Provide Assistive Listening Systems

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Provide Assistive Listening Systems (ALS) for your congregation and let people know that they’re available

Many churches have ALS on premises, but very few let people know that they’re available.  I’ll admit that ALS may well be the most boring category of product that we offer, but let me tell you about my own experience.  A few years ago, my own church decided to install an ALS system.  The church leadership debated its merits and whether it “was worth it to spend $800 on something that people may not use.”  I’ll bet that sounds familiar to some of you. 

The first day of use, we passed out just one of the four receivers to Mr. Borton, a 92-year-old man in the congregation who already wore hearing aids in both ears, but still couldn’t hear well.  Our pastor had prepared well, our worship team was well-rehearsed, and the audio mix was, of course, spectacular with Yours Truly at the helm.  None of that mattered. 

For at least a couple years, Mr. Borton had been so deaf that he never picked up more than an occasional word, despite hearing aids, a good sound system, and sitting on the third row.  A person had to almost yell at him in order for him to hear anything at all. 

This day was different, and Mr. Borton’s first reaction is known only to the members of our choir who witnessed it.  Before the choir’s featured song, the pastor called the children up to the platform to share a story.  Only the choir members could see Mr. Borton’s face light up and his eyes dart back and forth as he followed what was taking place on the platform.  After the service, he gave me a huge smile, a thumbs up, and each week after that, I looked forward to his stopping by to pick up his receiver and earphones.  We got our “$800 worth” during the first service. 

Have you ever listened to a hearing aid?  I tried one once, and it was enough to make me realize that amplifying all of the noise in the room just makes the clutter louder. 

How does an ALS work differently?  An ALS is a simple one-way radio transmitter/receiver combination that allows the wearer to hear only what you want the person to hear. 

Imagine giving your members the ability to hear only the overall message itself without having to amplify the HVAC fans, the ambience of the room, paper rattling and pages turning, or even the people talking nearby.  That’s exactly what an ALS offers.  Any signal that you can select from your mixer (same as the speakers, a special mix, or the pastor’s voice only) can be routed into the ALS with a simple cable. 

Without a doubt, our ALS was the best $800 our church has ever spent on technology. If it had made a difference for Mr. Borton for only one service, it would have still been worth every penny. 

ALS can also be utilized for language translation, by your ushers, and for room-to-room distributed audio for nursery and overflow space – wirelessly.  Call for more information today. 

Listen Technologies Systems from $767.99 (four users)


Can your sound technician hear what the congregation hears?

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That question seems like it should have an obvious answer, right?  Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

For years, we've debated with architects, church building committees and just about everyone else (except the sound technician) when it comes to choosing the location for the sound booth.  From mixing week in and week out, sound technicians understand where the sound system controls need to be, but because even building design experts don't "get it," your sound technician is very likely listening from the worst seat in the house.  That doesn't make much sense, does it?

Rule  #1 - when picking a location for your sound booth, make sure that the sound quality and general volume level at the sound booth is the same as it is in the sanctuary itself.

Rule #2 - forget any other ideas that you have.

It's just about that simple.

I can't tell you how many times I've visited a church only to find the sound system controls in an unused balcony, against the back wall in a corner, enclosed in "control room" with a window, in its own little cubbyhole "out of the way" or even completely outside the sanctuary itself.  Think about it.  If you expect good sound (and all of us do) and if you want to make sure that the microphones get turned on at the right time, make sure that you don't make the mistake of putting your sound technician someplace that he or she can't hear (or see) well.

Unused balconies may make convenient and semi-secure locations, but if your sound technician has to run up and down the stairs to make sure that things sound good for the rest of the congregtion, doesn't it make sense that he or she shouldn't be there in the first place?

Bass frequencies build up against walls and in corners.  If you wonder why the system sounds "thin" in most of the auditorium, it's probably because the sound technician hears more bass where he or she is sitting due to the nearby walls.

Please don't put your sound technician in a "control room."  Yes, it's secure, but your sound technician needs to be a part of the worship service in order to participate, to keep from being distracted, and to hear what the rest of the congregation hears.  I've even been to churches where the system controls are outside the sanctuary entirely.  Think about that.  How can anyone possibly control the sound for a room that they're not physically inside?

Effective sound system operation is the key to having a "successful" worship service.  If your sound technicians are asking to be moved into the main sanctuary, away from the back wall, out of a "control room" that the architect designed, or any other suggestion, please listen.  Getting God's message to your congregation depends on your tech team being equipped to do its job well.


