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Author Topic: A couple of questions from a new sound director.  (Read 3158 times)

Josh Rose

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A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« on: June 14, 2007, 03:34:21 am »

I've been the assistant sound director at my church for about 6 months now, and it looks like the current director is not gonna be around for long. Anyhow, I've already been told I will be promoted to head sound director. I could really use some advice, and I would be very greatful to anyone who might take the time to read this and make some suggestions for me.

A this point I am trying to determine my first steps at the helm, as far as mxing/equipment goes. I'm running an Allen & Heath 3300 console, and there are about $50,000 worth of meyer line arrays on the way to the church. The room seats about 1,200, and it's not horrible, but it wasn't designed with acoustics in mind either. I have a decent budget at my disposal... not something I can give you in actual numbers, but when I need something, aside from a console or speakers, I can usually get it. Now, with that in mind, lets proceed...

Analyzation Tools?
I think my first task will be obtaining an RTA so I can spend some time analyzing the room, and perhaps keeping some frequency logs for a few months to get a grip on the new line arrays, and work on boosting the choir mic's.

So question 1 is which RTA would you recommend? A nice portable little RTA/DB meter would be nice. But at the same time, a really great software program would be good too, so I can keep some records and review graphs. Any advice is appreciated. I don't know what type of hardware I would need to install in my computer to get a mic in available on board, so some advice there would be good too. And if there is any other analyzation products that you might recommend, please do so.

Which Compressors?
The second task will be obtaining some new compressors and rethinking the way they are fit into the system. I have one compressor on a subgroup for BGV's, and another on a different subgroup for drums, one floating solo on the bass, and one for the leaders guitar. The worship leader doesn't even have one on his voice right now... which is ridiculous, but remember that I haven't taken over yet...

So, first off, what compressor would you recommend for the worship leader. He is a male with a Jeremy Camp'ish sort of deep voice. He is really quite dynamic in range, because of how much he moves when he sings. I think the goal for this particular compressor would be very low distortion output (to maintain clarity, which is a problem with his voice), while being able to use a pretty high ratio to keep him from disappearing while jumping around.

Next I am needing to pick up new drum compressors. I have a pair of DBX 160's that are pretty decent, but when it comes to drums, I prefer something that is a little more shape-shifting. I like to limit the snare, and get a nice round/wet feel out of it. I don't know what compressor to use for this in a live setting, because my backround is in the studio. My favorite digital snare compressor is the C1, which I believe is a waves plugin... so if anyone is familiar with that compressor, you may have an idea of what I am looking for. For kick I think I'll just use my spare dbx 160. Also, it may be helpful to know that I am using a clearsonic drum enclosure, so there aren't tons of acoustic drums in the mix... I could get them really squeezed if I wanted to.

Compressor On An Aux?
And to continue the compression question... I never understood why some sound engineers run an auxilary with a compressor, and also run something LR. Like, they send the vocals to a compressor through an aux, and also send them straight to the house, uncompressed. I don't understand this, and I really need a multi-purpose compressor for electric guitars, keyboards, piano, etc... but I'm not really sure how to accomplish this, and I don't understand the mindset of putting a compressor on an aux if you are also sending things straight to the mains. Of course, you could pull the items out of the LR mix, and just send them to the aux, and use your sliders in conjunction, but it seems like you are setting yourself up for a bit of trouble because you will be pumping 8 instruments through on aux return. Anyhow, if anyone can shed light on this, I would appreciate it.

