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Author Topic: getting a new system - need recommendations  (Read 13434 times)

Michael Shuemaker

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Re: getting a new system - need recommendations
« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2008, 10:11:53 pm »

We use Mackie Fusion 3000's.

They are powered --- and quite sick if I do say so myself.

Going on 6 1/2 years --- zero problems.
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Kent Thompson

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Re: getting a new system - need recommendations
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2008, 11:18:21 am »

Don't know how much your paying for that sound level meter but, we have a radio shack one that works just fine.

That cable tester is pretty awesome. A great tool to have.

The hum eliminator you may not need but it is a nice tool to have if you end up with a problem.
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Brad Weber

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Re: getting a new system - need recommendations
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2008, 11:49:15 am »

You mentioned in your first post that you are in the process of purchasing and renovating a building.  Where are you in that process?  I would suggest not getting too specific on equipment until you know more about the space.  And make sure that you start addressing power, conduit, acoustics, etc. as early as possible, don't get lost in focusing on just the products, it's a lot easier to replace a mic or add an effects processor later on than it will be to run new cable or to add a floor box or power.

Don't overlook the cabling, racks, etc. or the fact that there will usually be some differences in how you cable and provide connectivity for a temporary system versus an installed system.  The latter may mean that you plan for an purchase one cabling scheme for the portable system and a separate and different approach for the new facility.  I didn't see any cables or snakes reflected and things like that can quickly add to the budget.

How are you using the monitors?  For a high level contemporary service the HotSpots may work well as personal monitors but might not work for more than one person or for a drummer, bassist, etc.  Also consider how many actual monitor sends these and the in-ears represent and whether EQ, limiting, etc. should be provided (it is recommended).

Skip the hum eliminators and make sure your new facility has proper power provisions and is wired correctly.  I didn't see any DI boxes, so maybe include those instead.

In selecting speakers, since you apparently plan to use them in your new facility, think about how they will be mounted there.  For example, should you get speakers that incorporate flying hardware so they could be flown or ceiling mounted in the new space?  You probably also want to consider the pattern and output of the speakers and how they will work in the new space.
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video
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Brian Murphy

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Re: getting a new system - need recommendations
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2008, 12:30:59 pm »

The sound level meter at Radio Shack is $40, the one we are looking at is $60.  For that price difference, I'd rather stay away from Radio Shack equipment.

Our building is still a ways off.  We finally got the city govt. to give us the conditional use grant and can start finalizing the purchase.  Once bought (almost a guarantee now), we will start the renovations.  I'd say we'd be lucky to be in the building in the next 6 months.

I appreciate the comments about putting in the right cables, conduit, acoustics as the renovation is being done.  I'm trying to add networking cables and security system cables to my house and it is a real pain to retrofit stuff.  We'll make sure that is part of the renovation plans and I'm sure I'll be posting more about that part when we get closer.  Hopefully, we can minimize the equipment that only works in one of the two locations (mobile or the final building).

As far as the hum eliminators - I've already ordered two of them.  We currently have some issues with getting rid of some ground loop hum - our current solution, a 3 prong to 2 prong adapter, just isn't safe.  We might not need the hum eliminators with the new equipment, but we need them now.

We currently have a small rack that we use for our amps and a portable rack / case that we use for our 16ch mixer, EQ, CD recorder, etc.  We will be buying a new portable rack /case (like the one at http://www.churchonwheels.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen= PROD&Store_Code=HDT&Product_Code=AudioRack&Categ ory_Code=COWSTOR)  however, we'd appreciate any recommendations on this.

Our current snake is a 16 XLR, 4 1/4" snake that seems to be working ok.  I have no idea what brand or quality it is.

We currently have 4 Pro Co CB1 direct boxes and would probably purchase Radial JDI/J48s or something similar if we need to expand.

Our goal with the monitors is to have one monitor (hot spot or in-ear) per musician / vocalist.  I'm hoping that the in-ear monitors will be sufficient for the electric guitar, bass player, drummer and possibly one other musician.  The hot-spots would go to vocalists, acoustic guitarists and the keyboard player.  We'd like to go with all in-ear monitors, but the price is somewhat driving this at this point.

I'll find out exactly which speakers we currently have this weekend and then will post what I find.  I'm really hoping that the current speakers are good enough and that we can wait until we get into the building to buy new ones.  If we do need to buy new ones, making sure they incorporate the ability to fly or be ceiling mounted is a good idea.

