iKey Audio USB / SD Recorder

Recently a co-worker was searching for an audio recorder to purchase for our new campus.  He came across this, and I am very intrigued.  Here’s a little bit from the iKey Website:

The RM3 has two 1/4” line inputs on the front to record any vocals or electronic instruments, as well as a combo XLR/1/4″ stereo jack and a stereo RCA input on the rear. It has 2 BALANCED XLR OUTPUTS on the rear panel, and a stereo RCA output for pass-through ability. You can also monitor your media thru the 1/4” phono/line output provided on the front of the RM3, with its own dedicated volume adjustment.

The deck will record on a standard SD card (up to 4 GB) or up to 32 GB with an SDHC card.  It will also record on a USB flash drive, which inserts on the front panel next to the SD card.

What gets my attention is this device sells for $199.

Products – iKey Audio.

3 Church Tech Ipad Applications

I recently bought an Ipad for our department for the sole reason of connecting to our Avid SC48 via wi-fi, because our mixer is in the balcony and it’s a real chore getting downstairs.  I wanted something our FOH guy can take with him and troubleshoot, line check, and tweak on the main floor of the room.  It has worked really great.  Lot’s of people are doing this.  The VNC client that has worked really well for us has been the Iteleport app.  It’s $25.00 in the app store, and well worth it.

Another application that I’m in the process of setting up is the “Lighting Pad” by Alcorn Mcbride.  It is a very simple controller allowing you to name channel faders, record and play back cues.  The app is written for Ipad, Iphone and Ipod Touch.  For our main sanctuary, we have only par cans (82 channels).  All I need to do is write simple cues and store them for playback.  The app is $10, and it requires an ArtNet adapter, which is simply an ethernet to DMX converter.  The popular one seems to the the ETNTEC ODE, which sells for around $250.

The last application that I’ll mention is Apple’s Keynote for Ipad.  We’ve had a couple of speakers come in recently who have their presentations in Keynote, on their Ipad.  It works really great.  You’ll need a VGA adapter for the Ipad.

How is your Ipad helping you in your church tech?

Cox Chapel Gets an Audio and Video Upgrade

My church has four main worship venues. Our main sanctuary, Cox Chapel, The Great Hall, and Wesley Hall.  Each facilitates a very different style of worship.  The Sanctuary is home to our traditional worship service, while Wesley Hall is where our contemporary body, Cornerstone, meets.  The Great Hall hosts our teaching service, Kerygma, and Cox Chapel is where we have our Methodist worship in the Anglican tradition.  For some time Cox Chapel has limped along with some old TOA powered mixers providing input to a small Symnet DSP unit.  The output of the Symnet fed our Rankus Heinz PA, along with a hearing assistance system and a CD recorder.

Out with the Old, In with the NEW

Since tech needs are minimal in Cox Chapel, we are forgoing a sepeate mixer altogether and simply using the London Blu DSP with some touch panels on the wall.  Mixing is done internally.  Our inputs are Pulpit, Lectern, and four wireless lavs.  Pretty basic.  It’s also a chance for us to really clean up the rack after years of patching, re-wiring, and well, you know . . .

Another upgrade is to our video recoridng system.  We have been feeding the video output of a Canon XL2 to a DV deck and recording each service on MiniDV tape.  With our upgrades we’re re-tasking a Canopus DV converter and a Mac Mini.  We’ll capture video using Adobe OnLocation.

Our biggest hurdle has been trying to locate some conduit that connects Cox Chapel with the rest of the building.  With the help of a faithful volunteer we were able to determine where that conduit is and will soon have network connectivity for both the Blu DSP and the Mac Mini so we can transfer video files after recoridng.

My next post will be a results post where I’ll share a few pictures, and let you know how our first Sunday goes.

New Personal Monitoring Technology

Just saw this today.  David McLain is at InfoCom 2010 and tweeting about different technologies he is looking at.  You should probably follow David on Twitter.

This is a personal monitoring system by MyMix Audio.

It might be tempting to think “Oh, another Aviom” – but you’d be wrong.  Some significant differences:

  • No special hub is required.  A standard $50 network switch works fine.  Or, if you don’t want to hassle with a wall-wart, you can use a Power Over Ethernet switch and clean up your rig on the stage.
  • Individual channel tone control.
  • Parametric E.Q. on the main output.
  • Internal effects than can be applied to individual channels.

