Archives For Tech

Quiztones-Screenshots

If you mix, recognizing frequencies is probably the most valuable technical skill you can develop. With that in mind, here’s a product I love and have been using for years.

Quiztones is an ear training app for audio engineers. Quiztones scores you on a number of listening tests designed to improve your ability to recognize specific frequency ranges. The simplest is a series of sine wave frequencies, choosing from options at least an octave apart. The most challenging is a +5 dB EQ boost on an audio track you choose from your library, or the built-in instrument samples in the Quiztones library. All quizzes consist of ten multiple choice “questions” and are scored out of 1000. Continue Reading…

DI-box

Seems fairly straightforward, right? A 1/4″ cable connects the instrument to the DI box. Is there really a right and wrong way to do this?

As far as sound quality is concerned, no. There’s nothing more to it than plugging into the correct jack. The difference I’m talking about is whether or not you cause a loud “pop” in the system. There are two connections to be made: one at the guitar and the other at the DI box. And the order in which they are connected determines whether or not you get a “pop”.

HOW TO STOP THE “POP”

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9Vs-processed

Through high school I worked at a music store, mostly in the guitar department. I can’t tell you how many times a client would bring in a relatively new acoustic guitar, complaining that it was distorting or had no sound coming out. A familiar call and answer would then ensue:

Me: “did you check the battery?”

Customer:  “it has a battery?!”

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Qu16-EQ-section-2

We’ve already done a 3-part series on EQ, and we covered the critical listening skills required to use it, instrument by instrument, in our series “Taking It Apart”. These posts are great learning material, and I highly recommend looking back at them.

Our locations are getting new digital sound consoles. This is exciting for a number of reasons, one of which is EQ. Our old consoles were analog and had semi-parametric EQ, which means they had some of the functionality of a parametric EQ, but were missing a few features. In our case, the high and low frequency bands were fixed shelf filters. The high mid and low-mid bands were sweepable filters, but there were no width or Q adjustments.

Okay stop — if that last sentence confused the heck out of you, you really need to go back and read at least the overview post from the original EQ series.

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Qu16-comp

The topic of the day is audio compression. Compression is a common tool found on digital mixers, dedicated outboard units and audio software. Compressors can be tremendously helpful, but they are intimidating at first. This is partly because they seem to be doing lots of math, hidden behind complicated terminology. I’m not going to lie to you: compressors are not simple. They are probably the most advanced tools you will ever use in a mix. But I’m confident you can learn to use them and that’s why we’re here. To start, we need to understand what compressors do:

Compressors reduce the dynamic range of a source to help it sit better in the mix.

“Dynamic range” is the difference between the softest and loudest sounds in a source. A compressor reduces this range, evening out the levels of a performance and often making it sound louder in the end.

How does it accomplish this? Continue Reading…

In-ears-brighter

Over the next six months we will be switching all our sites to in-ear monitors. We made the move at our Production Site a number of years ago and we haven’t looked back. The clean looking stage and the clean sound both for the crowd and the band have been fantastic. But the transition is not always easy. In-ears take some getting used to. This is especially true for vocalists who will hear their voice in a whole different way, and often for more experienced musicians who have grown accustomed to performing with stage monitors.

By some miracle of providence, I’ve been involved in transitioning bands from wedge monitors to in-ears four times in my career. As a musician and a tech, I’ve experienced both the stage and the mixer, big venues and small venues, big bands and small bands. And I am a big fan of in-ear monitors. I have some ideas for easing the transition and getting the most out your monitors.

What are we talking about, here?

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The-Worship-Media-Handbook---Two-iPads

This past Christmas Eve, in search of the perfect visuals for a giant 18’x32′ projection screen we brought in, I subscribed to the Church Motion Graphics Monthly Mega Pack. We ended up using the content for nearly every song in the service and couldn’t have been happier!

The man behind Church Motion Graphics (CMG) is Jeff McIntosh. @jrsmcintosh and I met on twitter and we’ve crossed paths at a conference or two. I love Jeff’s passion and his focus and I think he’s one of the best designers in the business. I also love that his company was birthed out of a passion for the church, and he still serves at C4 Church in Durham, Ontario — just on the other side of Toronto from our Production site. Continue Reading…

Part 3 of 3 in the series The Message of the Stage

empty-stage-new

In this series, we’re applying the concept “the medium is the message” to our modern church services. Last time I covered some recent church history and told you about some changes we made to our services at The Meeting House. This post will wrap up things up with some practical advice.

If you’ve stuck with me this far, I’ll assume you agree there’s tension between between the form and the content of a modern church service. A room set up like a rock concert sends a message that’s a least a tad out of alignment with Jesus’ humility and self-sacrificial love. But, as I’ve already hinted, I’m not ready to throw the whole thing away.

Under the Old Covenant, worship had a particular form based around tabernacle and temple. But, under the New Covenant, the gospel spread faster than any cultural form could keep up with! It’s no surprise that, after a few years, the early Christians backtracked to hash out some of the cultural implications of a movement that was rapidly losing touch with its Jewish roots. If you want to read up on the history, have a glance at Acts chapter 15.

I believe God can reach anyone precisely where they’re at, and He’s not afraid to roll up His sleeves and get His hands dirty. So I don’t believe there’s any disqualifying style or form of doing church. But that’s not the same as saying the form doesn’t matter. I believe it matters a lot. Continue Reading…

Part 2 of 3 in the series The Message of the Stage

 

©2013 Joss Monson

©2013 Joss Monson

In this series, we’re applying the concept that “the medium is the message” to our modern church services. Last time I said that every form of communication has an embedded message that can’t be separated out. The challenge is that we get used to our forms of media and start to think our content is all we’re communicating to our audience.

According to Jesus “… all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11) So I think it’s fair to ask the question – do our stages, lights and cameras exalt us or humble us? Remember, we’re not talking about content yet, just the message inherent to the form of communication. I think it’s practically a rhetorical question: by their nature, stages, lights and cameras exalt people. So, if we’re teaching people about Jesus from the platform, there is going to be a real tension between the form of communication and the content.

So is that it, then? Should we knock down our stages, turn off all the lights and dress in giant brown paper bags? As much as I would love a career shift to the fast-food industry (my only other real option) I do have some ideas to share.

But first a history lesson. Continue Reading…

Ian_rocks_out

The best part of my job is visiting all thirteen of our sites. I get to meet great people, make observations, comparisons and recommendations. Then, because of my fancy nametag, people usually do what I suggest. But in the hustle of setting up portable church (twelve of our sites are portable) I don’t always have the time to thoroughly explain the reasons behind my recommendations. And when I’m not at the Meeting House, my rule is “say nothing unless you’re asked”. Words to live by, but it can lead to intense experiences of cringing followed by iPhone photos that make their way onto twitter after a few days (to protect the identities of the perpetrators).

One such issue is speaker placement. “Where do the speakers go?” It ought to be a straightforward question – it’s one of the more purely scientific parts of live production – but I’ve seen some interesting answers. Science-fiction answers. It’s time to set the record straight on a few things.

Continue Reading…