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Author Topic: Gain structure issue  (Read 2317 times)

Luke Geis

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2020, 12:27:56 am »

As a person who has been on both sides of the stage, I can say this: A LOT of MUSICIANS THINK they ARE GREAT at mixing and have A GOOD EAR. And to them, I say this: If every musician that was God's gift to audio was in the business of doing audio, I wouldn't be here today... If you are not selling out stadiums or making millions playing your instrument in a band that almost anybody could know, and you work at Binky's Burger Barn as a manager, then you are obviously NOT in a place to tell me what is best.

I myself am not God's gift to audio, I am here to make your day easier and fun, so let me. DO NOT try and sell me on the fact that your ear has gotten you where you are. This is the pessimistic, passive-aggressive mindset I have when someone tells me that this is what they want despite any other practical reasoning.

Now the businessman and professional in me has a totally different reaction when I come across such situations where the talent wants to dictate my talent. I am obviously not as snarky and crude in my delivery. I usually ask loaded questions ( I am a type-A passive-aggressive personality after all ) that force the talent to answer obviously and candidly to themselves and me. Questions like, I am here because you wanted a professional who can portray and deliver your talent the best it can be right? Or, I have been doing sound professionally for X years and have worked with x numbers of bands, do you believe that I have an idea of what works and what doesn't? And even more obvious, I am out there with the people who look at me when things go bad, nobody looks at me when things go right except for you, so can I do what I do so that you're the only one who looks at me?

And then there is learning when to walk away. I had a venue where I designed and set up the PA system. The " Talent " was one of those types where they had to feel the sound, the room, and the vibe to be who they were. This talent wanted me to do things that went against every grain of reasoning, practicality, and professionalism I had. He was adamant that his idea, goal, and my purpose was to make those ideas and goals a reality. To the point where I finally set it exactly as he wanted it, and let the destruction begin. Within two weeks, he blew two monitors, lost the subs to overheating, had noise complaints, and had to cut back on the number of nights his tenure played. He was a pianist who did a SOLO act at a piano bar. They wanted it to be an easy thing where I was only needed on call. The talent should only need to recall a preset. I spent two weeks trying everything I could think of before I decided to let it be. They called me in to fix the broken stuff that they upgraded to a higher spec and I told them I have done all I can do. 2 other engineers later, they are in the same situation as they were before. A pianist who knows more than anyone else about sound...

Who are you? What are they? Who can't they be? What are you for them? If they will not allow you the respect and professionalism to be what you are for them, then you don't need to be there. Let someone else be the guy everyone looks at. As a musician, there is an old saying: To be a better musician, you have to play in bands or groups with musicians that are better than you. It's true too. If you're not the worst player in the room, then you are carrying someone. Your talent as a sound guy should not be wasted by a clergy, band member, or other entity that doesn't respect what you do. From a job perspective, you are there for the band to represent them, but the reality is that you are there for you too. It's your ears, your reputation, and your work, you should NEVER be told or made to think that it is discardable, moot, or negligible to the end result. If every musician or band treated you that way, there wouldn't be people like Chris Lord Alge, Mick Hughes, Luke Geis, or Tim Weaver. Find a way to hold your talent to a higher standard by trusting yourself and making them trust you. If you can't and they won't respect it, then move on.

Most of doing this is actually doing it. You don't often get much better by doing what someone else told you to do. You have to trudge your own ground in a way. Obviously, there are best standards and practices, but there are at least a half dozen ways or more to do the same exact things. The way you stand out is by the way you do things. This can be from your work ethic and attitude to your ability to actually polish a real turd. If you can truly polish a turd and the band/talent/clergy won't let you, then that is really a problem.
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2020, 05:13:17 pm »


It is also easy for people to be convinced they are hearing something they are not-I've caught myself adjusting something and pleased with my adjustments-only to find out I wasn't adjusting what I thought I was-and if others are honest they'll admit doing the same thing.

Compressor in bypass is the usual one for me. Guess I didn't need it that much.

Chris
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2020, 01:28:34 pm »

Steve,

Y I'm probably a bit too frugal to be in charge of a Worship budget.  Stuff just costs too much and I feel like any A/V supplier or installer, electrician or any contractor like to prey on churches just knowing they're filled with money.


