Tag Archives: Sound

Your Church PA (Pt4)

In ‘Your Church PA’ we get a peek into some of the audio/production setups at local churches in South Africa. We get to ogle over some photos of gear, share ideas, and learn from the wisdom and experience of those techs who keep the systems running week-to-week! For more detail look here.

This week – Matthew Pierce and Lisa Bell from Glenwood Community Church share their setup with us.

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“We are currently using the Behringer DDX3216 Digital mixer. It is a 32 channel mixer. It has served us very well considering that Behringer hasnt had the best track record for mixers especially digital ones. We are able to run 8 monitor mixes and the effects board in the unit is sufficient for where we find ourselves currently as a church.”

The FOH stack is a 900W JBL AC25, and it’s powered by a USA Q10 power amp. They use Behringer HA8000 headphone amps as their in-ear monitor signal distribution system.

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Your Church PA (Pt2)

In ‘Your Church PA’ we get a peek into some of the audio/production setups at local churches in South Africa. We get to ogle over some photos of gear, share ideas, and learn from the wisdom and experience of those techs who keep the systems running week-to-week! For more detail look here.

This week – Dean Wilke from Olive Tree Church shares their setup with us.

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“Like most churches our system has evolved quite a lot over the years. This year saw a massive overhaul of our stage and drum booth.

At the moment we are running 4 QSC K12 speakers (2 downstairs and 2 for our balcony) and 2 K Subs mounted between the two K12s on each side. All of those are running through a DBX Driverack PX. We mix on a Presonus StudioLive 24.4.2 desk. Our stage and hall are too small for wedge monitors so we run an in-ear monitoring system. We recently upgraded for the Hearbacks to the Behringer Powerplay system. A Powerplay P16I rack by our desk and 7 Powerplay P16M mixing modules on stage running through CAT5 cables.

We moved and rebuilt our stage earlier this year and decided to use stage boxes at strategic points on the stage with XLR, Jack and CAT5 connections in them. We had these custom built and have proven to be one of best investments. Under the stage we are running Klotz microphone cable and Mogami instrument cable. The instrument cables are for electric guitars and go into an amp room to the side of our stage.

We also had a double-pane glass drum booth built after realising the Clearsonic one we had just wasn’t cutting it in our small hall. It has been amazing from a mixing point of view. It has given us way more control over the drums and has allowed us to get a much cleaner mix.

And that’s the gist of our setup. We’ve tried to keep it fairly simple while still aiming for great sound quality.”


Tech Workshop Dates are out!

Monday 9th May 2011, 6.30PM, Auditorium, Grace Family Church (Umhlanga Campus)

Audio Workshop:

“Fundamentals Of Sound Reinforcement”: The Principles of Sound Reinforcement; The Human Ear; Your Sound System; Basic Mixing Techniques; Dynamics; Advanced Mixing Techniques; FAQ.

This workshop also includes access to the “Open House” on the Thursday night, when you can come through to the Umhlanga Campus to observe a rehearsal, and ask audio or other production-related questions.

Note: This workshop is free and open to all. If you are interested please let me know! I can only confirm this workshop only once we have sufficient numbers!

Thursday 12th May 2011, 6.30PM, Grace Family Church (Umhlanga Campus)

Lighting Workshop & “Open House”

“The Language of Light”: Lighting Fixtures & Lighting Control Explained. Design, Programming, & Operation Discussion. Energy vs. Focus.

This workshop will include access to the “Open House” on the Thursday night at the Umhlanga Campus, when we will run lighting during a rehearsal, to get practical experience on the console.

Please contact me to confirm your attendance, or for any other quires.

Kind Regards

Matt


Epic (tech) Fail

I’m including these short pictorial posts for a bit of a light-hearted look at some common tech ‘fopars’. Feel free to post you own!

How many times have you seen these ‘washing line’ style speaker cables? Disaster area! This shocker was taken in a hotel conference room in Durban.


Eyes on the Road, Buddy!

I was watching an audio guy recently who spent most of the rehearsal studying the console in front of him like the touch-screen held the answers to life. I wondered what amazing show I was missing – but I also wondered how the band was going to communicate with him when they needed to. (and when he was going to realize that a PAR can had started a small fire onstage)

I see this a lot (the sound guy, not the fire). And let me be clear. In my humble option, your head’s DEFAULT position should be looking at the stage. This kind-of goes back to my post around sources – but honestly, you can glean almost as much information about the mix from what you see on the stage, as from the blinking LEDs in front of you.

