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Title: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Allen Farr on May 06, 2008, 07:27:17 pm
Hello,

My name is Allen Farr. I am new to this forum. Just to give you a little bit of my tech background so you know who you are writing to, I have been fairly heavily evolved in A/V/L (audio/video/lighting) stuff for probably the past five or six years. I have held the seat from anything to a salesman at a fairly large a/v/l store to sitting in the FOH position for different groups in different churches. So in the big picture I still have a tremendous amount to learn.

My question is really just to gain more general knowledge about this stuff for my own good and to pass it along to the next person. The other reason is I have an opportunity to start pouring the little knowledge that I have, into other lives. So, I was wondering, if you had to teach a person about sound, what would be the key things that you would teach them in the beginning.

So  if you could, list out ten or so of those things and let me know what your thoughts are.

Thank-You for your time and knowledge.
Allen Farr
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Don Boomer on May 07, 2008, 09:01:32 am
I'd say rule number 1:  As long as nobody died ... it couldn't have been that bad.

There are alway more things to learn to make things better but you don't have to be perfect to be successful. Don't stress out!
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Jeff Ekstrand on May 07, 2008, 09:37:34 am
I don't know that I have a hierarchy of rules for myself... It's more just an engrained set of behaviors that I don't really think about (and I should probably have some rules so I get more engrained behaviors and quit screwing up). Smile

One thing that I've had a few clients ask me recently, is who is at fault if a vocalist can't keep their mic in front of their mouth. While it's obvious that the vocalist is responsible for the placement of their mic (except for headworns, obviously), we have to remember that some people will inevitably get lost in worship. When it comes to worship leaders, I actually prefer someone who is so passionate about what they're singing that they lose a little track of what's going on. At least they're doing their job.

This is all to set-up one of my rules:

"It is never okay to forget that we serve the people on stage."

It is okay to ask for things like better mic control, but it is never okay to give attitude to the talent or outwardly blame them for poor quality. It's the same in church and the professional world. Even when working with the world's biggest divas (maybe not the most famous divas, but we all know the type), you cannot return attitude with attitude. I think there's a biblical application here, too. Smile If a specific artist is snobby enough, you're never going to win a battle of bad attitudes.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Brad Weber on May 07, 2008, 01:00:16 pm
Who are you teaching and what are you teaching them?  The lists would be totally different for performers and presenters than for operators which would also differ from that for system installers or designers.  And what are you training them to do with this information?

My only rule that applies across the board is that if you think you know it all, then you just don't realize how much you don't know.  I've been at this professionally for almost 25 years and every time I gain more knowledge and experience I also continue to learn just how limited my existing knowledge and experience really is.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Scott Fahy on May 07, 2008, 01:41:33 pm
Never stop learning
Never forget you can learn from anyone, no matter how old or how young.
Maintain a servant attitude, we are here to serve people not for our own edification.

Scott

Old and still learning
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: ak909 on May 07, 2008, 05:42:38 pm
There is this joke which I use to remind myself that I dont know anything...


"What is the diffrence between a FOH Engineer and God?"

"God doesn't think hes a FOH Engineer."
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Steve Swaffer on May 09, 2008, 10:09:55 pm
I have done the sound at our church for 15 years. Upkeep as well as running the system for services, etc. I have just started teaching my son to do the same job. A couple of thoughts I try to live by.

1.  The pastor is in charge, if he asks for something to be changed, it gets changed (and not just a false motion!)

2.  Mistakes are OK.  Carelessness, lack of preparation, inattentiveness are not!

3.  If you are doing a good job, most people in the audience will not be aware that you are doing your job.

4.  In my opinion, a conscientous operator is more important than skill, or equipment.  Too many churches let any "tech savy" person run the board.  Someone who is truly conscientious will eventually gain the skills.  Equipment will not be really appreciated less you have a conscientous, skilled operator.

