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.
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.
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.
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.
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.