Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Electro-Voice Chosen By Pyxis For North Coast Church Installs
Pyxis trusted Electro-Voice manufacturer representative Quantum Sales to help them complete the North Coast Church projects on time.
Six weeks isn’t much time to go from an initial customer inquiry to having PA systems on-site and ready to rig.
However, when Pyxis Industries in Riverside, California was asked by North Coast Church to bid on the design and installation of sound systems at two different locations, owner Chad Costanzo didn’t hesitate.
“These installations had to come together extremely quickly,” Costanzo says.
“But our past experience with Electro-Voice gave us total confidence that everything would work out fine. And it did.”
The vendor that had originally been retained to design and install sound reinforcement systems for the sites had to pull out of the project only two months before opening day at both facilities.
Pyxis got the call from North Coast, and Costanzo went to work with systems engineer Alan DiCato, deciding how to handle the project within the church’s allocated budget.
While the previous provider had already specified designs based on products from a different supplier, Pyxis proposed using an Electro-Voice system instead. “EV has become our go-to manufacturer, because the installs we’ve done with their products have always sounded great right out of the box,” said Costanzo.
“And we also knew that EV and their local rep, Quantum Sales, would be able to assist us in making these tight timelines and staying within budget. Both factors were crucial, because, with that short of a time-frame, any issues we had would be a big problem for everyone.”
Pyxis had the two systems designed, priced, and approved within three weeks. “EV has such a broad line of different boxes that we were able to choose something that fit the application and the price point really well,” said DiCato.
The core elements of both systems are “exploded array” clusters drawn from Electro-Voice’s Xi-series. While the rooms are physically dissimilar — one is rectangular and the other more trapezoidal, and their ceilings are different heights — the clusters are identical except for the angles of the speakers.
“Line arrays would not have been a good choice for these rooms,” said DiCato says. “We didn’t have the ceiling height we would have needed, and in one of the rooms we had an odd shape to cover.”
“The exploded array design allowed us to angle the boxes in each room to get the coverage we needed, and also to use fewer boxes and fewer amps channels to get that coverage, which allowed us to stay within the customer’s budget.”
The clusters combine full-range Xi-1153A/64F three-way, 15-inch, medium-throw loudspeakers and Xi-122MHA/64F ultra-compact, high-output, two-way loudspeakers. “We use the 1153s for longer-throw coverage of the main seating area,” DiCato says, “and the 1122s for front fills and down fills.”
“The Xi boxes sound great without a lot of additional processing,” said Costanzo, “and they are very versatile, so they really cover the multiple uses that are planned for these rooms, from a Sunday church service, to a Friday night concert, to conferences and youth groups during the week.”
“And their waveform shaping gives them really good pattern control all the way down below 500 Hz. That allowed us to aim well and control our cutoffs precisely.”
“We have three down-fills hanging below the main cabinets, directly above the stage, so we needed very good control to get good gain-before-feedback. And we had no issues with that at all.”
The low end for both systems is augmented by three dual-18 Xsubs in concrete bunkers below the stage, while stage monitoring is handled by four TX1122 FM stage wedges at each venue.
“They are a great-sounding monitor at a great price point,” said Costanzo.
Power is provided by Electro-Voice CPS series amplifiers. “The amps have headroom galore,” DiCato says, “so nothing needs to work hard at all.”
Costanzo adds that the CPS amps are “known for their reliability, which is great for the HOW market. They will have the amps for a long time without any failures. They sound great – you really can’t go wrong with them.”
For system control, Pyxis chose an Electro-Voice NetMax N8000-1500 with three added DSP cards. “NetMax is an incredible tool,” DiCato said.
“We’ve looked at other systems, and nothing comes close in terms of flexibility and ease of programming. It was easy to get everything set up because it has a very intuitive user interface.”
Click to enlarge.
“All the cabinet models are right there in the library, so you can you just drag them in from the menu.”
That ease of setup turned out to be critical because Pyxis didn’t gain access to the live venue until the Wednesday before the Sunday opening. “They were still painting the booth and hooking up power,” said Costanzo.
“But it all went together how it was supposed to, and worked the first time. We only made very minor adjustments, and I was able to do that all in real-time, running NetMax and Smaart together on my laptop out in the venue. I could make changes in NetMax and see it respond immediately in Smaart. It was great.”
The NetMax systems also included optional digital I/O cards that allow Pyxis to bring in 96 kHz/24-bit AES EBU digital audio directly from the digital console without any conversion. “We can even pull the NetMax interface up on a Midas console display,” said DiCato.
“So the EV gear works seamlessly with the other products we use, and we had no issue at all with interfacing or compatibility. It was just great to have everything work so well right out of the box.”
Tips On How To Provide Flawless Wedding Audio
Weddings, more than other events, seem to be prone to audio issues. This unique experience must be flawless because you don't get a second chance.
Wedding horror stories abound.
They remain in the memory of the bride and groom (and their families…) and those memories often include anger, frustration, or anxiety.
When something goes wrong in a regular church service, you fix the problem and move on.
People might remember, but it’s usually no big deal.
The difference is that a wedding is a one time event.
I have been asked to run sound for weddings in two different ways. The first is when a friend says “I’m getting married, can you run sound at the wedding?”
The second is when I’m asked by someone in the wedding party or via the church secretary if I am available on a certain date to run sound for a wedding. No matter what the case, I know it’s time to get to work.
