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Are you excited about what you’re doing?

I had someone pay me a complement recently that kind of blew my mind.  A leader mentioned to me that my opinion and ideas meant more because of how enthusiastic and excited I was about what I do.  Anyone who knows me, knows just how much I love church production.  My passion permeates who I am and how I serve.  It’s my calling, my element and my gift of worship given back to God for the furtherance of His Kingdom here on earth as well as in heaven.

How cool is that?  We get to influence people simply by living out what we’re passionate about and giving our all in the service of our Lord!

I just wanted to share that encouragement with everyone else who is in church production.   Continue Reading…

DPA d:fine headset mic review

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve all used them.  We’ve all be frustrated with them.  At least they’re better then lapel mics right?

I’ve never really been satisfied with Countryman headset mics.  They are easily bent up and even broken at times especially if they are used by different people all the time.  In all honesty, they don’t particularly sound that great without alot of EQ even on a well tuned and optimized system.  At church, whoever is preaching uses one when we record our video services.  If they aren’t fitted properly, they can easily move when someone turns their head or simply moves around.  If a speaker is constantly playing with his headset while we’re recording the video, not only is it distracting to the live audience, but it isn’t something I want on the video recording.  I decided to do some research to look for a different mic to try.

While I was at WFX, a friend recommended that I check out the DPA d:fine.  DPA had a booth and I was able to put one on my ear and get a feel for how comfortable it was.  It felt awesome!  I knew that if it sounded as good as it felt I had to get one.

Wally Grant of Church Solutions Group was able to quickly hook me up with a demo.

The headset doesn’t sit on your ear quite like other headset mics.  It is made of a rubbery material that is smooth but springs back putting slight pressure on your ear.  Not enough to be uncomfortable, but enough to hold it in place. It loops over your ear and then once it reaches the front of your ear, it looks inside your ear slightly allowing the headset to stay perfectly in place.  It a little hard to explain, so here is a screen grab from a DPA demo video that shows how the mic is supposed to be positioned on your ear.

There is also a clip on the cable so that you can clip it to the back of your collar so that you don’t yank it off.

The design is modular.  You can replace the mic capsule with the boom, the ear piece, or the cable all separately.  That’s great if something breaks.

It comes in black, beige, brown, as well as a pretty stunning lime color which seriously caught my eye.  I don’t think I’d be able to get away with lime green but it’s still pretty cool looking in my opinion.

All that is well and good, but how does it sound?  I must say I was stunned at how great it sounded.  It was crystal clear and didn’t require alot of EQ.  Just a little bit of ringing out and tone shaping mostly based on preference was all it needed.  It comes in a omni directional or a cardioid pick up pattern.  I bought the directional cardioid model which does an awesome job of rejecting noise or interference especially when the band is playing on stage at the same time.  It also improves the gain before feedback over most other headset mics I’ve used in the past.

All in all, it was a great buy and I’d highly recommend the DPA d:fine headset.  It’s one of those things that once you hear it, you don’t want to go back to what you had before because of how great of an improvement it is.  It’s something you seriously need to hear.

Presonus StudioLive consoles now include Smaart Analysis tools

Rational Acoustics, who has been a leader in software for acoustic tuning and measurement software, is now including system analysis tools with the Presonus StudioLive VSL remote control/editor software.  These tools can be used for sound system analysis and optimization and can interface directly with the console’s graphic EQ.  Also, with the software, users can view the spectral analysis of their mix and make changes in real time.  It can help identify feedback frequencies.  For the many churches that have already adopted the StudioLive into their sunday morning set up, this will be a huge update for them and will not only give helpful flexibility, but will also equip church volunteers to serve more effectively.

You can check out the press release at: http://www.presonus.com/news/press/Detail.aspx?NewsID=183

10 OSX Apps I Can’t Live Without

 

Here are some apps and programs that I use basically every day:

  1. Wunderlist : http://www.wunderlist.com/
  2. Google Chrome : http://www.google.com/chrome
  3. Crashplan : http://www.crashplan.com/
  4. Evernote : http://www.evernote.com/
  5. Dropbox : http://www.dropbox.com/
  6. Google Music : http://www.google.com/music
  7. Caffeine: http://lightheadsw.com/caffeine/
  8. Audio Hijack Pro : http://rogueamoeba.com/audiohijackpro/
  9. Spotify : http://www.spotify.com/
  10. 10.   Echofon : http://www.echofon.com/

What apps and programs are critical to you?  What can’t you live without?  Let everyone know in the comments section below.

