Hands-on review: JBL PRX635

During the past few months, National Community Church has been transitioning our Sunday morning Capitol Hill meeting place to 535 8th Street SE, Washington DC on Barracks Row. While the production department of NCC is working with designers and audio companies to create a crazy awesome movie theater which will double as a church on the weekends, we have a temporary sound system in there. The mains that we are using are the JBL PRX635 self-powered mains. The PRX 600 series has only been on the live sound market for a few months so it is a fairly new product. As we started using them, I realized I had to write a review on them. I’m thankful for www.musicgearreview.com that has published four of my gear reviews now. I hope they are beneficial to musicians, audio techs, and churches alike. Check out my review of the JBL PRX635’s here: http://www.musicgearreview.com/article-display/4158.html

Hands-on Review Audio-Technica ATM650

It’s THREE reviews now that I’ve had published on www.musicgearreview.com. The lastest is a mic from Audio Technica. It is the ATM650 which is basically their version of the Shure SM57. We are using that mic at National Community Church in our Barracks Row location now. Check out the review at http://www.musicgearreview.com/article-display/4147.html.

Special thanks to Andrew Young for letting me experiment with this mic on his drum kit.

Special thanks also to Doug Gould who lent me this mic to try out.

Fine Print series @ NCC

The past few weeks Pastor Mark has been preaching on “Fine Print” in the Bible.  What fine print?  Well, the more like the passages of scripture that we either skim over or don’t like to read because they make us uncomfortable.  The past few  weeks have talked alot about dying to what you want or what you may think you need in order to give God control of your life.  We tend to gravitate to what we feel like is familiar and comfortable.  This can cause complacency in both your physical life as well as your spiritual life.  It’s almost like we have drawn a circle around ourselves and we stay within that circle.  Stepping out of that circle makes things difficult and scary because we simply don’t know what could happen.  However, in that area of uncertainty and unfamiliarity is where the greatest discoveries and victories of living life are.

When you take that step of faith and make the decision to move forward in faith, that in and of itself is a victory.  But the challenge is that when God does move mightily, it scares you and you move back into that place of familiarity.

Sometimes, we need to take that risk and die to ourselves.

God is relentlessly pursuing us…he wants all of us.  His jealousy is as demanding as the grave.  Yet, many times, when we chose to be complacent and not live our lives to the fullest, we let death and the grave control us.  We are sinful by nature which makes it easy to just sit back and stay silent.  By remaining silent, Satan wins.  We plead and pray for God to take control of our lives and fill our hearts but He won’t do it until we decide to move forward.  Talk is cheap and decision is nothing without action.

All this creates tension.  The Bible says that Jesus is a friend that sticks closer then a brother.  Yet, He is still Almighty God and no one can stand in his presence.

This is huge.

I think many times we simply don’t take our PERSONAL relationship with God seriously enough.  I think so many times we worship God as far off in outer space and somewhat disconnected whether we are willing to admit it or not.  I heard a phrase from a Jesus Culture song this weekend that says: “I don’t want to talk about You like You’re not in the room.  I want to look right at You.  I want to sing right to You.”

Read that phrase a few times and let that sink in.  He is right here.  Right now.  Almighty God is surrounding you and inside of you and is in the very next breath you will take.  His existence holds your life and He knows your next heartbeat.  That kind of power is huge…it’s amazing that he loves us unconditionally.  Thankfully, he sticks closer then a brother.  If this kind of power is for us, then who can be against us?  Maybe we shouldn’t be as afraid to step out in faith if a God who is that powerful has our back.

Hands-on Review: Audio Technica AT4080 MGR

I’m excited to share that another one of my gear reviews was posted on www.musicgearreview.com.  I’d like to give a few shout outs to people who made it possible to do this review:

Lee Bilotta @ Valley Forge Christian College for giving me the opportunity to use the VFCC studio and chapel while I was a student there

Doug Gould @ Worship MD who lent me the mic

Aaron Ranzenbach from “The Interlude” who laid down some sweet guitar tracks that I recorded with this mic.

Check out the review at http://www.musicgearreview.com/article-display/4141.html

http://www.jasoncastellente.com

The Church Balcony and the FOH Engineer

 

 

Over the past few years, I have been privileged to visit quite a few churches on the east coast and run sound for worship services.  During that time, one problem that I have seen in some churches lies in locating the production booth to the balcony of a church auditorium.  While this may be aesthetically pleasing and creates more room on the main auditorium floor, the trade off is not usually beneficial in the long run.