Running sound for a wedding can be much different from a church service. A videographer might want to tie into your mixer so he has a better audio track for his video.
Or, you might have to mic an instrumental quartet. Not only might you do things you normally don’t, you are dealing with new people, not to mention a new order of events that will keep you on your toes.
Where the Work Begins…
The most important detail you need, as soon as possible, is the name and phone number for the person in charge of the wedding service. This might be a hired wedding coordinator or the bride’s mother.
What’s important is that you know who they are, how to contact them, and that you are kept in the loop as to what is needed in the wedding and what is expected from you.
Meet with them well before the wedding rehearsal so you have all the information you need. Most importantly, make sure you are available if they have questions.
Once you know who is in charge of the wedding, meet with them to line up the event order and the requirements. This helps you get all your equipment in order, rent any equipment if necessary, and get copies of all pre-recorded audio.
If they have hired a videographer, contact that person and find out what requirements they might have that impacts your work. Ideally, after meeting with all of these people, you will know what you need, and have an order of events so you can plan your work.
An event schedule (order of events) is important because, just like your regular church service, you need to have everything cued up at the right time. I did a wedding once at a far away church I’d never seen.
The CD player was a portable boom box that was patched into the mixer.
While I made it work, cuing up accompaniment songs during the wedding was a pain. Bottom line, when you know what’s coming, you know how to prepare.
Before I forget, you might be handed a few iterations of the event schedule until a final version is secured the night of the rehearsal.
It happens. Each iteration is usually a slight modification of the previous.
The night of the rehearsal, you must be present. The rehearsal time not only is good for the people in the wedding but it’s a great time for you.
You are about to run sound for a one-of-a-kind wedding. A rehearsal gives you a chance to practice.
If you are handed any last minute audio such as a tape or CD, you should play it through completely so you know it works. You can also set your channel levels, do your eq’ing, and deal with the biggest problem I hear in weddings…“I do.”
The phrase “I do” might be the only phrase the bride and groom ever say but it’s the one that is said the most sincerely, the most heart-felt, and the darn quietest!
You have to decide how to mic the bride and groom. There are several options. First, wireless microphones can be a simple solution.
Just make sure you have them turned off when you hear the phrase “you may kiss the bride.” I’m just not a fan of amplified smooching. (of course the two wirelesss mics that close together would cause problems but where is the humor in that?)
Second, place a corded microphone between them. I don’t like this idea because they have to stand in the right place, it stands out on stage, and it can get in the way.
The last option is a handheld wireless microphone. The best man or the pastor can hand it to the couple or hold it in front of them as they speak. If individual wireless isn’t an option, use the last method.
The rehearsal time also gives you a chance to talk with the wedding coordinator if you have questions. Also, it gives you a chance to give a short instruction session on “how to hold a microphone” if required.
Before the Wedding
The day of the wedding, run through a sound check with your microphones and input devices such as a CD player.
Make sure the lapel microphones have been clipped on the people at the right location on their shirt; a fist below their lowered chin.
Also do a video-audio test with the videographer. When the wedding coordinator shows up, meet with them in case anything has been changed.
Show them your copy of the event schedule and have them verify it’s correct.
You don’t want to be running off an older version.
After the Wedding
After the wedding, I wait until all the visitors have left the sanctuary before I start putting up any stage equipment.
I also take down typical onstage equipment such as microphone stands and music stands because that’s where the wedding party will have photographs taken.
Once everything is put away, I hand the wedding coordinator an audio copy of the wedding.
If they have a videographer, I hand it to them instead.
Even if the videographer had an audio patch into the system, a separate audio copy might be helpful. They have their own horror stories.
Finally, I check in with the wedding coordinator. This usually is a simple “I’m done and I’ve put away all the equipment. Do you need anything else?” I’ve never been needed further but it’s best to ask.
But Wait, There’s More
Weddings are ripe for problems of any nature. I don’t know why, they’re just like that. So, you need to plan for emergencies during the wedding. These can include:
A spare wireless microphone behind the pulpit
A spare XLR cable hidden on the stage
A baseball bat to stop any ringing cell phones
A plan if the power goes out
You know, just the usual…
The last one is very important. The wedding coordinator helps with the wedding. You help with the audio. If something happens with the electricity, who is in charge?
We’ve all been to a beautiful summer wedding but storms happen and tornadoes can pop up out of nowhere. Establish who will be in charge.
If the power goes out, does the service go on from the light of the exit lamps? If so, do you have a backup system that powers the sound system?
Usually the pastor for the wedding is the pastor of the church, so they take charge when emergencies occur. However, that’s not always the case, so by knowing who is in charge, emergencies can be managed properly.
In the End
Remember a wedding service is a unique experience between two people. You want the service to be flawless.
You don’t get a second chance.
What Bad Wedding Audio Experiences Have You Witnessed? What Wedding Audio Advice Can You Share? Let us know in the comments below!
Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians. He can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown.
Tech Tip Of The Day: Condenser Or Dynamic?
What's the right choice for live sound? Is there a right choice?
Q: Is a handheld condenser better for live vocals than a standard dynamic mic?
A: There’s not an easy answer to this question, as there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of microphones.
The most noticeable difference will usually be an extended high-frequency response in a condenser microphone when compared to a dynamic, which—in and of itself—most would probably consider “better.” They certainly do have the potential to be more accurate.
