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Choir mic shootout - Heil PR30 versus Beyerdynamic MC930, Neumann KM185, and Lewitt LCT340

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In order to get a great choir sound in modern worship, you need a microphone with exceptional isolation, great uniformity of the polar or pickup pattern across its frequency response, and to be able to preserve enough warmth to make voices sound natural, without feedback.  And if you're a choir director, you know this is a tall order. There's always too much of something being picked up (besides the choir) - the drum kit, the orchestra, the bass amp, you name it.  You just never have enough of the voices. 

In early April, we were contacted by a church in Huntsville, AL with a little bit of a challenge.  The choir director had read our article about the Heil PR30 and its effectiveness for choir use and wanted to put it up against some big names in the microphone business.  Beyerdynamic (MC930), Neumann (KM185), and Lewitt (LCT340).  We talked with him for a few minutes and decided that we were up for the challenge, albeit with a sliver of trepidation. I mean, all of those microphones cost at least double of the PR30.  So we sent him four microphones to try, and waited for his report. 

Here's what he said. (click the link below for the rest of the story - hint: it's what you think it is, but I'll let his words tell the story)

Read more: Choir mic shootout - Heil PR30 versus Beyerdynamic MC930, Neumann KM185, and Lewitt LCT340

 

If you own a wireless microphone, you need to read this.

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Last week, the FCC released the date and details of both the start of spectrum incentive auctions and changes to the RF spectrum that will remain available for wireless microphones.  

With the ever-greater use of mobile broadband and the internet-of-things, the demand for RF bandwidth is immense, so television broadcasters are being asked to relocate and vacate, and secondary users like wireless microphones, wireless intercoms, and in-ear monitoring systems will be forced out, too.  

The start of the auctions will be May 31, 2016.  While details are not yet fully known, it appears that wireless microphone users will have 126MHz less RF spectrum available and that use of frequencies above 566MHz will become obsolete (and illegal) at some point.  

When users will be required to vacate the use of frequencies above 566MHz is not yet known, but in previous announcements, the time period of 42 months has been mentioned.  From this point forward, you will begin to see a transition to new technology, the reuse of the VHF spectrum and placement of microphones in the 900MHz and 2.4GHz portions of the RF spectrum.  

The primary takeaway from this announcement is that you should avoid purchasing wireless systems with operating ranges between 566-700MHz, if you plan to use them for more than a few years.  

If you have questions about how this impacts your set-up, or if we can help with planning during this time of transition, please be in touch.  And of course, we will keep you informed as we learn more. 

   

Berklee Standardizes on Point Source CR-8D Earset Microphone

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SERIES8 mics expected to support up to 300 student-run productions each year

berklee singers 563

Student actors of Berklee College of Music perform wearing Point Source Audio's SERIES8 cardioid headset
(Photo Credit: Berklee College of Music)

Berklee College of Music - home to more than 4,000 students and a list of successful alumni who have collectively won more than 300 GRAMMYs and Emmy Awards - has standardized on Point Source Audio's SERIES8 cardioid headsets as their musical production microphone.

The Point Source mics debuted for the school's Berklee Performance Center Anniversary Concert: 100 Years of Musical Theater with a cast of 20 wearing the CR-8D headset.

"After doing our tests, we found the CR-8D to give the least coloration and the highest gain before feedback. I've used many other headset brands but by the time I completed tuning all of the rings out, the signal would be completely unrecognizable as a human voice. With the CR-8D headsets, the sound is much more natural after feedback corrections," reported Alejo Planchart, production manager in concert operations for Berklee. "The exact placement near the mouth of the singer was the most forgiving out of all the headsets I've used before and the noise handling was very minimal, which are two very crucial factors when working with student singers."

Responsible for over 2,200 events each year in six different performance venues, the production and theater staff at Berklee sought to find a robust headset microphone that could also deliver a highly directional pattern because many of their productions require floor monitors where feedback tends to be a major issue.

Berklee has many student-run productions and beginner students are still learning proper microphone placement so it was very important for Berklee to find a headset that would stay in place throughout numerous costume changes.

