ve ever gone to a tech conference. You find out some guru audio tech runs a $60,000 digital console with pro-level musicians and you think about your “little” 24-channel analog console and mediocre band and wonder if your mixing efforts are even worth it. YES, YES THEY ARE.

It doesn’t matter the type of equipment or the quality of the band (they are in front of the congregation so they must have some skills), the work you do makes a huge difference. When in doubt, kill the sound to the house speakers and listen.

Maybe you’re thinking the church choir and pastor aren’t really that much to warrant the effort to perfect their mix. Au contraire, mixing the spoken word is ALWAYS important, and no matter who is on stage, the work of the audio tech will make a difference.