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Author Topic: Discouraged... Nothing is new under the sun.  (Read 2936 times)

David Haile

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Discouraged... Nothing is new under the sun.
« on: September 20, 2004, 09:16:41 am »

I'm the one who posted the TT24 vs. 02R96 question.  We're building a new sanctuary - done in 8 months.  Yesterday I toured a church that is finished with a similar sized room, similar sound system, similar board and speakers.  The only conclusion I was able to make is that 99.99% of what makes a good system is the nut behind the wheel.  I know that I can get better sound from our existing $4000 Mackie/Peavey rig than I heard on Sunday from a GL3300/SLS rig.  I don't blame the equipment!

The speakers were on the extreme ends of the very wide stage and on the floor.  This meant coverage was terrible, 80% of the speaker was below ear height.  When the bass guitar was in the speaker it was some of the most solid bass guitar I've heard in a church, but sadly things came in and out of the mix during sound check and during the service it was completely absent.  What I could hear (vocals, drums) was also too loud.  The wireless lapel mics were cheesy and harsh.  I'll stop my complaining now.

Who am I kidding?  It bugs me to walk up to another sound person in their domain and get shutout because we all know the way we like it and we ain't gonna listen to any so called "suggestions".  Yet - I'm the same way!  I know what I want and have heard so much crap out there that I don't know that there's anyone I can listen to who can help me get to my goal.  I guess I'll just let them dig their own grave knowing that I'm the only one with the honest view of church sound systems!

Asbestos suit ON!  Flame away!

============

Now I'm convinced that we'll get a Midas Venice 320, higher end QSC amps, four SLS speakers hung from truss's, two 18" subs in the wall on the floor - in a 350 seat room.  I hope it will be a relaxed and effortless system - more like IMAX than any normal church.  It is a crap shoot as to what I'll end up with.

We have a sound consultant.  I'll be sending them a big, long, soul-searching email later today.  I think they are good at acoustics.
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andrew gissing

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Re: Discouraged... Nothing is new under the sun.
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2004, 08:05:04 pm »

My own thoughts on engineering is that with the tools and tricks we've got, we can add maybe 10% to the quality of sound being produced by the band.

But we've got capabilty to reduce by 100% if we really stuff it up.

This is based on the premise that you can't polish a turd. Bad muso's on stage.. be honest, there is not much we can do. Good muso's - as I said, maybe 10%.

What really bugs me isn't the average congregation person who comes up with a suggestion or two.. but those congregation members who know-it-all HOWEVER.. are unwilling to join the sound team !

Your comment on visiting engineers is very valid. Problem as you know is that when someone comes up to you, you don't know what their experience is and typically they don't know your experience. Very early on in my career I had some SAE guy pooh-pooh me using one mic between two toms. In his esteemed opinion you needed one on each tom. I happened to agree with him - but my wallet didn't, and I figured 1 between 2 was better than none.

And sadly to say, some people are not open to receive constructive criticism. On some occasions, on reflection, I've agreed with what the person said to me.

Andrew
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Stuie

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Re: Discouraged... Nothing is new under the sun.
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2004, 08:27:42 pm »

Hi Andrew

This is the hardest ministry in the world and your pastor needs to understand that. Its not like music where you can fluff up a couple of cord and keep going, one little feed or mic too this way or that way can frustrate people. I am now offically sick n tired of cop it for one fader down for two seconds, Get a life. I am now educating my pastor on how important (a) sound is to every ministry department (b) how important the guys are behind the desk. If your pastor doesnt stick up for you he or she is taking you for granted and not really leading you. Your pastor should headlock people who think sound is ordinary. A leader leads and looks after his people.

As for the monkey behind the machine, 100% you can t polish up awful vocals its not your job to fix them up (thats what mute is for). My personal conviction is getting the basics done it should sound 100% and people will not see what you are doing (which means job well done).

One little thing i decided to only take instruction from 2 people in my church. That is my senior pastor and my production manager so you dont have everyone walking down telling i want to hear some this that the other.

Ministry is hard but your own people shouldnt flog you to death because your diligent in your role and duty towards God.

