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Author Topic: A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??  (Read 2719 times)

Dan Ra

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A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??
« on: January 10, 2007, 10:35:53 AM »

We're a college/young-adult church that meets at Georgia Tech every week. We have about 150-200 currently, and we're into our 3rd year. I lead the worship team and a huge problem is training or "raising up" one who can have thorough command of our sound production. We've been struggling to master our sound because we're so makeshift in all that we do. This forum has been keeping me afloat (Thank you all), but of course we'd like to have a couple guys around that know a decent amount. Keep in mind, also, that being a more college-focused church, our members are transient until they feel led to commit as young adults. So we have to constantly train new members.

I have a few questions:

- What's the best way for absolute novices to learn about sound production that can be easily passed down to others who will be trained? (Please be as detailed as possible regarding classes, seminars, books, etc.)

- Do FOH guys need to absolutely love music? or can they not know music so well but have a firm grasp of the science behind it (physics, etc.)? What makes a good engineer?

- How much does it cost to get a tech to evaluate a room and our equipment?

- Are there any other things at all that I should be thinking about for the LONG TERM music health of our church?

Thanks!

Dan

Brad Weber

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Re: A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2007, 11:29:47 AM »

Quote:

- What's the best way for absolute novices to learn about sound production that can be easily passed down to others who will be trained? (Please be as detailed as possible regarding classes, seminars, books, etc.)
That all depends on the people and application, but resources such as the Syn-Aud-Con Operator and Technician classes are a good place to start.  There are also some very useful books, from the more basic Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Handbook and Guide to Sound System for Worship up through the much more technical Sound System Engineering (co-authored by retired Tech professor Eugene Patronis).  Some people hate to hear it, and addressing both is necessary in many situations, but you will often get more benefit and immediate improvement by improving your operators' capabilities than by addressing the physical system itself.  

Quote:

- Do FOH guys need to absolutely love music? or can they not know music so well but have a firm grasp of the science behind it (physics, etc.)? What makes a good engineer?
It certainly helps to have a passion for both and the more understanding one has of both the art and science, the better.  Finding students with a passion for learning the science aspect should be a problem on that campus.  A good engineer is also always willing to listen and learn.  Being able to deal with "artists", performers' significant others and the public is a big plus, but often an almost impossible expectation.

Quote:

- How much does it cost to get a tech to evaluate a room and our equipment?
As is often the answer, it depends.  Do you have a permanent home and system?  Is this considered a formal Georgia Tech activity or is it off campus (if it is a Tech activity then OIT may be able to help or may even have to be involved)?  Have you established any general goals or long term plans?  What are you looking for as the end result of this evaluation; a report, document or presentation of existing conditions, a plan for potential improvements, or actually physically implementing any remedial fixes and possible improvements?  You have many local consulting and contracting resources, several of those that are active here, including Phil Graham, Ivan Beaver and myself, are at Tech or in the Atlanta area and there are several other well qualified individuals and firms locally as well.

Quote:

- Are there any other things at all that I should be thinking about for the LONG TERM music health of our church?
Definitely think about where you want to or plan to go physically, functionally and spiritually.  Will you always have staff that you can train?  Might you change facilities in the foreseeable future?  Where would you like to be in 5 years and 10 years as far as what you can do an support?  It definitely makes sense to plan for the future and then maybe implement any system, personnel or administrative changes in phases as is practical.[/quote]
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Brad Weber
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Ira White

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Re: A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2007, 01:58:04 PM »

Dan Ra wrote on Wed, 10 January 2007 10:35

 What makes a good engineer?


Both a knowledge of the technical aspects and an ear for music and balance. Often this works well with two people: one who's good at the technical aspects of setup and troubleshooting, and one with a musical ear for the more creative aspects of balance and tone.

I often encounter techies who are great at hookup but poor on mixing, and vice versa for the more musically-inclined. I guess it's based on that rightbrain-leftbrain problem: the more creative tend to be less organized. It's great if you can find one with both capabilities, but don't hesitate having a team that can work together with varying gifts and strengths.
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Ira White
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Yan Ovtchinikov

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Re: A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2007, 07:05:19 PM »

Hey Dan....just out of interest.....what system do you have?



God Bless



Hillsong London
Yan Ovtchinikov
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Mark Langner

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Re: A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2007, 04:30:00 PM »

Hey Dan,

I read this post yesterday and have been dwelling on it all night and again today.  I can't answer your questions about bringing in a pro to check your system, or training resources.  However, I thought I'd just share some thoughts Christian to Christian how I see things.

ME:  I'm pretty much self trained with some minimal mentoring.  All through high school (eons ago) I conducted and learned most of the instruments, thinking I'd major in music, which I chose not too.  Mostly sat "first chair".  Then in college, garage bands playing drums, bass, rythme guitar, though to be honest I was only mediocre.  So, I have a pretty extensive "musician" background or bent.  Later in life, I convince the "sound pastor" at my then church to take me under his wing and its been sound engineering ever since.  Something I truly love.

