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The Soundcraft Guide to Mixing

Technology, videos - by - July 20, 2009 - 20:40 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

A video tutorial on mixing live sound for music performances, aimed at beginners in the art. (18 Videos)

This is the first video, click below for a link to the whole video series.  This is the basics, but there is a lot of good information in the series.  The videos are each fairly short so it goes quickly – I would recommend watching them no matter how long you have been mixing.


What do you get when you cross DTV, 700MHz, Wireless Mics and your church?

Technology - by - July 14, 2009 - 00:23 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

Why does the US Digital Television transition affect church wireless microphone (&IEM) usage? This is the crux of the abounding questions I get, punctuated by “The systems work just fine.” The simple answer is, If you have wireless systems that operate in the 700MHz range (698-806MHz) they need to be replaced. Full Story

IMAG strategies, foibles and fumbles

Excellence in the Arts, Media, Technology - by - May 26, 2009 - 15:00 Etc/GMT+5 - 1 Comment

We have worked hours on producing graphics for a particular moment in a service: an outline, a Scripture, the perfect illustration for a main sermon point. The time comes to put up the graphic, and the computer just won’t cooperate, the wrong button is hit, a popup freezes the screen… there is a fumble and a recovery, and the image is up in all its glory— but the speaker has moved on, and the image is no longer relevant. It distracts. Full Story

Church Acoustics: Reverberation in a Room

Technology - by - March 11, 2009 - 07:00 Etc/GMT+5 - 1 Comment

The reverberation response of the room at different frequencies is one key measurement to examine in room acoustic design. What proper acoustic control does in a room is create a “live” feeling space while minimizing room excitement and slap-back to the platform, terms describing the effect of sound waves bouncing between the walls of a room and towards the stage. Well designed acoustical treatments will make it easy for hearers to listen, improve musician’s and vocalists’ performance space and reduce feedback, and clarify the sound picked up by the microphones to carry through to the loudspeakers.

Controlling reverb for the hearers
Acoustic control creates a good atmosphere for both musical worship and speech. Good control is making sure the spoken word is easy to hear while making sure the room is significantly lively for congregational worship. A singing congregation tends to sing more if they can hear themselves singing, thereby participating in worship. If the congregation can’t hear themselves singing, they tend to sing less; the atmosphere becomes more of a concert than worship. During speech- announcements, testimonies and sermons- it is critical to avoid ear fatigue.

Controlling reverb for the musicians and vocalists
Slap-back, long delayed reflections back onto stage, tend to muddy the sound. This makes it harder for the musicians and vocalists to hear themselves (distinguish themselves in the mix) so the stage is forced to drive louder volume levels. This sound is then jumping all over the room, creating a lot of noise that few find comfortable or appealing and musicians find frustrating.

Controlling reverb for the audio system and its engineers
The room acoustics need to work with the speaker system to keep the audio aimed on the congregation and absorb or properly disperse spill on the wall areas. The acoustics also need to help limit delayed sounds from bouncing back onto the stage and being picked up by the microphones, thus contributing to muddy sound and feedback problems. The ideal is a flat reverb where room acoustics are consistent across all frequencies (or pitch). When it comes to controlling sound, the acoustic device will be larger in size to accurately control larger frequencies (low tones) while higher frequencies (high tones) need smaller acoustic devices. Some of the room treatment will need to be fairly large, and these would be best placed on the large side walls or back walls above doors and windows. The mid to mid high frequencies are balanced with the smaller panels. Other treatment options include clouds (larger treatments on the ceiling), sprayed on materials, different wall construction techniques and curtains or other soft goods.

Sometimes overlapping goals of acoustics compete. The needs of speech, instrumental music, and congregational singing require compromises in the design of the acoustic package, keeping costs under control. The solution is to design acoustic packages that balance these needs and provide a cost effective solution that improves all these areas.

