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A Church Audio System for Traditional and Contemporary Services, Part 1

Dec 2, 2010 12:34 PM, With Bennett Liles

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I’m sure they’ve heard of Aviom before. That is an established enough name where you probably didn’t have to explain where that came from. Is that when you went with the in-ear monitoring or were you doing that before?
Prior to the install all of the monitoring was done with floor wedges. Even with the additional acoustic treatment that we added to the room, we recognized that trying to reduce the number of floor wedges in the main auditorium was going to be our best bet as far as being able to control the sound. So we recommended that they go to in-ear monitors for the Avioms in order to reduce the stage volume. The added bonus to that is the fact that it puts the musicians in control of their own mix and takes a lot of the responsibility off the volunteer tech team. When your volunteer tech team has limited experience, it makes it a lot easier for them not to have to worry about what the musicians are hearing and having to adjust their mixes as well as adjust the main mix. [Timestamp: 9:01]

Yeah, the changeover to in-ear monitoring is sometimes a little traumatic for some performers. So how did that go? Did you meet with any resistance or did they take to it from the beginning?
So early on in the process, before we’d even installed anything, I had good conversations with the band. I like to meet everybody involved and talk to the volunteers and let them know what’s going on, talk to the tech team, and talk to the band. And from the get-go I found them to be very enthusiastic about the in-ear monitors. I think nowadays musicians communicate with other musicians and find that they tend to prefer the clarity and control that in-ears provide, and so even the musicians at Arapaho that had not used in-ears before were very enthusiastic about trying them out and enjoying their benefits. So we didn’t find any resistance as far as that was concerned. [Timestamp: 9:58]

So how did the transition on all of this go? Did you break it in with some rehearsal or what was the reaction when you said, “OK, now we’re going to be doing everything in the same place”?
So we would have liked to have had some time to do the transition slowly, to do a series of rehearsals in the new room and to practice with the in-ears, but because of the way that our schedule was and because of where the Easter services fell, there was not a lot of time for the transition. So we had an evening that we brought the musicians in and gave them a technical overview of the system and explained technically how it worked, but then all they had when it came down to it was a single rehearsal early on a Sunday morning in order to prepare. I was quite worried about this because, as you can imagine, having such a short amount of time with a new system installed there could be all kinds of problems occurring as well as the fact that it would be nice for the musicians to have more time to get used to it. But we found it went very, very smoothly. The big advantage to the Aviom system with the Yamaha digital console installed is that Aviom makes a card that goes into the Yamaha console so there’s no outboard gear. The outputs for the Aviom mixers can be patched directly from the console, and there isn’t another set of levels on another piece of equipment to worry about for the operator. So we patched the Aviom outputs and set some initial gain settings for the channels and the band members all plugged in and away they went. And I was amazed to look up from the console after about 5 or 10 minutes and find that they were very, very happy with what was going on. The equipment was easy enough to use that they were able to dial it in very quickly and didn’t have to have any assistance from the tech team what so ever. So I think everybody was very, very pleased with how their first service went. [Timestamp: 12:13]

Well, I can imagine that was a big relief…
Yeah, that’s right.
...once you got everything going. So what is it like with the congregations there? Do they specifically different sort of demographics on the two congregations or was there some overlap between them?
The demographics were quite varied across both services, although the traditional service would have an older congregation in general—I wouldn’t say that that’s the rule—but the services are separate in that there are only a few people that would attend both services. I guess people find that they like the music programming of one or the other and that’s what they choose to go to. The main speaker or preacher speaks the same message at both services and so both congregations are hearing the same message. Really the true difference is just what style of music they prefer. [Timestamp: 13:13]

So how does the transition go now? How quickly do you make the change on the technical front of it?
So originally they had 15 minute between services when the services were being held in different rooms. Now that the services are held in the same room, they’ve extended the time between services to about 30 minutes. However, that does go down a little bit if the first service goes long. Because we have a digital console in place, the console switch over is very quick. It’s the fastest we go on a scene, and the drum kit is able to remain plugged in with a long snake and be slid into place and so we don’t have to repatch that. We gave them enough inputs on stage so that as much as possible could remain plugged in, and the Yamaha LS9 has enough preempt inputs that there doesn’t have to be any repatching, and this makes for a very quick transition. All I have to do is set up the choir mics if necessary and the band members come in and set up their equipment, and often the tech team is ready to go before the band members have even got their instruments ready to go. [Timestamp: 14:32]

All right, sounds like a big improvement. I know the people there were liking not having to wait so much and not having the hair-raising technical situation between services trying to get everything set up. I very much appreciate your being here Luke. It’s Luke Raymond with Dispersion Design and the Arapaho Road Baptist Church project in Garland, Texas. It was great having you here for part one Luke, and in part two we can get in a little bit more about the Aviom system and the LS9 board, and I want you to tell me about those Ace Backstage floor pockets you put in, but thanks for being here for part one.
Thank you very much.

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