Do you do AV at your church or other group events?

A few months ago joined the AV team at my church and have slowly become more comfortable with the equipment. We don't have anybody that really qualifies as a "pro" but some are certainly better at it than others. The majority of us are engineers that are not scared to push buttons, but it seems we all have a slightly different way to handle things. I have no previous experience with this type of equipment and am slowly figuring out better ways to set things up. Last weekend they guy running the board had a microphone so "hot" trying to pick up a flute and violin that were standing back from it that I could almost see the glo around it. I was just waiting for the horrible reverb screech to happen. I was on this week and was very careful to bring the house volume up a little more than normal in an effort to minimize the gain on the various microphones.

Does anyone have any general tips and/or recommendation on how to maximize the sound quality. The equipment is adequate, but I'd love to upgrade it a notch or two if the funds were available. I may have to donate some microphone cords just to have a matching set.

Considering the audio equipment that I own personally, I figured it would be horribly selfish for me to not join the AV team since they can always use another person in the rotation.
First let me say congrats for donating your time & experience to do God's work. I've been a member of our tech team for almost 10 years & before that I was a soundman for a rock band back in the 70's.

The gear we have at the church is top notch-EAW suspended L/C/R & subs, 8' stack of amps, Crest board... The room has non-parallel walls & 4 rows of clouds. The soundguys all run it the way they want when it comes to EQ & effects but overall we all strive to set the gain structure first to allow plenty of headroom, which has to be the beginning of a good mix.

I'm of the school of thought when there are EQ issues, either between instruments, wireless mics or vocals, I'd rather cut the offending freq than boost a complimentary one. I've also been very lucky in that our tech staff includes a very savvy & knowledgeable fellow, from whom I have learned quite a bit, even after yrs. doing this. I try to keep an open mind when it comes to mixing and have also started learning mixbuss.

So, to be specific about your query, a lot of problems are created by the monitor mix. Wait, let me back up a bit. You mention you may have to donate some cables. The first thing I would do is check all the cables for continuity & shorts. Include the mics in this. I'm guessing M-57's & 58's? Those little wires break sometimes, esp. if the connector gets loose. I keep some spares here at the house when one goes bad 'cause they get lost on the tech deck. Also, if the mics don't stay in place from week to week it's a good idea to store them in a quality case. Doesn't have to be a hard core road case but something with foam to protect them. For the cables, make sure shielded are used where shielded needs to be & that they are indeed grounded properly. An inexpensive cable tester (like the Behringer CT100 is much quicker & easier to use than a multi-meter.

Pro cables are sturdy but need to be coiled to avoid breaks-just like home audio gear. Maybe take charge of this & the other equipment procedures. AC needs to be checked for polarity, which includes the house AC too. I went to seminars back in the 70's which stressed this & sometimes you have to run an extension cord from the kitchen. Dimmers/fluorescent bulbs will almost always introduce buzz.

Additionally, you might want to get the manuals for the gear to make sure it is connected & set-up correctly. I would also look at all the connections themselves between the amps, spkrs & board, etc.

This is by no means a comprehensive list but some things I've thought of that can give you a place to start. I have at least 1,500 hrs. on this system & continue to learn every time I run sound, be it w/the wireless system, the effects (TC electronics M-1, which is great) and so on.

Oh, I want to go back to the gain settings. It's not just the gain on the board but the amp settings. This is why it is important to find out what the amps are & how they interface w/spkrs. Sites like this might help

If you have practice sessions try & run it like you would during the service. If not & it's practical, try & have practice. I feel it's as much for the tech team as it is for the music team & you'll be able to try different settings, which translates into a better service.

***Don't forget to take charge when it comes to positioning gear, mics, monitors, etc. In the case of the flute/violin, you need to position them closer to the mic to avoid feedback.

Good luck w/your work-hope it goes well!
Driver - Sounds like your church is far more advanced than mine. For giggles, here's the list of the main equipment that we have:

MIDAS Venice 240 (soundboard)
Alesis MidiVerb 4 (processor)
EV Dx38 (processor)
Europower EP2500 (stereo amplifiers x2, 1200 wpc)
University Sound Model 9006 (amplifier x1, 60 wpc)
EV main speakers (unknown model)

I have no idea about the microphone specifics other than we have two new wireless Sennheiser's. The cables that we have are a mixed batch, but all seem to work fine.

The only big issue that I know of is that there is one cable in the setup that needs to be replaced as it causes some background noise from time to time as the connection gets bumped. I don't think anyone knows exactly which cable is causing the problem, but I think we can narrow it down to at least one piece of equipment. I had do so some wiggling this past weekend to get things to quiet down, but had to do it with the system off since people were using the space at the time and I didn't want to annoy them.

Let me know what you think of the equipment. I'm sure it was purchased with the best of intentions by people without any real knowledge about the equipment and a goal of minimizing cost.
I'm unfamiliar w/the amps. Ran EV back in the 70's & still like them. Alesis is a good product.

