No Budget Tip #3 - Fighting the effects of time

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by Eric Chancey, @BigDaddyDecibel

Having trouble getting your microphones to sound good? Are the instruments sounding muddy? Are things not quite as good as they used to be?

Maybe it's time for a new system (that's what many dealers will tell you).

I can hear you now, "But you said that this article is a 'no budget' article, and last time I checked, my dealer didn't take 'no budget' for payment."

Your system probably sounded pretty good at one point, so the problem may not be in the equipment - the problem may be time.

Time? What does time have to do with it?

Read more: No Budget Tip #3 - Fighting the effects of time


Don't turn your iPhone off during worship!

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Virtually every church that projects announcements during its services has a slide of some sort that says something like "Ssh...Please Turn Off Your Cell Phone During Worship."  Why?  

Well, of course a ringing phone is a distraction, and a conversation from the pews is generally inexcusable, not to mention what a bunch of little radios does to the wireless microphones, unbalanced signal cables, and more.  

In short, make sure to leave your iPhone off, unless you're a part of the tech team, and if you are, I have a few tricks to show you.  

The most basic is a free SPL meter from Studio Six Digital.  But that's not the half of it.  It's actually only a third of what we'll discuss today.  

One of the most exciting is ProRemote from the folks at Renewed Vision.  If you're a ProPresenter for Mac user, you'll find ProRemote to be invaluable for those times when you want to control the software via wi-fi from either the presenter's hand or from anywhere away from the computer itself.  Pastors, have you ever wanted a remote control so that you could advance your own slides? 

Best of all, this one's just $4.99 and it's available from Apple's AppStore.  iPhone and iPod Touch users are familiar with how to get there.  For more information on ProRemote, please visit Renewed Vision's website.  We don't sell it and don't make a dime for mentioning it. 

And visit our site for more info on ProPresenter for Mac or PC.  The demo software for ProPresenter is free to download and we can get you an activation key to unlock ProPresenter within minutes, during normal business hours. 

Kramer offers three 9-input presentation video switcher/scalers (used to select from cameras, computers, DVD, VCR, etc. for use on your projection screen) with the ability to be controlled by an iPhone app.  The VP-729, VP-730, and VP731 all offer the ability to use your iPhone as a control device.  You can change sources, adjust menu and network control settings, and more.  Neat stuff.  Each has a different set of features, so if you have questions about your specific application, please call for help with product selection. 

There you have it; at least three good reasons to not turn off your iPhone during worship. Don't let your pastor know that I said that it was okay.  A word to the wise; discover Airplane Mode on the phone very quickly.  Do you really need to take calls during worship anyway?  Airplane Mode also keeps an incoming phone call from defeating the iPod app while playing a song, if you're using the iPhone or your iPod Touch during pre-worship, post-worship, or when playing a background track. 

Apple, iPhone, iPod Touch, and other marks are registered to Apple.  Apple gives no endorsement to these products or apps. 


Silence is Golden - No Budget Tip #2

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Silence is Golden.

by Eric Chancey, @BigDaddyDecibel

In the last installment, we talked about how the use of proper microphone (mic) technique yields better results at no additional cost. The combination of mic in the right place will help you achieve great sound.

In today’s “No Budget” tips, we’ll talk about some tricks to help you make things sound better.

Nothing destroys a great sounding mix faster than leaving microphones on when they're not in use, or using a microphone with a pick up pattern that's too wide - consequently picking up all kinds of unwanted material along with the source. Ambient noise is an enemy of great live sound.

Don’t get me wrong; when recording, ambience and spill help create a sense of space and dimension that wouldn’t otherwise exist. In live work, however, ambience and space already exist in your auditorium.   So what is the best place to start to assure better sound? 

Read more: Silence is Golden - No Budget Tip #2


No-Budget Tips to Improving Your Sound

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No-Budget Tips to Improving Your Sound

by Eric Chancey, @BigDaddyDecibel

So, what exactly are “no-budget tips to improving your sound”? This article is the first in a series about making improvements to your audio mix - improvements that don't require you to spend a dime on new gear.  

I realize that these tips may be basic to you but profound to others. Along the way, I'll bet that you find something that you can use.  I hope to add a new tip every week...until I run out!

Today's tip: Mic Placement

The best place to start to improve any sound is at the source, but it’s not always possible to replace a whole drum kit, or a player's favorite instrument. Besides, the challenge of sound reinforcement is to accurately reproduce the sound coming from the instrument.  