Cheers
Stuie
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David Haile

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Re: Discouraged... Nothing is new under the sun.
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2004, 10:32:06 pm »

My pastor is 100% supportive and has gone out of his way to make sure that I don't have to round up people to help setup and takedown.  My problem is the equipment selection for the new sanctuary.  As the senior sound lackey I'm supposed to have some opinions and give direction!  I used to have strong opinions but after touring probably 10 different churches (everyone of them has an "expert" sound guy), the quality difference between them is very wide and none NONE none of them is above what I consider an average system.  I sure wish that I could tour the country for a month reviewing all the ProSoundWeb churches.  All I have to go on is bragging rights.  I was excited about hearing a local Renkus-Heinz system but they played it so loud I only stayed for one song.  I used to play guitar in a Blues Band!  If anyone likes loud music, it is me me me, but not so loud it hurts.  Sometimes it hurts even when it isn't loud.  I don't know why people love those headset mic's so much - the ones that are often used are harsh!

What we really need is a meter where I can have a calibrated Praise Band play a song and at the end of the song I get a score displayed such as 87 for Pretty Good or 13 for Go Back To Your Day Job.  Pink Noise, SMART, EASE all amount to Zippo when you factor in the guy behind the mixer.  This meter gauges his ability to balance the band and get the lead guitar solo to come out on top, with a funky bass and pleasing vocals, etc.
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Dave J

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Re: Discouraged... Nothing is new under the sun.
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2004, 05:10:17 am »

I would have to agree on this topic. I just was asked to be part of a team of 6 people to be the people in charge of running this new system that was purchased for many events in the church. Now, this system is a used system and sounds pretty good. However one of the guys seems to think that his way of doing things is the only way to do things, not that I know everything. He keeps bringing up that he used to run sound for this (big name christian band) and therefore he thats why he knows everything. Now I must say, he did have a good sounding mix, however I don't think he needed to crank up on the volume during sound checks and it seemed a bit loud during the event as well. Then we start tear-down and I start to wind the snake (over/under) and he tells me that if I just put a 1/4 twist in the cable as I lay it in the trunk it will lay nicely. This is when I finally put my foot down and explained why over/under was the way to go. I don't think it worked. Anyway, now that I am done with my rant. I don't expect to know everything, but I expect to be listended to when I do have a suggestion whether that suggestion is good or I just want to learn something.  

Dave in ATL
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Dan Timon

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Re: Discouraged... Nothing is new under the sun.
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2004, 09:29:41 am »

ColoradoDave wrote on Mon, 20 September 2004 22:32



My problem is the equipment selection for the new sanctuary.  As the senior sound lackey I'm supposed to have some opinions and give direction!  I used to have strong opinions but after touring probably 10 different churches (everyone of them has an "expert" sound guy), the quality difference between them is very wide and none NONE none of them is above what I consider an average system.  



Dave,

I think your best tact might be to really partner with the sound consultant that your church has retained, and address the most important issues: acoustical optimization of the space, proper system design and suitability of a system design for your church's present and future needs.

You are right, of course that the sound lives or dies by the hand of the operator, but you must give that operator a fair chance, by ensuring that the room is properly controlled acoustically, and that you have a quiet, powerful system able to deliver excellent sound to each seat.

Ultimately, whether you have Meyer, Renkus, JBL, EAW or Nexo speakers installed in your sanctuary is far less important than that they be installed in a well designed system, in a well designed acoustical space. You as a sound guy, will hear that last 2% of perceived quality between your favorite speaker and another of comparable quality and appropriateness. But 95% of  the congregation doesn't care which speaker or amp is used, and 100% of the sound dudes will prefer another brand of speaker or amp, because we are like that.

When you audition systems in other churches, first go to those churches that are designed or recommended by the consultant, and ask him what you should pay special attention to at that site. While there, force yourself to listen to the system, and not the mix, because if you are like me nobody can mix as well anyway. Listen for even loudspeaker coverage, room nodes, slapback from walls, freedom from system noise, and adequate gain when evaluating the design and installation of the church you visit.

When you visit the churches, also ask them why certain equipment was chosen, would they have made changes given hindsight, and what they don't like about their system.

Above all, don't be discouraged. You are blessed to have the confidence of your pastor. Sometimes it is hard to keep the proper perspective in these circumstances, given that we are all gear sluts at heart, but our preferences must be subordinate to
the greater goals.

Best of luck,and have fun!

