In-House Audio Tech
You will be given the opportunity to shadow our audio techs for a few Sundays and gradually take more responsibility for the audio mix each week. You must demonstrate your competencies before operating solo.
At First Naz we use the following stage equipment (some items may be clicked on for more info):
- Shure SM58 microphone for vocalists
- Shure SM57 microphone for some instruments/choirs
- Note: these are condenser microphones and therefore require 48v phantom power
- Behringer P16 for in-ear monitors
- DI box (passive) to convert an audio signal into one that is usable by our sound board. We typically use this for guitar, keyboard, or iPad/iPhone sources. Here are a few features you should know:
- Input: the 1/4 inch TRS cable from the audio source goes in here
- Thru: a 1/4 inch TRS cable from the DI box to an amp (we don’t usually use this)
- Pad: a switch to “dampen” the audio signal by preset dB levels. Keep this at “0” unless necessary
- Pin: a ground pin to help reduce 60 Hz humming sound. If you are hearing a hum from this source, try switching the pin.
- Polarity: to change the phase of the signal (don’t usually need to use this)
- Filter: cuts the low frequencies from the signal. You can use this if needed, but try to keep all your EQ changes at the mixer.
- XLR cable: standard audio 3-pin locking cable
- 1/4 inch (and 1/8 inch) TS or TRS cables
- 1/4 inch is your standard instrument cable and 1/8 inch is your standard headphone jack
- TS or TRS stand for Tip-Sleeve or Tip-Ring-Sleeve and look like THIS
- Roland RD-600 keyboard
- Connect the 1/4 inch TRS from the DI box to the L(Mono) output
- Connect the pedal cable to the Damper
- Pulpit mic (gooseneck)
- This is a condenser mic and needs 48v phantom power
- Headphones: bring your own pair. If you don’t have one, I recommend the Sennheiser HD280PRO
In addition, you’ll need to know about our backstage storage areas:
- Audio cupboard
- Here is where you’ll find all your audio cables, microphones, and power extension cords
- Monitor cupboard
- Here is where you’ll find the stage monitors
- Wireless equipment
- We have a charging station for our wireless Sennheiser equipment
- Wireless 1, 2, and Handheld Sennheiser all have rechargeable batteries
- Wireless 3 and Handheld Shure require regular batteries
- Each headset is adjusted for a specific person, so please ensure you use the correct headset
- There is also a lavalier (lapel) mic available
We use the Behringer X32 mixer. For more info on how to use this mixer in general, ensure you have watched THESE Drew Brashler videos.
We send out to four locations. In general, the Main and Hearing Assist are controlled by the In-House audio tech and the Foyer and Livestream are controlled by the Livestream audio tech.
- Main (LR): these are the Master or Main outputs and are also called the Main Bus.
- Foyer: the Foyer bus collects the various signals and sends to the Foyer Matrix where the signal is sent to the low-quality speakers in the foyer. Note: if the signal chain is correct but audio is still not coming out of the foyer speakers, check the switch in the Fireside Room audio cabinet.
- Hearing Assist: we use wireless hearing assist devices for those in our congregation who have some difficulty hearing. The Hearing Assist bus collects the various signals and sends to the Hearing Assist Matrix where the signal is sent to the broadcast box.
- Livestream: the Livestream is set up as stereo, so there are two, linked Livestream Buses which send to two, linked Livestream Matrix outputs.
- Mid-week communication: check PCO Services to see what sort of setup will be in place on the upcoming Sunday. If you haven’t mixed a song before, check it out on YouTube and pay attention to how it is mixed.
- Arrive on time. The schedule is listed in PCO Services and below. If you are going to be late, call the Director of Operations to let him know. Life happens, but try to not make a habit of being late.
- Talk with the worship leader. Check in with him or her to see if any of their band members’ needs have changed or need to be met.
- Review the service schedule. A printed copy will be available at the Production Booth. Feel free to take notes and markup your copy.
- Do a line check: confirm each audio source is working
- Do a sound check: pay close attention as the band runs through the first verse/chorus of a song and try to get their levels set. Once they run through the song, they will adjust their IEMs and let you know if anything needs to be changed on stage.