5.  If it gets too bad-there is always the OFF switch! Razz  (Haven't gotten there-yet!)

Steve Swaffer
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Devin B. Kim on June 10, 2008, 02:47:41 pm
very sound advice....it's very hard to have same goals and ideas when you have many people...
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: karl maciag on June 10, 2008, 11:14:30 pm
1. we're here to serve the musicians/vocalists/pastors.  without their talents,  we don't get to use ours - we have no job.  It is our job to make sure they are completely comfortable so they can do their job.

2. "No" is not in our vocabulary when talking to the people mentioned in point 1. However,  if a request makes no technical sense, it is our job to dig deeper, and find out the problem, and what the end result should be for them, and then execute.  Educate them on how to achieve their goals.

3. Learn how the equipment is made to work. Do not use technology for what it is not designed for.  Learn how to gainstage.  Proper gainstaging will eliminate the majority of your grief. feedback will go away, tonality will be consistent, as well as the blend of your mixes.  

4. Don't be afraid to say you don't know.  Know it alls don't know jack. Smart people find answers when they don't know.  Humility goes a long way in this business, people who know more than you will recognize it, and want to teach you.  Know it alls get left behind with all the "knowledge" they think they have. There's no such thing as a stupid question.  Ask the people who know.  They will be glad you did.

5. Especially in a church setting, someone will always complain.  Too loud! not loud enough! BGV's too quiet! my advice: TUNE IT OUT!!! Only take criticism from the people above you, whether your worship pastor, senior pastor, tech director, whoever.  Be sure the people above you are pleased with your work. It sounds rude, but kindly refer the complainers to the people in authority.  It will help you maintain confidence, and as a result help you work better.  

6. Steve said it before me - be prepared.  95% of my work is done during the week, preparing for the weekend services.  If i'm not ready when the worship group shows up before service, i have not been doing my job.  When i started at my church, the senior pastor was concerned that i am laid back, and not rushing around like a madman the hour leading up to a service, like my predecessor.  Instead i enjoy a cup of coffee with the worship pastor.  He then realized, that everything was ready the day before. This game is all about preparing, including being prepared for the problems that can pop out of nowhere.

BAH! that's only six...maybe i'll come up with more.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Jeff Ekstrand on June 10, 2008, 11:44:03 pm
Quote:

5. Especially in a church setting, someone will always complain. Too loud! not loud enough! BGV's too quiet! my advice: TUNE IT OUT!!! Only take criticism from the people above you, whether your worship pastor, senior pastor, tech director, whoever. Be sure the people above you are pleased with your work. It sounds rude, but kindly refer the complainers to the people in authority. It will help you maintain confidence, and as a result help you work better.

How true!!! Best story yet for me. I had another guy on FOH last weekend, it was a training exercise of sorts. He's got a great ear, and his fingers are starting to catch up. I get this guy, during rehearsal of all times, who happens to be a high school physics teacher screaming at us that it's too loud. He says it's 90dB (which it was), and that it's the same as a lawn mower. "People are going to be losing their hearing!" He says. I kindly point him to my OSHA Noise Exposure table (90dB for 8 hours, 95dB for 4 hours continuously). We then had a discussion about the fact that we were right on our average service spl, and that he can't be blurting things out like that in front of volunteers during rehearsal when we're actually working on the mix. The best part of the whole story, the complainer was the lighting director for the morning. I have a very hard time tolerating intra-team crap like that... but I recognize that we're all tired with a 5:30 A.M. call time, so we all have to extend a little extra grace on Sunday mornings. At the same time, I will defend my team members to the death! You should tune it out, I agree. However, nobody yells at my team members and gets away with it.