Looked at the mixer on-line & it seems to be capable but is somewhat limiting. If I looked at the correct manual, you only have 2 monitor sends & but have 4 busses. With 4 you can separate drums/instruments/vocals/wireless, which is really all you need. Having 2 monitors just means they'll have to share. A drum shield (if you don't have one) is a big help, as it especially keeps the cymbals from overpowering the drum mix. A hard hitting drummer can make the cymbals cut through everything-ouch!

Having some headphones at the board will help isolate things you can't quite pinpoint listening to the PA. Senn 280 are good all around console cans that are affordable. Our church has a set of those & I keep them on the recorder & bring my ATH for the board. They're not as flat but are more representative of what the PA sounds like.

Mics make a huge difference in the sound & I won't get into them too much except to say if you can get Shure Beta 58's for vocals you won't have any problems there. 57's work great for instruments & drums. Go direct w/bass & keys.

It seems like every week there's a ground loop or cable malfunction & it's an ongoing process. Most of the musicians bring their own cabinet & heads & some of the drummers bring their own cymbals. We rarely keep the same stage set-up except for the drums but it's a semi-permanent installation, so we just plug into the boxes on stage instead of running a snake, which makes things so much easier (& quicker) to change.

The way I like to set up the board is start w/the drums on the left & then the instruments across the stage then the vocals across the stage. It makes it easier to find the channel you're looking for. I also try & keep my eyes on the band when they're playing so I can follow leads, etc. I just have my finger on the slider waiting. Sometimes I have to follow a singer w/the fader, as some don't have that good of control over mic positioning and/or vocal awareness.

If you have a music director it's important to have a rapport w/him or her so you can relay some of the "touchy" points to them-as it's their job to direct the musicians. It's not my job (or place) to tell a singer how to hold a mic, unless I'm asked. This isn't the same thing I mentioned in my previous reply about placing instruments, as some musicians have little stage experience & don't know much about it or never learned where to stand in the first place. Also, sometimes you have to ask them to turn their amps up or down or maybe ask the keyboardist to play both the loud & soft patches.

To go off on a tangent briefly, I've worked w/a few local bands & after continually asking the band leader to have the lead guitarist turn down his amp, I told him I would never mix for them again while this fellow was in the band. There's just no way you can overcome someone who wants to play over the top of everybody all night long.

One of the things I really enjoy about working w/the church is that everybody leaves their ego at the door. It's so much easier!

Oh, one other thing I wanted to elaborate on was you have to have control over the stage volume to a point. You might have to reposition amps, etc. so they don't blow out the folks sitting right in front of them. Always walk around the auditorium while the band is playing to get a sense of the balance & how it sounds in all areas of the room. Make your adj. then go back on the floor & listen. That way you'll be confident at the board even though it might sound different than when you were walking around but you'll understand the difference between being in the seats & at the board.
That's a lot of great information to keep in mind. Thanks for the feedback on the equipment.

For clarification, a normal AV setup at my church involves four microphones for singers and sometimes one or two guitars plugged into the system. It's really a simply setup most of the time, but I still want to learn as much as I can to makes sure I maximize what I can with what we have.

On of the most difficult things to figure out is the right level on the monitors since they can't be heard from the soundboard. We had one event where it got turned up to the point of overpowering the main speakers and it took a minute to figure out where the sound was coming from.
Yep, the monitors can be a problem. Your musicians have to communicate to you the levels they need but you should also make a trip to the stage to verify they aren't too loud (or not loud enough).

With that kind of set-up you should have a good balance that doesn't need to run at concert levels.

Do experiment w/different settings, eq, effects & so on. Mic positioning from the monitors, monitors from the edge of the stage & so on.

You might want to check out some basic pro audio mixing books. They get you pointed in the right direction, like what freqs to start off with, gain structure & so on.
I'd also like to express my appreciation for being involved - THANK YOU!

In keeping with everything else we do, our church has a more than modest A/V system, in both the church itself and the parish hall we meet in after Mass. While we don't have spectacular gear, it's more than adequate. At our annual meeting last week, we discovered that just as things have been over the past several years, our fiscal restraint kept us in the black for 2010, and we continue on in our journey, doing what we believe important.

My father is very involved in two other parishes, and has put together the whole system at one of them, and upgraded the other. I worked with him to source the components, and in purchasing used and judiciously, he's been complimented about the quality exceeding the expected.
I purchased some microphone cables from and they arrived last night. I got home extremely late so I only had time to cut the packaging and get them ready to deliver to the church tonight (was going for a practice anyways). They appear to have solid construction and are very flexible. The outer surface is an interesting material that I can't identify. I can understand the reviews about flexibility and one "compliant" that they collected fuzz when laying on carpet. It'll be nice to have a matching set of cords so that I don't have to sort through the misc. stack on a regular basis.