The last week or so has been pretty crazy with summer projects. Last week we spent several hours pulling new cable for the less glamorous side of my job: hallway audio. Maybe some of you drool at the thought of of ceiling speakers, but it’s not exactly my favorite part of the gig. I spent a morning last week up on a lift checking speakers to make sure they were all working along with figuring out how the wiring runs. This has honestly been something I’ve avoided dealing with for many months(if it ain’t broke….), so in some ways it was a relief to finally check it all out. The new cables we pulled are for a couple new things we’re setting up. For starters we’re running a VCA control for the hall amplifiers out to our host team–these are basically our greeters who make everyone coming in feel welcome–so that they can control the volume in the halls. We also ran some additional cables so we can change how we’re feeding the halls.

The halls are presently fed from our audio studio. In the studio there is a small mixer where we can select either a dedicated “iTunes” feed, the studio mix, the east auditorium feed, or the west auditorium feed. In the morning during rehearsal, we can pipe background music into the halls while rehearsals are going on and easily switch over to the program feed when we open doors. We’re going to be changing the hall feed so that it gets handled by our tech director in video world. The new feeds will come from our engineering room in video world. The advantage to this is we don’t need our studio running to change where the halls are fed from. Since the studio is typically only in use for Sunday mornings and post work during the week, it is inconvenient to feed the halls for non-Sunday events.

In addition, we are also moving our “iTunes” machine into the amp room where it will serve as a playback box running 24/7. We’ll typically control the box using either VNC or Remote Desktop. We’ll still maintain boxes at FOH for instant playback of any sound FX or specific songs, but for the most part the iTunes machine in the amp room will be our jukebox.

I spent all of today in the amp room dressing the new cables for some of these new functions; I’ve still got at least another day of work, though. In the process of attempting to dress the new cables, I ended up tearing out a lot of existing stuff and re-dressing it. What should have been a two hour project took pretty much all day long. In some ways it was a bit of a nightmare project, but at the same time I enjoyed it a bit because I love wiring things up. It’s a challenge because while I want to get it done pretty neat, I’m constantly weighing how far to take things since we’re going to tear a lot of this apart within the next 12 months when we refit the audio system. My goal was to get it relatively “neat” and maintainable with enough slack in things so that we can move stuff around in racks later and truly get things setup. The bird’s nest got smaller today…

After the last week, I am looking forward to mixing this weekend. This coming Sunday will be sort of atypical because we’re doing 7 songs: 3 pre-service, 3 worship, and either a closer or offertory performance number. We’re finishing up a four part series called Destinations that has been great, and I highly suggest checking it out via the North Point sermon archive at www.northpoint.org. I’m especially excited about the pre-service set we’re kicking things off with this week featuring tunes by Tom Petty, John Mayer, and U2 that fit with the “Destinations” theme of the series.

I know I said I was going to talk my experiences with some of Scovill tips and tricks this week, but I’m going to hold off one more. I was talking to Brandon at Buckhead this week about some of them that he’s been trying, and he had more luck with one in particular than me, and I’d like to take another shot at it before tossing out some of this stuff.

However, in the meantime, I’ll give you a quick tip that I really like that solved an imaging problem for me while giving some other sonic benefits. This was adapted from Scovi’s approach which is a little more complicated. I like to pan my guitars on stage to localize them to their relative position on stage which is typically house left and right. Typically only one of the guitarists will take care of “solos”, but when he does I’m faced with imaging challenges; even though the majority of the room is getting both guitars, depending on where you’re sitting you’ll hear more of the guitarist closest to you. Consequently, that lead doesn’t cut through like it needs. So here’s my simple solution I had toyed with in my head that Scovi has been doing a take on for a while. I take the lead guitar and double-bus it through my main guitar bus(or LCR) along with a new “solo” bus. I adjust the width of the solo buss so that it’s a mono buss, and then I pan it exactly opposite the lead instrument’s normal panning; I also do a little bit of compression on the solo buss. During non-lead sections, the solo buss is pulled down. For solo’s or “lead” type instrumentals, I simply push the solo buss to the same level of the guitar already in the mix. So what happens when you send equal amounts of a signal to a left and right buss? The image pulls to the center and into your face. During music I like to select that output buss to the ACS so I can always keep my VCAs in front of me. I might look at sticking it on a VCA in the future, but I’ll get into that more next week…

David Stagl

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