And that beats the "2 little old ladies" that an usher told me about every weekend for two months... in all my life I've never met "the two little old ladies", but I've met countless ushers who talk about them. Wink

So I guess another rule I follow is that the people are more important than the equipment, the sound, anything. Don't ever forget that without the people, we wouldn't really have church, and we certainly wouldn't get to enjoy church sound.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Adam Brunkhorst on June 10, 2008, 11:52:25 pm
I'd say the biggest thing that i can think of that many people overlook is the fact that everyone hears something a little different. What I think sounds amazing, another may think sounds "just ok." So what I'm saying, is take criticism with a grain of salt. There are a lot of "backseat mixers" in the world and if you let them get to you, you will have a very tough time doing your job correctly.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Devin B. Kim on June 11, 2008, 10:19:51 am
wish I had a mute button on my ears for those backseat mixers...but most of the time, it's me doing the backseat mixing  Laughing   seriously I am not bothered with people's mixing styles and perferences....as long as it's not interfering with service simply because pastor mentions during sermon....
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Josh Rose on June 11, 2008, 04:58:25 pm
Ok... I'll try my hand at this. Here is a personal rule that has improved my abilities by leaps and bounds...

"If there is a knob, button, or piece of equipment that you don't understand... Learn it."

I remember when I was learning to engineer a long time ago. A few years in, I used compression a lot, but I didn't really understand it. I didn't know what ratio was. I didn't know the practical uses. I just used presets till it sounded cool... 5 minutes on wikipedia later, I knew a whole lot about compression, and starting applying it much more intelligently from that day forward.

Is there equipment at your FOH position that you don't understand? Learn it.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Karl P(eterson) on June 12, 2008, 01:05:25 am
Josh Rose wrote on Wed, 11 June 2008 16:58

a long time ago


Quote:


5 minutes on wikipedia later



?

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dynamic_range_comp ression&dir=prev&action=history

?

Karl P
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Don Boomer on June 12, 2008, 07:25:15 pm
karl maciag wrote on Tue, 10 June 2008 22:14


Learn how to gainstage.  Proper gainstaging will eliminate the majority of your grief. feedback will go away, tonality will be consistent.


Gain staging will help you with distortion and noise floor so it is something definitely to learn.  But is has nothing to do with feedback or tone.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Tim Padrick on June 14, 2008, 01:41:30 am
Rules for the musicians to live by: http://www.padrick.net/LiveSound/Welcome.htm
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: karl maciag on June 17, 2008, 10:13:10 pm
Don, it all goes hand in hand.  As far as consistent tone,  pull the main bus of your desk down to -20, and push your faders and subgroups up to match the level you had when the main bus was at 0.  There will be a difference in sound.  It is the result of distortion.  not necessarily complete breaking up sounding distortion, but the busses are not being operated properly and the sound suffers because of it.  So we're saying the same thing, you just called out the root of the problem, while i stated a practical result of it running properly.

As far as feedback, if you're running within the confines of "unity" gain,  chances are frequencies are not going to jump back through the mic and feedback.  I know you'll need to make some adjustments to your graph, or whatever eq you're using, but nothing extreme.  When i walk into places, and see large -12dB cuts in a graph eq, all over the spectrum,  i don't even listen to the wedges,  i flatten it, and start over with the gainstage.  99% of the time, i'm not making any drastic cuts at all.  That has to do with noise floor, and distortion.  It all ties together.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Jeff Ekstrand on June 18, 2008, 10:31:09 am
Quote:

As far as feedback, if you're running within the confines of "unity" gain, chances are frequencies are not going to jump back through the mic and feedback.


You sure?

I can run everything at unity in my system... but if I throw a mic in front of my PA and have an inexperienced vocal moving it all over the place, I'm still going to get feedback.

I don't think you're taking into account the room, the people, improper system design/installation, etc.

