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Author Topic: A thought on the previous post  (Read 3983 times)

Doug Hammel

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A thought on the previous post
« on: December 09, 2013, 01:19:05 pm »

As I was reading the previous post about the church with a SD-5, I was thinking, again, how many churches I have seen that go out and buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of high end gear, get it installed, sometimes right, sometimes wrong and then wonder why their volunteer tech crew does not get good results. Now I know all churches use volunteers and they have to, but at a certain point the church has to hire professionals to run their systems and take care of them. I am not knocking volunteers, there are a lot of highly qualified individuals out there doing church sound as a volunteer, but at a certain point a church has to have a certain level of professional accountability and that means hiring qualified, professional audio people. A lot of these systems demand it. If that was the case with the church with the SD-5 they would be doing a scene change and a quick verification check if that.
Just my little vent for today
Cheers everyone,     
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Doug Hammel

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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: A thought on the previous post
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2013, 01:28:44 pm »

As I was reading the previous post about the church with a SD-5, I was thinking, again, how many churches I have seen that go out and buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of high end gear, get it installed, sometimes right, sometimes wrong and then wonder why their volunteer tech crew does not get good results. Now I know all churches use volunteers and they have to, but at a certain point the church has to hire professionals to run their systems and take care of them. I am not knocking volunteers, there are a lot of highly qualified individuals out there doing church sound as a volunteer, but at a certain point a church has to have a certain level of professional accountability and that means hiring qualified, professional audio people. A lot of these systems demand it. If that was the case with the church with the SD-5 they would be doing a scene change and a quick verification check if that.
Just my little vent for today
Cheers everyone,   
Churches, like the rest of society, are filled with flawed people, flawed decision making, and flawed execution.  There is no one-size-fits-all solution.  Some churches over-buy because someone told them they needed it, some churches make repeated poor decisions buying crap from Guitar Center that doesn't meet the functional requirements.  Some volunteers are very competent, some paid techs are incompetent, etc. 

My two wishes for the new year are that churches humbly seek to understand their technical requirements and options - keeping in mind what they're able to execute with available labor and finances, and that both techs and "talent" humbly seek to be more and more Christ-like in their dealings with each other, the rest of the church, and the secular world around.
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Tommy Peel

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Re: A thought on the previous post
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2013, 02:56:29 pm »

A little less than a year ago I installed a x32 at a church(where I go sometimes and my parents go all the time) to replace an old(15-20+ years old) and failing Behringer analog board. IMO the x32 was(still is for now) overkill for their situation(a MixWiz would have handled their needs for now just fine), but they pastor really wanted to go digital so that's what we did. In the end I think they'll be very glad they went with the x32 as I think their music program will be expanding over the next few years and the extra channels and capabilities will be used(though a S16 will need to be added to get all the channels on the stage as the analog snake in use now is only a 16x4).
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Brad Weber

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Re: A thought on the previous post
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2013, 09:11:32 am »

A little less than a year ago I installed a x32 at a church(where I go sometimes and my parents go all the time) to replace an old(15-20+ years old) and failing Behringer analog board. IMO the x32 was(still is for now) overkill for their situation(a MixWiz would have handled their needs for now just fine), but they pastor really wanted to go digital so that's what we did. In the end I think they'll be very glad they went with the x32 as I think their music program will be expanding over the next few years and the extra channels and capabilities will be used(though a S16 will need to be added to get all the channels on the stage as the analog snake in use now is only a 16x4).
I believe the important aspect in your example is that the equipment and technology used should fit the situation and be considered in that context.  Too many people seem to look at audio and AV systems as "equipment" they purchase rather than as solutions to help effectively serve their goals and vision.  And it is way too common to find churches trying to purchase new audio systems without having any good idea of why they are doing so, what their expectations are for those systems or how they plan to implement them, they seem to believe that simply implementing new technology will inherently result in an improvement and there are plenty of vendors more than willing to support that perspective.
 
