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Feedback is not always bad.
by Mike Sessler, ChurchTechArts.org
Audio guys are taught to fear and loath feedback. We have parametric EQs, notch filters, magic boxes and feedback eliminators, all to keep feedback from rearing it's ugly head. The mix could be great, the lighting perfect and the song words spot on, but if the pastor's mic runs into feedback, you feel like you've failed. For most of us feedback=bad.
But Is It?
The feedback of which I speak in the opening paragraph is of course, the electro-acoustical kind. The mic picks up it's own signal, it goes through the amplification loop and repeats, ending in a high-pitched scream. And I agree, that kind of feedback is bad. But not all feedback is. In fact, sometimes, feedback can be very helpful.
Getting Better All The Time
Any sound engineer worth his salt should be striving to get better all the time. But how do we get better? How do we know if we're making progress or just making things louder? One really good way to get better is to get some feedback. By asking others to critique our mix, we will learn valuable insights and hopefully, get better. The challenge is, we're so trained to avoid feedback (the bad kind), that we tend to avoid all feedback (the good kind).
Now, it can be humbling to ask for feedback. I've done this in the past, and sometimes go home feeling less good about my skill level. However, after the sting wears off, and I've processed the feedback, my mixing usually gets better. It's easy to get caught in the trap of thinking we have this thing figured out and continue to do the wrong thing over and over again.
I don't know.
by Mike Sessler, ChurchTechArts.org
I see this all the time. People speaking authoritatively from a position of ignorance. The internet is awesome for this. Just check out any of the online forums or groups. And pick a topic - any topic. I of course see this in church tech groups, but it exists everywhere. I also see it in every day life. I'll hear someone make a fairly definitive statement that obviously comes from a place of no knowledge or background. But boy, are they convinced they're right. My mom used to have a magnet on the fridge that said, "My mind is made up - don't confuse me with the facts."
What does this have to do with being a technical leader in church? Quite a lot, actually. I've removed a large amount of equipment from various churches over the years, and I'm sure it was all installed confidently. That is, whoever installed it was confident in their choice. Even if that choice was not based in any kind of knowledge or experience. Even if it didn't work. At all. That wastes a lot of money and undermines trust in our profession.
Why does this happen? Well, I think there is an unnecessarily engrained concept in most of us that we have to be right all the time. And we have to know everything about our jobs. Now, the truth is, it's impossible to know everything about a subject. And if you ask people that have been doing a particular thing for a long time, they will likely tell you that the longer they do it, the more they realize they don't know.
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– Mark Hinman