We find Point Source microphones to be an excellent choice for live speaking, singing and drama use, especially where floor monitors are in use.  Find more information and/or order your own CR-8D headsets here.  From $499. 

   

Can you help us with our sound system?

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"Dave, can you come to Sioux Falls to help us with our sound system?"

Prior to that call, we had worked together with the Ransom Church for some add-on products and accessories, but the new tech director wanted to talk with us about systems, so that we'd have a better understand of their needs as the church grew.

A couple weeks later, I boarded a plane to Sioux Falls, SD. From the cool vibe of the concrete-floored welcome area, I walked into the back door of the worship space where the tech director explained that weekend attendance was growing (from 300 to 1400 in under a year) and that the tech systems were straining under the load.

As he walked me around, I saw a lighting system that was well done, along with the audio and the video systems – both of which were recently installed.

Frankly, I wondered why I was there.

After a few minutes, I asked what types of issues they had and if I could hear the system. In a nutshell, the church had plenty of equipment, but the audio system did not sound good.

The space was loft-like in nature, having been an old auto parts warehouse. The wood trusses acted like a low ceiling, and the worship space was very wide, so acoustic volume was high near the platform, but didn't carry well toward the back, corner and side seating areas.  See "before" coverage map below.  The difference between yellow and purple areas is about 10dB, an apparent halving of acoustic volume. 

Ransom AC Before

As we discovered, the previous choice of main speakers was not poor equipment, but simply the wrong equipment.

Read more: Can you help us with our sound system?

   

The installation is over - what about training?

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The building is finished, the sound system is installed, the training session has ended, and the tail lights of the system installer are fading in the distance.  What's next?!  A well-deserved break for everyone! 

Over and over we find churches in what will become a predicament pretty quickly if training is not addressed.  With the upgrade, the church now needs 3-4 tech volunteers (or more) where it needed one or two before, and some of those people who just finished the training session have never even seen a mixer or a switcher before, and have little to no idea of how everything works together.  They all seemed to understand, none of them had any more questions for the trainer when he asked, but many of your team members went home overwhelmed and under-prepared.  And the weekend is coming. 

For budget reasons, churches often opt out of ongoing training, but making the best use of the new equipment requires that people know how and why they're doing what they're doing.  Recently, we've come across a new video curriculum called the Ultimate Live Sound School DVD Set.  It's a DVD-based curriculum taught by David Wills, a professional touring engineer who has worked with lots of top music acts over the past several years.  These videos allow you to look over the shoulder of a professional audio engineer who has worked with the top names in the business. 

In Free Church Sound Training, David will tell you about his background, and that lesson will tell you who he knows and should give you a good sense that he can help prepare your team on the basics of sound theory, signal flow, mixing technique and much more.  Click here to watch that free lesson

The Free Church Sound Training is an introduction to the more detailed Ultimate Live Sound School DVD Set.  A couple of us have started using this DVD set and the more detailed training videos for the Presonus Studio Live and Behringer X32 in our own churches and find the videos to be a powerful resource for both group and for individual training.  For more info on the Ultimate Live Sound School DVD click here

Unfortunately, we often find churches are not able to equip volunteers for success on their own so they experience lots of volunteer turnover.  The Ultimate Live Sound School DVD set will allow you to spread the knowledge of proper audio system operation to the team in a way that is well-presented, non-threatening and that comes with the benefit of the teacher being an outside expert. 

Right now, the Ultimate Live Sound School is priced at $50 off the normal $199.95 price at just $149.95.  The Ultimate Live Sound School contains over 6 hours of training, plus bonus sessions, that your team can refer to as often as necessary and share among themselves.  Click here to order the Ultimate Live Sound School DVD set now.  

   

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What others say

I just want you to know that I appreciate you always being there for me for those (wow, has it really been) 17 years!

I do know I can come to you for all of my equipment and accessory needs, and take your recommendations, and know that I will get a great product and a great price.  That does save an incredible amount of time and frustration!

There are some times when I have shopped around, but even then I never get better service, and rarely, if ever, find better prices.

Thanks for all you do!

Wayne Young, Riverside, CA