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Church Sound: Solving Mysteries—The Case Of The Missing Audio For Video

We never did discover who flipped on the LPF switch...

By Chris Huff November 18, 2013

This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.

There are two ways of seeing an audio mystery—as an unsolvable problem or as a challenge. The challenge area, that’s where we live whether we like it or not. We work in the realm of wireless microphones, high-end electronics, and frequency manipulation. In this world, audio mysteries abound.

Our mysteries are things like why there’s suddenly wireless interference after having a stable system for three years, why a single rechargeable battery appears to have died in the middle of the sermon even though it was fully charged two hours ago, and why a sound appears to hang in the air long after the drummer hit his tom. These mysteries are part of audio production.

We don’t get the option of claiming a problem is the result of an unfathomable unknown or a little evil audio imp, though I’ve often considered the “imp” possibility, myself. No, we’re handed a mystery and, like a great detective, we must figure out the motive of the murder (murdering your fantastic audio production). Once that’s done, we must take this a step further and figure out how to avoid it in the future.

The First Mystery
Let’s begin with the first audio mystery ever to come my way. Everything about it is unusual. The hardest part, in retrospect, is knowing the reason for the mystery was right in front of me the whole night long.

The group of parishioners was expected to be small. Christmas Eve service at this church was typically a subdued affair. You might say so small and subdued that the pastor didn’t even need a microphone.

I walked into the candle-lit sanctuary at 6:45 pm. “Fifteen minutes to go before the service, that should be enough prep time,” I thought. I saw Pastor Dan and he said, “Thanks for doing sound tonight. I’m not going to bother with a microphone. I figure we’ll only get about 20 people. 

“Oh,” he added, “I do need you to play this VHS tape when I ask for it.” 

Before I could say anything else, he said, “don’t worry about checking the video, I checked it in the system earlier this week. It’s cued up and ready to go.”

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About Chris

Chris Huff
Chris Huff

Chris Huff is a long-time practitioner of church sound and writes at Behind The Mixer, covering topics ranging from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians – and everything in between.


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