From what I can tell of the sound (I'm not an expert), we could currently use a subwoofer.  I've gotten a couple of recommendations for the JBL that I posted (PRX518S active subwoofer).  Do you think this is versatile enough to work now (mobile) and later?

Also, do you think the amps that we are thinking about (Crown XLS202 and XTI2000) are good for now and later?

I'm also trying to make sure the budget has several hundred dollars for cables and other incidentals -

Thanks again.
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Kent Thompson

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Re: getting a new system - need recommendations
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2008, 05:37:07 pm »


Wow only a 16 channel snake? I guess your needs are not like ours. I noticed that your first post stated that you were looking at a 32 channel mixer. You are going to need a snake to match that mixer a 16 channel snake will just not do for a 32 channel mixer.

Can't really go wrong with the crowns.

How are you going to distribute all of these IEM signals and hot spot signals? Where are you getting the signals from? Are the IEMs wireless or wired? Are your vocalist going to be ok with dragging around wires for the IEMs? If wired IEMs you are going to need decent headphone amps to drive them(ie not behringers I have one it barely works(if you want more info on this pm me)). If wireless you are going to need to budget for some wireless headphones. How many different mixes are you going to need for your IEMs? You will need headphone amps that can accommodate that.

Once you hire a consultant all of these things you picked out could likely change. I think you are putting the cart before the horse here. Bring in the consultant now. Then make your choices based on their recommendations.

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Brian Murphy

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Re: getting a new system - need recommendations
« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2008, 06:25:23 pm »

We are hoping to get by with the 16 channel snake until we can move into a building and have it wired for more channels.  Right now, we have a 16 channel board and several of the channels are used for wireless microphones / lavs / cd player / computer audio.  We regularly use up to 10 channels on the snake right now, although, with drum mics and other things, I'm sure we'll get to or go over 16 channels.

As far as the IEM, we are looking at the Sennheiser EW300 IEM g2 wireless ones with the included ear buds.  They'd be driven with an aux to send the full monitor mix and the GL2400's per-channel direct out for that specific channel.  The hot-spots would be sent another aux channel.  

By the way, what's the best way to pick out a consultant and determine if we're getting the right advice?  You're probably right that we need one sooner rather than later.  I've learned a lot trying to put together this system on my own though (not enough, nowhere near what I need to know, but a lot).

If you had to guess, where do you think a consultant would be making the biggest changes?
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Brad Weber

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Re: getting a new system - need recommendations (long response)
« Reply #26 on: March 15, 2008, 10:51:17 am »

Probably one of the first things to define is how you plan to procure the equipment and get it installed.  Are you going to buy everything direct and install it yourself or procure the equipment and installation from a single professional firm or what?  A Consultant doesn't actually sell or install equipment, however many Contractors who sell and/or install equipment also provide consulting services, some do a very good job of it while others do not.  If you desire a single turnkey package of consulting and equipment procurement and installation, then then you probably want to find a good design-build Contractor rather than a Consultant.  On the other hand, if you want to put together a package to send out to get bids from multiple Contractors then you probably want a Consultant.  You would at least want to identify whther the intent is to bid the procurement and installation separately and to define whether the "Consultant" will also be allowed to bid on the equipment and installation.  Potential aspects of a Consultant's work such as construction oversight, reviewing pay requests and system acceptance can get a bit messy if the Consultant is also a bidder for the rest of the work and I have heard of many bad experiences on projects where the "Consultant" also bid on the work.  If you are going to allow the Consultant to also bid on the equipment procurement and installation then I would strongly consider a design-build approach.

Your Consultant should focus on what you want to do from a functional perspective.  They'll likely want to know much more about your ministry, how you plan to use the system, what your expectations are, the abilities and experience of the users, etc.  Only with that information can they then develop system concepts that meet your needs, much less start recommending or selecting specific equipment.  Their first step will usually be to develop a written Program or Needs Analysis that essentially defines the project goals and expectations and that serves as the basis for all future work and system acceptance.  The point here is for most churches the actual goals are not installing specific equipment models as much as they are achieving certain functionality and performance, and perhaps even defined budgets and schedules, from the systems.  It is quite possible to have a very acceptable equipment list that is installed in a manner that does not actually support the church's goals and expectations, so it is critical that these goals and expectations be defined and become part of the project requirements.