I’m going to try to work out a demo of this system in the very near future.  Here’s a video from MyMix Audio, and you can follow them on twitter – @mymixaudio

Church Sound Tweaks – DBX Driverack Installation

Mackie tt24 console

Mackie tt24 console

The other day I went to a friend’s church to help with their PA.  Their FOH system was bi-amped, but the subs were not sourced from an aux buss.  They were experiencing lots of problems with to much low end on everything.  Enter the DBX Driverack PA. I have used the Driverack 260, and didn’t care much for it. The audio quality is good, but the computer GUI is lacking.  The window is too small, and the software is not intuitive like the Ashley Protea, for example.  But the Driverack PA doesn’t even have serial control, which surprised me – but it was not a handi-cap.  As much as I disliked using the 260, I really enjoyed the PA version.  Here’s what we did at my friend’s church:

1.  We decided to source the subwoofer feed from an Aux buss.  Since we had limited drive lines, we took the system from stereo (which they did not care about) to mono.  So the left out was changed to the mono out of the Mackie TT24 console, and the right out was moved to Aux 12 out.  We put a curve on the output of aux 12 with the on-board 6 band EQ of the console.  The curve looked something like this:


It’s not the ideal curve – I’d like a steeper slope, and all I got was about 12dB per octave.  24 dB per octave would have been more like it, but we made do.

2.  The DBX Driverack PA was installed in the amp rack.  The Wizard feature on the driverack was very intuitive.   We connected a reference mic to the front panel input, and followed the easy instructions in the quick start guide.  The quick setup guide was all the documentation we used.  So we EQ’d the room and set up some notch filters. I added a crossover filter to the the input to keep the very lows out of the mains.

I would not have done some of these things if we were putting in a new installation, but working with a limited budget and the need to be pragmatic informed the decisions we made.

There’s more work to be done, specifically with the monitoring system on stage.  We’ll tackle that in the next couple of months.

Small steps.

Friday at WFX – Wireless Issues

Last Friday I sat in on a presentation about the future of wireless mics, white spaces, 700 MHz, etc. Here are some bullets from the presentation . . .

  • We will indeed have to leave the 700 MHz range – it’s just a matter of time. (We really have known that for a while)
  • Most cities will have two channels within the digital TV range reserved for wireless mics, and top twenty markets (by size) will have an additional 1-2 channels as well.
  • The FCC will rely on two technologies for whitespace device compatibility: 1. Geolocation (GPS) and the use of a Database. Users can register their wireless mics in a database, and the whitespace devices are supposed to check the database before allowed to operate in a specific area. 2. The whitespace devices are supposed to employ spectrum sensing, and not operate where wireless mics are already operating. The people from Shure and Sennheiser were optimistic that even though the spectrum sensing has not been overwhelmingly successful, that they will get there in time.

Here’s how it impacts me and my church so far:

  1. More than likely the FCC will not require all users in the 700 MHz range to vacate immediately, so I;m not panicked about replacing the 17 or cso channels that I have. I am going to replace them sooner than later, but I’m going to take my time and work this smart, not fast.
  2. I have decide to purchase the best systems we possibly can, because those are the ones that are the most tunable, tune over the widest range, and in some cases can actually be retuned to new frequencies altogether.
  3. I am going to get our entire campus on locked into one manufacturer. I haven’t decided which one yet. Currently we have a mixed bag od Sennheiser, Telex, AKG, and Audio-Technica from years and years of people giving us mics, new tech directors buying different systems, etc.
  4. I am going to have a competent RF specialist come to our facility, do a frequency scan, recommend antennas, antenna placement, frequencies, etc. I will have either the vendor or manufacturer commission our wireless systems throughout the campus.
  5. I am going to re-evaluate how much wireless we actually use. Certainly our pastor will want to preach with one, and we’ll need a few for dramas, and misc use. But all my BGV’s and maybe even our lead vocal will go with a wired mic. I may be able to drop a few channels. It going to hurt enough just to buy what we need.

Kirk Longhofer’s White Space Update

FCC Comment Receipt

FCC Comment Receipt

Kirk Longhofer posted a White Space Update at Technopraxis including a comment letter he sent to the FCC regarding the proposed white space vote coming up on Nov. 4. I just sent my letter as well (see receipt above). Here’s a link to file your comment letter electronically. Please make your voice heard. The deadline for comments is October 27, so you don’t have any time to lose. Thanks, Kirk for the helpful information.