Breathe Out

 

If you’re sitting there reading this post right now, chances are- you’re breathing.  Your heart is beating…  And this post is starting to sound cliché already…but bear with me… 🙂

Think about this:  When you breathe, your diaphragm contracts and moves in a downward direction causing your lungs to pull air in.  Once it enters your alveoli, (did you know you had one of those?) the oxygen in the air gets transferred into your blood stream supplying oxygen and blood to your heart before it gets pumped into the rest of your body.

When you breathe out, your diaphragm relaxes and air gets pushed back out carrying carbon dioxide, which is a waste product to your body.

We all know we need to breathe in order to survive.  So what happens when you hold your breath?  You’re holding that waste product in which also doesn’t allow your body to get the oxygen that it needs in order to sustain you.  You start to feel pain right?  And eventually, you are going to pass out.  It would be stupid to hold your breath for a long time.

So why do we do that spiritually?  Let me explain…

I don’t think there is a person out there who doesn’t want to live their life to the fullest.  Spiritually, the Holy Spirit of God is our sustenance.  It’s our spiritual breath of life.  But when we hold it in, it’s harmful.  This life that was gifted to us through God needs to be lived out.  So breathe out.

Another spin on that same thing is that there are blessings that God has given us but there are also things we need to let go of.  God won’t give us any more then we can handle with his strength, but there are some times we try to handle life on our own and there are times where we need to lay something down, let something go, or spiritually breathe out.

Maybe you’re holding onto something that you need to let go of.  Maybe that pain you are feeling or that situation that you’re going through right now is because you’re spiritually holding your breath even though you know you need to exhale in order to survive.

You need to breathe out sooner or later.  Passing out spiritually is a lot worse then passing out physically.

Building bridges and standing strong in church production

 

In Washington DC, we have a few bridges that get you in and out of the western side of the city.  The speed limits are relatively low even though they’re on a highway but people never do the speed limit.  It gets even worse during rush hour when everyone packs on there.  Everyone wants to get to where they are going. Think about the forces exerted on it from gravity, weight and temperature among many other factors.  The average person doesn’t think about the weight, but the architects and maintenance workers sure do!  It’s all held together by forces we cannot see, but ultimately, we feel the effects.

What we do in production is a ministry of building bridges.  We build bridges between our pastors, worship leaders, the worshippers, and ultimately to God.  That’s an incredible responsibility!  When we’re mixing, firing lyrics or lighting cues not only are we worshipping as we serve but the worship of everyone else is depending on us doing our ministry well so that there are no distractions.

The message is flowing through us.  There is so much mystery in just that.  It should convict us about our purity before God and prompt us to take care of thoughts or feelings that may not be honoring to Him.  I hope you understand the gravity of that statement…but I hope you see the great honor that we have in getting promote and communicate the message of Jesus Christ through what we do.  That’s the beauty of the bridges we build.

For anyone who has served or worked in church production, you know the feeling of being pulled a million different ways at the same time.  The worship leader decides to change the order of some songs and add a few slides that weren’t in there before.  He doesn’t feel like it’s a big deal because it’s only a few slides.  The pastor wants to add an extra sermon illustration and swap a video around and maybe add an extra graphic or scripture slide.  He doesn’t feel like it’s a big deal cause it’s only a few things here and there and they have the bulk of the material already…it’s not much to add in right?  Meanwhile, you’re still having a minor issue with an acoustic guitar that is buzzing and he’s getting a little frustrated because you aren’t making it happen quite as quickly as he would like.  After all, it’s just a few cables!  Any of these issues independently are not too big of a deal to fix.  But, all of them happening at the same time will typically stress out most church volunteers or even some staff members for that matter.  I’m all about making it happen and like anyone else who does production they will probably do all they can to make things happen week in a week out.  But when there are issues like this, stress and tensions can run high and people are people and sometimes they just react in ways they shouldn’t.  It doesn’t make it right though.