However, there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration. With that higher frequency response comes a greater susceptibility to feedback, and condensers may be too sensitive in some live situations.
Condensers typically weren’t considered as durable as dynamics, although that’s not necessarily the case with many of today’s handheld condensers built with the abuse handheld microphones tend to be subjected to in mind.
And of course, just as in the studio, there are certain vocalists that may just sound better with a dynamic microphone than a condenser. The extra bleed some condensers pick up can also be hard to deal with.
On the other hand, there certainly are advantages to condenser microphones in a live situation. Condensers do typically do a better job of reproducing the audible frequencies of the human voice, and many people find that it’s easier to mix a vocal picked up by a condenser than a dynamic.
The improved higher frequency reproduction helps the vocal cut through the mix better, and the engineer may not need to resort to equalization as much. And especially with the number of in-ear monitoring systems out there, vocalists may prefer to hear the detail in their voice that a condenser microphone provides.
As with most of the equipment we deal with, what it really comes down to is that what’s better can depend on a number of factors…the singer, the engineer, the system, the room…and really should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
As always, we welcome input from the PSW community and would love to know your thoughts microphone choice. Feel free to let us know in the comments below!
For more tech tips go to Sweetwater.com
Shure Introduces Multiple New Beta Drum Microphones To The Line
New additions to Beta line offer exceptional sound quality and improved durability in the field.
Shure Incorporated has unveiled new and improved additions to its Beta microphone line.
The newest models include the Beta 91A boundary microphone, Beta 98A miniature instrument microphone, and Beta 98AMP miniature drum microphone.
With quality construction, low handling noise, and high gain before feedback, Shure Beta microphones redefine sensitivity and control for essential, expert sound reinforcement.
All of the new microphones offer high sound quality, while still delivering the same performance standards that users expect from Shure Beta mics.
“We had three goals in mind when we set out to design these new Beta mics,” said Chad Wiggins, Shure’s Category Director for Wired Products.
“To improve sound quality, to improve reliability and durability in the field, and to offer simple, secure mounting and placement.”
“We’ve accomplished all of those goals with these microphones. Engineers will love the functional advantage you get with these mics versus their predecessors.”
The Beta 91A is a half-cardioid condenser boundary microphone for kick-drum and low frequency applications. A new cartridge design provides a smoother, more natural response.
The Beta 91A’s low-profile design, with integrated preamplifier and XLR connector requires no external hardware to maximize setup efficiency while minimizing stage clutter. It also features a low-mid frequency EQ switch that offers additional tonal flexibility.
Rob Mailman, front-of-house engineer for Santana, has been using the Beta 91A for some of his recent performances and said, “I’m certain I’ll use the Beta 91A until I retire.”
The Beta 98A is a miniature cardioid condenser microphone for instrument sound reinforcement and recording applications. High SPL handling makes the Beta 98A ideal for a variety of acoustic or amplified instruments, including drums, piano, reed, wind, and strings.
The newly-designed cartridge features an extremely uniform cardioid polar pattern and provides a natural musical frequency response. It is available in two variations with either a gooseneck drum mount (Beta 98AD/C) or with a stand mount (Beta 98A/C).
“While trying the new Beta 98A prototypes on the last Pretenders U.S. tour,” said front of house engineer Roger Lindsay, “I was delighted to discover that Shure has managed to retain the essential character of the original SM98, which became a benchmark for all drum mics, while also using the latest advances in design and technology to further improve a much-loved model.”
The Beta 98AMP is a new variation of the Beta 98A that combines the new cartridge with a flexible gooseneck and integrated XLR preamplifier.
It ships with the new A75M Universal Microphone Mount for simple, accurate placement in any configuration of toms, snares, or percussion. These new features provide increased control and reduce complexity of setup.
“Because the Beta 98AMP is a new design, we didn’t have a way to clamp it onto a drum,” said Wiggins. “We developed this very small, versatile mount that can be attached or removed in seconds.”
“The A75M has almost infinite adjustability – it’s so universal that we’re also selling it as a standalone accessory. The A75M’s dual-jaw, quick release design offers easy mounting to drums, percussion, drum hardware, and stands.”
Like the other microphones in Shure’s Beta line, such as the new Beta 181 and the Beta 27, these new additions are engineered for superior sound reproduction, low handling noise, and high gain before feedback.
Beta Wired Microphones strengthen all performances, for fine detail in a wide variety of demanding applications and changing environments.
Solid State Logic AWS 900 Chosen In Pinnacle College Upgrade
New Console brings the Sound and Power of SSL to Course Work.
Pinnacle College recently upgraded Studio A at its Los Angeles campus with a Solid State Logic AWS 900 console.
Formerly known as Sound Master Recording Engineer School, one of the first of its kind in the United States, Pinnacle is carrying on the traditions of knowledge and competence by offering students the very best learning experience.
“At Pinnacle we teach the students how things work, not how to work things,” said Francis Buckley, development manager for Pinnacle College.
“We love the SSL AWS 900+ SE because it is a full-on old school analogue console combined with the modern version of the digital audio workstation control surface.”
“It gives us great flexibility because we can use multiple DAW software packages and the AWS controls them all.”
Pinnacle College offers certificate programs in audio engineering and video game sound design. The coursework puts great emphasis on practical, hands-on training anchored on a comprehensive background of theory of sound and music.
