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Top 10 House of Worship Audio Problems
Videos SOLVED
December 25, 2017
Blog

Do you have a sound system in a House of


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Worship that you can't get to run smoothly?
Learn how you can correct even the most
Artists
complex audio issues with ease: from harsh
ringing feedback to unintelligible vocals and
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1. Eliminate feedback Presenting the
Tags View All Scheps Omni
The experience level of volunteer operators, combined with Channel
the widespread use of headset and lavalier mics often
Live Sound makes churches one of the most susceptible environments
for feedback.
Sound Design
Feedback is caused by an excess of an audible frequency %
Compressors
that is picked up by a live microphone, amplified through a # 10 $ 07:46
speaker, picked up again by a microphone, re-amplified Andrew Scheps:
and so on, taking off into a vicious cycle of humming or Creating the Scheps
Equalizers Omni Channel
ringing. To eliminate the problem, an engineer must reduce Plugin
the presence of the ringing frequency in the equipment’s
Drums signal path – often accomplished with a detailed graphic
equalizer so that the frequency can be reduced without
affecting the pleasantries of the music or speech around it. %
Vocals
In practice, being able to hear a ring and to know which # 14 $ 05:24
frequency’s toggle to reach for takes years of experience to
Guitars Scheps Omni
master. Channel Plugin in 5
Minutes
Analog Models A simpler solution to ensure a sound system won’t be
problematic is to use the X-FDBK plugin, which makes
‘ringing out’ mics, monitors and PA systems extraordinarily
Pooch’s Corner Recent Posts
quick and effortless, whether you’re a completely
& Mixing with Effects: 6
inexperienced volunteer or a seasoned 30-year touring
Greg's List Mistakes to Avoid
veteran. All you need to do is insert X-FDBK on a problem
input channel or output bus, click “Setup,” and then try to & Epic Glitch / IDM
Awards cause feedback for 120 seconds by walking downstage or Production Tips from
pointing microphones into floor monitors. the Glitch Mob

Support & Waves v9.92 Across-


By using a very advanced detection engine, X-FDBK the-Board Update
eliminates the unstable frequencies associated with the
ringing as precisely and efficiently as possible, causing
minimal impact on the characteristics of the original signal.

THE RESULT: Quickly ring out microphones by


yourself without any guesswork or special equipment.

In this video, you can see X-FDBK in action, eliminating


feedback for monitor mixes in real-time:

2. Optimize gain before feedback


Few things are more annoying than a mic that’s constantly
on the verge of ringing. Having open microphones which
are sending live signal but have nobody speaking into them
can be a potential feedback issue waiting to happen, or at
the least can be a nuisance by amplifying unnecessary
stage or audience noise through the PA.

To optimize a microphone’s performance, its gain should


be set in a way that sees a strong signal when being used
but doesn’t cause much stage bleed or other issues when
not being used; gain staging is a science of its own. For
naturally sensitive microphones like headset, lavalier and
podium mics, having strong gain before feedback is the
name of the game.

Waves’ Primary Source Expander (or PSE) is a user-


friendly tool that can increase any input’s gain before
feedback by 8 dB or more. The process works by sensing
when the input source level drops below a certain
threshold; when it does, PSE immediately drops that level
further by a user-specified amount (anywhere from 0 dB to
-60 dB).

Regarding a speaking mic, if you set the parameters to the


extreme you are essentially muting the mic when the
speech stops and un-muting it as soon as the speech
resumes. This action halts the ability for feedback to build
up and become an audible issue. Additionally, the added
gain available before feedback allows for greater volume
and enables an engineer to keep a much more natural-
sounding input since there will be less need to carve out
the problematic frequencies with EQ.

THE RESULT: Better sounding inputs with less ringing.

In this video, see the PSE working to eliminate feedback as


a vocalist performs as they do sometimes: from in front of
the PA system:

3. Tame harsh vocals and increase


intelligibility
Suppose you have a female singer who has a great voice
but every once in a while she hits a certain note that is
unbearably harsh and piercing. You can EQ that one high-
mid frequency out, but by doing so you’ll also remove some
clarity from the vocal, permanently.

