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The Beginner's Guide To Gain Structure

Note: this post is contributed by professional sound engineer Terry Bledsoe, author of The Beginner's Guide To Live Sound Mixing: Or How Not To Get Fired On Your First Gig

Okay, I know you want to get going and playing with some gear, but let’s get a few basics out of the way. First of all, this is a simple sound wave:

Hertz measures the number of these that happen in one second. The number of Hertz that happen is the Frequency. The more the Hertz, the shorter the waves and are higher pitched frequencies, the lower the number are the low frequencies, that require more power to produce.

The amplitude is how strong the signal is. This is measured in decibels or dB. Too much amplitude and we have distortion, too little and we get...

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Mixing Consoles for Small & Medium Churches

If there’s one technology component that your church needs to take its time and focus to decide on, it is the question of what audio mixing console should be used.

This decision can make the difference between ok sound and great sound, and it will definitely make a difference in the confidence (and even the size) of your sound team.

The main sound system controller at your church goes by many names: soundboard, audio desk, mixing console, mixer, etc. They all refer to the same thing.

Selecting the right soundboard for your church might be the biggest audio decision you make. After all, it’s hard to mix good sound without a good soundboard.

Here are some questions to ask to help lead you to the right choice for your church.

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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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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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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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6 Steps to a Better Soundcheck

Never underestimate the value of a good soundcheck.

Doing a soundcheck with your sound system components before you go live seems simple enough, but it’s amazing how often this crucial step is rushed when preparing for “the main event”.

The key to successful live sound reinforcement mixing and system performance is a good soundcheck.

Even the most experienced professional audio engineers take their time to do a thorough soundcheck, even on systems they’ve used a thousand times. It’s that important.

There are different ways to approach a soundcheck, but the end result should always be quality sound from the stage to the main loudspeakers, a good monitor mix for each musician and vocalist, and a sound tech...

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Worship Distractions - Finding & Fixing Them

Worship distractions can happen when you least expect them. And there are a variety to choose from!

Some distractions just can’t be avoided, like the baby in the back row making a less-than-joyful noise. But there are a number of distractions that can and should be completely avoided.

In terms of technical system distractions, there can be many causes.

Sometimes the media slide computer will shut down or reboot in the middle of the service, or images on the screen may flash in and out due to a cable or digital video signal issue.

Environmental control systems like HVAC can malfunction or be programmed incorrectly. The sanctuary can be too cold or too hot. And sometimes loud fans can abruptly turn on during a quiet moment of...

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How to Select a Digital Mixing Console

Digital consoles have truly revolutionized the act of mixing sound in worship.

It used to be that you would have to use a lot of outboard effects equipment, racks of processors, and audio patch panels to get the sound and flexible routing you wanted.

Today, even the most modest digital console can perform some pretty remarkable feats.

Simply having access to reverb or compression on every channel is great. And being able to use a full parametric EQ anytime you need it is a life saver.

The precision available to sound techs with today's mixing console technology is amazing. And surprisingly, the cost of a decent console isn't too bad, considering the utility provided.

That being said, digital may not be for everyone. And that's OK. I'm...

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