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Author Topic: Wireless Mixing for "Simple" Traditional Church Service  (Read 2575 times)

Bill Collins

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Wireless Mixing for "Simple" Traditional Church Service
« on: March 29, 2018, 05:26:35 pm »

Hello all,

I'm seeking recommendations for a situation I have not found in the archives. All I'm really looking for is a small mixer with a wireless tablet (or better yet, phone-based) interface. Eight balanced inputs is plenty. The interface needs to be simple enough for a handful of non-pro users to rotate the duty. Budget is modest, but I don't think we're asking for much. Maybe it's as simple as just buying the Behringer XR16? But I'm here to ask those with far more experience.

I know you guys like to know the nuts and bolts. We have a medium-large, traditional style sanctuary. It's an older church with 30ft ceilings, it seats 300, and features a large pipe organ. So our sound system needs are modest in terms of inputs and processing. There is no praise band and only occasional need to mic a vocal soloist. The sanctuary is brilliant for unassisted choir, piano, and organ music. But the space is very challenging for distributing the spoken word throughout the space. We have a pulpit mic, a lectern, 2 handheld wireless mics, a wireless lavaliere, and a rarely used CD input.

We've gotten by for 25 years or so with a "best design for the time" system of amps and speakers, with wireless mics added along the way. The current "mixer" is a LectroSonic DM84 DSP. This was set up by the vendor as a turnkey operation. There's no mixing interface, physical or digital, other than a tiny gain knob for each channel. I figure we can just swap that unit with the X16 (or similar). There's plenty of rack space in our cabinet, but we have no mixing console space.

Of course the perfect-world option for sound geeks would be a state of the art overhaul with more/better speakers arrayed for optimal coverage of every seat in the sanctuary, and a new stack of processing gear to match. But this is no megachurch and definitely no mega budget. A live body out in the room with a pad who can merely adjust levels on the fly would be a huge improvement over what we have at present. Some of the modern auto-leveling features and maybe a little EQ would be better yet. Small is good and expandability is not a factor. If we are ever in a position to expand the system, we really will look at a more complete overhaul.

Thanks in advance,
Bill
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Taylor Phillips

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Re: Wireless Mixing for "Simple" Traditional Church Service
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2018, 06:58:26 pm »

Bill, you might be out of compliance with the forum rules with your real name not being your displayed username - unless perhaps it's your middle name that's Bill, with Piper as the first, in which case you should be fine.

Anyway, the XR16 would fit the tool you are looking for, and there are similar products offered by others which you may like better, but I do wonder if you're addressing the correct problem.  Since you said singing and music sound nice in your space, I can't help but wonder if it's your speaker placement and coverage which is the real culprit of poor sound during spoken word.  Unless a speaker is unusually dynamic, alternating between loud and soft, or if they have poor mic technique and don't keep it a consistent distance from their mouth, there should be little need to adjust levels for spoken word.  It would certainly be necessary if you have different people coming up to the lectern to do readings, but you said it was difficult to distribute the sound throughout the space.  Sounds more like a coverage problem than a mixing problem.  As nice as a new mixer would be, if it's not going to fix the problem, you shouldn't get it.  Just my $0.02
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Mac Kerr

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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2018, 07:51:55 pm »

Hello all,

I'm seeking recommendations for a situation I have not found in the archives.

Please go to your profile and change the "Name" field to your real first and last name as required by the posting rules displayed in the header at the top of the section, and in the Site Rules and Suggestions in the Forum Announcements section, and on the registration page when you registered.

Mac
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Bill Collins

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Re: Wireless Mixing for "Simple" Traditional Church Service
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2018, 09:27:52 pm »

Anyway, the XR16 would fit the tool you are looking for, and there are similar products offered by others which you may like better, but I do wonder if you're addressing the correct problem.  Since you said singing and music sound nice in your space, I can't help but wonder if it's your speaker placement and coverage which is the real culprit of poor sound during spoken word.  Unless a speaker is unusually dynamic, alternating between loud and soft, or if they have poor mic technique and don't keep it a consistent distance from their mouth, there should be little need to adjust levels for spoken word.  It would certainly be necessary if you have different people coming up to the lectern to do readings, but you said it was difficult to distribute the sound throughout the space.  Sounds more like a coverage problem than a mixing problem.  As nice as a new mixer would be, if it's not going to fix the problem, you shouldn't get it.  Just my $0.02

Mea culpa on the display name, but I fixed it. Thanks for the reply.

You are right about issues with speaker placement and coverage, and also right about some user issues with the mics. But we do have many different participants in our services, and they rotate from week to week. (We also pass a wireless handheld around the congregation for announcements and prayer requests.)

So it's a bit of both. User training can always be better, but we can't go the whole way with that. Speakers and placement could definitely be better, but with the design and rigging required to address the space, in addition to new hardware, that would be a solution in the tens of thousands of dollars. Not going to happen any time soon. Hence the attraction of a mixer in the middle of the room, for $1,000 or less.

I'm not an audio pro, but I was in a college band and I liked our Behrenger gear well enough back in the day. But I don't have any direct experience with tablet mixer interfaces. Another thing that might be worth something extra would be a rack unit with physical knobs for some gain control in the event there's no one in the moment handy with the iPad or whatever. I'm a little leery of having all-remote control with no control at the rack just in case. It's that kind of congregation...
But the easier the interface, the less likely that would be an issue.

So the path I'm pointed down is the XR16 I mentioned. But I appreciate the opportunity to get thoughtful advice from experienced folks.