There are a few major things that need to be taken into account when determining whether a position for a production booth is good or not.

Line of sight is by far the most important.  The sound tech needs to be able to SEE everything all parts of the stage and main floor.

Many times because of the “line of sight rule” people think that a balcony would be a good place to put a production booth when in reality the opposite is true.  I have seen and mixed at churches that have a balcony that is adjacent to the main auditorium and they have knocked a hole in the wall providing them a window for line of sight but unfortunately, while the FOH tech may have a great view, it is not a good location for a number of reasons.

First, when you run sound in any environment, your goal is to create a good mix for the audience and in order to do that, you need to be in that same environment.  The goal is to hear the same thing that the audience hears so that you can create a proper balance and make adjustments based on that.  Also, you cannot take into account the room acoustics, sound dynamics, and the overall perception of the audience if you are not on the same level as they are.

Also, if you put the audio booth on the balcony, the audio tech will never hear direct waves.  We would never position speakers directly towards a back wall and that is exactly what you would need to do in order to for the audio tech to hear what is necessary to get a good mix.

Also, consider the practicality of access from the production booth to the stage.  The worship team and the production team need to function together as one team and one body in order for a service to go more smoothly.  The access from the balcony to the stage will most likely be difficult at best especially when there are people in the room.  One thing I have been trying to cultivate is a trust between the worship band and the production team.  I am trying to accomplish this by encouraging the production staff to take a more pro-active role in working with the worship team and helping them to make sure the production needs are met.  Placing a production team on a balcony means that any time assistance is needed on stage, they will have to exit the balcony, walk down the steps, through the foyer, into the auditorium, up onto the stage.  Sometimes, troubleshooting requires multiple trips back and forth from the sound booth to the stage.  This can prove to be both exhausting and frustrating.

The bottom line is that in order to get a good mix and the continue to improve the quality of production at any church, the production crew, especially the audio tech, needs to hear exactly what the congregation is hearing in order to blend an accurate and quality mix.  Trust between the worship band and production team is also key in creating an atmosphere of worship in those who are serving in ministry.

I would love to hear feedback and opinions on this blog.  Feel free to email me at jason@jasoncastellente.com or comment below.

If you feel that my blogs are helpful to you or your ministries, feel free to link people to my blog, tweet links, or repost links on Facebook.

Check out some other posts that may be helpful:

Church Audio – Killing Feedback

Church Audio Problems

Check out my website at www.jasoncastellente.com/

White iPhone 4

It’s been a few days since the White iPhone 4 has hit.  Sure, it was big news when the iPhone 4 initially hit and also big news when it it Verizon.  But, what’s up with the white iPhone?  Yeah, we had it before for other models such as the 3G and 3GS and everyone assumed that it would be available for the iPhone 4 but was it really worth the wait?  Quite honestly at this point, I think it wouldn’t be wise to sign a new contract and buy a new white iPhone 4 now.  Why would you do that?  How important is it that you have a white iPhone?

I am slightly intrigued that the phone is a little thicker.  Maybe it is some type of improvement in the antenna.  Although, I’m seeing stuff online about how Apple was making it more durable and able to stand up to UV better.  Did it really require 10 months to fix all of the problems?

But really, how important is this release?  Was Apple really not capable of making the device white back when the original black iPhone 4 was released on June 4th of last year?  Steve Jobs even had his picture taken with a white iPhone.  To me, the release of the iPhone 5 is way too close for any serious iPhone lover to buy the white iPhone.  I’d rather get the newer surprises on the iPhone 5 then have a white iPhone 4.

Anyway, what do you think?

Photography and Video…diving into a new hobby

Over the past few years, I have been mainly into music and music technology.  I have done some other things too but I haven’t ventured too far out of that circle.  Nothing wrong with that at all.  I really enjoy it and I’ve began my career in that and I still love it.  But, I really want to diversify.

I’ve always been intrigued by video and photography.  I’m fascinated with capturing the moment whether it be just a snapshot, or a series of snapshots.  I want to stretch myself to think more artistically when looking at things and capturing ideas.  I was interested in graphic design but I struggle with creating something out of nothing really.  I must admit, the concept of a blank, white image on a computer screen is really quite amazing.  You can create anything you want out of that…but at the same time, it’s very intimidating.  I’m hoping that through photography and video, I can begin to grow and learn more not just in media, concepts, technology and communication, but maybe even in who I am.  I firmly believe that God can speak to you through anything, at anytime.  He is the master creator and hopefully by trying to dive deeper into this kind of hobby, I can learn more about who God is and what he is doing in the world today.