I'm not sure that happens much-at least in my area, but I am in the rural midwest not a large metro area.  We (my church) just embarked on a major (for us) electrical upgrade.  Bid was $40,000 to rework the service-a significant chunk of change for something that most people will never really see a difference from-or at least not recognize.  Also, a cost I felt many might think excessive-thing is I am a licensed electrical contractor that could've done the work-and in fact priced it out but it was just too much do on evenings and weekends.  At my day job, I routinely hire outside electrical as well as other contractors-the pricing is in line and normal, but people that only do DIY around the house have no idea of the costs and how much things change when you jump to commercial over resi.  I think that is one of the biggest disconnects with budgets in a lot of churches-good people, volunteering their time, but their point of reference is residential DIY not commercial/professional.

That said, sometimes I feel like professionals discount how much talent some volunteers have just because they're not getting paid to do it-or discount the fact that, sometimes something other than top-of-the line makes sense because the budget dictates and it is good enough to provide a stepping stone to the future.
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John P. Whiteker

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2020, 07:50:30 am »


1. If there is not trust, do you have the skills to deserve it? If not get there.
2. If there is not trust, what steps have you taken to build it?

Matthias,  you make very valid points.  I appreciate the feedback. We are having trust issues for sure.  I'm in sort of a triangle, all of a sudden trying to make my worship leader happy, Pastor happy, and all the while, not kill my audience with 120db spikes. Considering the level of trust that has been compromised, I'm struggling with continuing.

 I feel that I'm a little more qualified than a weekend warrior sound guy.  I've been running FOH for about 14 yrs and I think this is my 10th Worship leader.  I wouldn't call myself an engineer.  I do trust my ears for sure and my ability to gain stage correctly.  I trust my EQ'ing skills about 80%.  I used to trust them more but recently while fighting some recurring feedback I started searching around the 600 MHz range.  Once I finally found it, it was located at 120Hz and 180Hz.  Wow!  I guess on the plus side, I was still knowledgeable enough to fix it.  But I do need to study EQ a bit more to tune my ear further. 

Our monitor nightmare is this:  Galaxy AS1100 IEM with KZ AS10's.  Worship leader changes quite often from using them to not using them.  Even though I incorporate some room mics, says he can't feel the room.  These AS1100's were recommended to me by someone I trusted.  I wish I would've demo'd them first.  They don't have the power to carry the low end needed for a good kick drum or bass guitar reference.   Worship leader has been pretty adamant that I mix the room loud enough and harsh enough that he has a good reference while standing behind the mains.  It has been a real struggle.  Now, I'm debating Shure PSM-300 and custom molds, or trying some fairly nice powered stage wedges (2 just for him). 
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John P. Whiteker

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #24 on: December 21, 2020, 08:19:54 am »


And then there is learning when to walk away. I had a venue where I designed and set up the PA system. The " Talent " was one of those types where they had to feel the sound, the room, and the vibe to be who they were. This talent wanted me to do things that went against every grain of reasoning, practicality, and professionalism I had. He was adamant that his idea, goal, and my purpose was to make those ideas and goals a reality. To the point where I finally set it exactly as he wanted it, and let the destruction begin. Within two weeks, he blew two monitors, lost the subs to overheating, had noise complaints, and had to cut back on the number of nights his tenure played.

Luke you sure can relate to what I've been dealing with.  I appreciate your support for where I'm at.  I have been instrumental in the design/purchase of all of our current setup, including the all new amps, FOH speakers, custom snake install, mixer install and routing setup/configuration.  Heck, I even built us a complete enterprise level network for internet, wired and seamless WiFi throughout the facility! It blows me away that I was trusted with so much of this, and now everyone wants to cast doubt with what I'm doing.  I feel like my team has been allowed to go over my head and make changes when they're just taking unnecessary chances to achieve what they're after. 

