Complying with Tech Riders

I used to get pretty wound up over tech riders, since many of them are, well, unreasonable. In fact, I have done event support where I had to rent mics so we could have a top snare, bottom snare, Direct bass, mic’d bass, etc. I then had to tell others on the program that due to limited inputs I couldn’t accommodate their requests (because I had to fulfill a tech rider). So imagine how bent ot of shape I was to have the band show up and say “Oh yea, that’s an old rider – just give us a kick, snare and overhead and we’ll be fine”. So here’s what I do now . . .

1. I Call the production manager for the band. I usually say some thing like “Look, we can absolutely meet all your tech requirements., so please tell me what you REALLY need”. More times than not, after explaining what we have in-house, the PM says – “That’s fine”. Especially if the show is a fundraiser, I feel an extreme need to watch expenses for the client.

2. I don’t hesitate to tell the client – “Here’s what it will cost to rent the gear for the tech rider – you might want to call the band’s PM and see if they can cut you some slack”. Sometimes the production manager will be more accommodating when dealing with their client than with the tech folks at the venue.

Anybody have any experience to share when dealing with tech riders?

Happy Birthday, Compact Disc

Today marks the 25th birthday of the compact disc. Here’s an article with a little history on the CD.

Side Note:

It’s interesting that people always seem to say – “It’s not an album, it’s a CD!”

Here’s one of the definitions of album from the American Heritage Dictionary: A recording of different musical pieces.

Or here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia definition: An album may be released in a single format, such as on compact disc, or in multiple media formats, ranging from physical ones such as CDs, DVD audio, cassettes and vinyl records, to digital ones such as MP3 and AAC files or streaming audio.

So it looks like we’ll be listening to albums for quite some time.

Video of Tech Problem

Here’s a video showing the technical difficulty we “engineered” for our service today. We thought it would be a good way to illustrate “connections”.

Update:

For the record, our church body picked up on the fact that this was just a gag and no-one really thought I was in trouble.

Zoom H4 Audio Recorder

My church is starting to host quite a few outside events for our community. Some of these are simple meetings needing tech support, while others are full blown conferences with general sessions and breakout sessions. Lately, several clients have been requesting recordings of the breakout sessions. Not having any portable CD recorders, and not being willing to set up a mixer or preamp with a stand alone cd recorder, I have purchased a couple of Zoom H4 recorders.

h4_top-web.jpg

So far I have only dubbed some cassettes for a friend, but I am very impressed with this device. It’s small, easy to use and very inexpensive. Here’s a link to Sampson’s website. Something like this should be in your bag of tricks if you’re a podcaster. Conference interviews would be easier than ever with a couple of mics, headphones and one of these in your bag. The only drawback I have encountered is the size of the text in the display. Some features are hard to read and this device should probably come with some reading glasses. You can pick these up for $299.

Common Mistakes Made by Church Sound Techs (And How To Avoid Them)

This is part one of a two part series where I will talk about common mistakes church sound techs often make and how to avoid those mistakes. In this first post I will discuss four of these, and will post part two soon after.

Mistake #1
Not testing microphones and other sources over the loudspeakers . . .
Using headphones to check an audio source will tell you id the source is connected and in the correct input channel, but it will NOT necessarily tell you if that input is assigned the correct VCA master, group master or other mix buss. Listen to your sources during setup and soundcheck the same way your audience will – over the loudspeakers.

Mistake #2
Not paying attention to what is happening on stage . . .
Don’t get so involved in your mix that you lose touch with the performers on stage. Lift your head up and watch the stage. Someone may be trying to get your attention, or you might just notice that your lead vocalist has just put his mic back in the WRONG stand. It also is important to0 watch for inattentive singers who may be careless where they point their mic. It’s easier to anticipate and prevent problems when you’re watching the stage.

Mistake #3
Being careless with line level sources . . .
In most sound systems it seems that you’re always needing a little more gain before feedback. This is the PAG NAG theory (potential audio gain vs. needed audio gain). Inexperienced sound techs are sometimes so thrilled with the seemingly unlimited gain of line level sources that they run them too hot in the mix. For example, a video testimony in the middle of a sermon should be the same level as the pastor. Maybe, MAYBE, a little hotter.

Mistake #4
Not Anticipating . . .
It’s very easy to get so wrapped up in the worship, or the sermon, that you actually stop paying attention to the job you’re doing. No doubt about it – if you’re mixing a worship service, you are making a sacrifice. That sacrifice is more than your time. It’s also your active participation in the worship service. During the service, pay attention not only to the task at hand, but also to the next event in the service schedule. In fact, stay aware of the next several steps, and be mentally prepared for the NEXT step.

Anticipate the prayer at the end of the worship set. Doing this will help you keep the mic of until it is removed from the mic stand.
Anticipate the video playback so you don’t chop the first three seconds of audio.
Anticipate the drama so you don’t miss the offstage audio cue.
Anticipate the end of a prayer when you hear “In Jesus name”. Have your hands on the faders for the next event.

Mostly, these four common mistakes are made by not paying attention to detail. Besides the specific suggestions mentioned earlier, simply paying attention and keeping your mind on what you’re doing will go a long way toward avoiding these.

I’ll post more on this later.

Blessings,

Brian

Audio Resources from Shure

I want to tell you about a resource from Shure, called Shurenotes, and Shurenotes for Houses of Worship. Just a few of the topics covered include podcasting, choir miking, vocal miking, wirless mics, monitoring, and hearing conservation.

One issue is called “Podcasting 101“. Be ready for some plugs for Shure equipment, but don’t let that keep you from considering this a valuable resource.