For me, the start of something that interests me means I go crazy wild in researching, reading and talking to other people until I can reach my goals and then if all goes successfully, I set more goals and the whole process starts over again.

So, I’m blogging about it because hopefully there are people out there who are WAY more talented then I who would have some great ideas on where to start, resources, and stuff that would be beneficial to me.  I’ve done some research but I really need to step it up.

Anything is welcomed…concepts, ideas, information, different facets of these topics….whatever.  I’m down…let’s see where this goes…

NCC Capitol Hill EGGSTRAVAGANZA

Today I was at the National Community Church Capitol Hill Eggstravaganza.  Pretty sweet deal…it was really well done.  Shout outs especially to Pastor Mike and Pastor Chris for their incredible leadership.  They worked their tails off and it showed.  An army of NCC volunteers were the means to pull it together and make it a reality.  Bethany and the Guitar were there throwing down some great tunes.  Kurtis and Sarah Parks were backing her up.  Here’s a window into what went down at Lincoln Park in DC today…

Lots of freeze pops
Lots of freeze pops
A TON of Easter eggs and this is not even half!!
Skits!!
The band…Bethany and The Guitar
Bethany and Sarah Parks
The man himself…Kurtis Parks
Kurtis Parks
Absolutely beautiful
This is what I do

One of my articles featured on www.musicgearreview.com

I enjoy writing and blogging and just recently, I was given the opportunity to write for www.musicgearreview.com.  I wrote a review on the Shure SE115 and SE215 in-ear monitors.  My post is now on the front page of the website or available at this link:  http://www.musicgearreview.com/article-display/4114.html

Enjoy!!  Check it out and let me know what you think!

“All In” – Giving of yourself

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve talked alot about National Community Church’s “All In” sermon series and different ways God has impressed that topic on my heart.

It’s been an intense past few weeks, but National Community Church launched their 7th location this past weekend.  It’s located at what used to be People’s Church at 535 8th Street SE.  I talked alot about what a miracle this new location was in my previous post “All In and moving forward”.

We’ve talked about miracle offerings and going all in with our finances, but sometimes the truest and most incredible acts of going all in are the ones that go completely unnoticed by the masses.  I witnessed that this past week.

I’m sure that moving a church that has been planted in one place for almost 50 years is not only physically difficult but emotionally difficult.  The memories of what God has done in and through the people who sat in those seats and led the church is enough to impact the heart of any believer.  If those seats and walls could talk, imagine the stores that they would tell!!

As Matt (NCC’s Digital Pastor) and I worked on building the trussing that would hold our stage backdrop and projection screen, there were various volunteers who were helping the People’s Church move out of the building.  First, they came in a started talking to us about the transition.  You could sense a spirit of excitement in the members of both churches.

As Matt and I continued to work, the members of People’s Church were not only an encouragement but also a blessing as they began helping us with the work we were trying to accomplish.  Our ministry and our goals became theirs and in a beautiful example of servanthood and selflessness, they worked along side of us giving of themselves.  We were not two churches…it wasn’t a building changing hands in ownership…it was a group of brothers in Christ working to further the Kingdom of God.  They sacrificed their time, talents and energy to help National Community Church launch our Barracks Row location.  Even the senior pastor who is now 71 years old, tirelessly gave of himself as we were building the production rig for our first service.

Sometimes, we draw lines between one church and another or one denomination and another.  Legalism can be a disease that takes hold of believers and takes their focus off what is truly important and what are goal ultimately is.  Yes, conviction and standards are important and I’m not trying to down play that in anyway.  But we all serve one God and have one ultimate purpose.  Jesus commanded us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Ultimately, we are all building the Kingdom of God and working to bring the lost to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  The People’s Church’s volunteers and staff painted a beautiful picture of what it is to be one “family” in Christ and to work as one body to work towards that ultimate goal.

Their example was life-changing to me and I feel the most humbling gratitude towards them.  I am so thankful for how God has been working in me and in National Community Church and now I also rejoice in his provision and blessing on The People’s Church and they move to PG County.  I am sure they will be used mightily in God’s service.

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