This past Sunday for the Christmas service, I was asked to "take a break."  The rest of the team had built a mix that they were happy with, and they didn't want it tampered with at all.  So, they asked my backup sound volunteer to just sit back and only run the main fader up and down if things needed any adjustment.  It didn't go very well.  Nothing really his fault.  Spoken mic for announcements had some thick reverb added which took him a while to catch since he didn't build the mix.  Computer volume for some videos and kids Christmas tracks had tons of low end EQ'd and ended up with nasty feedback on all three main handheld mics.  Acoustic guitar was mixed very bright and hot, while the vocals drowned in all but the most intimate parts of each song. However, I am humble enough to admit that I did really like what they had done with the drum mix and the bass guitar.  At the end of service, the worship leader and I met to discuss how it went.  He was not happy with the result.  From what I could tell, they had built a pretty hot house mix during practice with an empty sanctuary, then a combination of a full house of people changed the acoustics and the volunteer probably dialed the mains back about 10-12db to save the ears of the audience. 

I'm really hoping that either a new, upgraded IEM setup or a set of powered wedges will let me build the worship leader a mix with more dynamics and get him to stop using the room as a reference point.  Either option is going to stretch our budget, but something must be done.  Thanks for all your input and support.
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #25 on: December 21, 2020, 11:04:56 am »

I feel like you are at the point where you need to stop trying to fix a gear problem and work on fixing the relationship problem.

Schedule a conference with whoever really makes the decisions (maybe it's the Pastor there?) and tell him, frankly, the same thing you just told us. That you have been the trusted technology guy for 14 years, and have done a good enough job on everything that you have continued to be the trusted guy for all things audio related.

Now this new Worship leader is asking something of you that is beyond your comfort level to provide. And tell him why, in your opinion, the Worship leader is asking for those things. Tell him, or better yet show him (remember last Sunday? The Feedback? The Mistakes?) what hapens when the worship leader is the one calling the shots about the mix.

This is not a gear problem. It's a personnel problem. The Leadership at your church needs to step up and make the decisions that will place you in power over your world, and let the Worship leader handle his world.

You can then discuss ways to mitigate the issues the WL is having (new IEMs, etc). But until you get support of the church leaders you are not going to solve the problem.
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Matthias McCready

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #26 on: December 21, 2020, 01:03:39 pm »

Matthias,  you make very valid points.  I appreciate the feedback. We are having trust issues for sure.  I'm in sort of a triangle, all of a sudden trying to make my worship leader happy, Pastor happy, and all the while, not kill my audience with 120db spikes. Considering the level of trust that has been compromised, I'm struggling with continuing.

 I feel that I'm a little more qualified than a weekend warrior sound guy.  I've been running FOH for about 14 yrs and I think this is my 10th Worship leader.  I wouldn't call myself an engineer.  I do trust my ears for sure and my ability to gain stage correctly.  I trust my EQ'ing skills about 80%.  I used to trust them more but recently while fighting some recurring feedback I started searching around the 600 MHz range.  Once I finally found it, it was located at 120Hz and 180Hz.  Wow!  I guess on the plus side, I was still knowledgeable enough to fix it.  But I do need to study EQ a bit more to tune my ear further. 

Our monitor nightmare is this:  Galaxy AS1100 IEM with KZ AS10's.  Worship leader changes quite often from using them to not using them.  Even though I incorporate some room mics, says he can't feel the room.  These AS1100's were recommended to me by someone I trusted.  I wish I would've demo'd them first.  They don't have the power to carry the low end needed for a good kick drum or bass guitar reference.   Worship leader has been pretty adamant that I mix the room loud enough and harsh enough that he has a good reference while standing behind the mains.  It has been a real struggle.  Now, I'm debating Shure PSM-300 and custom molds, or trying some fairly nice powered stage wedges (2 just for him).

Agreed with everything Tim said.

I think you have what it takes, but that you are second-guessing yourself right now, and that the fact that you are is not totally bad, it means you have humility and are willing to step up to the plate and own a mistake. Owning a stupid mistake is actually how I landed my current job! I felt like I had screwed up and couldn't make the cut; instead, the level of honesty and responsibility impressed the senior engineer.

If you haven't read it, check out the book "Extreme Ownership," it is a game-changer.

Everyone screws up, I make REALLY boneheaded mistakes sometimes, and yes those mistakes can damage trust. If that is how the relationship starts sometimes you may have to work 4x times as hard, or sometimes it cannot be repaired; we do what we can though.

On the flip side I have found if you have built trust with people, they look past your occasional mistakes as they know you and what you are capable of.

