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Streaming & Tuning: Answering Church Sound Questions From Readers

Addressing the transition into more long-term streaming options, using a DAW to mix streams, and getting started with system tuning.
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Q: “We’re starting to transition into more long-term options for streaming. What should we be focusing on now that we aren’t just trying to ‘make it work’?” – Los Angeles

It’s definitely become more clear that these circumstances aren’t being remedied in the time we thought it would. C’est la vie. We must simply keep moving forward.

That said, now that we aren’t just slapping bandages on everything to get through a few months of worship, we must begin making changes.
For those that have been running streaming via just a smartphone (but can afford a little more production) it’s time to do so. At the very least, add a little more “oomph” to the audio. If the pastor uses a microphone, make sure it’s getting a direct feed of that audio to the smartphone.

If you want to include music in the stream, you’ll need to use a small mixer. There are many small-format analog units that are handy in combining a few channels of audio and sending that to the smartphone (or computer). Just remember, when using a smartphone, a dongle that includes a TRRS adapter (a connector type that has dual rings) is required.

For those that have a more production involved, maybe it’s time to add a second or third camera. Employing more than one camera allows for smooth transitions and provides a bit more cushion for occasional mistakes. If you have two cameras and a graphics feed, you’re off to an amazing start.

For those that have plenty of video production, maybe it’s time to add a broadcast mixer. Getting a broadcast room set up with near-ield monitors and its own mixer can add so much production value to a stream. Rather than trying to mix in the same room as the band, locate broadcast mixer be far enough away to be totally removed. In much of my experience, receiving a copy of the video feed in an isolated room with my own console has let me take total control and deliver the best possible stream mix. Any mistakes or lack of quality at that point is not because of a lack of equipment.

If you’ve got all that or are just looking for something else to help, it’s a good idea to assign a volunteer or associate pastor to personally welcome those on the stream and/or look after those commenting or sending in emails during the stream. These people are just that — people. They need and/or want pastoring and are reaching out for connection and community in any way they can. Don’t let all the technology let you lose the people.

Q: “I’ve heard a lot of people using a DAW to mix their stream. Do you recommend it? And if so, how can we set it up?” – Charlotte, NC

I’ve heard quite a bit of hubbub about using a DAW (digital audio workstation) to mix audio streams. Right off the bat, I’ll admit that it’s not my favorite approach and is never my first choice. However, several folks have told that they’ve gotten good results from using a DAW. It can supply a lot of processing in a relatively small package. Further, you use nearly any plugin desired, there are no fancy cables needed, and it may be easier to route the mixed audio to a certain location.

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Viewpoints: A Round-Up Of Top Priorities When Mixing Worship Services

Why don’t I, personally, like this? Call me old school, but I don’t trust a computer to mix the audio when latency is a factor, and when fixing a problem can be so much more complicated than simply replacing a cable. Computers are built to do multiple processes at a single time. While that’s convenient, it also means it’s not necessarily the best at any particular process. When I keep all audio inside of equipment explicitly made to process audio efficiently, it’s one less thing to worry about.

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