by Mike Sessler, ChurchTechArts.org
I hit on a cool trick this past week while putting together our Good Friday service. The last song, Jesus Paid it All, starts off very sparsely then builds to the crescendo of the entire service (before falling away to a single heartbeat and silence).
The first verse is played instrumentally, led by the B3, followed by the first chorus which is sung fairly far off mic. The next verse is led by the sax, with the vocals coming a little closer to the mic for the second chorus. Our worship leader leads the third verse with the chorus being sung right on the mic. It then builds into a refrain of “O praise the One who paid my debt, who raised His life up from the dead.” The song has over 30 dB SPL of dynamic range (starts in the 70s, ends over 100), and I wanted to find a way to emphasize that range.
I decided to create some depth with reverb. The first chorus, sung off mic, was to be the “farthest away.” I set my decay time on the hall reverb (used for the BGVs) to a whole note of the song, in this case 3.2 seconds. I also had an almost equal amount of dry and wet sound in the mix. The second chorus gets closer to the mic, and I dropped the decay time to 2.4 seconds, and pulled back the level of the verb. For the third chorus, I dropped the decay time back to 1.6 seconds, and gradually pulled the level down as the song built.
By the end, I had almost no reverb in the mix and the vocals were right in your face. The ending effect felt like the vocal team started off far, far away and came right into the auditorium in full force. It was a simple effect to do, yet added a ton of dimension to the experience.