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Author Topic: How hot is too hot?  (Read 761 times)

Adam Greene

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How hot is too hot?
« on: July 08, 2014, 05:08:17 am »

Greetings All,  Newbie here.  I've been involved with Church sound as a volunteer for 20 plus years.  The church I am at now is a smaller church - about 300 seats.  I recently replaced the old Peavey mains (center cluster) with some older, but high end EV XI 1123-106 cabs.  I have them tri amped with subs on the floor in front of the stage.  I will have other posts coming about the particulars of the set up as we have had these installed for a couple of months.  While they are awesome sounding and a MAJOR upgrade, the question I have here is about SPL level.  The worship leader is constantly having me turn up the system while some in the audience are complaining about it being too loud.  He likes to get most of his monitor from the mains.  While he is not directly in the sound field, he can hear them pretty well from the front of the stage.  I know this is a problem we've been battling for as long as pa's have been in Churches, but the 'new' speakers have made the problem much worse it seems.  I have never really used an spl meter as my ears are still pretty sensitive, however just bought an audio tools app for my iPhone.  Playing with it in my studio, it seems to work pretty well.  Not sure exactly how accurate it is.  The XI cabs do an amazing job of dispersion and maintaining intelligibility throughout the auditorium, but of course with any point source set up, they are somewhat hotter at the aiming points.  What is some opinions on average spl levels at the hottest and the coldest areas of the auditorium?
Thanks,
Adam Greene
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Caleb Dick

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Re: How hot is too hot?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2014, 05:34:50 am »

We aim for + or - 2dB variance, across as broad a frequency spectrum as possible.  Usually with point source speakers.

For SPL of how loud to mix at, it all depends on how well it's mixed, capability of the system, and preferences.  Between 80 and 105, with many of the more modern churches around 90 dB SPL at the booth.
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Tom Young

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Re: How hot is too hot?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2014, 07:06:08 am »

While they are awesome sounding and a MAJOR upgrade, the question I have here is about SPL level.  The worship leader is constantly having me turn up the system while some in the audience are complaining about it being too loud.  He likes to get most of his monitor from the mains.  While he is not directly in the sound field, he can hear them pretty well from the front of the stage.

Turning the FOH up to the point where congregants are getting blasted because the worship leader uses this as his monitor is pretty lame on his part. You can work with him and provide a wedge or IEM's (independent of the FOH level) or you can reduce the stage level (band and stage monitors) so the FOH is relatively louder but without being too loud in the house.
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Jeff Carter

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Re: How hot is too hot?
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2014, 10:45:42 am »

The XI cabs do an amazing job of dispersion and maintaining intelligibility throughout the auditorium, but of course with any point source set up, they are somewhat hotter at the aiming points.  What is some opinions on average spl levels at the hottest and the coldest areas of the auditorium?

I would say maintaining consistent frequency balance and intelligibility throughout the room is more important than keeping constant total SPL. After all, I'm sure there's quite a range of SPL tolerance in your (or any) congregation. The challenge of course is convincing the people complaining about high SPL to move somewhere quieter...

As far as the worship leader goes... I agree with Tom that you need to work with the worship leader on other monitoring options. Presumably he's always on stage and doesn't really get a sense of what things are really like out in the seats--is there somebody he would trust to listen and advise on volume in the house?

I've never had the chance to play around with any iPhone apps but the Android ones I've seen on Samsung phones don't tend to line up very well with our Galaxy CM-130 meter, basically anywhere up to +/- 5 dB depending on the content.  If you're in a situation where you need to debunk claims of possible OSHA violations or hearing damage (I've been there before...) it's probably worth investing in a decent meter.
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Adam Greene

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Re: How hot is too hot?
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2014, 01:12:53 pm »

I would say maintaining consistent frequency balance and intelligibility throughout the room is more important than keeping constant total SPL. After all, I'm sure there's quite a range of SPL tolerance in your (or any) congregation. The challenge of course is convincing the people complaining about high SPL to move somewhere quieter...

As far as the worship leader goes... I agree with Tom that you need to work with the worship leader on other monitoring options. Presumably he's always on stage and doesn't really get a sense of what things are really like out in the seats--is there somebody he would trust to listen and advise on volume in the house?

I've never had the chance to play around with any iPhone apps but the Android ones I've seen on Samsung phones don't tend to line up very well with our Galaxy CM-130 meter, basically anywhere up to +/- 5 dB depending on the content.  If you're in a situation where you need to debunk claims of possible OSHA violations or hearing damage (I've been there before...) it's probably worth investing in a decent meter.