We have now gotten off-topic, but that statement seemed a little defensive and a bit of a stretch.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: karl maciag on June 18, 2008, 10:43:59 am
i didn't mean that proper gain structure was going to eliminate all feedback.  Most beginners who do not practice proper gain structure will experience more feedback due to things being to hot all over the place.  I know that you need to EQ according to the room, and all the other factors that take the gear out of a perfect environment to do their job.  I was trying to make the point that proper gain structure is the starting point to getting everything else in line, otherwise you're fighting an uphill battle the entire way.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Don Sullivan on June 22, 2008, 10:11:56 am
My top ten lessons to learn when running sound:
1)Make sure you check the mics before somebody needs them.
2)Put new batteries in all wireless devices every Sunday morning.
3)Pull the reverb down when the music leader starts talking/praying.
4)After the pastor talks, start the music out quietly. You can ramp up the volume during the first song, but a sudden increase in volume is often perceived something being too loud.
Get a Radio shack volume meter and measure how loud your music is.
5)When a sinlge person is singing, bump them up 3-6 db. Bring them back down when the other singers join in.
6) mute/lower the choir mics when they are not singing.
7) SOLO/PFL your singers so you know who is singing melody, harmony, etc.
Cool Keep the melody on top.
9) Never give the choir monitors.
10) Get you pastor a headworn mic.  Cool
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Lasse Lasanen on July 04, 2008, 11:12:14 am
Jeff Ekstrand wrote on Wed, 11 June 2008 06:44

... I kindly point him to my OSHA Noise Exposure table (90dB for 8 hours, 95dB for 4 hours continuously). ...

Some two years ago the SPL was a topic in my church, but now we have agreed on 85 dBA(slow) limit ... which is pretty loud if You make it seem/sound loud!
Just use compression in main mix and (whenever possible) hefty subharmonics on the subwoofer Smile
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Don Boomer on July 04, 2008, 06:20:02 pm
Yes ... setting proper gain structure helps avoid all kinds of problems ... but it has ZERO effect on whether or not you get feedback.  They are not related AT ALL.

Feedback happen for one reason ... that is that you cross the unity loop gain (which has nothing to do with "unity" on your mixer).  That's the basic Nyquest Stability Criteria.

It's all about level ... not the quality of that level.

Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Jeff Ekstrand on July 04, 2008, 08:07:46 pm
Quote:

eff, guys....
Garth Brooks, a head worn, over 300,000 watts out front, Garth flying on a harness over the audience back and forth 20 to 30 feet in front of the house system and no feedback. Find someone who knows what they're doing and ask them some questions. Ask the pro's. I love all you people in Christ, and for what you do for the Lord, but I'm so frustrated in the blind leading the blind in church audio... I just can't stand it. I'm not speaking specifically about this forum, I mean in general... all over the country. Don't get me wrong. Not all "professional" sound companies know what they're doing, either! I just fixed a $100,000 mess that was installed at my church after my wife and I returned to the area after being away for 6 years. I couldn't believe what I heard when they flipped the switch! The company said they'd come back and fix it for around $3800.00. Let's just say "they're a huge company located in PA". Longer story short, I had the Minister of Music get $1200.00 approved through the finance dept., told him to tell the 8 member sound crew I was charging that to fix the system so they would leave it alone after I fixed it, and on the completion of their 2 hour Audio 101 training course I gave them a few weeks later, he asked me if he could tell them that I was giving it all back to the church and I said, "yes". How many of you guys that "do" know, have ever eq'd something properly, just to come back after the crew for the 2nd service put it back to what "they" think was right? Frustrating, isn't it. Bless you hearts, but if you're struggling with sound at your church, call in a professional, get him to train the staff, do what he says, and last but not least.... there is no "tinny knob or muddy button" on a board! lol

Love In Christ,
Ron Shawver
Trinity Media Group


Punch,

Please read the rules and use your real name when you post on this forum, just like the rest of us.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Phil Rowley on July 05, 2008, 08:27:38 am
Okay, back on topic  Smile

1. Don't camp out at the board during rehearsals.  TALK to your vocalists and musicians and find out if their mix is okay.  If you're FOH, walk the room and ask for feedback from those
who may be listening.

