Product Reviews

The best way to connect your computer audio to your audio mixer.

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focusrite scarlett 2i2 rightI did it.  After too much messing around with cables and computer direct boxes of different types, I broke down and bought a USB audio interface for our church's presentation computer (ProPresenter, PowerPoint, etc.) in order to replace the PC direct box used to connect the unbalanced stereo audio signal from the computer's headphone output to the balanced input on the audio mixer. 

No matter what we did with the new all-in-one computer (one that someone else picked out), the self-noise at the headphone jack (its only analog audio output) was simply more than I could bear.  When playing music, the noise was not noticeable, but between songs (no matter the gain staging), anyone could hear just a bit of constant "hashy" noise, if they listened for it. 

Some people blame this type of noise on electrical grounding, some on radio frequency noise from spinning hard drives, some describe it as clock noise.  Whatever caused it in this case, it's not something that could be addressed by converting the unbalanced signal to a balanced line with a direct box, by proper system grounding, or by anything conventional, so I gave in and spent some of our fiercely-guarded budget money, and the noise is gone. 

There are lots of USB audio interfaces out there, but everywhere I look lately (even in places where we didn't sell them), we see the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or other Focusrite variants.  The Scarlett 2i2 is a 2x2 USB audio interface that can be used to play back or to record audio.  In most cases, people buy USB interfaces in order to record, but in this application, stereo playback is what we're after.  And the Scarlett 2i2 does it really well. 

We use the 2i2 for our SMAART system analysis setups, for recording and for playback.  Focusrite interfaces are the perfect partner for Pro Tools, so Scarlett 2i2 comes with Pro Tools | First recording software, as well as Ableton Live Lite and a suite of software and samples so you can start recording straight away. As you’d expect, it works flawlessly with all major DAWs on Mac and PC.  It's a handy device, for sure.  And at $149.99, it may just be exactly what you need.

Get more information or order online here.  Or call us anytime. 

 

 

Need a huge screen for gym or auditorium use?

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Evenroll

When you want the protein and to skip the carbs, all you need is the meat and cheese, and not the whole sandwich, right?!  But when was the last time the restaurant let you order that way? 

You already know that a projection screen is better than a painted white wall for image quality, so you called only to find that a 24' wide electric screen costs about $9000. 

You need that screen, but don't know how $9000 is going to fit into your budget.   

Are you willing to do a little extra work in order to save some money?  I'll bet that you can guess that I'm going to tell you that you can order a projection screen without the "bun" and the extra trimmings. 

The Draper Evenroll Rope and Pulley Manual projection screen comes in large sizes from 168-288" wide and in 16:9, 4:3, square and 2.35:1 cinemascope formats. 

It's a simple system; you will have to raise and lower the screen with a marine-grade pulley system without the benefit of remote control, electricity and anything other than a little hand and arm strength.  The rope cable won't twist or bind, and you'll get the same Matt White projection surface found in many other Draper models.

The Evenroll Rope and Pulley manual screens start at about $2000 and top out at a 24x24' for just over $3000 -- less than one-third as much as a comparable electric screen.  If you'd like more information on the Evenroll manual screen, call us at (800) 747-7301.

 

   

Living as One Multisite Platform - the new standard in live event video delivery

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LAO

Have you ever wondered how to extend live video to other sites at a viewable size larger than a desktop computer or a mobile device? The Living as One Multisite Platform was designed from the ground up to do just that -- to deliver audio and video to remote locations with unprecedented reliability, quality, and simplicity. And it uses the public internet. LAO can also stream to in-house venues on your network while reaching out to campus sites via the public internet. 

The platform uses a new patented method of streaming which ensures zero content loss throughout the entire transmission path, even in the case of a complete internet outage! This means that you'll enjoy a stress-free playback experience which is high quality, interruption-free, and much more affordable than other similar solutions.

Before joining the Multisite Platform, many of Living As One’s customers were frustrated with interruptions they experienced during live video playback. Even though those churches chose expensive equipment and fast internet connections, the products they were using were not designed to account for the unpredictable nature of the internet which results in buffering video and even complete blackouts. That tension is not good for anyone - tech teams, campus pastors or your guests. 

Over 70 churches have joined onto the platform in the past year of offering the solution to the public.  Read what some of them have to say.

Read more: Living as One Multisite Platform - the new standard in live event video delivery

   

Behringer X-Touch

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by Gary Williams

With the expanding use of DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software to enhance live worship, whether self-produced or purchased from a third party such as Loop Community and other providers, we see an increasing need for tools that speed up your workflow.

The Behringer X-Touch is both a highly visual, intuitive, surface controller with 100mm moving faders, and also serves as a remote surface for any Behringer digital mixer up to and including the popular X32.

Here's how I use mine:

Home Studio aka as "The Living Room" (No, I'm not married.)

The X-Touch gives me complete control of Logic X running on a Mac. It performs all the critical, repetitive functions quickly without having to navigate a mouse around a large screen. More detailed functions like EQ adjustment, and fine tuning effects can be performed on the X-Touch, but I still prefer to drag EQ filters with a mouse and to manage plug-ins directly on-screen, although it's nice to know that I can make a quick adjustment on the controller with its function and value labeled on the backlit scribble strip.

If you're like me, one of your favorite things to do is memorize complicated keyboard shortcuts.  Well, maybe not.  Thankfully, the team at Behringer gives us clearly labeled buttons and knobs for all of the fixed functions, and backlit labels that change according to the function. This makes the X-Touch easy to navigate at a glance.

I also appreciate the large transport control buttons and jog wheel. In a short amount of time, I found that I didn't even need to look at the X-Touch. My fingers find those buttons on their own.

The jog wheel makes it simple to put my playhead right where I want it, alleviating one of the frustrations of every DAW I've ever used. On-screen timeline rulers are small and require precise mouse movement. For the number of times each session that I have to grab that mouse, the time savings add up quickly.

The biggest time saver for me is the ability to mix down multiple tracks at once. Even with some purchased tracks, certain sounds and parts cut through the mix better in different environments and within different sections of a song. 

If you create your own loops or tracks, this is even more critical.

Read more: Behringer X-Touch

   

"Do you mean to tell me that no one makes...?"

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It's the company joke that a couple of our clients have very unique feature requests, and that they ask this exact question from time to time.  "Do you mean to tell me that no one makes a [fill in the blank]?"

In the discovery phase of video system planning, we ask lots of questions. We find that some churches are concerned more about presentation of computer graphics (still images and motion backgrounds, along with file-based video), and others are focused on having live video as the primary source. Choosing one or the other makes it easier on us, but the more common answer is that our clients want both.

stacks image 3045If you're using live video (cameras) for a typical event like a worship service, you have two audiences – the people who attend live, and the people who do not. And if you think about it, the needs of each group are very different. The live audience may not need to see the faces of those leading the event, but the audience watching your video stream or recording certainly does. How will you allow both to only see what they need to see?

Our challenge is finding a way to do both, and doing it well.

Read more: "Do you mean to tell me that no one makes...?"

   

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What others say

Hi Dave,
We were incredibly impressed by the work the guys did. The system sounds great and Gary was a great help to us getting our feet wet with the new board. I feel pretty comfortable on it and I think most of our guys do as well.

Rev. Matthew Slater
Champion Church of the Nazarene