Reverb Dynamics
My final question at this point is regarding reverb. I have an aux with a really nice lexicon mpx1, but I am having a bit of trouble applying the reverb. I am trying to get a little bit of floatyness out of it, without having to use a huge decay trail or pushing the vocal back too far. But the reverb is really touchy in conjunction with the input level on the channel. So when someone is singing, you can't hear any verb in their soft moments, but when they sing louder, and they end up with huge amounts of verb. And when I say 'they sing louder' I don't mean huge amounts of dynamic range... small input boosts have a major affect on the application of the reverb. So I'm looking for a way to level it out so that the amount of reverb is a lot smoother. I thought I might be able to fix this by putting a compressor on that same aux, that gets hit forst, and then sends it's signal right to the reverb. That way there would be a lot less dynamic range getting to the reverb, and it would respond a lot more smoothly. But I haven't tried this yet, and I thought I would get some opinions first.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I really want to do a great job as sound director, and your expert opinions are going to be invaluable to me. Just reading this forum for a few minutes has been very helpful.
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Gary Creely

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2007, 08:23:33 am »

rta- Lots of choices, one of my favorites is made by phonic and it has several help diagnostic tools with it.

Compression- presonus acp 88- 8 gate/compressor- insert into channels- cost about 1k. I would get as many as you need and skip your old compressors. why? 1. these are better  2. all your compression is in on place.

compression on aux- dumb (unless used as effect)

fx- there is no more or less verb on a vocal when the singer is loud or quiet. What may be happening is you have the fx on a pre fader aux and when it gets loud you lower the fader which would result in a higher percentage of wet signal.



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Ira White

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2007, 08:46:48 am »

An aux is intended for a side-chain application that doesn't process the whole signal. Comps need to be on an insert so it processes the whole signal. Get them on the channel inserts and you will be fine.

The reverb problem sounds to me like a comp problem. If a comp is affecting the voice signal after, or adjacent to, the reverb send (possibly due to the way your aux/comp situation is configured), the comp could squash the voice going out the mains but not the voice going to the reverb. That means the reverb signal is not compressed and will get progressively louder with the vocal dynamics.

I would guess that once you get the comps hooked up correctly, this problem might disappear. If you ran a comp on a vocal group to process multiple channels, the same problem could occur since the compression would be after the channel aux feeds. If this is done, the related reverb return would need to be routed through the same vocal group so it would retain equal balance and processing with the original signals.
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Ira White
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Bruce Burke

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2007, 09:01:09 am »

Josh,

You might want to consider the RANE RA-30. It is a 1 unit rack mount device that does RTA, SPL, and Stereo VU metering.

http://www.rane.com/ra30.html

As for the Worship Leader, how about switching him to a headset?

-Bruce
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Josh Rose

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2007, 04:03:00 pm »

Thanks very much for the replies.

Any more suggestions for compression? I actually think I might already have a presonus acp 88 in the youth room, so I will check that out. But any more opinions would be great.
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Tom Dowd

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2007, 05:33:21 pm »

with all the things that yoiu want to do, you might want to look into a Digital console such as an M7CL.   You will have more compressors on every channel, and much more flexibility than it sounds like you currently have.

As far as an RTA, have a Meyer Pro set-up the system with you there.  Each Line array system is a bit different and has their own way of setup.  It is very worth having a Pro or or find some good training to this
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Dan Costello

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2007, 09:11:27 pm »

Josh Rose wrote on Thu, 14 June 2007 03:34



Compressor On An Aux?
And to continue the compression question... I never understood why some sound engineers run an auxilary with a compressor, and also run something LR. Like, they send the vocals to a compressor through an aux, and also send them straight to the house, uncompressed. I don't understand this, and I really need a multi-purpose compressor for electric guitars, keyboards, piano, etc... but I'm not really sure how to accomplish this, and I don't understand the mindset of putting a compressor on an aux if you are also sending things straight to the mains. Of course, you could pull the items out of the LR mix, and just send them to the aux, and use your sliders in conjunction, but it seems like you are setting yourself up for a bit of trouble because you will be pumping 8 instruments through on aux return. Anyhow, if anyone can shed light on this, I would appreciate it.


It could be one way to achieve parallel compression, i.e. mixing a compressed signal with an uncompressed signal. That technique can beef up a sound w/o totally squashing it. It's pretty common in studio recording (though you generally use a buss/subgroup not an aux), but I'd imagine that in live situations, its usefulness depends on a lot of other things. IMO,  it's a higher-level nuance effect that should be focused on only after you get the basics squared away.

