Ask the Experts – FOH Mixing for Live Music
What does a FOH Engineer do?
Simply put: Each individual instrument on stage has its own microphone and input, from the lead singer all the way down to the individual drums and cymbals on the drum kit. The FOH Engineer manipulates the levels and equalization of the various instruments and vocals blending them together, adding reverb and effects as needed, to produce a mix of the band which is amplified through the PA system.
The level of creativity and freedom a FOH Engineer has with the mix varies from artist to artist. Sometimes a band or artist has a clear vision of what they want to sound like live. It is the FOH Engineers’ job to interpret and re-create this via the sound system. Sometimes a band leaves their sound entirely up to the FOH Engineer.
It is usually up to the FOH Engineer to decide or at least recommend what microphones to use on each instrument and vocal. On large tours, the FOH Engineer provides a technical spec of what the sound system requirements are. This generally reflects their preferences in microphones, mixing console, outboard gear, plug-ins, PA system, etc… and any other details pertaining to how the system should be set up.
Join SoundGirls for a webinar on FOH Mixing for Live Music. This is your opportunity to ask questions and get them answered with this expert panel. Moderated by Grace Royse and panelists include Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato, Bryony October, Dana Wachs, Amanda Davis, and Fela Davis
June 30, 2021 – 11 AM – 1 PM PDT / 2 PM – 4 PM EDT
Grace Royse has clocked nearly two decades and thousands of festivals, tours, and live broadcast performances as FOH engineer, Tour manager and production manager. Her experiences span a variety of large-scale events including the US Open, Good Morning America, Ellen, and the Super bowl. Her mixing credits range from Pop to Punk with such artists as Ms. Lauryn Hill, Sublime with Rome, The Offspring, Pennywise, Cypress Hill, 311, Dirtyheads, Kygo & a roster of artists for Sony Music Group and Fat Wreck Chords. With a concentration in production management. “I’ve been on both sides of the event experience; touring with headlining A-level artists globally, as well as hosting artists as the Festivals point person and on-site Production Lead. Understanding the needs of both sides gives me an exceptional operational vantage point.” Grace credits her network of top-performing colleagues, along with a strong sense of purpose, for making every successful project possible. You can catch up with Grace by visiting her website at https://www.gracemusic.biz or on Instagram @gracemusic
Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato began working in live sound in the late 1980s and has spent most of the past 30 years as a full time touring FOH Engineer for major label artists including Elvis Costello, Gwen Stefani, Janet Jackson, Goo Goo Dolls, Melissa Etheridge, Jewel, Kesha, Styx, Mr Big and many more. Michelle has extensive experience mixing in venues of all shapes and sizes, from clubs to stadiums, as well as major music festivals from Download to Coachella. She has also supervised and mixed live performances on a wide variety of television from SNL to the Grammys.
Michelle is co-founder of Soundgirls, a Full Sail University Hall of Fame inductee, and creator of MixingMusicLive.com where she teaches an intro to live sound and mixing. She is an active mentor and coach to those seeking a career in Live Sound and Music Production and is frequently sought out as a panelist and guest speaker for industry conferences and universities.
Bryony October is a Brighton (UK) based FOH sound engineer who has been touring for nearly 25 years. She started mixing FOH sound in her late teens having garnered all her experience and knowledge exclusively on tour off the back of various merchandise selling and backline jobs. With extensive experience mixing live sound often in conjunction with tour/production management she has worked with a huge range of artists across a wide spectrum of musical styles and has mixed FOH sound at every level worldwide. A very hands-on sound engineer, she is not afraid of getting her hands dirty and is always keen to help bands/artists develop their live sound from source and bring consistency to their sound.
Bryony is currently FOH engineer for multi-platinum selling singer Katie Melua, and the UK’s No.1 female country duo, Ward-Thomas, as well as UK FOH engineer & TM for Natalie Merchant and Lloyd Cole.
Fela is a graduate of Full Sail University’s Recording Arts Program and inducted into the University’s Hall of Fame 2019 class for her work in audio engineering. Her background as a FOH engineer spans 20 years with her last seven mixing seven-time Grammy award winner Christian McBride’s bands all over the world! She’s currently a writer for Pro Sound News Magazine and co-owner of One of One Productions podcast studio located 5 minutes outside of NYC in Fort Lee, NJ. Her clients include Atlantic Records, SiriusXM, Eboni K. Williams, and more!
A Brooklyn-based Audio Engineer, Tour Manager, and Composer/Musician. Dana started her career in music in 1994, as bass player for the Dischord band Holy Rollers, which ignited her interest in live sound, after a national tour supporting 7 Year Bitch. Her first foray into the practice of live sound began after that at the Black Cat DC, and later the infamous 9:30 club.
Dana’s first national tour was as TM/FOH for Peaches supporting Queens of the Stone Age in 2002. Her first International tour quickly followed in 2003 with Cat Power. Since then, touring has kept her on the road 9 to 11 months out of the year with bands such as MGMT, St. Vincent, M.I.A., Grizzly Bear, Foster the People, Nils Frahm, Deerhunter, and Jon Hopkins to name a few.
Outside of touring, Dana composes and performs under the name Vorhees, with two releases on Styles Upon Styles (Brooklyn), and is currently composing her first feature film score.
Amanda is a woman of many talents. The Memphis-born, LA-based audio engineer, educator, production manager, singer and musician has learned the ropes from some of the music industry’s best and is using her skills and connections to empower women around the globe.
Amanda has mixed legendary artists Prince and Stevie Wonder and has mixed in some of the world’s most renowned venues and events: The White House; Madison Square Garden; Radio City Music Hall; The Hollywood Bowl; Coachella; The Grammys; The Oscars; Glastonbury Fest; Good Morning America; The Today Show; Montreux Jazz Festival; Saturday Night Live; BET Awards; and American Idol.