One Time You MUST Upgrade Your Equipment (and the reason for the new site design)

Photo provided by libbym78

“We have been running on this mixer for 20 years.” “It still works.” “Most of the channels still work.” “We’ve learned to work around that issue.” “The musicians are used to it.”  These are just a few reasons you might give for not upgrading your equipment, financial issues aside.  But refusing to upgrade equipment also comes at a cost.  And it might be the musicians or the congregation who are ultimately paying the cost each week.

The stories of one web site, one church, one band and how each paid a cost…

I had fallen in love with the design of this web site.  I had spent a lot of time tweaking and changing until it finally came to a place where I really liked it.  But, there was a problem and it was one that was costing me dearly.  When the site was first designed, iphones and other mobile devices weren’t around or were so in their infancy that the idea of creating a “mobile-friendly” design wasn’t considered by most web developers.  As time rolled on, checking my web visitor statistics showed that mobile traffic was growing. …keep reading »

Picking the Right Vocal Microphone: Why Diaphragm Size Matters

Picking the Right Vocal Microphone: Why Diaphragm Size Matters

Vocal microphones matter.  Picking out the right vocal microphone means looking at several microphone properties including the diaphragm size.

The typical microphone properties that come to mind include;

  • Microphone type (dynamic, condenser, or ribbon)
  • Polar Pattern (omni-directional, cardioid, super-cardioid, etc.)
  • Frequency Response 

You can think of those microphone properties simply as;

  • Level of frequency sensitivity (type)
  • Proximity of sound sensitivity around the microphone (polar pattern)
  • Frequency colorization (frequency response)

“Beyond those is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. …keep reading »

How to Use the Praise Band to Clear the Stage

How to Use the Praise Band to Clear the Stage

The musicians are your front line for getting things done.  Following up on this week’s guest post by my pastor, I’d like to talk about teamwork, specifically work after the service.

For those of us who have service in a multipurpose room or have a portable church, every Sunday consists of setting up the stage in the morning and putting everything away after the last service ends.  Working as the only sound tech, this can take significant amount of time.  And, you might have  family waiting for you.  Let’s change all that.

You are on a team.  Team members include other tech crew folks, the musicians, and, as my pastor pointed out in that article, the pastor.  While a “teamwork mentality” is good, it’s time to put other team members to work. …keep reading »

Asking for New Equipment – Know When It’s Right

Asking for New Equipment

In my early days of church audio, I would have asked for a piece of equipment and said, “We have to have this or the world will end!”  As you know, the Book of Revelation doesn’t indicate any pro audio gear deficit as a sign of the apocalypse so my requests were denied.  Years later, I’m taking a multi-step approach.

Every time I’ve wanted to buy new equipment or upgrade the existing equipment, I’ve felt there were two questions I had to ask myself;

  1. Can the church afford it?
  2. Do I want this so I can use it or because it benefits the church? …keep reading »

The Four Key Areas of Safety on the Stage

The Four Key Areas of Safety on the Stage

You are responsible for creating a safe environment on the stage.  Don’t think of the sound booth as your only domain.  Your domain includes the stage.  It contains elements that can cause bodily harm just because of their existence.  For example, a microphone cable could be in the wrong place and cause the pastor to trip. You can keep environmental safety problems to a minimum by taking the proper steps to ensure a safe environment.

There are four components to environmental safety;

  • Cable control.  Use the shortest lengths of cable required on stage.  Extra cable can easily get snagged by a foot and spell disaster for the person as well as the equipment in which it’s attached.  Also, don’t run cables through high traffic areas.  For instance, avoid running cables through the area where the pastor walks.  When you do have cables that are in those traffic areas, use gaffer tape to secure it to the floor. …keep reading »

Six Common Cable Problems and Solutions

Cables: common problems and solutions

Water was streaming out the end of our driveway.  The main water pipe going to the house had sprung a leak.  There were only two ways of fixing the problem; digging up the driveway for finding and repairing the leak or running a new line without disturbing the driveway at all.  A problem with an audio cable isn’t always solved by running a new cable.  Sometimes you’ve got to look under the driveway.

There are six common cable problems you’ll find when working with audio.  All but two of these show themselves by not passing audio through to the mixer.

1.  A bad cable.  This is usually an easy one to spot and resolve.  If no sound is coming through from the sound source and everything else checks out ok, then swapping in a different cable usually solves the problem.  This goes for all cable types, from XLR’s to TRS cables. …keep reading »

Using Ribbon Microphones for Live Audio

Ribbon Microphones for the Live Environment

You may now use a ribbon microphone on the stage.  Condensers and dynamics…you’re still going to need those but the ribbon microphone is now an option.

Ribbon microphones are the most sensitive of the three types of microphones; condenser, dynamic, and ribbon.  This means they will pick up more nuances in the sounds.

How Ribbons Mic’s Work

Ribbon microphones work by;

  1. Using a thin corrugated strip of metal suspended between two poles of a strong magnet, thus serving as the diaphragm and voice coil.
  2. The ribbon reacts to the velocity of air particles and as it moves within the magnetic flux field, it generates a small AC voltage proportional to this velocity. …keep reading »

Top Three Common DI Box Problems and Solutions


How many times has a line check problem been the results of a DI box issue?  DI boxes, while simple in functionality, do present the opportunity to cause problems.  Here are the three common line-check-related issues where the DI box is to blame;

  1. No sound coming through the channel.
    A DI box won’t pass sound through when the input cable is incorrectly plugged into an output jack.  An active DI box won’t pass sound through if there is no power.  Make sure that either the phantom power is on, or the active DI box has its AC adapter plugged in or it’s running on fresh batteries. …keep reading »

How to Transition from Analog to Digital Mixing


[Guest Post: Brian Gowing] Learn what you should expect when you make the jump from analog to digital mixing.  Brian takes you through his experience with bringing digital to a church and how he helped them make a gradual switch.

I’m in the process of helping one of my churches transition from an analog mixer to a digital mixer. They were in need of more channels than their A&H 16-channel MixWiz with some outboard gear (FOH EQ, couple of compressors, FX unit) could provide. Based on the maximum number of channels that they anticipated needing over the next 5 years I recommended the PreSonus StudioLive 24.4, one of the least expensive 24-channel digital mixers on the market. …keep reading »

Knowing How Equipment Fails


Your worship leader has been knocked to the floor as his floor wedge suddenly explodes with a huge volume increase.  The church service ends and you’ve got thirty minutes until the next service to find the problem and fix it.  Where do you start?

A very similar scenario happened to a friend of mine working in the pro audio field.  Only it happened for four nights in a row until the problem was solved.  And the primary reason it took so long to fix was that someone above him didn’t recognize the ways equipment can fail and thus denied my friend’s request for a swap of a particular piece of gear. …keep reading »