The other (more likely) possibility is that the engineers you've seen don't know what they're doing.


Quote:


Reverb Dynamics
I thought I might be able to fix this by putting a compressor on that same aux, that gets hit forst, and then sends it's signal right to the reverb. That way there would be a lot less dynamic range getting to the reverb, and it would respond a lot more smoothly. But I haven't tried this yet, and I thought I would get some opinions first.


It might not work as well as you'd like, but it's worth a shot. You might have better luck putting the compressor on the insert of the vocal channel so that the wet and dry signals are more even.

Quote:

Any more suggestions for compression? I actually think I might already have a presonus acp 88 in the youth room, so I will check that out. But any more opinions would be great.


I don't know what kind of budget you're working with, but if you've got the dough, you might want to check out the SPL Transient Designer. They come in 2-channel and 4-channel models (both 1RU high) @ a little over $300/channel.

For vocals, I'd try the 160's that you've already got.

-Dan.
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Ira White

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2007, 11:45:42 pm »

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Ira White
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Andrew Makinson

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2007, 12:16:21 am »

Josh,

For comps I recommend the Drawmer DL241s.  We have 10 channels (5 units) in our youth room (seats about 1400).  They sound great on anything if set well.  Something like the acp - 88 is nice if you want channel count more than quality and reliability.  The dbx 160 that you have would not be my choice for vocals if it's a true 160.  I loved the 160 for speech / bass and sometimes other things.  If it's a 160A then I've never used one but they look more flexible and to be nice units.  

Reverb shouldn't need any compression.  I agree with others that there is another issue with your setup.

Give your worship leader a setup that doesn't compress his vocal in his monitor.  There are a number of ways to do this.  This will help him use his mic better.

Skip the comp on guitar or use it very sparingly.  For that matter be careful in general about over compressing.  It's good for the music to have some dynamics.  


Andrew Makinson
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Andrew Makinson
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ak909

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2007, 12:41:53 am »

Alto CLE-8!! cheaper..but 10x the power! seriously!...used it just yesterday Smile

241's are great too! actually, anything made by drawmer is great!
check out the 1960 preamps! whew man I get all jumpy thinking about them babies!
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Aaron McQueen

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2007, 06:59:03 am »

Quote:

Analyzation Tools?
I think my first task will be obtaining an RTA so I can spend some time analyzing the room, and perhaps keeping some frequency logs for a few months to get a grip on the new line arrays, and work on boosting the choir mic's.

So question 1 is which RTA would you recommend? A nice portable little RTA/DB meter would be nice. But at the same time, a really great software program would be good too, so I can keep some records and review graphs. Any advice is appreciated. I don't know what type of hardware I would need to install in my computer to get a mic in available on board, so some advice there would be good too. And if there is any other analyzation products that you might recommend, please do so.


Hopefully the Meyer line arrays were installed and tuned properly.  If not tuned, (meaning alignment, equalization, crossover settings, etc.) get that done by a professional, and then leave it alone.  I'm guessing there is a DSP in the system.  If done properly, you should not have to change it.  The eq on your board should be able to get you where you need to be on your choir mics.  If not, then something else is wrong, such as mic placement or choice.

After that is done and you still would like to measure the system, consider Smaart, and then spend many hours learning how to use it and trying to digest the output before making any system changes.

By the way I would love to have some Meyer line arrays.
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Mike Sveda

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2007, 10:43:24 am »

Compressor:  KT Square One

Compressors shoould be INSERTED on the channel strip or subgroup. Never on an AUX send.

Be sure the Reverb is using a POST FADER aux send.
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Brad Weber

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2007, 05:27:30 am »

Can you clarify the statement that "there are about $50,000 worth of meyer line arrays on the way to the church"?  I hope it is not just that someone heard them being shipped in.  If you are spending that type of money, then hopefully someone carefully analyzed and selected the speaker system to fit your application and a qualified professional is installing, aiming and tuning (being Meyer, possibly with SIM) the system as part of the installation.  Depending on what it replaces, hopefully the new system also includes appropriate processing and amplification.

