When I first set up the Behringer X32, one of my first thoughts was, “What the heck is a matrix?”. Coming from a simple analog setup, the only Matrix I knew of was a movie released in 1999.
Laugh as you may, but I would venture to say that matrix mixes are misunderstood and underused in most churches. Good news is, once you know their application, matrix mixes are easy to understand.
What is an audio matrix?
An audio matrix allows you to create slight variations of your main mix to use for different purposes, like routing sound to the foyer or producing a more balanced audio recording.
You can also use a matrix to combine bus sends to create a custom mix. Let’s go over a few real-life applications for churches.
Use a matrix mix to route sound to your foyer, restrooms or nursery.
When routing your main mix to the foyer, restrooms or nursery, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Sound Delay – If you can hear sound bleed from the sanctuary, you will need to compensate for the delay so it is not frustrating to the listener.
- Balance Between Music & Speaking – The balance can be off between the music and pastor speaking when it comes to routing sound to another room.
You can fix both of these problems with a matrix mix.
Use a matrix mix to produce better recordings.
When you listen to a recording of your main mix, you have probably noticed it sounds nothing like the live sound.
The main reason this happens is because you have all kinds of noise in addition to your main mix: stage monitors, guitar amps, live drums, audience noise and the natural reverb of the room. All of this is heard in a live setting but does not exist in the recording.
As a result, the drums may be more than loud enough during a service but completely lost in the recording. Or, the recording may lack energy because you cannot hear the congregation singing. All of this can be fixed with a matrix mix.
Use a matrix as a crossover.
If your speakers or amps don’t have built-in crossovers, or you simply want to program it all from your mixer, an audio matrix is a great solution. Learn how in this post: How to Use a Matrix as a Crossover
How to Set Up a Matrix Mix on the Behringer X32
- Assign the matrix mix to an output. Navigate to the routing screen and select the out 1-16 tab. Select an unused analog output. Select ‘Matrix 1’ for the Output Signal. Now, connect your speakers to the correlating XLR output on the back of your mixer (or digital snake).
- Activate delay, if needed. If you can hear sound bleed from the auditorium, activate the delay by pressing the knob under the ‘Delay’ setting (activated = yellow) and use the same knob to set the approximate distance the room where the matrix mix will be heard is from the speakers in the auditorium.
- Route the main mix to the matrix. Navigate to the HOME screen. Press the ‘SELECT’ button above the MAIN mix fader. Navigate to the ‘sends’ tab and bring the level up for #1 (Matrix 1) to 0dB.
- Use buses to create a custom mix. There are many ways you can do this (don’t be afraid to get creative), but the most simple would be to use one bus for everything that needs to be louder in your matrix mix than the auditorium (i.e. the pastor’s microphone). To do this, SELECT an unused bus, navigate to the ‘config’ tab and set the Preconfiguration to ‘Post Fader’. Navigate to the sends tab and bring the level up for #1 (Matrix 1) to 0dB. Under the ‘MAIN BUS’ section of your mixer, make sure the MONO BUS and STEREO BUS are not selected (otherwise this bus will also go to your main mix). Finally, press the ‘SENDS ON FADER’ button and then use the channel faders to create your custom mix (i.e. increase the level of the pastor’s mic or the drum mics). Keep in mind, this is sending additional signal to the matrix mix for each channel you turn up (considering the main mix is already going to the matrix). So, be sure to keep an eye on your matrix’s level meter to make sure you are not sending a peaking signal.
- Bring the matrix fader up to 0dB. Press the ‘MATRIX 1-6’ button and bring up the fader for Mtx1 to 0dB. If your matrix is close to peaking, you can use the matrix’s fader to bring it down to an acceptable level.
- If needed, add EQ and compression to the matrix. Use the Dynamics and Equalizer controls to solve any dynamics or EQ problems for your matrix mix. For example, you may want to apply a low cut filter so you are not sending super-low frequencies to ceiling-mounted speakers.
How to Record a Matrix Mix on the X32
To send a matrix mix to the X32’s USB recorder, press the VIEW button within the USB RECORDER section. Navigate to config tab and set the signal source to your desired matrix.
If you are recording mono, be sure to also set the Right signal source to the same matrix. If recording stereo, you will need to link two matrix channels together and then set the Left signal source to one and the Right signal source to the other.