Audio engineering courses include Recording Engineer, Post Production Engineer, Mastering Engineer, Audio Mixer, Sound Designer and Producer. Video game sound design courses include Sound Designer, Music Producer, Dialog Recorder, Foley Artist, Music Composer and Music and Sound Mixer.
Because of the varied missions, the choice of the AWS was critical for students going into the workplace.
“The main reason why Pinnacle chose the AWS is because first and foremost, it’s an SSL,” Buckley said. “It looks exactly like the full-scale SSL consoles our students will be interacting with in music studios, post production facilities, Foley/ADR rooms and even remote trucks.”
“The secondary, but just as important, reason was yeah it’s an SSL – a great sounding board with a great company reputation. Thirdly, the AWS provides us with a vehicle from which we can build the foundational knowledge our students need in every discipline we offer.”
“A dedicated controller for one software package can’t provide the range of learning experience the AWS provides.”
“I have been in the industry for over 30 years and I really appreciate how the AWS works AND feels,” Buckley said.
“The AWS makes my job easier as a teacher because it is a genuine analogue recording console. The AWS lets us teach the basics so our students can operate any console.”
“It is also great from the teacher’s perspective because we know what good audio sounds like and the AWS, as expected from any SSL product, sounds great. Any session we do on this console could be released to the public because the baseline sound is the best in the industry.”
Solid State Logic Website
QSC Audio Founder Pat Quilter Featured Panelist At AES
Quilter to offer insights on Earth-friendly audio deployment methods and manufacturing challenges faced in today’s global economy.
QSC Audio Products, LLC is pleased to announce that company founder Pat Quilter will be a featured panelist at the upcoming 129th AES Convention held in San Francisco.
Quilter is scheduled to appear at “The Greening of Live Audio for Medium and Small Operators” live sound seminar held on Thursday, November 4 and the “Audio Manufacturing in a Global Economy” product design seminar held on Sunday, November 7.
“It’s an honor to be asked to share my insights, trials and conclusions with those who make up our audio professional community,” said Quilter, Chairman of the Board, QHI Holdings, Inc.
“The world of professional audio has changed tremendously over the past decades. We’re confronting a myriad of technological, logistical, economic and environmental issues today that 30 years ago could not have been fully anticipated.”
Quilter’s first panel discussion will focus on environmentally sustainable audio production practices with consideration given to reducing environmental impact through reduced power draw, decreased transportation, and labor costs.
His second panel discussion confronts the issue of how manufacturing in today’s global economy has affected the audio field from a number of perspectives including: economics, quality, and innovation.
The 129th AES Convention will be held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center from November 4 thru November 7, 2010.
QSC Audio Website
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
ENTASYS Selected For Elementary School Multi-Purpose Room
The ENTASYS system helped to create a versatile performance space within an average multi-purpose space.
One of the busiest places in Ocean Road Elementary School is the multi-purpose room.
Hosting everything from lunch periods to presentations and performances, the “cafetorium” is a non-stop hub of activity from before classes begin until late into the evening.
It’s an open, acoustically live space that’s designed more for versatility and utility than for sonic performance. Crowds of kids and a loud HVAC system contribute to the room’s typically high ambient noise levels.
School officials were unhappy with the performance of their present sound system, and needed a system that would be effective and versatile enough to perform daily for announcements, after school programs, and a range of music and theatrical events.
“We had installed a Community Veris system Nellie Bennett Elementary, another school in the Point Pleasant Borough School District, and when the folks at Ocean Road heard it they asked us to come demo a system for them,” says Joe DiSabatino of Chews Landing, NJ-based JD Sound and Video.
“We set up an ENTASYS as well, and they were just amazed with the quality They wanted us to install it immediately.”
The system is configured as one ENTASYS full-range column and one ENTASYS low frequency column per side. A pair of VERIS 212 subwoofers are mounted on custom brackets above the ENTASYS.
“The ENTASYS systems deliver great spoken word intelligibility, and even with all the microphones open, the kids can walk right by the columns and get no feedback.” Crown XT-series amps power the system.
“Everyone is extremely impressed with the system,” DiSabatino continues. “The kids can stand on choir risers right in front of the columns and not be blasted out, while the parents all the way in the back can hear their sons and daughters loud and clear.”
“And the VERIS subs add a nice, smooth bottom end, which is great during movie days.”
Community Professional Website
Hartselle Church Congregants Rely On Iconyx
The Hartselle Church of Christ chose Iconyx to combat several unforseen challenges created by the pristine architecture of the church.
Hartselle Church of Christ which boasts beautiful, inspirational architecture featuring high ceilings and ornate brickwork, i’s an impressive looking sanctuary..
However, that same architecture created some unforeseen challenges. As Christopher Bragg, Senior Systems Engineer at Covington, GA-based Messenger Media Systems Inc., explains, the room’s acoustic signature did not lend itself to getting the message across to the congregation.
“It’s a very wide room, and very reflective,” says Bragg.
“As a traditional Church of Christ, their service is very much centered around the spoken word. And while those brick walls look great, they can create problems with intelligibility, making it difficult to clearly discern what’s being said.”
The reflective nature of the space called for a highly focused loudspeaker system that offered powerful beamwidth control, and Renkus-Heinz’s Iconyx digitally steerable array system fit the bill. “When I walked in the room, I knew immediately that Iconyx was the only option,” says Bragg.