I am not clear on what you are trying to accomplish with an RTA or analysis tools.   You mentioned keeping some records and viewing graphs, but what are you really trying to do with an analysis package?  I agree with Aaron that something like Smaart that lets you view the actual system response real time is probably going to be much more useful.

Quote:

The room seats about 1,200, and it's not horrible, but it wasn't designed with acoustics in mind either. I have a decent budget at my disposal... not something I can give you in actual numbers, but when I need something, aside from a console or speakers, I can usually get it. Now, with that in mind, lets proceed...

Something here jumps out at me.  You have a good sized room that sounds like it has acoustical issues but you are worried about nuances in the mix, are getting $50,000 worth of line arrays and have a decent budget to spend on more equipment.  Have you considered perhaps taking some of the money you are spending on gear and instead trying to fix or improve the room?  Please take this as being stereotyped statement that may not apply to you, but you noted a studio background and my experience is that people with primarily studio/recording/production backgrounds sometimes tend to focus on individual elements rather than the system as a whole.  They also do not always consider the room as being such a critical part of the reproduction of live sound.  You will get a lot more from, and have much greater control of, your effects and mix if the room and system are well behaved to start with.  In fact, some of your reverb issues could be inherent in the existing room and system.  With the existing system it may be that any increases in level or electronic reverb may simply drive the room harder and excite the natural acoustics of the room.  So you may want to consider getting a better base to work from before moving on to subtle nuances in the mix.  You might also want to wait until you hear the new speaker system before making too many other changes.
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Josh Rose

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2007, 09:47:58 pm »

Thanks Brad. I do appreciate that input.

The problem is that I am not yet the sound director. I was not involved with the decision to purchase the line arrays. The worship pastor brought in a handful of audio analysts, and they determined we should replace the speakers and amps.

Had it been my choice, I most certainly would have wanted to get ahold of the arrays. But I also have some major issues with the room. For example, there is a wall behind the stage which is just plaster. The wedges on stage shoot right off of it, and I would love to correct that. However, decision like that are not easily made at my church. I don't believe I would get the ok to make that happen.

So I really am trying to consider everything that needs to be addressed, but I can only get away with what the Pastoral staff will agree with. And anything that involves cosmetic changes is hard to come by.
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Brad Weber

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2007, 08:48:27 am »

I actually meant waiting until you can hear the new speaker system is installed and tuned, not just auditioning the speakers themselves.  The new system will have not only have a different sound due to the speakers and system tuning, but will also interact with the room differently.  If you had qualified professionals agree that you needed a new speaker system and one was properly selected and designed (and is properly installed, adjusted and tuned), then you may experience some pretty dramatic changes.  The natural reverb, clarity of the worship leader, etc. will likely change.  Since the speaker changes are apparently already in progress, then waiting until you can hear the new system in your room to see what other changes you might want to make seems logical.

It sounds like the new speaker system is a pretty major change for your church and could significantly affect your sound, potentially much more than what compressor or effect settings you use.  Even if you weren't part of the decision or feel it is 'out of your hands', as Assistant Sound Director these changes will directly affect you, as Sound Director they will be something that you will likely be having to live with, and be responsible for, for some time.  I personally would certainly want to try to learn as much as possible about the new speaker system.  It would be unusual, and expensive, to bring in a "handful of audio analysts" to do a thorough analysis, but a handful of contractors to provide bids or quotes would be pretty common.  So maybe try to find out what is actually happening, how they arrived at this particular solution, what is being provided (not just equipment, but also installation, testing, adjustments, training, documentation, etc.) and what are the expected results.  That may help significantly in considering future plans.
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Josh Rose

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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2007, 09:27:27 am »

Thanks Brad,

I certainly plan to do so. I have been kept in the information loop, and I will be present when everything is installed, trying to take in as much as I can.
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Re: A couple of questions from a new sound director.
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2007, 09:27:27 am »


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