Finding the Ultimate Kick Drum Microphone!

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by Eric Chancey, @BigDaddyDecibel

One could say that the kick drum (bass drum) sound is the signature of any song.  Rap, Rock, Jazz, R&B all have distinctive kick drum sounds that help define those genres. With that in mind, picking the right tool will make creating the sound a lot easier. Here are some tips for making the proper purchasing decision.

Frequency response.

Check the frequency response of the microphone. Do you really need a built-in +12dB boost at 40Hz when doing jazz?  Will a massive 3 kHz boost be helpful for R&B?

You want those built-in curves working for you, not against you.

If you put the second microphone on your kick drum and you don't want all that high end, now you’re in fix-it mode, trying to get the right sound or fighting feedback.

Make sure that you find a microphone that compliments the type of sound you are trying to achieve.  Doing so will save you time and headaches.

Ease of use.

I can hear you now, "Ease of use? It's a microphone, you put it on a stand and stick it in front of something." It's not that easy.

When selecting a kick drum microphone, here are some things to look for.

Read more: Finding the Ultimate Kick Drum Microphone!


Clean My Filters?

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PLC-XC56_2Clean my filters? - Never?!

More often than not when a client calls needing a new lamp (bulb) for his or her projector, or wonders why the lamp didn’t last as long as it might have, I often ask the follow-up question, “Have you cleaned the filters on the machine?” 

“Filters?  I didn’t know this thing had a filter.”  Oops. 

Ongoing filter maintenance is a very important part of keeping your projector cool so that your lamp lasts as long as possible.  I can’t tell you how many times people have called about a bad lamp only to discover that their filters are fully clogged.  Clogged filters force the operating temperature higher and shorten lamp life. 

Cleaning your filters also prevents dust build-up on the LCD panels that causes yellow spots on the projected image and creates a repair that isn’t covered by your warranty. 

Most manufacturers recommend cleaning the filters quarterly, but if your projector is installed 20’ off the ground, how do you gain easy access to get it done? 

Late last year, Sanyo developed its Active Maintenance Filter System (AMFS) to alleviate such issues.  AMFS senses dirty filter material and advances clean material into place automatically for up to 2000 hours of projector operation.  When the filter cartridge expires, a warning appears on the screen that suggests that you change the filter.  At 8 hours of use per week, that filter cartridge should last 4-5 years.  You still have to change the cartridges, but periodic filter cleaning is not required. 

Projectors with AFMS cost a little more than comparable projectors, but if you don’t have to worry about quarterly filter maintenance and you get extra life from the projector lamp, you’ll come out ahead – way ahead. 

Not keeping your filters clean might also cost you a warranty claim since some manufacturers void their warranties, if it’s discovered that you didn’t keep the filters clean. 

Sanyo offers the PLC-XC55 at 3100 ANSI Lumens and the PLC-XC50 at 2600 ANSI Lumens.  Both feature plenty of brightness and great video performance for portable or installed use on screen sizes up to 7.5x10’, depending upon how much light is reflected by your screen. 

If you have questions, please call for more information on selecting a projector for your use.

Sanyo PLC-XC56 LCD Projector 3100 ANSI Lumens XGA       $1119 – shipping included!
Sanyo PLC-XC55 LCD Projector 3100 ANSI Lumens XGA       $1099 – shipping included!
Sanyo PLC-XC50 LCD Projector 2600 ANSI Lumens XGA       $999 – shipping included!

Replacement filter cartridges are $40.  That sure beats climbing up and down ladders or scaffolding for the next 4-5 years, doesn’t it?! 


Get a world-class choir sound!

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If they can’t hear you, what’s the point?

One of the questions I’m asked most often is how to get the best choir sound.  Quite frankly, it’s not easy and you’re typically asking a lot of your sound system to get enough gain before feedback, while getting a great sound. 

Twenty years ago, Audio-Technica introduced its Unipoint hanging microphones and everyone wanted small, invisible microphones and those worked well for stationary choirs.  Today, choirs are mobile with many new churches being built without any sort of permanent choir loft, so the need for invisible, permanently-installed microphones has diminished.  With the new mobility, people have shown a willingness to focus on sound quality first and are selecting large diaphragm microphones. 

Many use large diaphragm condenser microphones, but find them too sensitive, picking up everything from the front row audience to the monitor reflection off the back wall, to the drums, to the guitar amplifiers, etc.  Oh and the choir, too. 

Have you ever felt like that?

Read more: Get a world-class choir sound!


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