How NOT to treat a microphone

Technology, videos - by - March 3, 2009 - 15:00 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

This is why we recommend SM-58 microphones for youth groups and touring setups.


family, Technology - by - December 20, 2008 - 05:46 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

In my previous blog post (HERE) I mentioned I thought my lens may be part of my problem in achieving good pictures. After some more research, I purchased a 50mm prime lens (f/1.4) and had a chance to try it this evening. Wow, what a difference.
This photo (of my beautiful wife) was taken by the light of the Christmas tree. A quick set and shoot. So there is hope for my photos after all.

of power and computers

family, Technology - by - September 9, 2008 - 02:03 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

had a very interesting experience today. I purchased my kids an inexpensive dell laptop (used) about a year ago and have regretted it ever since. This laptop was such a dog – slow, unresponsive and impossible to use if you had more than one program running. I tried everything – wipe the drive, install xp straight up (no manuf. junk), hardware test, etc, etc. This should be an okay computer – 1.5GHz mobile celeron (yea, I know, but cheap), 1gb memory, 256mb dedicated graphics, 80gb harddrive, but it never worked well enough to be very usable.

Then the power supply died. yup, that little brick of a powersupply. So the laptop sat around for a couple of months…. I decided I would sell it and see if I could get any of the cash I put in it back out…. but I wanted to make sure it just needed a new power supply – so, I grabed a power supply off a HP laptop we have at church…. simular specs, simular plug…. wow, all of a sudden this computer actually works! I can even draw in Sketchup while I run an anti-virus scan. Could it have had a bad power supply all along?

Useful Software and Webware

Cool Products, Technology - by - August 4, 2008 - 03:43 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

Just a quick post – a couple very helpful and useful tools.

Need to take and organize notes? Several different people all suggested Evernote to me recently, so I signed up and wow, I really like it – very handy. It is software / webware / pdaware enabled and seems to go a great job keeping everything in sync!

And love drawing and organizing in Visio but can’t afford it? Check out Dia (sorry, not available for mac at this time….. still looking for a free alternative)

thank you to all who passed along these great programs to me!

How Much for a projector?

Technology - by - June 24, 2008 - 04:39 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

With the failure of the primary video projector during service this week, now is a good time to re-examine the practical aspects of how to choose a projector.

Why do we need such an expense as a projector?
When choosing an appropriate projection system one must consider the needs to be met and choose the components to satisfy those requirements. Light, room and screen size, and resolution are the variables to be considered.

The lighting conditions in the space will determine how bright the projection image must be to be seen clearly and with proper colors and definition. Just as the light from the projector reflects off the screen so one can see an image, the light in the room also is reflecting off the screen (usually WHITE light), competing in brightness with the image. Add to this a fundamental problem with projection – with dark areas of the video or image, you are trying to make a WHITE screen surface appear BLACK! Luckily, eyes have a limited range of sense from the brightest area of an image to the darkest area, so all we have to do is make what is suppose to be white or bright much brighter than the areas that are suppose to be dark or black. How bright of a projector that is required to do this depends on how much room light is reflecting off the screen causing the darker areas to be light. A movie theater is relatively dark, so it doesn’t take a real powerful projector to make the bright areas much brighter than the dark areas. A sanctuary and platform with lots of bright lights, however, requires a bright powerful projector to produce an image.

The size of the screen also determines how big a projector is needed. A finite amount of light comes out of the lens of the projector (measured in Lumens) and begins to spread. The farther the screen from the projector, the more the light has spread out and the larger the image. The problem is that finite amount of light is spread out over a larger and larger surface area, thus the amount of light reflecting back from any one area of the image is less and less. This is why a larger screen requires a more powerful projector than a small screen.