Here are some little things I think really build trust (notice these are little things, you may need to adjust to your circumstance). Most of the things below are prep, you may do most of these, I just want to throw them out there.

1. Label things: I put a large label on IEM packs and small mics with names. If you don't have a label maker that handles black tape with white lettering, gaff tape and silver sharpie are great.

2. Make sure batteries are full-on wireless stuff. Don't ever have this stuff dying during rehearsal or service.

3. Have a special place you put the pastor's mic, where it is ready for them; let them know it is fully charged. Make them feel taken care of.

4. Before musicians arrive prepare for them: are all the lines you have correct?

5. Line check your whole stage before musicians arrive (you can throw 1/4 in a DI and rub the tip for checking DI's). If you do this you will know all of your mics are working, and you will know if there is a problem with a player, it is on their end; be it their 1/4, pedalboard, or instrument. This should make troubleshooting much faster as you have identified that most of your signal chain is patent.

6. Pay attention and be there to fix issues. For example, you may notice before a musician does that their battery is going on their acoustic (it will start to get quieter and distort), walk up and hand them a battery. If you hand them that battery before they have realized you will build some serious trust with them! If you think there is a bad cable be there with a cable in 30 seconds. If you need to keep a spare 1/4 and XLR.

7. Give feedback to your musicians, please note you need some trust here, but this can REALLY build it as well. Let them know how they are feeling in the house; for example, if I am mixing in a more reverberant room and I have an electric player with IEMs, it is quite possible that the guitar is washed out and undefinable in the room; that reverb sounds GREAT in the ears, but it isn't working for the room. When appropriate I will go have a 1 on 1 chat with them and nicely say, "hey your tone feels great, however as this is a more reverberant room I am not hearing your parts the best and it is not translating. I want to hear your lead lines better, would it be possible to back off the verb a little?" Make sure you have the knowledge and some relationship before doing this, tread carefully. If you make objective statements vs subjective ones this will go better (it isn't translating well vs I don't like your tone). I let a musician know if something is a significant struggle point for me mix wise, for example, if the newer bass player isn't giving me much information above 100hz, I am going to have chat with them and ask them if we can go straight to a DI after the tuner.

8. Check to monitor. I usually do this after I have gained things and done a few minutes of initial mixing. Go to the stage. If it is between songs you can ask everyone, "how your ears feeling?" If it is during a song, I will go stand in front of player/singer until they look up and we make eye contact, I will tap my ear and give a thumbs up and down. If they smile you are good, if they shake their head, I stay until we can chat, and see what they need. If there is a problem that you have more than once, then this means it something that needs to be fixed by staying after or meeting with that individual at a time outside of rehearsal to make sure the need is met.

9. Record a board mix of the worship service, and send it to the band after service, and ask for feedback. This is a HUGE trust builder. I would recommend bouncing the files into a DAW quick to compress the file and do a basic mastering (ie if your PA is really hot 1.5k, maybe take a little bit of that out, or if your mix volume dictates that you are pulling out lots of 3k to make things less harsh, maybe at that in a little. You may want to counteract some of those room choices. Note you will get feedback, but this is a great place to start a conversation.

--

As to gain staging. Don't overthink it, but do it. The reason this is SO important is that this is the starting place, it keeps the IEMs sounding consistent and it means your compressors/dynamic processing will be doing what you want out of the gate. For example, if I have several dynamic tools on a channel (gate, dynamic EQ, compressor, 2nd compressor etc) the correct gain means all those are working as intended, vs having to set the thresholds for all of those again!

When I am doing a "soundcheck" I do them quite quickly, I am only looking to establish two things

1) is it working (I should have established that it is routed/patched correctly and patent to the musician beforehand) so I mean is the rig working, or do they have a bad cable or a broken instrument?
2) I set the gain.

I am not mixing, EQing, setting compressors. There will be time to mix things during rehearsal. Soundcheck and gaining can take less than two minutes, you have time as does the band; it will save everyone time later.

So I ask for things one at a time, and ask them to give you their "loudest patch" or "play your hardest"

Set a goal for what you are trying to hit. So personally for me it is -10dB from clipping. This means that you will have a good healthy signal to drive ears, but that even if they go a little louder they will not be clipping. I go for -20dB on keys and trax usually as my mix isn't as they tend to cut through.