At my current church, we have a problem similar to what you describe with our youth ministry.  They have their own building and sound system, but trying to get one of the high school kids interested in taking ownership of the sound system and truly serving his/her brothers and sisters as an act of ministry is difficult.  Lots of musicians find the sound board alluring, but they seem to view it as a cool thing to do, not a ministry of service.  Wish I had answers, but its something we struggle with ourselves.

What makes a good sound enginner (in a Christian setting) ???  I think several things.  I do feel you have to have some musical background or bent to really mix well.  Part of my mixing involves anticipating what the musicians will do, knowing my musicians and their styles, and feeling the music.  What I do compliments the mood, intensity, and direction the worship team may be going at any given moment.  My musical background helps me to anticipate and flow with the worship team just as if I was playing an instrument with them (which in a sense I am running the board/compressors/effect/balance).  However, to do this well, you do need some degree of technical proficiency.  First, you need to understand the fundamentals to signal paths (easilly learned).  You need to understand how EQ and Compressors work (can be a little harder to learn, but with practice you can improve, esp with assistance from others).  You need to understand the mechanics of the equipment your running.  A person who has a passion for sound will most likely seek out resources, will read the equipment manuals, go to forums like this one, crawl on his/her hands and knees (like I did) traceing the signal paths, labeling unlabeled equipment, learning their system, getting books at the bookstore.  My personal experience thus far is that the technical can be learned if you apply yourself.  Naturally the more help you can get the faster the learning experience.

Practice is a vital element as well.  Just as a musician needs to practice their instrument to be good, so does a sound engineer.  We need to practice shaping sound, learning our worship team, and training our ears.  My sound shaping skills are about 100 percent better today than they were a year ago.  I come to every thursday night rehersal, regardless if I'm "on" that weekend.  I also watch other enginners mix, and ask allot of "why" questions.  I may in some cases not enjoy their style of mixing, but there is always something to be learned.

One last thought, and I feel passionate about this.  Being a sound engineer for a worship team does not make me better or more important that the members of the team.  Nor does it make me less.  I am one of the components of the worship team, there to serve God first, the worship leader/pastor second, the entire team third.  I view it as my ministry, not "simply" something I do as a volunteer.  Not only do I mix, but I give back feedback, I encourage, I thank them, I pray for them, I'm there to support them.  I think this is key.  It starts with a heart for God and for serving the worship team.  Naturally, musical and technical skills are needed, but without a servants heart, it's just someone pushing sliders around.  It's a heart thing, not about me, but about them.  When someone shows an interest in FOH sound, the first thing I do is talk to them, try to get a read on their heart and where they are coming from.

I apologize if this got too lengthy, my best intentions were at heart.  Hopefully something I said was of some value to you.  I guess if I had some advice to offer, which you may already have done, would be to talk with your friends, fellow musicians, and others...and see if you can find someone who wants to partner with you in ministry, view this as ministry, and share your burden by supporting you in the sound management arena.

-Mark
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Dan Ra

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Re: A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2007, 04:47:31 PM »

Mackie 1604-VLZ3
Presonus Compressor
dbx driverack
2 EV Zx5 for mains
1 Danley TH155 sub
2 yamaha sm12v for monitors
pro co roadmaster 16xlr and 4 trs return

Ira White

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Re: A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2007, 04:49:12 PM »

Much value and personal perspective was offered there Mark. Thanks for saying it.
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Ira White
Sanctuary Sound, Inc.

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Yan Ovtchinikov

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Re: A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2007, 08:24:20 AM »

Diffinatly some good experience was shared there Mark. Plus sounds like its a good enough system for starting out.


Yan Ovtchinikov
Hillsong London
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Tim Padrick

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Re: A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2007, 10:11:33 PM »

I've seen volunteers with little to no experience who seemed to have a natural sense of how things should sound, and experienced FOH mixers who didn't have a clue.  My advice:  Get a multitrack recording system, and lay down some tracks straight in - no EQ or compression.  Then have each student mix the tracks.  This will tell you where they are now.  Do this again after a time and see who progresses and how much.

Michael King

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Re: A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2007, 11:13:35 PM »

The sound guy position is often the hardest to fill permantly in a praise team. It requires a greater time commitment than the muscians
(first to practice and sevice, last to leave), they take the heat if the musicians dont preform well, have to make hard moral decisions (like that one singer is really flat today should i turn her down or mix her normally). Have to actually deal with the congregation. If done properly can create and atmosphere of prayer and worship. if done wrong can cause the total worship time to become useless cause no ones is praising but is instead focusing on how horrible it sound. Excuse the expression but most people dont have the "balls" to do it on a regular basis. expesially with little to no experience after a few weeks the congregation can tear down even the most strongly built man if he is doing a mediocre job and they are seeking perfection.

And im not intenting this to say thay the congregation is out to get him. everyone may comment causally and nicely but after 10 of these the sound guy is so discouraged it almost impossible to bring him around again

ProSoundWeb Community

Re: A Very Practical Question - Where's my engineer??
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2007, 11:13:35 PM »


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