In my experience, part of being a bridge, involves getting walked on.  Sunday morning can get stressful…tensions can run high and it can get difficult to push forward and carry the weight of what is going on.  Maybe the problem you’re dealing with isn’t your fault or you are simply struggling with the weight you’re carrying.

Maybe Satan has knocked you down earlier in the week and you’re afraid that you aren’t strong enough or good enough to do the work of God.  And actually, that’s true.  You aren’t strong enough or good enough on your own.  That’s why we need Jesus.  We need His power and His strength.  We can’t walk into church ministry without it.  We are carriers of the message of Christ with the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  There’s great power in that.  If we try to depend on anything other then that, we will almost definitely come up short.

We may not see all the forces that hold everything together.  But that bridge certainly feels the pressure.  If it’s built well, it will stand.  If it is maintained well, it will continue to carry the weight.  And you will too week in and week out.  Stand strong.

 

Check out these other blog posts if you liked this one:

Depend on God, Do what you do well

Church Audio Problems

Killing Feedback

Mix with your EARS and not your EYES

 

 

 

Intentionality with time, focus and life

 

As I kick off 2012 and launch headlong into another year, I started thinking about projects, goals, writing, work, and where I hope to be by the end of the year.  I want to be able to work on some audio training videos, improve my mixing skills, be more ingenious and creative with how I work with lighting, blog more frequently, be more efficient and intentional with my time at work, bench more at the gym, push up my level of endurance, improve my walk with God and my depth spiritually among many other things.

My list started growing and growing as I kept listing things out that I felt like I needed to do and then looked back through it and felt instantly overwhelmed.  How in the world can I do all this?  Feelings of inadequacy crept in and I started to feel discouraged.

Have you ever felt this way?  I’m sure you have.

I started thinking more about it and I realized that I need to bring more focus and intentionality to my life and goals.  While diversity in what you do isn’t bad in and of itself, you can burn yourself out and feel like you’ve made no progress even though you’ve set goals and listed things out.  Especially for those of us who work in the church, we tend to be multipurpose individuals who strive to serve and do what is needed, filling in the cracks and there is nothing wrong with being willing to serve.  But, we also need to decide what we’re NOT going to do.  Let me explain.

We split ourselves in too many different directions, dabbling in a bunch of different things. Sure, it’s fun but we turn into a “jack of all trades, master of none”.  We’re not intentional with our time and we never fully develop our strongest talents.  If you’re one of those creative types, you know what I’m talking about.  How many times have you put a ton of effort into something and it came out good or simply okay?  Practice makes perfect and you know if you worked at it, you could be great at it.  But then you get distracted by the next project, idea, or inspiration and focus on that.  Once again, it comes out good or simply okay.

We get determined and driven to do something and we stop at nothing to accomplish that.  But, if we focused ourselves on specific goals and talents, wouldn’t we be more productive in the long run?  Have we taken the time to identify what we do best and pursue excellence in those areas?  Sure, it’s great to be a well-educated and well-rounded individual and having variety in your skill set makes you a valuable person.  However, I think especially the creative types tend to go a little too far.  That’s where we need to bring what we do into focus and make sure we’re being intentional.

Do you want to be good at alot of things or great at a few things?

Depend on God, and do what you do well

 

I remember towards the middle of last year, I did an event that really stressed me out.  It wasn’t necessarily bigger then what I had done in the past.  But, it had aspects of it that I had never done before.  I walked down paths that I had never walked down before.  Sure, others had walked down those paths before or else there would not have been a path, but it was my first time.

So many times, we hear people talk about how stress and pressure is a bad thing and that we need to avoid it.  But, there is a positive side to feeling that kind of crunch.  God has not given us a spirit of fear, but He has given us power and a sound mind.  Having the power of God at our backs certainly empowers us and without Him, we can’t really do anything.  All our talents and skills are from God and if He is the force behind what we do as creatives, innovators, and production techs.  It should give us boldness and confidence.  The sound mind is huge here.  No, it’s not an audio engineer joke.  A sound mind is one that thinks clearly and evaluates the pro’s and con’s and makes wise decisions.  It plans things out logically and in the best way possible to get things done.  If you’ve done your job, then you should walk in confidently even in the unknown because you’ve done you’re do-diligence and you’re prepared.

Anything else is an attack of the enemy that wishes to steal that time and opportunity away from you.  I was really stressed out before that event even though I was prepared because Satan knew God was going to do great things and he’ll strike fear into your heart to bring you to a grinding halt.