Thus I am a firm advocate of starting any discussion of church audio with first discussing the situation and goals as those should be what drive any actual equipment or technology decisions.
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Mac Kerr

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Re: A thought on the previous post
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2013, 11:50:27 am »

Too many people seem to look at audio and AV systems as "equipment" they purchase rather than as solutions to help effectively serve their goals and vision.

This may be particularly noticeable in the HOW market, but it is common across all markets. The first thing to discuss is the goal, till then there is no way to define a solution.

Mac
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Cyrus Masters

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Re: A thought on the previous post
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2013, 11:32:59 pm »

As I was reading the previous post about the church with a SD-5, I was thinking, again, how many churches I have seen that go out and buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of high end gear, get it installed, sometimes right, sometimes wrong and then wonder why their volunteer tech crew does not get good results. Now I know all churches use volunteers and they have to, but at a certain point the church has to hire professionals to run their systems and take care of them. I am not knocking volunteers, there are a lot of highly qualified individuals out there doing church sound as a volunteer, but at a certain point a church has to have a certain level of professional accountability and that means hiring qualified, professional audio people. A lot of these systems demand it. If that was the case with the church with the SD-5 they would be doing a scene change and a quick verification check if that.
Just my little vent for today
Cheers everyone,   

   There are preaching churches where the sound system is not even a consideration unless its creating a disruption; then there are Churches that look at the product/show they are producing. Often where there is sound problem the focus is so much on the person they don't see the environment they are subjecting their guests and members too. I think all preacher students should have to take a credit or two in sound re-enforcement, not so much to make them competent but aware.
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Aaron Nickerson

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Re: A thought on the previous post
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2013, 01:04:07 pm »

I think all preacher students should have to take a credit or two in sound re-enforcement, not so much to make them competent but aware.
I think this might have been a good idea 20 years ago.  But most current lead pastors have been out of school for a while.

As a full-time church sound guy with a degree in theology, most of the "preacher students" I went to school with have a much better appreciation for sound re-enforcement than the lead pastors I have worked with.  I would not go so far as to say they have an understanding, but they are at least aware. 

As has been suggested, I think humility is the key.  For both pastoral leadership, volunteer techs, and paid techs.  Having the humility to say "I don't know" goes a long way. 
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: A thought on the previous post
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2013, 11:55:57 pm »

I have been a volunteer tech in our church for 20 years-I know a lot more now than I did 20 years ago-and I understand better now how much I do not know!  There have been times I would have hired an outside professional-and in fact tried to get a proposal on a speaker system a number of years ago.  My problem at that time and now is this-I may not know as much as professional tech on the sound side of things; however, I DO know the building acoustics(a very lively auditorium built in the 1860s with no consideration for SR!) , the pastors preferences, what special events need to be planned for, and I have a feel for the vision of the church that no tech is going to learn in a 20 min sales call-and if he is not interested in listening to our needs, but instead just wants to sell a system like the last 10 he installed and tell me this is how sound works and you can't do this and that, his "professional" knowledge is of little use to me-especially when I have been doing what "can't" be done for years, just because I was willing to figure out a way to do what the customer (pastor) wanted to do. Not trying to be harsh-but just giving my perspective, in my mind a professional has to be good at listening-both to a sound system and to a customers needs and desires even if that means being creative.
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Steve Swaffer

Brad Weber

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Re: A thought on the previous post
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2013, 11:59:04 am »