If you are not aware, use the channel solo and the large meter to gain channels.

To be honest, I don't ask this of vocalist as in church world this will never happen, we all know they are going to get louder in rehearsal, and exponentially louder during service, when you gain back a vocalist, just make sure to do a dB or so at a time and in between phrases and pull it back slowly over time, they won't notice that way  ;D

Unless I am setting up the kit from scratch, or haven't worked at the venue in a few weeks I don't usually regain the whole kit. To the point if you checked the mic positions before rehearsal (after the drummer has adjusted things) and they are in the same place as last week and you have a similar player you probably don't need to go through and regain them.

Again soundcheck (gaining) should go quick, you can probably be done in a minute or two, then you can let the band know "alright I have everything I need it is all yours."

---

As to feedback, I am not sure how familiar you are with system design and frequency directionality. If you don't know the lower in the frequency you get the more omnidirectional it gets.

For a fun experiment grab a speaker on a stick. If you are blindfolded, and you play 200hz and below through the speaker, a friend can spin the speaker around and you will not be able to distinguish which way it is pointing!

The rub is that below 200hz your a pretty much omnidirectional.

How does this apply? Well, this is (depending on your mic) the most likely frequencies for feedback on a stage that is behind/below the PA with no wedges.

Effectively your PA is hitting the stage just as hard as the room with some of the lower frequencies.

If you spend a little time learning some of the physics and looking at your system sometimes you can have a good idea of feedback before you even turn anything on.

Also, keep in mind the louder you go, the more likely feedback is to incur: (let's come back to this in a minute).

---

For EQ I like to separate how I use them, I use a channel/parametric EQ, to do tonal things if this for a vocal mic especially where feedback might be a problem, these are all cuts. Rabbit trail: I am not sure what your methodology for EQ is but I like to pop up a band, find a frequency that is distasteful and kill it! I don't tend to add gain in the EQ or with makeup gain.

I use a graphic EQ to get feedback points, this way you can separate what your EQ's are doing. For example, if I don't like how a speaking mic is sounding I don't want to worry that a parametric band I might be adjusting was there to remove feedback!

As to using a graphic EQ, I am sure you are familiar with "ringing out the system" but if you are not, roughly as follows:

1. When the room is empty set your problem mic up, If it is a stage mic I put it on stage, but I am more towards the PA than it would normally be. If it is a mic that will be used in the room, I set it directly in front of the PA in a stand aimed at it.

2. Slowly turn the mic up until it feedback, this will be a frequency, find it and pull it down 3dB or so. I would recommend doing this for 3-6 frequencies. If you are doing more than this, you will make the mic sound bad, and will actually just be making it quieter rather than removing the few problem frequencies. Additionally, after these first frequencies, you will notice that you will hear lots of frequencies feeding back at the same time. When that occurs, there is nothing more you can do with the graphic.

Essentially the graphic EQ when used properly should yield you 3-6dB more before feedback.

Another trick I sometimes do is with faders. Most of the time I set unity to be where the speaking mic feels good in the room. Sometimes in higher feedback environments, I like to make sure I can at least get to +3 dB on the fader before feedback, and sometimes I like to get it to where I can peg the fader and that +10dB on the fader is a dB short of feedback.

Bottom line: Figure out where that feedback point is and have that as a boundary. For example, I used to mix at a smaller church where:

1. The pastor preached in front of the PA (not ideal).
2. The pastor wanted a headset mic
3. The pastor was a roamer and a mover (due to wind a movement noise with a directional mic, we need to utilize an omni)

When we got a new mic I rung it out, and I knew that at normal speaking volume 70dB is where the thing would feedback. I mixed it for 68dB.

This where I had a boundary with him, I would not turn it up beyond that; if he wanted louder he needed to speaker louder or use a HH mic or not walk in front of the PA. I said this nicely but firmly, and out of that boundary, he felt respected and that I was competent.

---

For your church, it sounds like you need some boundaries if you are going to do your job, identify those, let them know, and stick to your guns.

Additionally, you should state you will not mix the room to make the worship leader feel good, we know that is not going to feel good or work, give a solid "no" to that request.

--

As far as the worship leader monitoring goes,

I would not get wedges just for him, as it will make feedback more likely and as an audio engineer you can only turn things up, your PA has to be louder than whatever the stage volume is! I don't see this being a productive game.