A pair of Iconyx IC16/8-R loudspeakers are installed into custom soffits on either side of the proscenium. As Bragg explains, the Iconyx’s low-profile design also addressed the church’s concerns for minimal visibility.
“Aesthetics were of the utmost importance,” says Bragg. “They did not want to see the speakers.”
“We worked with the architect, and had them leave an opening in the brickwork on either side of the proscenium. The Iconyx fit in perfectly, and we put a bit of standard molding around it. It looks terrific.”
A pair of CFX81 compact 8-inch two-way loudspeakers, mounted behind a small façade, provide side fill, and two Sygma-Series SGX41 4-inch two-way boxes are installed at the rear wall for the sound booth.
“We’ve received lots of compliments on the sound quality,” he says. “The sound is clear, natural and articulate to every seat in the house.”
Rechargeable Batteries - Why You’ve Been Burned
If the last rechargeable's you tried were a $10 K-Mart special maybe it's time to give serious batteries a chance.
One of the most fascinating topics I’ve ever written about has to be rechargeable batteries.
I’ve tweeted about and read countless comment threads on the topic and there seems to be three camps of people in the rechargeable battery debate.
The first group has used them for years, loves them and wouldn’t consider going back to alkaline batteries.
The second group has never used them, though most have heard the horror stories and are leery. The third group has tried them, and had bad experiences.
The phrase, “I’ve been burned too many times, I’ll never trust them,” has been thrown around dozens of times just in the last few weeks. This article is for the second and third groups.
If you’ve been burned, I’m going to explain why, and if you’ve heard the stories, I’ll show you how to avoid them.
By way of introduction, know that I have been using rechargeable batteries in wireless mics (and a lot of other stuff) for almost four years. I’ve tested them, and have gone through hundreds of services using rechargeable batteries without a problem.
Yes, hundreds of services. Far too many people have one bad experience, don’t investigate the cause and swear them off. The fact is, I’ve had just as many ProCells die on me at the wrong time as I have rechargeable cells–and in each case, it was always been my fault—I simply forgot to change them.
There are four things you need to know in order to get the most out of rechargeable batteries. Failing to understand and implement these things will guarantee bad experiences. However, trying to stretch a ProCell for 2 weekends worth of services is a bad idea, too.
Keep in mind that rechargeable batteries behave differently than alkalines. Expecting them to be the same will only frustrate you. However, follow these guidelines and you’ll have great success; and save a ton of money.
Use Good Batteries
This is one of the key factors in getting good results. A lot of people went down to K-Mart 10 years ago, picked up a $10 pack of four NiCd AAs and a charger, tried them in their mics and went down in flames. That explains 50% of the “bad experiences.”
To use rechargeable batteries in wireless mics, you need to use a more modern chemistry, Nickel Metal Hydride, or NiMh. The batteries need to be rated for at least 2000 mAh (I like 2500 and higher). mAh stands for milliamp hours and is provides a guide as to how much energy the battery can store.
If you pull open your junk drawer and find a bunch of 1300 mAh NiMh batteries that are 5+ years old, that may explain the other 50% of the “been burned” statements.
A ProCell is rated for somewhere around 1800 mAh. The modern, high quality batteries from Sanyo, Powerex and Ansmann (with ratings from 2700-2850 mAh) absolutely blow ProCells away; as I’ll show you in an upcoming series of test results.
Even a 4-year old Ansmann 2700 beats a ProCell by almost 4 hours. And these newer batteries are rated for between 500-1000 charge cycles. Figuring one or two cycles a weekend, that could easily mean 5 years or more on one set, provided they are taken care of.
If your experience with rechargeable batteries does not include these newer batteries, you simply don’t have enough experience to make an informed decision.
So good batteries are important, but there is another component.
The second key component to proper use of NiMh batteries is the proper use of a good charger.
Using a cheap “rapid” charger will not fully charge the cells, will overheat them and shorten their life.
Modern, smart chargers are readily available, easily affordable and will charge the batteries at the correct rate to fully charge them, while avoiding over-heating.
They will then switch to a trickle charge mode to keep them at peak capacity.
So what is a “proper charge rate?” Most battery manufacturers recommend a charge rate that is between 0.5-1.0c. That is to say, the charge rate should be one half to full capacity of the battery.
So, if a battery is rated at 2000 mAh, the recommended charge rate would be 1000 mAh, and max charge rate 2000 mAh. A full charge will take from 1-2 hours at those rates, respectively.
If you have the time and want to extend the life of the cell, charge at .25c. Sanyo recommends a charge rate between 300-500 mAh for their Eneloops (rated at 2000 mAh). Charging at those rates will give you somewhere between 500-1000 cycles, according to Sanyo. The other batteries I tested have similar ratings.
Personally, I like chargers from BTI, Maha or Ansmann; especially the ones that have selectable “soft” charge rates. I buy enough batteries that I can spend 4 hours charging them, so I charge at 500 mAh. Once the batteries are well charged, it’s important to know how to utilize them properly. And that brings us to…
Proper Cycling of Batteries
To ensure good results (“good” defined as the mic not dying mid-service), it’s important to use the batteries properly. Fully charged batteries should always go straight from the charger to the mic. Once the charger is empty, it should be re-filled with another set of batteries.