Regards,

Dan Timon
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George Blun

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Re: Discouraged... Nothing is new under the sun.
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2004, 11:11:19 am »

The discouragement seems to be all too common, but there is hope! We recently hired a company who specializes in church technology. They installed the system and trained our volunteers on how to use it and make it sound good. The results were incredible. People are now volunteering to be a part of our team because they are thrilled with how great everything is going. I would suggest to everyone to check out Sound Idea. (www.soundideaservices.com) Travel is no problem for these guys. So don’t worry about your location, because they travel. These people have totally transformed our church, I know they can do the same for you.
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David Haile

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Re: Discouraged... Nothing is new under the sun.
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2004, 10:22:21 am »

Dan Timon wrote on Tue, 21 September 2004 14:29

You as a sound guy, will hear that last 2% of perceived quality between your favorite speaker and another of comparable quality and appropriateness. But 95% of  the congregation doesn't care which speaker or amp is used,


I'm hoping that the congregation will notice but won't have the words to describe what is different.  I hope the sound is more relaxed and stress-free than what they've been used to in our gym.  I hope they'll be able to hear the message easily at a much lower volume than we use now.  I hope I can set apart the lead vocal from the rest of the vocals without making it louder.  I hope to have a funky bass guitar sound.  The word of the day is "hope", not "faith".  That's the change that has happened since I've reviewed so many different churches.  I have no faith in the process - only hope.  I'm an engineer.  I know that something is going to work before I build it otherwise I don't start the project (unless it is R&D).  This is difficult for me.

Sheesh!  What a negative person I am!  I'm fun to be with once you get to know me.

I'm very confident that the room will be excellent.  The sanctuary in the other church sounded pretty good - it was just the mix and locations of the speakers that killed me.  That church spent money up front on the room design but didn't involve the consultant in the placement of the speakers.  They made strange compromises.  The video projector brightens the face of anyone who foolishly thinks that front and center is a place to make announcements from.
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Discouraged... Lighting for video
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2004, 11:05:14 am »

ColoradoDave wrote on Wed, 22 September 2004 10:22

 They made strange compromises.  The video projector brightens the face of anyone who foolishly thinks that front and center is a place to make announcements from.
The video projector doesn't brighten the face, the uneven lighting brightens the face. The video projector just makes the uneven lighting obvious. If front and center isn't the isn't lit for announcements, it should be.

Mac
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Dan Timon

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Re: Discouraged... Nothing is new under the sun.
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2004, 12:03:45 pm »

ColoradoDave wrote on Wed, 22 September 2004 10:22

Dan Timon wrote on Tue, 21 September 2004 14:29

You as a sound guy, will hear that last 2% of perceived quality between your favorite speaker and another of comparable quality and appropriateness. But 95% of  the congregation doesn't care which speaker or amp is used,


I'm hoping that the congregation will notice but won't have the words to describe what is different.  I hope the sound is more relaxed and stress-free than what they've been used to in our gym.  I hope they'll be able to hear the message easily at a much lower volume than we use now.  I hope I can set apart the lead vocal from the rest of the vocals without making it louder.  I hope to have a funky bass guitar sound.  The word of the day is "hope", not "faith".  That's the change that has happened since I've reviewed so many different churches.  I have no faith in the process - only hope.  I'm an engineer.  I know that something is going to work before I build it otherwise I don't start the project (unless it is R&D).  This is difficult for me.

Sheesh!  What a negative person I am!  I'm fun to be with once you get to know me.

I'm very confident that the room will be excellent.  The sanctuary in the other church sounded pretty good - it was just the mix and locations of the speakers that killed me.  That church spent money up front on the room design but didn't involve the consultant in the placement of the speakers.  They made strange compromises.  The video projector brightens the face of anyone who foolishly thinks that front and center is a place to make announcements from.


I think you are on the right track. The key is to communicate your hopes with the consultant and the pastor, and form a team that can ensure that the inevitable compromises that happen in a project will not derail the most important goals. You might need to be part of a larger team to overcome some of the dumb decisions that can come from people with lots of money or other influence, without relevant knowledge. I mean, how many sound system designs have been derailed by a church member who donates what his Guitar Center salesman recommends? Too many.

You would not want to cut corners on acoustical treament and speaker selection because of spending too much on a console, or buying a theater-quality projector. You have to have the acoustics and the proper backbone for your church, and compromise if you must on other items. Better to buy a 10k console and a $10,000 projector than doom the system forever by building an unmanageable room, and filling it with a PM1D and a 19,000 Christie projector.

So, in short, I think you have the opportunity to turn your hopes into a plan, which you can then execute.

Good luck-and my prayers are with you.

Regards,

Dan Timon
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