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Ambient Mics for Your Live Stream Mix

Kade Young
Kade Young
Chief Audio Guru
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One of the most disappointing things, when you hear your live stream mix for the first time, is how it sounds nothing like it sounded in the room.

Well, I’ve got some good news for you. Your room mix was way better than the live stream sounded.

The reason it sounds nothing the same is because you are missing all the sound reflections and acoustical energy that exists in the room.

You can’t exactly replicate this in a live stream mix, but you can get pretty close using what’s called ambient mic’ing.

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Ambient Micing

So, let’s talk about ambient micing. This is simply using two or more microphones to pick up the sound of the room and then adding it to your live stream mix.

These mics pick up the sound reflections and the response from the congregation. So, they help make it feel like you’re actually there.

You can use pretty much any microphone for this, but I’ve found small diaphragm condensers with a cardioid pickup pattern to work best.

Recommended Ambient Mic

Mic Placement

For placement, I recommend putting a mic on each side of the stage, pointed towards the congregation. Place the mics a few feet behind your main speakers.

This does a good job rejecting direct sound from your main speakers and gives you a good stereo mix of the room.

When it comes to height, you can put them on stands at about ear level of those on the stage.

This works best if you want your ambient mics to also double for your musicians in-ear monitors, which I recommend. A two for one is always a good deal!

You can also hang them from the ceiling. You’ll just have to find the right balance between sound and aesthetics. Experimenting with different placements is the best way to figure that out.

Setup on Your Mixer

Now connect them to your mixer and link them together as a stereo pair.

If you are unable to link them, simply pan one to the left and the other to the right in your live stream mix.

Next, set the gain for these mics while the full band is playing and the room is full of sound. You set gain the same way for these as you do any other mic. I have a video on how to set gain if you need help with that. I’ll include a link in the description.

Keep in mind, if you are using condenser mics, you’ll need to activate 48V phantom power.

Finally add a low cut filter at about 300Hz because trust me, you don’t want the ambient low frequencies as part of your live stream mix. They make it sound like a big jumbled mess.

And that’s it. Your ambient mics are now set up and ready to go.

Add Them to Your Mix

Simply add them to your live stream mix to bring it to life. The easiest way to do this is with the SENDS ON FADER control. Here’s how:

  1. Tap SENDS ON FADER
  2. Select your live stream bus
  3. Navigate to the Ambient mics and adjust the level in your live stream mix using the fader.

A good starting point is -10dB. Then adjust so that you hear what is going on in the room, but be careful not to turn them up too loud because then it just sounds echoey.

Alright, one last tip: Make sure your ambient mics aren’t going to your room mix. Otherwise, you’re in for a fun battle with feedback.

Importance of the Room Mix

Ambient mics are going to make a huge difference! But keep in mind, the live stream mix is a reflection of what’s going on in your auditorium, so you’ll want to make sure your room mix is the best it can be.

That’s what Church Sound Made Simple is all about.

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11 Comments

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11 comments on “Ambient Mics for Your Live Stream Mix”

  1. Hi Kade, I'm using a mono aux send from the Desk to feed the Live Stream. If I add a single SDC Mic for room ambience directly to the Audio Interface (that goes to live stream) will that work as a sort of two chanel/'stereo'? I'm using VMix on a PC. I appreciate your thoughts.

    1. You would still need to room mics to create a stereo mix, one for the left and one for the right. So your interface would have to have 3 inputs: mixer mono mix + Amb L + Amb R.

  2. Hi Kade, 2 quick questions: 1) Is there any need to compress the Ambient Mics (2xSDC's) 2) Would a boundary mic on front of stage do a good job? (e.g Audix ADX60). Thanks for your insight.

    1. Hey Jason - I've yet to compress ambient mics, but it is something I want to test. I will definitely post my findings when I do. And, I've never used a boundary mic. One thing to keep in mind is, you'll want two mics so you can run them in stereo. This will do a much better job capturing the room as you would hear with the natural ear.

  3. Thanks Kade. My church have a condenser mic that's been hanging from the rafters for years (would need scafolding to get it down) so I'll give that a go versus a pair of SE1A's on the stage pointing out. I'm using a mono aux out for Live so I'm not going to have a stereo image, although the two mics (XY or AB) will at least 'capture' more audio and refelctions. I'm curous to know if compressing the ambience mics would help pick up a more 'balanced' spread of the congrgation... Thanks again.

  4. Hi Kade - if my stream is mono, and my band's IEs are mono, can I "get by" with a single room mic? Will two crowd mics, stereo on the desk but mono to all of the destinations, make a difference?

    1. Yes. Since you are running a mono mix, one crowd mic should do just fine.

  5. Has anyone tried a short shotgun mic (like the rode ntg5) in a similar application? It specs as a supercardioid with an O-A Rej of 4/20/24. I'm trying to find ways to make mixing less confusing for our volunteers and eliminate feedback potentials. I would run the feeds myself, but I'm also the drummer...lol.

    1. I've heard of some using a combination of shotgun mics and cardioid mics. But I have yet to try that out. Feedback suppression should not be an issue with ambient mics because they should not be going to the main mix. Just the live stream mix.

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