Or imagine you have a singer with a nice, warm voice, but


sometimes in the lower register the vocals lose intelligibility
and become difficult to decipher. You can try to EQ the
vocal to get some more intelligibility, but then you might
end up removing all that nice depth and warmth.

A powerful tool you can use to solve these problems is the


C6 Multiband Compressor plugin, a fully adjustable
multiband compressor/expander with six separate
frequency bands, which lets you do exponentially more
than what EQ and channel compression alone can
accomplish. For the first singer, you can adjust the C6 to
the terribly harsh frequency and reduce its impact with
compression, without affecting any of the other frequencies
of her voice.

For the singer with the warm voice, you can remove some
of the excessive low-mids in order to get more intelligibility
– but only as needed, without affecting the frequencies
responsible for that special warmth and depth.

THE RESULT: Pleasant, intelligible and natural-


sounding vocals.

In this video, front-of-house engineer, Zito (OneRepublic,


Babyface) demonstrates how to set the C6 to increase
intelligibility for vocals while helping them shine through a
mix:

4. Solve the proximity effect


The proximity effect in audio is an increase in bass or
low-frequency response when a sound source is too close
to a microphone. Seasoned singers or orators will know
how to ‘work the mic’ to prevent this from happening – but
speakers or performers who are less experienced will
constantly run into proximity effect issues.

Setting a quick attack time of the low-mid compressors in


the Waves C6 Multiband Compressor can work to eliminate
the proximity effect, and properly adjusting each band can
bring a drastically more consistent sound to even the worst
offenders of improper mic technique.

THE RESULT: Incredibly consistent sounding


microphones regardless of placement.

5. Level-out playback tracks


Playback tracks, whether as backing tracks from a device
on stage, audio for video, or walk-in music are rarely
checked for dynamic consistency. Also, with the potential
for production elements or set lists to be changed at the
last minute before a service, the ability to check and adjust
levels for consistency may be impossible. One idea could
be to use a heavy compressor or limiter on the inputs to
make sure that nothing beyond a certain level gets through.

However, if the level inconsistencies are significant, this


can lead to a very unnatural, over-compressed sound. Or
the opposite: where one audio source is much lower than
the others and nothing is done to compensate. The eMo-
D5 plugin has a Leveler process, which will automatically
level incoming signals to a user-defined target range.

THE RESULT: A ‘set and forget’ process that delivers


extremely consistent levels for playback tracks.

6. Mix multiple 'talking heads' on


stage
It’s very common for churches to have several people
using microphones on stage all at once. Preventing one
headset mic from ringing is difficult enough, but when you
have several of these being used simultaneously, the
probability of encountering feedback is increased
exponentially.

Another issue experienced when using multiple


microphones in close proximity to one another is comb
filtering due to phase cancellation. This happens when
one voice is picked up by multiple microphones, but due to
the speed of sound moving through air, the signal is
delayed to the further mics (typically by a few milliseconds).
When the variously delayed signals are combined in a
mixer, the audio signal suffers a degree of cancellation due
to phase differences, resulting in loss of signal and
speech clarity.

To prevent this, an engineer would have to manually 'ride'


the faders, bringing up the person that is actively speaking
while pulling down the others and vice versa. This is not
practical and leaves lots of room for missed cues and cut
off phrases. The best solution is to add these microphones
to a Dugan Automixer group, which instantly and
seamlessly detects who is speaking and turns their mic up
while simultaneously turning all others down.

THE RESULT: Remarkably clear speech when using


multiple microphones, and increased gain before
feedback.