As far as ears go, if he is skilled why are you providing them at all? When I use to play electric (highschool and early college mind you) I had close to $5k into my rig. Most skilled players I know have MUCH more than that invested! For those using IEM's having quality custom-molded IEM's is crucial. I really don't understand the players that have a $500+ guitar and some pedals, but won't drop $200-300 on a pair of custom-molded ears. This will make a night and day difference for him vs using budget quality universals. It also his responsibility as a worship leader and musician to have them, in my mind that is like a drummer not having cymbals or someone not owning their own instrument.

It is worth noting if an IEM does not get a good seal you will not have any low end, the reason for no low end could because he is not getting a good seal.

--

I say this last part in love  :o  >:( (tough love that is)

If budget is a concern, and you are not digging the quality of the current crappy IEM transmitter, WHY ON EARTH are you looking at IEM transmitters?!?!?! Good quality wireless equipment costs serious cash, and anything else doesn't tend to cut it.

To the point, I have friends who have played Times Square and Madison Garden that are just fine using wired ears when that is what the gig dictates (and these players move around while they play too). Wireless isn't a need, it is an image thing; if you can afford that great; if not it is an ego thing pure and simple. Quality wireless should be the caboose on the budget of a nice system, not the engine.

To the point, you could spend that money on an IEM rig which will only benefit him without any real performance benefit beyond the image, or you could spend it on things that matter and will make things better for everyone.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2020, 08:14:50 pm by Matthias McCready »
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Luke Geis

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #27 on: December 22, 2020, 04:07:28 pm »

A very simple way to make your point literally heard is to record the event with a single mic of any choice. That single mic WILL NOT LIE and will capture the quality of the event in every detail. Have them record an event their way and another your way. Compare the two recordings and let them hear for themselves what you do for them.

Musicians have to realize, learn, and or otherwise except that the show is NOT for them, it is for everyone else. It doesn't really matter what they like, your job, your employment, and your talent is to present the band as best you can to a mass of people in a way that is acceptable. Sound engineers typically ( due to experience and their closer connection to the crowd ) produce a better result than musicians who think they have golden ears. The biggest problem is location, location, location. Musicians who mix from the stage CANNOT mix effectively. And I hate to say it, but if you're not employed as a sound guy as a career, you tend to not have the same skill set as those who do it every day for a living. Some musicians do very well, but I haven't met one yet that isn't jaded, biased, or truly knowledgable about what makes a PA tick. I say it pretty often; a monkey can walk up and mix a great sounding show, but could that same monkey build the whole PA, tune it and run it all on his own and achieve the same result? It's easy to stand on the backs of giants, it is a whole new game when you have to do it yourself.

The idea behind the recording is that it will highlight the deficiencies in a mix. If the guitar is hot, bright, and on the top of everything, the recording will show that. If the vocals are buried, muddy, or simply unintelligible, it will show it. It goes both ways though. If the mix is clean, clear, and well balanced, the recording will show it. The recording WILL NOT LIE. Having a single mic makes the result devoid of acoustic trickery and simply provides the simplest truth. If it doesn't sound good in the recording, it definitely didn't sound good in the room either. If you are worth your salt, doing this will easily make your point heard loud and clear.

As much as I love IEM's, I also hate them.... While conceptually they are great, making them work is a whole other talent. IEM's require a very large amount of investment in time, patience, trickery, and compromise. With a large amount of stage volume taken out of the equation, musicians that are dependent upon that noise will want more than what those little earbuds will deliver. With the isolation from the crowd and other musicians, you will have to find ways to allow them to communicate with one another and re-connect them to the crowd. This means more mics, more mixing, and more work to get them all comfortable. Going to IEM's is not an overnight task. And if musicians that are as picky as they are about FOH and stage sound is currently an issue, just wait till you plug the sound straight into their brain!!!! It will be a constant stream of can I have this, that, the other, and more of that again, and then can you make this do that with the other, and the other do this... All of this I am sure you are beginning to see on your own. Often times with IEM's it is easiest to find a way to make it so the musicians can mix it themselves, this means they are the only ones to blame for things not working. Can't get enough bass, well then turn everything else down until you can. Most musicians fix problems by adding more of what they want as opposed to reducing what they don't want. It compounds into what is basically an avalanche of crap in and even more crap out.