- Take notes as the band practices each song. Note especially any instrument solos, change in lead vocalist, or spoken word segments (as you will need to turn off any vocal effects for that portion)
- Check the wireless microphones for battery levels and signal. Help any speakers with putting on their microphone as needed.
- Be at the mixer at least 15 minutes prior to service. Once the doors open you should be at your station.
- Pass out Hearing Assist devices as requested. Check each one for a good battery before giving it out.
- Expect last minute requests: we try to mitigate these, but the reality is they sometimes happen and you need to be ready to handle them.
- Perform active mixing. Make mix changes that benefit the sound and are noticeable by the congregation. Anticipate what is about to happen on stage (good or bad) and be ready for what the service will throw at you.
- Confirm your audio sends (are you sending to the Hearing Assist devices?)
- Take notes of any issues that arise so they can be dealt with after the service (either with a specific musician/vocalist or with the Director of Operations).
- Check in with the worship leader and musicians. Find out if they had any problems.
- Collect and store Hearing Assist devices
- Resolve any noted issues
It can be tough to know if you are doing a good job if you don’t know what is expected of you, so here are a few things a great audio tech will do:
- Desire. I want people who have the desire and drive to work in live audio production. These are people who understand the demands, the stress, the time requirements, and level of dedication. These are the people who love live audio and doing whatever it takes.
Tip: Show desire to the Director of Operations by showing up on weeks you don’t have to work and helping with setup. Spend time shadowing other techs and learning from them.
- Ability to think on your feet. If you aren’t familiar with this phrase, it means you are able to think quickly and react quickly when unexpected things happen. Working in live audio production, anything can happen and I’ve got a host of stories to prove it. I want someone who can stay calm during high-pressure moments when the unexpected happens and can follow along with mix changes, mic changes, and even run on stage if they need to do so.
Tip: You can learn to think on your feet. Come up with five events that could happen during a service that you wouldn’t expect, such as a wired microphone going dead, and work out how you’d deal with the problem.
- Able to minimize the impact of mistakes. We’ve all made mistakes. The difference is in how we reacted. A very common mistake that’s especially popular with people new to sound is missing microphone cues. Instead of turning the microphone on when the person is in mid-sentence, lower the fader, turn on the microphone, and then bring up the volume. You can do this in a matter of seconds and the result is a soft transition to full volume instead of a sudden harsh volume jump which distracts the congregation and the person speaking.
- Ever-improving. There is always something you can do better. It might be a better way of setting up the drum microphones or a better way of working with the band. I’m not saying you can’t be happy with your work. I want people to be happy with the quality of their work but I also want them to realize they always have room to grow.
- Always learning. Much like ever-improving, I want techs who are active learners. Techs who come to me and ask, “did you hear about the new Heil microphone.” Techs who read blogs and books on audio production so they can improve their own work.
- Learns from mistakes. If you can’t learn from your mistakes, then you aren’t going to be the best sound tech you can be.
- Team player / take direction. I want techs who work as a team with other techs, with the band, and with church leaders. I want techs who can take direction. I’m not one who gives direction without education. For example, if I tell a tech to cut the highs in the pastor’s microphone, I’ll explain how that helps with clarity. I might even suggest they do something such as “listen to the snare, does that sound right?” That’s a learning opportunity for them to improve their snare mixing.
- Professionalism. It’s the same expectation the pastor has on you and the worship leader has on you. Focused. Dedicated. Pro-active. Professional. I’m all for having fun in the production booth and enjoying my job. I can do that while remaining professional. I can laugh and joke but I’m not going to be checking Facebook or talking to my wife on the phone when I should be working.
From AUDIO ESSENTIALS FOR CHURCH SOUND by CHRIS HUFF COPYRIGHT 2012 For more information visit BEHINDTHEMIXER.COM
7:45 AM: Audio Tech arrives to finalize setup
8:00 AM: Band begins rehearsal
9:30 AM: Band finishes rehearsal & Pre-Service Meeting Begins
9:45 AM: Doors open
9:55 AM: Countdown starts
10:00 AM: Service Begins
*Unless there is a special event, holiday, or other circumstance, we keep the schedule above each week to ensure that each element of the Sunday service starts on time. Punctuality is key to maintaining this schedule and helping ensure that everything runs smoothly each week.