The viewing environment and use of the screen determines the size of the screen. A screen for a movie needs to be big enough to envelop the audience, to transport them into the movie and help them forget they are sitting in a theater with a couple hundred other people. A screen for a presentation needs to be large enough that the people sitting farthest from the screen can see and understand the images being shown. A screen for displaying lyrics and scriptures needs to be large enough that six to eight lines of text easily fit and can be read from the back of the room. Studies have shown that the optimal height of the screen should be 1/6th to 1/8th the distance to the last row of seats. For a sanctuary where the last row of seats is 120 feet away, this translates to a screen that is 15 to 20 feet tall. But don’t forget the front row, if the screen is too big they will not be able to view the entire screen from edge to edge, so the distance to the back row should be balanced with the distance to the front row, or more than one screen should be used, each covering different viewing areas. The width of the first row also effects the screen size and placement choices. As with many other things technical, tradeoffs need to be balanced in choosing the screen size.

How close the congregation is to the screen determines the need for resolution of the image. The closer people are to the screen, the more likely they will be able to see the individual pixels that make up the image. The larger the projected image is, the larger these pixel blocks are. Seeing individual pixels causes images and text to look jagged and grainy. With projection and other digital images there is also the “screen door” effect, where the black lines between individual pixels break up the image. When combined with motion video, this causes annoying artifacts for some, while other people are so sensitive to it as to feel motion sick – not the best atmosphere for worship. Those who study such things and set standards have determined the required resolution versus seating distances, based upon the human eye’s ability to discern the height of an image at a given distance. These standards can be applied to select the required resolution for the projection system.

Why won’t a consumer, portable projector work?
There are advertisements from the popular computer manufacturer or office supply house for inexpensive projectors that seem very bright. It is tempting to think that a thousand dollar projector will serve the congregation instead of spending tens of thousand dollars on a large venue projector, but that is seldom a satisfactory solution. There are some big differences between the consumer grade projector and the venue grade projector.

Large venue projectors can accept a wide range of lenses, so the proper lens can be chosen based upon the screen size and the best location to mount the projector. Portable projectors have a built in lens, which has a limited zoom range, limiting the distance from the screen these can be mounted. Because these projectors are often designed to be set up in conference rooms and class rooms front and center, the zoom range of the lens is designed to set the projector close to the screen – often impractical in a church sanctuary that holds more than 200 people (the typical size of a conference or class room).

Larger projectors are often designed for quiet and continuous operation, while portable projectors of often designed to be small and light weight. The consumer, portable projector uses noisy cooling fans to move a lot of air to keep them cool enough for short term use, but may overheat easier during long periods of operation.

Large venue projectors start at 4000 – 5000 lumens and are available up to 30,000 lumens plus, where as portable projectors typically are only available up to 3000 – 5000 lumens of brightness. As we have seen above, sanctuaries and worship centers often require much brighter projectors than a home theater or conference room, with the typical large screen requiring 10,000 to 12,000 lumens, much brighter than most portable projectors can provide.

There are many other specifications and room design factors that can help determine the right projector for the job, beyond the scope of this article, but the intent here is to give an overview of projection and the practical aspects of implementing it in a house of worship. For more information about projection systems, contact a church media consultant such as myself (jeff@essentricaudio.com) or let me suggest a design build firm such as Stark Raving Solution and let us design the right projection system.

How Do You Get Your CAST?

Cool Products, Media, Technology - by - June 28, 2007 - 17:56 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

Cast? What Cast?
podcast, vodcast, RSS feeds of various types – See, I ask because I know that a majority of you still just read what you want, when you want it using your web-browser. I have recently converted myself from one who just checked in when I felt like it, to one who subscribes to the feeds.

I resisted the movement for a long time – I figured the fad would pass, it was just a waste of time, I really didn’t need it, would not use it. Boy was I wrong. Everyone is blogging and podcasting. I even have heard that some church staff members are creating internal podcast just for their team members to improve communication. Now there is a thought – where is my microphone?

So what am I using?

  • iTunes for all the media content feeds (podcast / vodcast)
  • Vienna for all the blogs and news related feeds

It is nice to always have media I want to listen to ready on my iPod, and when I just have a minute and want to catch up on new, open Vienna and see what the latest is at all the sites I like to visit.