Kids on the Go Block Party

Last Sunday our Kidstuf production took to the road in an effort to take the gospel to a local neighborhood. It was billed as a block party, and was hosted by a family who attends our church. We set up a small PA and had a small team of actors and dancers who presented a brief, engaging gospel presentation for the small kiddos who were attending (with their parents). Afterwards there was face painting, sow-cones and popcorn. As a result, the host family now have several neighbors whom they have seen on several occasions, but now have the opportunity to engage in conversation and deeper social interaction. God really used the event to connect people and pave the way for future personal ministry.

EXTRA: For the tech, we used a couple of Mackie SRM 450’s for mains, one for monitor, and we rented four Sure wireless mics with Countryman E6 mics. Audio playback for tracks was on a PC with SportsSounds Pro

Here are a few pictures

Sure wireless system

Sure wireless system

A very small sound system - 4 wireless mics and music playback

A very small sound system - 4 wireless mics and music playback



Kids enjoying the show

Kids enjoying the show

My Sunday Nights

For a little over a month I have been mixing the Metro service for Prestonwood Baptist Church.  I’m working with some really talented production technicians.  Music is by the J. Wood Band, and the speaker is Jarrett Stephens, of Prestonwood.  You can here more about Metro here.

It’s been good for me to be mixing more, since I have been sharing mixing at Fellowship Dallas with another engineer.  At Prestonwood, I’m mixing on a Midas Legend 3000 console.  Most of their spaces have digital consoles (M7CL, PM1D, etc.), but this is one room that has remained analog.  It’s also a different style from what I mix on Sunday mornings.

If you live in Dallas you should check out Metro.

Getting Ready for Mexico

In a week and a half I will be going to Mexico to install some multimedia gear in a church. We’re putting in a motorized screen, data projector, and a laptop with Easy Worship. Then we’re putting in an indoor/outdoor paging system for an orphanage that the church supports.

This will be basically a “missional” vacation. It’s an English speaking congregation, and they’re flying us down there, and paying for the equipment. So we’ll be there to install and train, then also hang out when we’re not busy with the church and orphanage. My wife is going with me, and we’re joining two other couples – we’re really looking forward to it.

Here’s a list of what we’re taking . . .

Da-lite slimline motorized screen

Sharp 3,000 lumen data projector

Cat 5 VGA baluns (kramer pico series)

Laptop with Easy Worship pre-installed.

Outdoor paging horns, paging mic, speaker cable, TOA paging amplifier

Do You Skype?

I’ve heard my friends talking about Skype, and I’ve really just blown it off because I never had much of a need for it.  I recently signed up for an account because I needed a cheap way to talk with my wife while on a mission trip to Germany.  Here are some of the things that really turned me on about Skype:

1.  I was able to call home, church, or my wife’s cell for just .02 cents per minute.  Before I left I put $10.00 on my account, and returned with about $7.50.  If my wife was at home, then she’d go to her computer, and we’d switch to her Skype account. That way we could talk for free.

2.  After I had been in Germany for about a week, I had lots of video footage captured.  So while talking with my family, I switched my video input from my Macbook Pro’s built in isight camera to an external firewire input.  Then I put my camera in VTR mode and shuttled through the tape and described what they were looking at in real time.

3.  While editing some of the videos with German nationals, there were three of us sitting around a table, all with our Skype accounts active, and we were able to pass files around to each other so easily.  Much easier, in fact, than using USB flash drives

My wife has been out in Lubbock, Texas a lot lately, taking care of her mother who has brain cancer.  It’s been really great for us to be able to connect.  She can see me, and as soon as we get her webcam for her PC working, it will be both ways.

First Sunday with the M7CL

We got our mixer delivered last week, and my audio volunteer took some time off work, configured the console, and together we got it installed. It was a literally just a drop in from our old mixer (Allen and Heath ML5000). It was also good to get a lot of old cables stowed away that seem to accumulate after time. We got rid of our effects rack and freed up a lot of space in the booth.

Our audio mixing duties are shared between me and one other person. (When I was originally hired at Fellowship it was to mix FOH). Our other mixer, Russ, was on deck last Sunday and mixed our first service with the new console. So here’s a couple of observations . . .

