Since this is my first installment of “Houses of the Holy”, I feel that some introductions are in order. For those of you who already know me (or something about me), it is nice to know that you are reading this column. If you have never heard of (or read) me, I will give you my short resume.
To start with; I have been involved with live music, sound systems and music production for more than 30 years. During that time I have either performed in or mixed more than 3,000 live events. I have not been a believer for quite that long. I met God on the Ipanema beach in Rio de Janiero Brazil about 25 years ago. I realize that most guys meet Brazilian girls on Brazilian beaches but God happened to be there and He wanted to talk with me. The actual story is kind of long but rather interesting. Maybe I will write about it one day.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand, I began writing about 16 years ago for my editor and longtime friend Bill Evans. (What Jamie is leaving out is that we were both 16 years old at the time. No. Really.-b) It was at about that same time that I began installing sound systems and mixing at houses of worship. Eleven years ago I formed RioDeluxe Audio Inc. for the purpose of live sound mixing and sound system installation. There have been a lot of advancements in the world of worship sound and live sound in general during the last eleven years. For that matter there have been a lot of advancements in my audio life during those years. So, “Houses of the Holy” will be a forum where I intend on sharing with you some of the many things I have learned about house of worship sound along with some of the things I have learned about God over the years.
By the way, you do not have to have the same spiritual beliefs as I do in order to read this column. I really don’t care what you believe in. It’s not that I am ambivalent to your particular religious path. It is just that ultimately we are all people. How we interact with each other speaks much louder about our beliefs that who we claim our God is.
There is one other thing I want to mention. It is important to me that I hear from you. You and your particular house of worship are unique. No two buildings have the same physical characteristics or sound qualities. For that matter, not every technician mixes exactly the same way, or hears exactly the same. So, the more I hear from you, the more I can learn what is happing in houses of worship across our country and ultimately do my job better.
So, you should now have some idea about who I am and what I do. Now, let me tell you how I approach the business of house of worship audio system installation and live sound mixing.
I base the foundation of my work on frequency identification. What I mean is that when I walk into a worship house I begin to listen to the room. What are the frequency characteristics when no amplified sound is present? What materials were used in the construction of the building. How many windows and doors are there? What are the seats or pews made of. Are the ceilings high or low?
Next, what does the room sound like when audio is introduced into it? What frequencies are accentuated or diminished? What frequencies (if any) are reflected in the room? I realize that you can find a dozen different frequency analyzing devices, programs for your laptop or apps for your iPhone and Android but before I break out the equipment, I can tell the general pluses and minuses of any room with just my God-given ears. My abilities are not unique. It comes from listening and learning to identify audio frequencies. Any of you can learn this particular skill and I think you all should.
Let’s move from the worship room to the worship stage. What if you are experiencing feedback in a floor wedge monitor? You can use your ears to identify what frequencies are feeding back or you can pull out your laptop and reference microphone. Both will work but only one will make you look like a competent sound tech. I know of lot of churches use in-ears for all stage monitoring but it is still very important to be able to quickly pick out the annoying frequencies from a mix and remove them. Or be able to add missing frequencies to a mix. That said, you can see that I put a lot of value into ear training. So, during my writings I will constantly point readers to the value of being able to accurately and quickly isolate any frequency in they may hear.
I will also try to make a distinction between those of you who volunteer as sound technicians for your house of worship and those who are paid for their audio efforts. In many ways we both do exactly the same work, but many of us are tied to only one worship house while those of us who do this type of work for all or part of our living want to be associated with as many houses of worship as possible. The point is that during our discussions I will make very clear distinctions between the role of a volunteer and a professional sound contractor.
And lastly I will spend some of my writing time reminding all of us in this biz that we truly serve a higher power. And very often that means that there is a higher expectation on how well we will perform our tasks. For myself, I make the job, gig, and event or show that I am working on at the moment the most important one of my career. If all our work is done at 100% then we will never have any real regrets. That doesn’t mean that I have not had some spectacular failures, but win or fail I give it everything I’ve got and you should too. Till next month…
Audiofile Engineering Releases Quiztones iOS App
Ear training App for better recording, mixing, and live sound
Audiofile Engineering, creators of professional audio software for Mac OS X and iOS, have recently acquired Quiztones (Frequency Identification Ear Trainer), an ear training application for audio professionals and musicians, and released it as an App for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Quiztones founder Dan Comerchero joins Audiofile Engineering as a Product Manager.
Quiztones is designed to train the ears to instantly and intuitively recognize frequencies. This is useful for tasks like mixing, adjusting EQ settings, and identifying and eliminating feedback.
“As musicians and audio professionals, we spend a great deal of time analyzing frequencies, whether we’re adjusting them for a good mix in the studio, or trying to get rid of feedback on stage,” said Comerchero. “Ear training with Quiztones can make this a lot faster and easier by eliminating trial and error methods of frequency identification such as sweeping.”