At your current state, I think your biggest task is gaining trust, or simply creating policy that sets boundaries between you and the musicians. If they won't let you do your job, then what purpose do you have there? Let them know that you felt undermined and valueless. Miracles don't happen overnight and that the music team has to allow you enough control in order to even have a chance at getting the whole of things where it needs to be. This is a team sport and if you're not allowed to do your part on the team then all they have allowed you to do is lead them to water, if they won't let you show them how to drink it, then they may easily drown in their own pride, and stubbornness. Make the point be about teamwork and the good of the clergies ability to present their message. The band should not be there for their ego's and self-confidence to get stroked, they are there to commune a group of people together as one. You are part of that ONE. You also have to stress that you are committed to the success and happiness of everyone that your talent touches. The band, the clergy, and the patrons are all part of your responsibility and you are not playing favorites, they all win and lose together as one. Your goal is to find that balance and all that you ask for is for everyone else to play the same game. You want wins, not blame, shame, or excuses.


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John P. Whiteker

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #28 on: December 25, 2020, 05:57:58 am »

Agreed with everything Tim said.

I think you have what it takes, but that you are second-guessing yourself right now, and that the fact that you are is not totally bad, it means you have humility and are willing to step up to the plate and own a mistake. Owning a stupid mistake is actually how I landed my current job! I felt like I had screwed up and couldn't make the cut; instead, the level of honesty and responsibility impressed the senior engineer.


Matthias,

Thank you so much for the details.  I really appreciate how helpful you guys have been as a community.  I completely agree that I am second-guessing myself for this job in the first time since I began.  I feel like I've done nothing but learn and get better at my craft over the years.  One of my first experiences of running FOH on my own was when we hosted a concert that we had no business hosting. Our small church of 100 did a show with This Beautiful Republic as the headliner.  This is someone who's show I had seen at a large venue and all of a sudden, I was asked to run this concert.  Our existing system was a mess and as inexperienced as I was, the band still agreed to play our little church in a small town.  With the technical issues I had at this show, I vowed to never be in that position again.  I immediately went to work reading, learning, organizing and re-wiring things.  So, I am quite confident that I can do this job.  But all of these different relational and communication issues have taken me down a notch I guess.  I agree with several people here, including yourself that, if the relationship issue and the trust levels aren't repaired, the show cannot go on.  I hope they allow me to take the reins back and help them.

I love your list of things to do to help build trust.  I love it because all of them are things I took responsibility for already.  I check all the boxes except for recording a practice session and giving it to the leader.  I've done this in the past, but not with this leader.  I think that's a great idea.  It might help him realize that it's not the mix that sounds bad, but rather him standing in a dead spot behind the mains and trying to use the house as a point of reference. 

I also accept your "tough love" regarding monitors.  I did mention that we do not have the budget for getting this leader a nice set of IEM's.  And we typically wouldn't entertain this idea as we've had past worship leaders purchase their own.  But this worship leader is here from a third world country and has struggled to support his family since arriving here.  We do offer him a small monthly dollar amount as a Worship leader, but we cannot afford full salary support.  With that said, he has a tremendous gift.  He is by far the best vocalist I have ever worked with.  And he eats, sleeps, lives worship and that means a lot to us.   While he has been very difficult to work with, our church has went a little out of our way to try and help him out.  My worship budget did go over by $1200 this year, due to purchasing a few couple of pieces of gear for upgrading our live stream.  But, the church also does have the resources to put these funds together without hurting other ministries... if we think it is justifiable.  Once little dig I have is wireless.  I have already showed him how good a wired IEM can sound and he totally agreed.  But he is very hung up on the wireless aspect.  We don't have a huge stage and in my eyes it's truly unnecessary.  He does a fair amount of moving on stage while in practice, helping each musician through any rough patches and such.  Not worth spending $1800 on a new IEM setup just for him, but I'm trying to help him along.  I think if I can get him wireless IEM that sounds 80% as good as the wired option I've shown him, he'll be more willing to work with me and accept the mix if he knows that he's wireless.  Maybe I'm catering to him a bit much, but oddly enough, I am a worship "team lead" and I feel like at my level of hierarchy, I'm doing my best to fulfill what the team needs to be successful.  I don't want it or him to fail.  I would still need board approval to spend this much, but right now, I feel like that is the next step.  I do plan to work on the relational issue before doing this and if we cannot clear the air, I will more than likely step away.  I truly hate this option, but the worship leader has already been scarred enough by this that he's all but ready to resign.  I told him if it comes down to him or myself, I would gladly step aside and let things happen however they may. 