Move the microphone around.  

If the sound you are getting isn’t working well for you, the first thing to do is to try moving the microphone around in proximity to the instrument.

For example, if your kick drum doesn’t have enough attack ("click" from the beater), move the microphone closer to the batter head. To deepen the kick sound, move the microphone away from the batter head and you’ll get more low end.  

Warming up or clearing up your vocal sound can be just as easy.  If you have a vocalist whose voice sounds dull... (click the link below to read the rest of the article)

Read more: No-Budget Tips to Improving Your Sound


Go Widescreen!

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Big changes, big benefits - for you!

Over the past few years, the transition to High Definition digital television has had a dramatic impact on technology for worship and presentation settings.  We've seen unprecedented improvements in both video and audio-for-video quality, and we've seen price reductions that make wide-format projectors, switchers, and screens affordable for most churches. 

So what's the fuss about wide-format projection? Should you make the change? If so, why? 

What I hope to explore in this article are the benefits to using wide-format projectors and screens from a practical standpoint.  Current 4:3 standard format video and data projection systems are certainly very good and serve us well. 

Let's talk about four reasons that wide-format systems could be a benefit to you, especially if you're starting from scratch. 

HDTV - It's fairly obvious that most new video content, whether movies or television, is being produced for wide-format 16:9 displays.  New televisions are all 16:9.  New program material shot in 4:3 NTSC video is a thing of the past.

New computer screen resolutions - For years, XGA (1024x768) has been the standard screen resolution for virtually all PCs and Macs.  In just the last couple years, we've begun to see a W added and now have WXGA (1280x800) and other wide-format computer graphics resolutions.  The computer that I'm currently typing on has a native screen resolution of 2560x1440 - which is both 16:9 and beyond-HD resolution.  We frequently see that computer screens are wider in order to accommodate video uses.  1280x800 and 1920x1200 are also common. 

Wider screens are also typically easier to retrofit into older buildings.  Most new worship spaces are designed with video and audio systems in mind.  That hasn't always been the case.  What we find in older buildings are often low ceilings and awkward spaces into which to integrate a screen.  Standard 4:3 screens often have to be installed behind the platform participants, so projected images are consequently blocked from the view at least some of the congregation.  Quite simply, wide-format screens can be mounted higher above the platform floor and offer a greater degree of effectiveness. 

Easier to read - The most important factor that you may not have considered is that wide-format video equipment will allow you to display more words on each line, to use fewer presentation slides and to have more natural line breaks.  Take a look at these images below and you'll see what I mean.  


4:3 Ratio Screens

16:9 Ratio Screens

Notice that phrases break more naturally on longer lines and that the layout becomes much more open, attractive, and easier to read.  

In just the last year or so, prices for wide-format projectors and switchers have come within reach of many churches.  Right now, we have several products that offer you a high-performance yet affordable point of entry to wide-format projection. 

In the realm of projection, the Sanyo PLC-WXU700A is a fantastic choice for a starting point.  With 3800 ANSI lumens, it offers wide-format, lights-on performance on screen sizes large enough for most auditoriums and sanctuaries.  It also features wireless connectivity for those times that you might have a guest presenter with a laptop.  The PLC-WXU700A also allows streaming of motion video to the projector over its 802.11 WiFi connection.  

If you have multiple video sources like DVD, a computer (or two), video cameras, and maybe an old VCR, the Kramer VP-728 will help you keep things straight.  Its scaling function allows you to match the variety of sources to a single output resolution for better consistency.  Your computer, DVD, VCR and potential video camera feeds will be formatted to fit your new screen, even if you have as many different formats as you have sources.

Think of the VP-728 as a format conversion devices to help you make seamless transitions between different devices and one that will keep the "No Signal" blue screens from being a part of your worship time. 

At $2199 for the PLC-WXU700A and $1196 for the VP-728, you'll find that affordable, high-performance equipment is within your reach.  And if it's not, we have other options for smaller screens and less-elaborate set-ups.  Wide format projectors start at $939.95 for use on smaller screens. 

For more information on how to integrate wide-format images into your worship setting, please call for more information.  We're happy to answer questions and to help you get on the road to making the good decisions when faced with the future of the video side of your worship experience. 


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What others say


All the shipments came yesterday! I just want to say how impressed I have been of your customer service. It has been great working with you and I plan to continue buying from you in the future and will recommend you to any church looking to buy equipment.

As always thanks for your time,

Steven Teters