2. On time is late.  Get there in plenty of time to setup for the day's services or event.

3. Sometimes its okay to shut off the meter and go with your gut feeling for room SPL. (Just don't get carried away  Smile

4. Educate the end user about the proper use of gear.  This means everything from the guy who holds the mic 50 feet away to the vocalist that twists the antenna on the IEM pack as they shove it into their pocket.

5. Where applicable, always check your drum mic placement.  Explain to the drummer the
proper location for each mic and why.

6. If you don't know something, then ask someone who has the answer.  Don't pretend to know it all.

7. Respect your musicians and vocalists and they will respect you in return.  (Remember this rule, even when the new guitar player forgets his ear buds for the xth
week in a row  Smile

8. Know your tunes in advance and who is leading them (vocally and instrumentally).

9. Set limits on your volunteer time commitments.  Just because you're a sound team of 1 or 2 doesn't mean you have to be there every weekend.  The key to longevity is knowing where to set this limit and stick with it.

10. Always use your real, full name when posting on this forum  LOL..sorry, couldn't resist!
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Jeff Ekstrand on July 05, 2008, 04:18:29 pm
Quote:

10. Always use your real, full name when posting on this forum LOL..sorry, couldn't resist!


Awesome.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on July 06, 2008, 08:17:17 am
10 rules to follow when doing live sound at church.

(1) First and foremost we are here to serve God.

(2) The congregation is the physical entity through which our  technical and spiritual service to God passes

(3) Assisting the presenters communicate with the congregation is the primary means by which technologists serve God.

(4) Depending on the church, the worship director or the senior pastor provides the technicans and artists who lead worship with human leadership. They are the primary custodians and interpreters of the church's vision for worship and service.

(5) Technology is supposed to serve spiritual needs, not vice-versa.

(6) For the most part, technology is only apparent to the congregation when it causes problems. Therefore technologists can only make mistakes, as far as they are concerned.

(7) How technologists serve is at least as important as the outcomes they obtain.

(Cool In worship, the words are more important than the music or the pictures. Therefore intelligibility is more important than aesthetics.

(9) Never presume malace when simple incompetence or a lack of involvement is a sufficient explanation. It may well be true that nobody in your church, not even your immediate supervisor understands what it takes for you to do your job.

(10) Your reward in heaven for your Godly service will be sure, even if performing your day-to-day Godly duties pretty much sucks.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Jeff Ekstrand on July 07, 2008, 01:56:59 am
Quote:

( In worship, the words are more important than the music or the pictures. Therefore intelligibility is more important than aesthetics.


Would video and lighting guys agree with this thought? I personally believe that lighting, video, and audio, all three together, contribute to the worship equally. If there is a problem with any of the three, then production is potentially hindering the worship "process."

I think being able to see the stage (lighting), see a DVD/read words (video), as well as hearing what's being said/played are no more important than each other.

Not to discount the importance of audio, I am an audio guy through and through. I don't think we should think of ourselves too highly, though. If we take ourselves too seriously, we'll only run into problems.

I love the rest of your post, the servant attitude is HUGE with production folks. It's hard to server when we really can only make mistakes. Smile
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on July 07, 2008, 09:05:56 am
Jeff Ekstrand wrote on Mon, 07 July 2008 06:56



Quote:

( In worship, the words are more important than the music or the pictures. Therefore intelligibility is more important than aesthetics.


Would video and lighting guys agree with this thought?



Since video, lighting, sound and Powerpoint are integrated in our church, the distinction you suggest catches me by surprise. Expecially since both our developers and the presenters are often the same people. IOW I produce videos and presentations, work up scenes for lighting, run the lighting board, edit audio, and mix live sound and video or direct them, for the same service.

Quote:


I personally believe that lighting, video, and audio, all three together, contribute to the worship equally.



I think that they work hand-in hand.