That's the thing.  He does have a wedge next to him on an auxilliary mix.  He just prefers to leave that low and listen to the mains.  I will of course, keep the spl's low enough not to cause hearing loss.  If I had to guess, we are peaking around 100 - 102 db with an average of around 93 - 95db at the hotest part of the auditorium - based on past experience working in a much larger church that could afford audio tools.  Whatever I use, I will end up buying.  Maybe I can borrow a good meter from someone to calibrate my app.  I was impressed when I tested the apps RTA in my studio.  Running pink noise and running the analyzer, it nailed the frequencies.  As I turned up and down a given frequency on a GEQ - the response on the RTA was exact.  And that is with the built in mic.  We are certainly not  in the extreme loudness catagory, I just hate to offend anyone.  But as the old saying goes, you can't please them all and that goes double for church.   As far as someone else he can trust to listen?  I will suggest that to him.  All he gets is praise from the audience.  Me or one of the ushers get the complaints. 
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: How hot is too hot?
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2014, 01:50:06 pm »

The worship leader is constantly having me turn up the system while some in the audience are complaining about it being too loud.  He likes to get most of his monitor from the mains.  While he is not directly in the sound field, he can hear them pretty well from the front of the stage.

So he wants to hear the CD version of him singing. Problem is, when you turn up the mains so he can hear what he NEEDS to hear, you are also turning up what he DOESN'T need to hear; you haven't changed any ratios and haven't really addressed his needs. I guess you could just put the FOH mix into his monitor.

All he gets is praise from the audience.  Me or one of the ushers get the complaints. 

"I'm sorry, the worship leader has asked us to turn it up that loud."
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lindsay Dean

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Re: How hot is too hot?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2014, 01:53:44 pm »



That's the thing.  He does have a wedge next to him on an auxilliary mix.  He just prefers to leave that low and listen to the mains.  I will of course, keep the spl's low enough not to cause hearing loss.  If I had to guess, we are peaking around 100 - 102 db with an average of around 93 - 95db at the hotest part of the auditorium - based on past experience working in a much larger church that could afford audio tools.  Whatever I use, I will end up buying.  Maybe I can borrow a good meter from someone to calibrate my app.  I was impressed when I tested the apps RTA in my studio.  Running pink noise and running the analyzer, it nailed the frequencies.  As I turned up and down a given frequency on a GEQ - the response on the RTA was exact.  And that is with the built in mic.  We are certainly not  in the extreme loudness catagory, I just hate to offend anyone.  But as the old saying goes, you can't please them all and that goes double for church.   As far as someone else he can trust to listen?  I will suggest that to him.  All he gets is praise from the audience.  Me or one of the ushers get the complaints.

 I am a lead vocalist and have been running sound for a long time , so ive been on both sides of the fence.(not at the same time). I have always liked to hear the room ambience created by the mains along with the monitors. However in smaller venues i would add a >small< amount of delay and or reverb in my monitors. You could try this with him and run his monitor a little hotter and see how it goes.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2014, 01:55:57 pm by lindsay Dean »
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: How hot is too hot?
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2014, 07:37:58 pm »

I would say maintaining consistent frequency balance and intelligibility throughout the room is more important than keeping constant total SPL.
That is something that is often overlooked.

I have seen systems that "measured within specs" but yet had HUGE (20dB) holes in the response over numerous seating areas.

If there is a large "bump" in the response, it will show up on the SPL meter as being "even" even though the actual response is quite different.

As usual-you have to look a bit deeper to get the real answer.
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: How hot is too hot?
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2014, 08:31:11 pm »


I guess you could just put the FOH mix into his monitor.


We actually use a "modified" FOH mix.  We use a post fade aux with the sends set to more or less duplicate the FOH mix-but if something needs to be tweaked (in our case the pastor usually wants a lot more piano in the monitor) it can be done.  Of course, the speakers are different so there is some difference.  May not be "right" but seems to work for us.

Why does he want to hear the mains?  I always go with the pastor's preference, but I am not against a private friendly attempt to get to a workable understanding-and have posted here to get answers to back up my position on occasion. (Sometimes that backfires!)
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Adam Greene

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Re: How hot is too hot?
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2014, 09:19:22 am »

We actually use a "modified" FOH mix.  We use a post fade aux with the sends set to more or less duplicate the FOH mix-but if something needs to be tweaked (in our case the pastor usually wants a lot more piano in the monitor) it can be done.  Of course, the speakers are different so there is some difference.  May not be "right" but seems to work for us.

Why does he want to hear the mains?


I don't see anything wrong with running the main mix back into a channel to insert into an auxillary mix, but the difference is in the speakers I suppose.  A $200 Peavey wedge (not knocking Peavey) vs. a $4000 (back when it was new) Electro-Voice - tri amped installation speaker.  Even though he isn't directly in the sound field the wash sounds pretty good. 
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 12:24:36 pm by Mac Kerr »
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