In this video, see how the Dugan Automixer is used so that


the studio audience can enjoy the show during tapings of
The Voice:

7. Tune untuned PA systems


There is a wealth of factors that contribute to how a PA
system will sound, including the structural materials of the
room, the furniture within, whether or not it’s filled with
people, the placement of the speakers and more. Even
expensive touring PA systems need to be tuned when first
installed and switched on. The most common way to do
this is by using a trained ear with a graphic equalizer to
manually adjust the system’s sound output to counteract
the imperfections in the room, resulting in a sound system
that is well-tuned to the room in which it’s operating.
Waves’ GEQ Graphic Equalizer plugin is an essential tool
so that live sound users can do just that: tune a PA
system’s output to a room so that it sounds its very best.
The plugin comes in two versions: Classic and Modern,
each a 30-band graphic EQ featuring an intuitive real-time
analyzer (RTA) window for an accurate visual
representation of the sound.

The Modern version uses the same flat-top filters found in


the current industry-standard audio system processing
platforms. The plugin also allows for a sidechain input of a
microphone to the RTA, allowing you to see the difference
between the signal leaving the sound desk and what is
ultimately reproduced by the speakers in the room. This is
very useful for tuning PA systems, costing only a fraction of
that of similar systems and is much easier to operate.

THE RESULT: The ability to see how your PA is


reproducing the audio you are sending, what specific
areas need equalization and the ability to make fine
adjustments.

Here, briefly see the differences between the Modern and


Classic modes of the GEQ and learn about a few more of
its features:

8. Make hallway and overflow rooms


sound better
Typically, the mix fed to hallway and overflow room
speakers sound just OK at best. It’s not likely that the
mixing engineer will constantly monitor the hallway feed,
and some hallways and overflow rooms will sound
drastically different from others.

With Waves world-renowned mastering plugins like the L3


Multimaximizer, a rough stereo mix can be turned into a
level-controlled, seemingly-mastered product, ready to
translate to 70v hallway speakers.

THE RESULT: Providing consistent sound to overflow


rooms and hallway speakers.

In this video, learn how to get started using the L3, and find
out why a multiband limiter like this one is the right tool for
the job:

9. Auto-tune off-key semi-


professional singers – live!
To many people, live vocal tuning correction can seem
impractical or simply difficult to do. Waves has very
carefully developed a live tuning plugin called Waves Tune
Real-Time, which does exactly what it sounds like, and is
not too good to be true.

The purpose behind the plugin is to give a mix engineer the


ability to help a struggling vocalist seemingly stay on the
right pitch, while doing so totally transparently. There is
also a very powerful vibrato function which can add or
remove vibrato to a vocal input, giving the engineer plenty
of control in building a mix that fits together well.

THE RESULT: Natural sounding, pitch-perfect vocals.

Here, watch Dave Darlington (Avicii, Sting) demonstrate


using Waves Tune Real-Time and explain its benefits: (The
full tutorial is quite in-depth, but the first 2:30 provides a
well-rounded explanation and audio example.)
10. Train inexperienced volunteers
Being able to record each input of a performance
independently and play it back through the sound system
as many times as you want is an invaluable training tool.
No green volunteer is going to have an in-depth learning
experience trying to dig into the concepts of compression
and equalization while the band is on stage with the
worship service underway.

Being able to fully mix everything as you would with a live


band, but having as much time as you need will totally
change the way volunteers are trained. It also allows
seasoned engineers to really dial in their mix techniques,
bringing a far-improved audio experience to the audience
or congregation.

Waves Tracks Live recording software works essentially


like a digital tape machine. It’s a very stripped down, easy
to use application that will multitrack record and play back
up to 500 channels of audio at up to 96 kHz using any
audio interface.

THE RESULT: Better-equipping engineers while making


better use of everyone’s time.

Here, watch as Jeff Sandstrom (Chris Tomlin, Passion City


Church) explains why he loves using Tracks Live to record
and play back his shows:

We hope that this has been helpful in


identifying and resolving any issues your
facility may be experiencing. Please contact
a representative for more information on
House of Worship audio solutions from
Waves.

. Categories: Blog / Tags: Houses of Worship, Live Sound

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