But, I'm close enough to the days when we didn't do that much with video, and had no dimmed or centrally-controlled lighting at all, to have a sense of priorities.

Besides, the connection between the word and the video is especially clear.

Quote:


If there is a problem with any of the three, then production is potentially hindering the worship "process."



Agreed.

Quote:


I think being able to see the stage (lighting), see a DVD/read words (video), as well as hearing what's being said/played are no more important than each other.



IOW, lighting, video, and sound can be equally important to getting the Word out. I don't see any disagreement here.

Quote:


Not to discount the importance of audio, I am an audio guy through and through. I don't think we should think of ourselves too highly, though. If we take ourselves too seriously, we'll only run into problems.



Fact is that the average church has an attendance of about 100 people, and in many cases the only technology being used for worship is sound. Yes, there is lighting but it is architectural lighting at a fixed intensity, not the kind of dimmed, centrally-controlled, worship-coordinated lighting that I think of when I think of the use of lighting in worship.

Quote:


I love the rest of your post, the servant attitude is HUGE with production folks. It's hard to serve when we really can only make mistakes. Smile


Yes, the "only mistakes are visible to the congregation" rule is very humbling. It's especially humbling when the most vocal complainers couldn't even turn the technology on, let alone minister with it.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Jeff Ekstrand on July 07, 2008, 09:26:22 am
You raise good points about a majority of churches' lighting systems, and the volunteer staffing status of those same churches. And, in those cases, you are right, the sound is more important than extremely detailed aesthetics. If a mic cable is out of place, less people are going to notice than if the microphone connected to it sounds nasty.

And, while I make more jokes than is probably healthy about the rivalry between lighting and audio guys, that statement caught my eye because we're dealing with something along those lines right now. We have an amazing lighting rig for a church our size, and we are far from using it to its full potential. It's almost as if the mentality is that we're either "good enough", or that it's not as important as it really is... we're having a hard time communicating to the lead lighting designer (a volunteer) that the level of the house lights during various service elements can have a huge effect on the response of a congregation. Yesterday was a bit rough. Smile
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Tim Padrick on July 20, 2008, 04:01:26 pm
In times of old, additional drama was injected into church music by use of the big organ pipes - one could feel His presence.

We don't have that these days.  The drama must come from our other senses.  The words are a part, and the lighting is a part.  Optimally, the lighting should make the sanctuary disappear from the equation so that the congregation is taken somewhere else.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Kent Thompson on July 21, 2008, 01:01:58 pm
Some people learn the easy way
Some people learn the hard way
Some people never learn at all.

I always try to be in the first group.

Right now I only have one rule because I have a hard time even following it but, I figure if I can be teachable it will make life a lot easier.
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Andy Barnhill on July 22, 2008, 02:52:27 pm
oops, nevermind!  wrong post!
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Allen Farr on September 01, 2008, 12:23:12 pm
A BIG THANKS  Very Happy to everyone that responded! There are some great rules here that I am sure I will be using in the future!!!!

Allen Farr
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Bill McIntosh on September 02, 2008, 03:29:12 pm
I would like to contribute two of my own to the collection.

1) I can EXpect what I INspect.  Nothing happens by itself.
2) Always allow for the possibility that I am wrong.  
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Jeff Ekstrand on September 02, 2008, 03:35:12 pm
Quote:

2) Always allow for the possibility that I am wrong.

I love the choice of words! Mind if I steal that?
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: Bill McIntosh on September 03, 2008, 08:29:04 am
Please do, Jeff.  I think I stole it from someone else anyway... Twisted Evil
Title: Re: 10 Rules To Live By.
Post by: tim tyrtles on September 13, 2008, 04:20:58 pm
Always expect kit to fail.

Have a PA First Aid Box containing Duct tape, 10m XLR, 3m jack, soldering iron+solder, spare SM58, spare clip, DI box, multitool, mains fuses, two batteries.  

Practice.

Don't worry.

Pray with the band.