Thanks again.
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Robert Lofgren

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Re: Wireless Mixing for "Simple" Traditional Church Service
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2018, 04:21:31 am »

Since I like to mix on a tactile surface; The x-air line of mixers can be controlled using the x-touch.

I would also make sure to get a proper wifi router for the x-air mixer.
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Bill Collins

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Re: Wireless Mixing for "Simple" Traditional Church Service
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2018, 08:10:23 am »

Since I like to mix on a tactile surface; The x-air line of mixers can be controlled using the x-touch.

I would also make sure to get a proper wifi router for the x-air mixer.

I was reading up on the Xtouch line after posting last night. That does sound like a good option.

The current Xair models have their own built-in wi-fi routers. Are they problematic for any reason?

Thanks!
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: Wireless Mixing for "Simple" Traditional Church Service
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2018, 10:15:52 am »

I was reading up on the Xtouch line after posting last night. That does sound like a good option.

The current Xair models have their own built-in wi-fi routers. Are they problematic for any reason?

Thanks!

The built in routers only operate in the 2.4ghz band and for lack of a better term "weak". Your much better off to connect it to a decent external router with 5g operation.

Look at the small Soundcraft Ui 12 or 16 series mixers. They don't require an app to operate the mixer, they use a browser interface, anything with a current web browser can log into the mixer and operate it. I feel the Ui operating interface is better than the X air.
For what it's worth the Ui12 and Ui16 both have "weak' internal routers as well and you need to use an external router with them.


As for your the mention of your room:

 "The sanctuary is brilliant for unassisted choir, piano, and organ music. But the space is very challenging for distributing the spoken word throughout the space."

That is how it usually works!!! I don't know what the rest of your system is other than the LectroSonic DM84 you mentioned, maybe better speakers, re aming of your speakers could help?
You LectroSonic DM84 is a fairly powerful DSP unit, maybe it was never properly set up for your room and system.

Bill Collins

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Re: Wireless Mixing for "Simple" Traditional Church Service
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2018, 12:22:14 pm »

The built in routers only operate in the 2.4ghz band and for lack of a better term "weak". Your much better off to connect it to a decent external router with 5g operation.

Look at the small Soundcraft Ui 12 or 16 series mixers. They don't require an app to operate the mixer, they use a browser interface, anything with a current web browser can log into the mixer and operate it. I feel the Ui operating interface is better than the X air.
For what it's worth the Ui12 and Ui16 both have "weak' internal routers as well and you need to use an external router with them.


As for your the mention of your room:

 "The sanctuary is brilliant for unassisted choir, piano, and organ music. But the space is very challenging for distributing the spoken word throughout the space."

That is how it usually works!!! I don't know what the rest of your system is other than the LectroSonic DM84 you mentioned, maybe better speakers, re aming of your speakers could help?
You LectroSonic DM84 is a fairly powerful DSP unit, maybe it was never properly set up for your room and system.

Thanks for the insights on the routers and interfaces for each unit.

As I said before, I do believe the best solution would be more/better speakers and speaker positioning. That's just way beyond budget at present.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the LectroSonic unit as far as it goes, but the mics have changed over time since it was first set up. We don't have the cables and connectors to interface a computer to adjust or control it, and I don't think we're succeeding with the "set it up once and forget it" approach.

With that said, I do intend to approach the sound shop that originally provided that equipment. But apparently the last time our board talked to them, they didn't really want to talk about any solutions that didn't involve new speakers ($$$). I believe in the value of professional expertise. So I want to put together a credible Plan A that they might support if we show to them, or maybe nudge them toward a more affordable Plan B. That, or we just run with Plan A if they still can't provide some help within our means.
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Joel Schroer

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Re: Wireless Mixing for "Simple" Traditional Church Service
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2018, 01:25:02 pm »

Bill,
I can very much understand your aspect of not wanting to drop a ton of $$ into a system! A lot of churches have to work off of a budget and these days it can be pretty tight.  It almost sounds like your system just needs to be 'refreshed'.  I'm a firm believer of maximizing what you have first and have found, in some cases, all that is needed is a fresh setup.

Some suggestions... Take some time and just run audio through the system when there is no one in the sanctuary.  I normally choose something orchestral due to the wide range of frequencies.  Walk around the room and look for dead spots and how it REALLY sounds to you.

Download the manuals for the equipment that is currently there and see what settings might be useable and changeable.  Try tweaking, however always document what the current set-up is so that you have something to 'go back to'.
A thought on the "brick mixer". I've got an XAir 18 and really like it, however check out the Soundcraft mixers that are similar. Download the Connected PA software and play with it. I am considering installing the Ui24R in a local church simply because the software interface appears to be more ("lightly trained") user friendly than the one for the XAir.  And yes... they have a browser interface as well.
Mike is absolutely right on the built-in WIFI on the Behringer units.  I've also had problems with using them wired via Ethernet and a USB/Ethernet adapter. (Nope. Not blaming the brick on that one...) 

Good luck!
Joel Schroer
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Erik Jerde

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Re: Wireless Mixing for "Simple" Traditional Church Service
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2018, 02:39:14 pm »

The small x-air system may be the way to go.  If you need something simpler and more limited for non-tech people to operate then looking into a DSP product with a customizable tablet app may be wise.  It will cost more than an xair but may give you a cleaner and more user friendly result.  There are also dedicated touch screens for these products as well that can be placed in the facility for limited easy access hands-on control.  Many also have auto-mixer functions that could be beneficial for your application.  Im partial to the QSC Q-Sys platform myself.
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