You can check out the membership directories at NSCA and InfoComm to at least get a starting point for some firm names and information.  Talk to other churches and to your Architect if you already have one, they might be able to give some recommendations on Consultants.  Be careful when looking at past work, it can be a great reference but it also may not really reflect the Consultant, there have been times that what ended up installed and accepted had little to do with what was actually recommended by the Consultant.  I once had someone tell me they had gotten a very bad reference on us and when we followed up on it, it turned out that the problem was a part of the work that had specifically been pulled out of our scope and for which we had no involvement.  I have also, unfortunately, seen several churches accept bids from Contractors that weren't really qualified or that proposed significantly different systems simply because the bid was lower.  So it is possible for a Consultant to get related to work and results that actually have little to do with them.  Personally, I sometimes walk away from projects when this happens, there are times I simply don't think I want my name associated with what I see as the likely outcome of such decisions, I also usually hope that my walking away might make someone reconsider that decision.

I don't know what a Consultant might change, they might not change anything or they may suggest changing everything.  On some projects one of the biggest potential benefits is not just the technical knowledge a Consultant may provide, but rather that they are an outside, unbiased, third party.  They can help with budget discussions, resolving conflicting goals, etc. without being directly impacted by any internal politics or issues.  Sometimes that can be as valuable as their technical expertise.
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Brad Weber
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: getting a new system - need recommendations
« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2008, 01:01:51 pm »

Brad has given a very good explanation, but I want to elaborate on one of his comments.

When talking with ANYBODY about technical aspects of the system (be it consultant or design/build), it is VERY important for you to tell them what you expect, desire, want to grow to etc.

A good person will take those into account when helping with aspects of the design.  Generally most are flexable as long as your requests are in line with a good design.

Without your direct input, you may end up with equipment that does not meet your needs/expectations.

I have seen projects in which all the information was "design us a sound system".  The end result was not at all what the customer had in mind.

kind of like buying a car.  Send somebody out to get you a "good" car, and most likely you will end up with something you are not happy with.

The more details you provide, the better.

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Ivan Beaver
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Brian Murphy

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Re: getting a new system - need recommendations
« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2008, 05:05:11 pm »

What pieces of information would you think are important to the consultant that we might not naturally think about?

I'm assuming that we'll discuss the expected experience of the tech team, musicians, style of worship, expectations of the makeup of the worship team, expected sound volume, expected wireless uses, use of other audio sources (DVD players, computers, iPODs, etc.) as well as expectations of what will be recorded and regularly distributed.

We also will try and communicate our needs for audio distribution and control throughout the new building (when we get to that stage).

What else do you think we should think about before making a call to a consultant.

I'm trying to put together a sample system that will provide a baseline that can help the communication.  This process is also a great learning experience for me.  

Back to the question of the snake.  I think we are going to have to buy a new one anyway.  The board, amps and sub-woofer all use XLR plugs for their signals.  I was thinking we'd have to add another 16 channel, 100' snake with 4 or 6 XLR sends (is that what they are called?).  Do you have any recommendations on brands or what to look for as far as quality?
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Jeff Plumblee

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Re: getting a new system - need recommendations
« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2008, 08:19:19 am »

The absolute top two things (IMO) you need to have in mind before you start talking to a consultant are: what do we need this system to do, and how much money are we willing to spend to make it do those things.  

What you want the system to do includes EVERYTHING.  A good consultant needs CAD drawings of the building you're going into to plan speakers that will cover the audience area and all sorts of other jazz.  Just think through absolutely everything you might possibly want this system to do and communicate that to whoever you choose.

When you look for a consultant or design-build firm or whatever, go to places that they have put systems in and look at them, but also it's very important that you talk to the people who run the system on Sunday and to some people who listen to it every Sunday.  If you can even talk to some committee members who chose the company and oversaw their work.  I know it sounds like a lot but most of these people would have no problem talking to you for a little while and these are the people who will know what it's like to work with the company.  They can give you a much more complete picture than just looking at the quality of the installation.  

If I had done those things for the design-build firm that just finished a project I my church they wouldn't have even started.  They did a very high quality installation but they were almost painful to work with.

Good luck
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Re: getting a new system - need recommendations
« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2008, 08:19:19 am »


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