When the service or event is ended, remove the batteries from the mics, and charge. If you have enough charging bays, you can simply alternate from one set to another. However you do it, you always want to go from charger to mic.
The reason is that NiMh batteries will self-discharge over a period of 30-60 days. So while you may not lose a lot of capacity from Sunday to Saturday, you’ll be down 10-20% or so. Why push it? Go straight from charger to mic, and charge immediately afterward. Keep a set on the charger all week and you’ll always have fully charged batteries to work with.
Some are concerned about the “memory effect,” the loss of capacity that happens when NiCd cells are recharged before being fully depleted. NiMh cells have no significant memory effect, so charge them when you’re done using them. Don’t stretch them farther than needed.
Good chargers include a refresh cycle that will fully discharge each cell, then fully charge it again. It’s a good practice to do this every 3-4 months. This procedure will prolong the battery’s life and ensure top performance.
Understanding Discharge Curves
Another main factor in the “I’ve been burned” phenomena is the different discharge curves between an alkaline and NiMh battery. An alkaline battery drops off in a pretty linear fashion.
A NiMh, on the other hand, quickly drops from full voltage to something less than that and holds there for a long time. When it drops off, it drops of the cliff very quickly.
Most battery meters in wireless mics are calibrated to the discharge curve of an alkaline battery. As the voltage drops off, the meter can predict approximately how long the battery is likely to last.
However, with a NiMh, the voltage holds, then falls off very quickly. This is why it’s not uncommon to see a NiMh battery go from 4 bars to 0 in 5 minutes. The meter has no idea how to know where the battery is.
Some newer mics have battery meters that can be switched between alkaline and NiMh (the Shure UHF-R does for sure), and those can be a help.
Discharge curve of the Eneloop (blue), a Sanyo NiMh (black) and an Alkaline (pink). I grabbed this from Sanyo’s Eneloop website.
However, there’s still no substitute for doing some testing and finding out how long they last in your mics.
Once determined, you know how often you need to change them, regardless of meter reading.
For example, I know that the Powerex and Sanyo 2700 mAh batteries will run a good 12-14 hours in our mics. So, I can feel confident putting them in Saturday afternoon for rehearsal and letting them run through end of service (about 4.5 hours total).
I can then put in a fresh set Sunday morning and be fine through the end (about 5 hours total). I don’t expect to ever have one go down, unless it’s a fluke. But again, that happens with ProCells, too.
Those are some basic principles for the proper care and feeding of NiMh batteries.
If you haven’t tried them lately, you should really give them a chance.
Are you a fan of rechargeable batteries? Have you recently switched? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike Sessler is the Technical Director at Coast Hills Community Church in Aliso Viejo, CA. He has been involved in live production for over 20 years and is the author of the blog, Church Tech Arts . He also hosts a weekly podcast called Church Tech Weekly on the TechArtsNetwork.
Harman Professional Appoints John Goodrich Global Sales Manager For Mass Communications
Goodrich to provide systems integrators and clients in the mass communications vertical market with specialized attention, support and programs.
Harman Professional has announced the appointment of John Goodrich to the newly created position of Global Sales Manager for Mass Communications.
Goodrich joins Harman Professional from Altel Systems Group, where he was Vice President of Business Development, leading the development of integrated audio/visual and communication systems for the airport, mass transit, and hospitality industries.
He previously held senior sales and business development roles at Meyer Sound Labs and Innovative Electronic Designs (IED).
In his new role, he will report to Michael MacDonald, Harman Professional Executive Vice President of Marketing & Sales, and will be responsible for developing Harman Professional’s presence in the mass communications market.
According to Michael MacDonald, John Goodrich’s appointment marks an important strategic step by Harman Professional to grow its business and provide customers in a host of vertical markets with a higher expectation level for audio performance and integration. “In some verticals audio has been commoditized and as a result communication has suffered,” said MacDonald.
“Harman Professional brings professional-grade systems that are proven at the highest performance level but designed to suit the needs of mass communication and other verticals. John Goodrich is the person to bring these systems to market; to work with integration partners, end-users and our own product designers to ensure that we enable better sound in more places than ever before imaginable.”
“Harman Professional’s dual strength in systems integration and audio performance presents a compelling opportunity to integrators and their clients in mass communications,” said John Goodrich.
“I look forward to working with Harman’s design teams and with our customers to advancing public address audio for communication, entertainment and life safety in the domestic and international markets.”
Earlier this year at the 2010 InfoComm Expo, Harman Professional launched a partnership with information display and paging specialist Com-Net Software to launch a series of new communication technologies starting with the co-branded IDX Information Delivery Systems.
The IDX System couples Harman’s Crown CTs, BSS London and HiQnet technologies on the back end with Com-Net Software ECLIPSX Flight Information Display System or ECLIPSX Transit Information Display System at the front end. The combined result is great sounding, highly reliable audio networks with application-engineered interface and control in a versatile, cost-efficient package.
“IDX is remarkable,” Goodrich said. “I applaud Harman for not seeking to reinvent the wheel on the front-end software and interface but instead integrating a high-performing, back-end audio network with a proven mass communications system and interface from Com-Net.”
“Its is literally and comprehensively the best of both worlds and I am very excited to be involved!”
Harman Professional Website
Tech Tip Of The Day: Recording Vocals
The information you need to have a successful vocal session.