Once you get past the basics (sound and mixing 101), you should be thinking about if what you are hearing matches up to what you are seeing on the stage. Because lets be honest – that is the experience your congregation is having. Blame MTV or whomever you want – but music today is an AUDIO VISUAL experience.

When an electric guitarist breaks into a rambunctious lead, he often needs to be unnaturally loud in the mix, to compliment his appearance. 30-piece choir dominating the stage? It needs to sound like 30 people singing. Watching the band closely can also help in isolating potential problems before they became serious issues.

Sadly, none of these visual cues are available on the top of the ‘aux 3 master control’ knob!

Keep your eyes on the stage. Give it a try – I guarantee it will add a dimension to your churches worship experience.


Check your Sources

Check out the cab stacks!

Ok, I posted a few days ago: “In my travels I’ve discovered many church audio guys who think their work begins and ends at the sound desk. Live audio starts at the source (the stage), and if you aren’t spending SIGNIFICANT time there, I would argue you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance of creating a good mix!”

And I feel like I need to elaborate a bit, cos this is something I came back from my trip having very clear in my mind, and feeling very strongly about.

Sources are everything. Everything.

“Garbage in = Garbage out”  – is such a simple principle, but somewhere along the way the equation became:

“Garbage in + Latest digital mixing desk = Hillsong United out”

Now I know I don’t have to explain how crazy this is, but I feel like often in our environments (South African churches) there is a lot of emphasis on “the gear” – that ‘silver bullet’ mixing desk, or line-array PA, or in-ear monitoring system that is going to “solve our bad sound problem”, when that’s often not the real problem.

What we do as sound techs is reproduce what is being produced by our musicians on stage. That has to be where our work starts. And if what’s coming off the stage isn’t working, you could have all the gear that money can buy, and not have a hope of creating a good mix.

So let me be clear. A sound guy can’t make bad musicians/instruments sound good.

At this point you maybe asking how this information could practically help you – there’s nothing you can do about the quality of your musicians! (or their instruments) They are volunteers after all!

…but before you wash your hands of the ‘audio mission impossible’, let me challenge you, that you may have more to do with the quality of your musicians than you think…

1)     Be Professional in your own Role.

Show up ahead of time, and be ready for the band so they aren’t waiting on you. Familiarize yourself with the music that is on the set, and the order of the music – know where the ‘lead breaks’ or ‘instrumentals’ are. Be ‘present’ at rehearsals (i.e. not smsing/facebooking as soon as the first song is done). Band members (especially newer members) will take their cue from you.

Inspect all the sources before a note is played: Check the drum mics are all in the right position, check the electric amp mic position, check the eq on the backline, check that all the musos have the right cabling and the vocalists have the right microphones. This will help make sure the band is good to go, and save TONS of trouble-shooting later.

2)    Develop Relationship with your Musos.

This one thing could improve the quality of worship dramatically in churches all over the world. And it’s free.

Develop relationships with your band. Check-in with each musician. Ask them if they are comfortable, and are hearing what they need to hear.  Serving the band is the most perfect example of the Mark 9:35 principle I know of. Do you want to have a great mix? Serve your band. Building relationships with your musos means you can understand better why they are doing what they do, and earn the right to have unique input based on your ‘objective’ position at the FOH. Make opening constructive dialog between the sound booth and the stage an objective of every rehearsal.

3)    Be a Jack-of-all-(audio)-trades

Maybe you are a musician yourself. Maybe not. But if you want to be decent sound guy, you need to be able to help your musicians, and talk their language. You need to know how to tune a drum, you need to know how to fix the ‘tone’ on an electric guitar amp, and you need to know what a 3-part vocal harmony sounds like. Get online and start the homework!

*Disclaimer* before you start fiddling the settings on your electric guitarists amp, make sure you have got step 2 down first!

Obviously all this is work. Many tech guys (myself included) are not ‘people persons’ and so developing relationships with musos doesn’t always come easy. As we know – ‘the curse of the tech guy’ is that when the worship sounds great, the worship leader is congratulated, when the worship sounds bad the sound guy is berated… I’d encourage you to rise above this.

We are called to do what we do, we are gifted to do what we do, and the Kingdom needs us to do what we do. My challenge is to the washed up, inert, passive church sound guys out there – to reassess their commitment, and embrace their calling!


In a Rut?

One of our audio guys at Grace reminded me this week, that we learn something new every time we get behind an audio console. And really – how true is this!?

If you aren’t learning something new, or trying something different with your audio mixes, or your lighting design, or your worship leading on a week-to-week basis, you are missing out on half the fun of this ministry we have been called to…

Don’t be afraid to experiment and learn – your church needs you to be all you can be!