1. The ability to add compression to any input is great. The ability to add compression to any outout is WONDERFUL. We set up a couple of our our matrixes for audio for video with a stereo feed, then added more of the spoken word sources at a higher level to reduce the dynamic range. Then to be able to insert compression right in the matrix output allowed us to achieve more dynamic control than before.

2. It would be nice to be able to recall just an aux buss, and leave the main mix alone. Maybe it is possible. I haven’t read completely through the manual yet.

How do YOU pronounce Aviom?

Disclaimer: I’m not REALLY making an issue of some pretty insignificant things – I just want to tell you about a podcast.

I’ve heard it with a “short a” as well as a “long a”. I just heard a podcast with an Aviom employee Loren Molinare, and among other things, he set’s the record straight that it doeasn’t really matter how you pronounce it. He also explains what “Aviom” means. He gives a little history on Aviom, explains some applications for their digital snake products, etc. Check out the Podcast here.

Pro-Tools and Alesis Tweaks and Fixes

Lately I have been bumming about a couple of apps that aren’t Leopard compatible. I upgraded without really checking, so I know it’s my own fault.
1. Pro Tools LE. Although Digidesign says that it won’t run (and mine did NOT run) under Leopard, someone recently told me that the only hang-up is using the Core Audio drivers. So I ditched those and now have Pro-Tools back on my laptop.

2.  Alesis Fireport.  I called because the FSTConnect software (for firewire audio file transfers from the HD24) stopped working with OS 10.4.9.  I assumed that the problem was OS 10.4.9 AND LATER, but that was not the case.  The problem was that I wasn’t using the most current version of FSTConnect.  One call to tech support and they confirmed that the latest version is fully Leopard compatible, and they are mailing me a new installer for the latest version.

What a relief.  these have been bugging for for a couple of months now and My patience has been wearing thin.

New Audio Encoding Software

A while back I wrote about my favorite video encoding application called VisualHub, by Techspansion. Today I downloaded and purchased AudialHub. This a very simple to use batch audio processor. A couple of the features worth mentioning are the ability to normalize files while converting, and the ability to drop a video file into the list and extract the audio tracks. You can also burn audio and mp3 cd’s directly from the AudialHub interface.

The price for this application is $18.81, but if you already have VisualHub the price drops to $14.41.

M7CL Up Close

Today I went to WaterMark Church, where Ryan Howell is the tech director. He showed me around the Yamaha M7CL, and answered some questions for me. Also, It was good to just hang with him for a few hours and get the Tour of his new worship center.

Please, please, please, if you work as a church tech director or are otherwise in tech ministry, be sure to get to know the guys around you. I promise, there are other people in your city who have the same challenges and struggles as you do (and who also want to celebrate what’s going well for you).

Monday at NAB

I spent most of the day today with Greg Atkinson and Jonathan Moon, from Bent Tree Bible Fellowship. We got about a half day on the exhibit floor. One thing thing that I really wanted to look at . . .

Yamaha M7CL. We just started another service, and the gain structures for the two services are way different. Gate settings on drums are not translating well, lead vocal mic compressor settings are way different, etc. It’s time for a digital console. The features of the M7CL are very similar to our Allen and Heath ML5000. 48 inputs, 8 VCA’s (DCA’s on the Yamaha) 16 aux busses, etc. So this new console will pretty much be a drop-in. Plus I’ll have the added advantage of dynamics processing on any channel I need it. I’m pretty sold on it. ANYONE USING THIS AND HAVE ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR ME??

Backup mic to the rescue!

I have blogged before about always having a backup mic for you pastor and other important sources.  Yesterday, our pastor started speaking without a functioning mic.  Our backup was on the piano, about 5 feet from him.  By the way, we did sound check all mics, and in fact had already done one service without any problems.  So it wasn’t a big deal for our pastor to simply put on a lav that was waiting for just a time like this.

We use the Audio Technica Artist Elite 5000 series for our wireless mics. Some of the nice things about this system are ability to remotely monitor battery power, change frequencies on the receivers,  mute receivers remotely, monitor audio levels, and monitor RF signal strength on each antenna.

For yesterday’s glitch, I could see that the mic had full battery, was not muted, and had adequate signal strength.  But no audio from the transmitter.  The unit checked out perfectly after church, and I haven’t spoken with my pastor yet.  I’m hoping he’ll tell me that for some reason he had to take it off, then didn’t re-connect it.  otherwise I’ve got an intermittent wireless problem to deal with.  I hate those.