Once again... thank you so much for your input.  I pour over every word early in the morning and try to take the constructive criticism and make positive changes to further my team.  You guys are a huge blessing to this ministry.  Have a Merry Christmas!
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John P. Whiteker

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #29 on: December 25, 2020, 06:23:38 am »


As much as I love IEM's, I also hate them.... While conceptually they are great, making them work is a whole other talent. IEM's require a very large amount of investment in time, patience, trickery, and compromise. With a large amount of stage volume taken out of the equation, musicians that are dependent upon that noise will want more than what those little earbuds will deliver. With the isolation from the crowd and other musicians, you will have to find ways to allow them to communicate with one another and re-connect them to the crowd. This means more mics, more mixing, and more work to get them all comfortable. Going to IEM's is not an overnight task. And if musicians that are as picky as they are about FOH and stage sound is currently an issue, just wait till you plug the sound straight into their brain!!!! It will be a constant stream of can I have this, that, the other, and more of that again, and then can you make this do that with the other, and the other do this... All of this I am sure you are beginning to see on your own. Often times with IEM's it is easiest to find a way to make it so the musicians can mix it themselves, this means they are the only ones to blame for things not working. Can't get enough bass, well then turn everything else down until you can. Most musicians fix problems by adding more of what they want as opposed to reducing what they don't want. It compounds into what is basically an avalanche of crap in and even more crap out.


Luke, I take this advice wholeheartedly.  I do understand how difficult it can be to get a musician to be happy with their ears.  I have pre-emptively taken care of some of the problem.  Luckily we have the X32 digital mixer and when many of these issues began to arise, I installed a router and took the time to get each musician going with the app and the proper aux to have control over their IEM mix.  While it is a little more clunky than I'd like, it does save tons of money and allow the musicians to make adjustments during practice.  We've found it's too difficult to utilize it much once we're in the live worship set, which for the most part shouldn't need much attention for a five member team and simple three song set. 

In regards to laying down a one-mic recording my way as opposed to their way, I just can't see that in our environment.  Acoustics is a major fight for us and probably a large part of our large battle with volume level and clarity.  Long story short... our "sanctuary" is a square, concrete gym that was intended to be short term in our churches expansion.  Fast forward 35 yrs after the church was built and with rising costs, we just have not been able to expand as planned.  Luckily we're still paying the bills and doing some great ministry, but it's pretty hard for a church of 100 to raise over $1M to expand.  So, we're in a concrete box with a concrete floor, a hollow wooden stage and lots of ugly reverb and harsh frequencies.  We have spent money on acoustic panels for the walls and acoustic sails for the industrial ceiling. Those steps helped tremendously, but didn't come cheap, and certainly didn't solve all the issues.  I'd give anything for a correct acoustic environment to host worship. If we are to remain in this space, acoustic treatment needs to be on the "to-do" list as much as any other issue I've mentioned.  All of this gear needed these days really doesn't line up with what people are able to give.  I feel like I'm a bit on the frugal side when it comes to spending.  I know we are limited on funds, but I also know the value of good gear.  We have JBL J-arrays and JBL subs, nice Crown XTI power, X32 mixer, E935 wireless mics and such.  Each item was bought carefully and spaced out accordingly, letting the worship account grow well before agreeing to do any upgrades.  So, hopefully we can sort out our differences and move forward with this next level of satisfying a need. 

I thank you so much for you and your advice.  It means a lot to me when I have people like you guys walking alongside me through times like this.  I am thankful PSW isn't largely like other forums full of belittling comments and unhelpful snooty behavior.  I really feel like we're in a good community here.  I wish we were all close in proximity.  I'd love to have you guys over for coffee. Merry Christmas!
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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #29 on: December 25, 2020, 06:23:38 am »


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