This Tech Tip Of The Day come to you in editorial form because we wanted to tackle one of the more difficult recording issues faced by engineers, whether a seasoned pro or a project studio newbie, recording vocals.
This job requires musical knowledge, technical expertise, possession of (or at least an awareness of) microphones, preamps and mixers, and a solid grounding in the psychology of performance.
However, we’re going to leave most of the equipment-related information for another time. This time out we’re discussing some equally important details.
Before you ever hang a microphone or move a fader, you must know your vocalist! You need to have a handle on his/her musical characteristics (pitch, range and timbre), technological skills (microphone technique, use of processing gear) and psychological needs (does he/she work well under pressure or need special encouragement?).
Even if you are recording your own band, take time to re-think the vocalists’ roles and requirements. This can save you hours of frustration and tons of hard feelings as your recording progresses!
There are a number of steps you can take to attain this knowledge. First, find any opportunity you can to listen to the performer in advance. It’s particularly helpful to hear them doing the songs you plan to record!
If the performer has a previous CD or even a demo tape, borrow and copy it for study. Or go see the group perform live and take notes. Even in an acoustically challenged club you can learn a great deal.
Focus on the lead vocalist: what’s his/her range (lowest practical pitch to highest)? Does he/she strain to reach the song’s high notes? If so you might suggest a key change before recording.
Is he/she “eating” the mic - e.g., using the proximity effect to enhance bass response on low-to-midrange notes? This can be a difficult habit to change and may lead to some careful jockeying of the vocalist and the mic in the studio.
How does the lead vocal “sit” in the mix? Is it out in front of the band (the case with much pop material) or does it blend more like another instrument in the overall sound (often an element of hard rock, metal or post-punk)? Is this intentional or just a reflection of poor live mixing?
Once you’ve made these assessments you can move on to background vocals. Ask similar questions but keep one extra thing in mind: often background vocal recordings sound better when sung by the lead singer, “accompanying” him/herself.
Are the group’s background vocalists strong enough to stand up to repeated listening? If not, you may have to do some treacherous psychological maneuvering in the studio as you persuade members to reduce their roles in the recording for the sake of better sound.
You need a combination of musical and technological knowledge to continue your preparations. Make some preliminary notes to remember important points. For example, although no two people have exactly the same range, average sopranos rarely sing pitches below Middle C. Their harmonics are most prominent at frequency ranges in which many live vocal mics have a presence peak; you may have to use equalization to capture that timbre.
Altos often exploit their low registers using the mic’s proximity effect to capture “breathiness.” Tenors sometimes have wide-open upper ranges that can easily cause clipping. Basses, while rare (Frank Zappa was a bass), call for a full-bodied low midrange response that is near many studio mics’ bass rolloff frequencies. You might do best by leaving your mic’s rolloff switch off and using mix equalization to tune in vocal and tune out noise.
If all this seems like a lot of work, it is! However, you’ll find that careful preparation before a session can save time and reduce stress in the studio, allowing you to focus on more creative issues. And that can only help you get the best recording possible.
As always, we welcome input from the PSW community and would love to know your thoughts on recording vocals. Feel free to let us know in the comments below!
For more tech tips go to Sweetwater.com
Yamaha Systems Selected By Taylors First Baptist Church
The yamaha system finished what was initially a partial upgrade, making the mix of their contemporary service complete.
Taylors First Baptist Church in Taylors, South Carolina was chartered and established in 1864.
The ‘u-shaped’ sanctuary seats approximately 2,100, and with two services on Sunday mornings, the church serves a congregation of 3,000.
Recently, Palmetto Sound Works of Spartanburg, S.C. was contracted to perform an upgrade to their existing audio system originally installed in 1995.
About four years ago, the audio contractor performed a partial upgrade that included a Yamaha M7CL-48 digital audio console.
This year, the complete upgrade includes a second M7CL-48 along with Yamaha Installation Series IF Speakers, PC amps, and a DME 64n processor.
“The major challenge to installing a new system was being able to evenly distribute audio to a ‘u-shaped’ room, said Ben Babb, Palmetto Sound Works.”
“The stage and podium area are in the center with the seating area wrapping around three sides. Over 60% of the main floor is covered with balcony.”
“Therefore, getting sound under the balconies was one concern, and installing a processor that would handle this variety of delay zones and equalizations was a major consideration in the project.”
Taylors First Baptist was also having problems with some of the ‘dying’ components in their existing speaker system. Babb said that after Palmetto demonstrated the Yamaha IF 2115’s, a combination of IF2115’s, IF2112’s, IF2205’s and IF2108’s speakers were chosen to cover seven delay zones.
Danley TH115’s are used as subwoofers because of their compact size and available space at the church. Yamaha PC2001n and PC9501n amplifiers power the system.
The Yamaha DME64n digital mix engine is controlling the majority of the audio system. The M7CL at the front of house position is equipped with ES100 and EX cards to allow digital EtherSound communication between the DME64n and two ES168 stage boxes.
The DME64n is handling the system processing for the array of speakers, the delay for the seven zones, presets for when the stage is extended to pageant-style and the center down fills have to be attenuated.
“Our congregation noticed an immediate difference in terms of clarity and volume, states Jesse Lee, Media Director.”
“With the old PA, mixing a contemporary style worship service was problematic to the point of being completely underwhelming to everyone in the room, including our musicians and vocalists!”
