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How to Mix Pads for Worship

Adding an ambient pad to your worship team’s sound is becoming more and more common. Many worship leaders celebrate using pads because it’s an easy, turn-key way to add a depth of sound to your worship team’s instrumentation without adding a team member or learning complex new technology.

Pads create a “musical safety net” that affords worship leaders the freedom to focus less on the details and more on leading well. Pads are an amazingly effective, low-cost, easy-to-use resource.

Those who are inexperienced with pads, however, tend to have a common question:

“Won't a continual pad-drone clash with the worship team, especially when they change chords? And if it’s always playing, won’t the...

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Sound in the Gospel - Book Review

This blog post is a little different - it's a book review. And it's about a book you should probably get (if you don't have it already).

The book is called "Sound In the Gospel …for the knucklehead tech in all of us" by Magic Dave (Dave Wright), foreword by Matt Papa.

To be honest, it totally caught me off guard.

I found out about Dave through one of those random "friend of a friend" type of interactions a few months ago.

Dave was just finishing up the layout and editing for this book when we first connected. It's a book about church sound, so that piqued my interest!

I was really curious to check out Dave's new book, so he sent me a copy when it finally came out.

I read through the entire book in less than a day.

Even though the...

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Is Jargon Killing Your Tech Team?

This post is a bit of a departure from some of our normal topics here at Great Church Sound. But you’d be surprised at how something so simple can cause so many problems.

Jargon.

It’s sort of an ugly word all by itself.

We use jargon all the time – especially in tech circles!

“Hey, can you tweak the pot on that lo-z input so the op amp doesn’t distort? And while you’re at it, spike the jazz box balun.”

Ok, well… You might not put it exactly like that, but if you chain enough of these silly words together, the conversation just sounds ridiculous!

Here’s the Problem

The words we use and the way we throw them around in casual banter within our tech circles can feel incredibly...

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How To Stop Buzz & Hum

If you’ve run sound for very long, then you’ve probably encountered buzz and hum in your sound system.

And chances are you want to get rid of it, fast!

Buzz vs. Hum

Buzz and Hum are different.

They sound different, and they have different causes.

This means that fixing them may require different solutions.

Buzz is often a higher pitched noise that can even crackle at times. (Imagine the zzzzzzz and crackle in a bad AM radio station.)

Hum tends to sound lower pitched and it will likely have a tone signature that you can actually hum along with. (Imagine a low or mid-frequency mmmmmm.)

Finding & Fixing Buzz

Buzz is generally caused by electrical noise or interference that gets into the audio signal.

This interference can...

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Live Streaming Audio Tips

Live streaming your church services can be a great way to reach your congregation. In fact, it may be the only way some members can even attend church.

With live streaming becoming such a critical service, it’s important to make sure the quality of the stream is as good as possible. Most people focus on the video quality first. But the real question is, can they hear you?

You know that audio is the most important part of any live stream, right?

If your audio quality is decent and your video is so-so, I’ll probably stick around. But if your audio is terrible, I don’t care how good the video is, I’m tuning out.

It is really important to send a consistent audio feed to your live streaming service. There are a few...

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How To Clean & Disinfect a Microphone

With cold and flu (and now Coronavirus / COVID-19) season here in force, there have been a lot of questions about how to properly clean and disinfect microphones.

Unsurprisingly, there is some misleading and often bad information on some of the social media threads that I’ve seen lately.

Here are some tips to help you keep those mics clean and sanitary, now and any time of year.

Why should I clean a microphone?

The recommended mic placement for handheld vocal microphones means that the microphone is very close to or even touches the singer’s face or lips. This means that spit/mucus/etc. can easily be transferred from the mouth to the microphone grill and underlying foam filter.

The body of the microphone is another surface...

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Drums, Sound and Worship

Despite years of experience playing in bands and performing a variety of music styles, I was caught off guard a little bit when I started playing drums for my local church worship team.

In case you have any uncertainty about it, there's a big difference between playing drums for a gig or concert and playing drums for worship (same goes for every other musician or vocalist on stage).

Playing an instrument or singing for worship is not a performance. I know that's easy to say, but a lot of "performers" on stage can struggle with adapting their style of playing with the needs of the worship leader and congregation. I did when I was a young and enthusiastic drummer!

What does any of this have to do with sound?

As a drummer and an audio...

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How To Teach Church Tech

At some point in our time as a church sound tech, we’ll probably be asked to teach someone “everything we know about church sound.” That can feel incredibly intimidating!

There’s nothing quite like learning how to use a new piece of gear or practicing a new technique, and then having to train someone else on your team how to be proficient with it.

The great thing about this is that it forces you to truly grasp the fundamental concepts of what you’re doing and why.

In order to teach something effectively, you need to distill the complex variables of your task into manageable concepts that your student can comprehend and then put into practice.

I know it’s easy to be dazzled by the latest piece of...

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Compressor Settings for Church Sound

Compression is a great tool that can tighten up your mix and enhance the punch or power of certain instruments. But it can also cause some serious problems if you’re not careful.

An audio compressor is used to control the dynamic range of an audio signal, or the difference between the highest and lowest volume level.

Controlling the dynamic range can help you create a more stable sounding mix (especially when it comes to the pastor’s mic), and you’ll be able to dial in the sweet spot for certain instruments (like the kick drum).

But using the audio compressor on a digital console or a separate analog compressor can be intimidating – even if you've used one before!

It doesn't have to be super complicated. And it...

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How To Fix Audio Cables

When you work with live sound, you're going to deal with a lot of different audio cables.

And sometimes those cables break.

The most common cable problem can actually happen inside of the connectors at either end of the cable where individual wires can become physically detached from the connection points.

This can happen for several reasons, but here are the 3 most common causes:

  1. The cable was pulled or bent in a way that the strain relief inside the connector gave way and one or more conductors were pulled loose from the connector.
  2. An instrument cable (guitar cable) was used as a speaker cable (stage monitor) and the high power from the amplifier circuit caused the center conductor of the instrument cable to disintegrate, losing...
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