I have been a volunteer tech in our church for 20 years-I know a lot more now than I did 20 years ago-and I understand better now how much I do not know!  There have been times I would have hired an outside professional-and in fact tried to get a proposal on a speaker system a number of years ago.  My problem at that time and now is this-I may not know as much as professional tech on the sound side of things; however, I DO know the building acoustics(a very lively auditorium built in the 1860s with no consideration for SR!) , the pastors preferences, what special events need to be planned for, and I have a feel for the vision of the church that no tech is going to learn in a 20 min sales call-and if he is not interested in listening to our needs, but instead just wants to sell a system like the last 10 he installed and tell me this is how sound works and you can't do this and that, his "professional" knowledge is of little use to me-especially when I have been doing what "can't" be done for years, just because I was willing to figure out a way to do what the customer (pastor) wanted to do. Not trying to be harsh-but just giving my perspective, in my mind a professional has to be good at listening-both to a sound system and to a customers needs and desires even if that means being creative.
It's surprising how many times people have contacted me regarding upgrading or replacing a system and then not been able to readily voice why they wanted to do so or their goals.  Or they simply ask for "what other churches like them do".  I believe that in most cases people are looking for a change because they want something different and/or better but have simply never really considered what it is that they find deficient with the existing system, what they want and expect from a new system, their priorities, etc.  They know their situation better than anyone and thus this is an effort where many churches and other groups can often help themselves and any audio professionals they involve by discussing and documenting such issues on their own prior to contacting a professional.
 
From the other side, the time and effort vendors may be willing to invest in helping define your needs may depend on the likelihood of getting a return on that investment.  If you are getting bids from everyone around and it appears that being the 'low bid' may be a primary factor in any decision then it may be difficult for a Consultant, Contractor or Installer to justify investing much time upfront.  On the other hand, if you are willing to pay something for those services (Consulting) or to commit to using a provider upfront (typical for a Design/Build Contractor) then they can usually much more readily justify investing whatever time and effort may be appropriate.
 
I will add that an oft overlooked aspect of such "Programming" or "Needs Analysis" is considering the technical resources available.  That may mean matching the technology employed to the resources available even if it results in 'lower tech' solutions.  Or it may mean focusing on providing additional technical training and education for tech personnel, in some cases possibly in lieu of spending that money on the technology itself.  Or perhaps even hiring qualified professionals to operate and support the new systems.  But I believe that the operation and support of the technical systems is an important factor in determining appropriate and effective solutions for those systems.
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: A thought on the previous post
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2013, 04:23:11 pm »

Brad,

All good points-and a helpful post.  I am not trying to rant on pro contractors by any means-just provide food for thought.  I am an electrical contractor during the week-so I understand not wanting to engineer something for nothing and I understand needing to know what needs done-"fix my wiring" is not helpful in many cases.

In my case, I called the contractor who had done an upgrade about 8? years earlier.  They were my only contact-and it was just can you help with this and how much will it cost?  (I have customers like this-they get as good or better value than those that require competitive bidding-since I don't have the overhead and want to keep them!) I asked for help with a "hot spot" in the front of the auditorium-and told him we run the monitors pretty hot.  The only solution he would consider was turning down the monitors.  OK-I don't need a pro to tell me that.  I was thinking adjusting house speakers to provide less coverage there, etc.  Now, I know I am doing things all "wrong" right now with the way we run monitors-which most would consider "wrong" but it works-and we just had a big Christmas event with a photographer present that does some of the biggest events at one of the largest venues in the state and he was complimentary on everything including sound comparing favorably to the "pros"-so I don't think I would consider our sound "bad" by any means-but the setup is certainly "outside of the box."

I also later learned  of  a shortcut they too during the major upgrade (speakers, amps, processors and mics-about the only thing untouched was the mic snake).  At the time the church had no one really interested in sound they just wanted to turn it on and have it sound good.  The contractor sold them EV mics (935's??)-I eventually went to less sexy, cheaper SM58s for durability and they fit our 'sound' better in my opinion (think old fashioned gospel quartet).  But I could never figure out why every channel on the mixer sounded so different-and some just bad-until I replaced the snake during an upgrade.  In the stage box I found a haphazard assortment of caps across various channels-I am guessing an attempt to reduce RFI.  Simply fixing that issue would have provided a "low" tech customer with a much better and easier to run system-though perhaps not quite as profitable of a job.  Yes, it would take a true dedicated pro to find and fix-but that is what they thought they were paying for.
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Steve Swaffer
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