“Since the installation, the Yamaha system has been able to handle everything we’ve thrown at it beautifully, including a full band and orchestra, vocal team and choir all performing simultaneously.”
Yamaha Commercial Audio
QSC Appoints Ray van Straten Director of Marketing Communications
20-Year industry veteran brings wealth of professional audio knowledge and sales experience to the position.
QSC Audio Products has announced that Ray van Straten has been appointed as the company’s new Director of Marketing Communications.
In this role, van Straten will be responsible for all day-to-day marketing communications activities as well as, the creation and development of all QSC branding, marketing collateral and communications initiatives.
“I am excited and honored to be entrusted with this responsibility,” states van Straten, QSC’s new Director of Marketing Communications.
“When you walk the corridors of QSC you see passion, pride and commitment to excellence in action across the entire organization. This is the QSC I know and consider it a privilege to be in a position to share this narrative with our global professional audio community. “
Over the last eight years, van Straten has served as QSC’s Retail Market Manager and more recently as the company’s Director of Entertainer Solutions where his responsibilities included developing and implementing sales and marketing initiatives for all QSC portable sound products.
Prior to joining QSC, van Straten served as the OEM Business Development Manager for Sonic Foundry (Sony Creative Software) and previously as the National Accounts Manager at Yamaha Corporation of America. An avid musician and composer, van Straten also currently serves on the Board of Directors for NAMM, the International Music Products Association.
“Ray’s enthusiasm for the QSC brand combined with his deep knowledge of QSC and the pro audio community makes him the perfect choice to lead our Marcom team,” states Gerry Tschetter, Vice-President of Marketing for QSC Audio Products.
“The insight and leadership he has provided for our portable sound products will be a welcome addition across our entire line of professional audio solutions.”
QSC Audio Website
Guitar Center Professional Appoints Brad Lyons GC Pro Account Manager
An inductry veteran, Lyons joins GC Pro with over 20 years of experience.
Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro) has appointed industry veteran Brad Lyons as GC Pro Account Manager, based in the company’s Atlanta location.
In his new position, Lyons will draw on his extensive experience in pro audio sales and worship sound to help GC Pro expand its presence in the studio, live, post production and house-of-worship market sectors.
The announcement was made by Rick Plushner, GC Pro Director, and further underscores GC Pro’s ongoing commitment to the continuing growth of GC Pro as a turnkey supplier for professional end users.
Brad Lyons has over 20 years of experience using and selling professional audio equipment, and he most recently held the position of Senior Sales Engineer at Sweetwater Sound, where he was responsible for every aspect of audio sales and service, including touring sound systems, studio designs, wireless systems, instrument packages and more.
Over the years, he has received top sales awards from leading companies such as Presonus, Focusrite, DBX, Royer and others. Lyons has an active involvement in worship music, and has served as Audio/Media Coordinator and Production manager for the Unity Performing Arts Foundation and Broadcast Engineer for Blackhawk Ministries, both based in Fort Wayne.
He has also owned a high-end home audio and video production studio for many years.
“Brad comes to us as a solid veteran of the professional audio sales business. His ongoing work as a sound engineer in the recording and worship communities will enhance our ability to offer clients the finest in audio systems design and sales while keeping within the framework of their budgets.”
“He has extensive and diverse product knowledge across many manufacturers and product categories and deeply understands the marketplace. We’re very excited to have Brad as part of the GC Pro team,” said Rick Plushner.
“Over the years, I have witnessed GC Pro grow to become the turnkey supplier for all corners of the industry,” said Lyons, “GC Pro has a great reputation in the recording studio, post production, fixed installation, touring sound and house-of-worship sectors, and is rightly noted for its extremely knowledgeable sales and support staff that truly addresses the needs of their customers.”
“I am proud to be on board and look forward to serving GC Pro and its client base.”
Guitar Center Professional Website
Monday, October 25, 2010
Carl Bader Of Aviom To Present On Two Panels At AES 2010
Company president and co-founder to provide insight into digital audio networking.
Aviom president and co-founder Carl Bader will be offering his expert advice on digital audio networks for live applications during two panels at AES 2010.
The first of these will be “Live Monitoring and Latency with Digital Audio Networks” taking place on Friday, November 5, from 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm.
Bader will be presenting real-world examples and discussing issues related to audio latency and digital networks, specifically when considering personal monitoring and traditional, speaker-based monitoring for live situations. Preferences and habits of performers and how these factor into technology decisions will also be presented.
In addition, Bader will be discussing audio networks for live sound applications during “Networked Audio for Live Sound,” taking place Sunday, November 8, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.
This seminar will cover the different types of audio networks available and provide attendees with the tools necessary to make an informed decision as to whether digital audio networking makes sense for their live sound business.
“Aviom’s products are designed to address the challenges such as latency that are often associated with digital audio networks, providing sound professionals and musicians alike with systems that deliver high-fidelity digital audio, and that are intuitive to those familiar with analog systems,” said Bader.
“More and more users are transitioning to digital solutions and benefitting from the simplicity of setup that digital audio networking has to offer. I’m happy to be a part of these panels to help give audio professionals practical advice about how to use digital audio networks.”
Bader’s experience in live sound setups as well as product development for live sound provide him with the knowledge to offer opinions from both perspectives. Heavily involved in the MI market, and a drummer, Bader founded Aviom on the concept of the personal mixer.