If you try to do things without planning, then you should be nervous.  Don’t say something failed because God let you down.  He gave you a sound mind…use it!

Press forward, press on and do what God has called you to do.  Do your job well and be prepared.

Mix with your EARS, not your eyes

With the advent of digital consoles, meters, RTAs, and the like, so many times, we as audio techs begin to lean on those tools more and more.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however, lately I have noticed that I began leaning on them too much instead of simply using my ears to make it sound great.  I think we can easily get caught in a trap of turning knobs that make changes on a screen until it “looks right” whether it sounds good or not!

I don’t think that displays or graphs are bad.  They are an extremely helpful tool when used appropriately.  However, when they are used as a crutch, they’re no good.

I recall something that Danny Duncan from Vanguard Recording said to me.  It’s so simple I feel like I should have thought of it before but never did.  Stop looking at the controls.  Stop looking at the screen with the graphs on it.  Close your eyes and EQ only using your ears.

It’s crazy that we have become so dependent on the graphic and visual representations of what we do as audio engineers.  Ultimately, it’s all about how it sounds in the end.  Call it a New Years resolution, but I’m going to make a conscious effort to not depend so much on visual tools to get me to where I need to be.  Rather, I’m going to force myself to depend on what my ears hear.

 

Related Articles:

Creating an Artistic Mix

Killing Feedback

The Church Balcony and the FOH Engineer

When the Production Leader steps into the Worship Leader’s Shoes

Allen & Heath announces the new GLD series digital console

Allen & Heath has really outdone themselves this time announcing a product that is a serious contenter for the mid-range price point and the medium format digital console market.  Their small format digital console teaser is now public with announcement of the GLD series.  They created a happy medium between their high-end iLive series and their  reliable, budget-friendly, workhorse GL series consoles.

The console is very similar to the iLive in look and feel but obviously scaled down to come in under the more budget conscious bar.  The GLD-80 is currently the only control surface in the GLD line.  It should be interesting to see if A&H will expand this range with another control surface or two.  The GLD-80 has 20 faders and 4 layers so you can lay your show out however you’d like and connects over a CAT5 cable using the new DSnake protocol to an audio rack.  There are currently two racks in the GLD line: the GLD-AR2412 which features 24 in’s and 12 outs and the GLD-AR84 which features 8 in’s and 4 outs.  The GLD-AR2412 features a CAT5 port labeled “Monitor” which is compatible with Aviom.  Similarly to their iLive line, they offer the ability to scale the system capabilities to what the user or venue requires.  Those two models can be linked together and, when connected to the GLD-80 control surface, it is capable of processing a maximum of 48 inputs and 24 outputs.  Each of those inputs features gain, polarity control, HPF, gate, 4-band parametric EQ, compressor and individual channel delay. It also has 8 stereo FX racks, 16 DCAs, 30 mix busses and 20 mix outputs which are all configurable and accessible from the GLD’s 8.4 inch touch screen.

I was extremely excited to see that the GLD system includes a card slot in the console for expandability similar to the iLive system and cross-compatibility with the iLive system if you put an ACE card in that slot.  However, I’d certainly be more inclined to put a Dante card in there and have a killer multitrack rig or the Waves plug-in’s card and rock some of those.  Either way, that slot option is an extremely powerful option that pushes the GLD farther then the rest because it leaves the door open for future functionality and updates without having to buy a new system.

A feature that is new to Allen & Heath’s digital systems is the ability to record and playback audio files with a USB flash drive.  Hopefully, this functionality will appear on the iLive in a future firmware update.

I must say, I’m really excited about the release of the GLD.  On paper and in pictures, it looks awesome.  Out of the digital console manufacturers, Allen & Heath has planned their development and marketing strategies extremely well.  They developed an extremely innovative family of systems that create a world of flexibility both now and for people who many need to expand down the road as their needs and requirements change.  I will certainly be excited to get my hands on the GLD and work with it in a live concert situation for a real world test.  I will certainly write a demo as soon as I have the opportunity to do so.

For more info, check out A&H’s promo video.

Check out my Hands-on Review of the new ALLEN & HEATH GLD digital console:http://bit.ly/LhKSrL

 

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