Product Reviews

Bose L1 Compact - perfect portable PA system

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Could there be a more polarizing company in the universe of audio than Bose?  Bose's marketing slogan is "Better Sound Through Research".  Critics have restated that as "Better Sound Through Marketing" and have derided the product with chants of "No Highs, No Lows, must be Bose."  Frankly, I like Bose products, in general, and have wondered what I've been missing that others have found so easy to dislike.  Sure, they've had some dud products, but so has every other manufacturer on the planet. 

Let me introduce you to the Bose L1 Compact by telling you my story.  Several months ago, our Bose sales rep dropped off the L1 Compact and left it.  He said "Just try it someplace, and I think that you'll like it."  A week went by, and then another, and then two more.  I hadn't touched it, and I knew that he'd want it back.   Plus, I had given my word that I'd try it. 

At the church I attend, we were planning an outdoor service to dedicate our community garden and I had been asked to make sure that we had a sound system capable of accommodating both acoustically-flavored live music and the spoken word for about 150 people outdoors.  And any of you who don't have a dedicated portable sound system at your church (and who know what a pain it is to round up a system in order to take something outside) will appreciate what I'm about to write. 

I had spent the better part of two hours going down to church, looking through the youth system, the main system extra gear, even the old gear, and thinking about how to get the system outside while still being ready inside for the regular service.  That day, I would be the lone sound technician for both locations and there wasn't another experienced tech to be found, even to carry a speaker.  Thinking about what might have been unassisted set-up and tear-down, I was a little bit stressed and maybe a tad bit grumpy.  Maybe.  Most of you have probably never felt that way. 

Then it dawned on me.

Read more: Bose L1 Compact - perfect portable PA system

 

Eliminating Wireless Dropouts

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Multi-path interference is the most common cause of wireless drop-outs, and if you can get rid of multi-path, you can get rid of a good number of headaches. So what exactly is multi-path interference? 

This post explains multi-path, diversity receivers, and a new antenna for eliminating the problem.

When a microphone transmitter sends out a radio wave signal, it spreads through a room, like ripples on a pond. As the wave encounters flat surfaces, like walls and ceilings, it reflects and continues forward at different angles. Since there are multiple surfaces in every room, there are multiple reflections and hence multiple paths--some longer and some shorter--that a wave takes before reaching the wireless receiver.

Usually, the receiver is able to process two or more signals arriving at slightly different times without difficulty. But if the signals overlap in such a way that they cancel each other out (creating a “null”) you get a drop in volume or complete drop-out. Sometimes, the shape of the room can cause a multi-path null to perpetually hover over a receiver. Other times, when the speaker walks past a certain spot on the platform, a dead spot will develop and you’ll hear a quick drop-out.

Diversity receivers filter out multi-path interference by using two antennas instead of one. Most wireless receivers that have two antennas are diversity receivers. Since a multi-path null occurs only in specific and relatively small locations, it is less likely that a null will exist over both antennas. This is called “spatial diversity.”  But spatial diversity does not work 100% of the time.

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Our favorite intermediate class LCD projector - Panasonic PT-VW440U

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We like it.  It's bright - 4800 lumens, great color accuracy, wide-format projection, it has an HDMI input, and it's reasonably-priced. 

It's easy for people who sell products for a living to get excited about something they sell, but just 5 years ago, we were excited about another projector that was just as much of a relative bargain by comparison to what was out there at the time. 

At the end of 2007, my own church needed new projectors and Sanyo had just introduced the PLC-XU48.  3000 ANSI lumens, and an analog VGA interface.  3000 lumens for $1699?!  At half of what we would have paid the year before for something similar, we said "we'll take two!"  They're still doing a nice job for us on 6x8' screens.  At the time, the PLC-XU48 was one of the brighter ultraportable projectors, a class of machines that were more typically used in a boardroom than a worship space, but that's what we could afford.  And as it turned out, they were exactly what we needed. 

As we approach the end of 2013, I'm hoping to get another year or two out of those old Sanyos (and expect that we will).  But if I were choosing a new projector today, the Panasonic PT-VW440U would get my vote

You can read specs until you're fully informed (or confused), but let me tell you why I'd pick it.  First...

Read more: Our favorite intermediate class LCD projector - Panasonic PT-VW440U

   

Innovation or Copycat? Voice Technologies VT901 Earset

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It's been more than five years since Countryman changed the face of audio with its E6, an ultraminiature earset microphone.  With tens of thousands sold, you could argue that the lavaliere microphone is nearly obsolete for live audio and that the E6 has been a gamechanger for speech applications.  With its success, the E6 spawned a host of copycat products; some good, some not so good and some better, but no one can argue that the E6 set the standard. 

A couple weeks ago, I called one of our suppliers to order a product for a client and a familiar voice answered the phone.  It was my friend Bryce Boynton.  For several years, Bryce worked for another microphone manufacturer, and he had just started the new job.

We talked for a few minutes about how a guy from Colorado was settling in in the northeast, and as we talked, he said, "Hey Dave, I have a microphone that I'd like you to try. It's an earset, and I think that you'll like it."  Bryce came from one of the world's premier microphone manufacturers to this position, so he's a microphone expert, and I thought to myself...

Read more: Innovation or Copycat? Voice Technologies VT901 Earset

   

Your easiest streaming solution!

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When it comes to video streaming solutions, we've learned a few things the hard way.  And sometimes, after learning the hard way, video streaming is still difficult.  The primary reason is that the public internet isn't always consistently as fast as your ISP claims. 

Many of our clients are smaller churches.  Why?  Well, because most churches are smaller churches.  So when a smaller church wants to stream video outside its walls, how much can it spend?  And how hard can it be to make it work?  The answers: not a lot, and it has to be simple. 

This isn't the solution you'd want if you have a second campus and need a life-size HD picture, but if you have various groups of people anywhere else who want to connect with you, whether they speak your language or are just staying home with a sick kid, this might be just what you need.  People can watch from any tablet, computer, smartphone, or internet-enabled television.  And yes, you could project its output onto a screen, too. 

This solution does not require a computer, it does not require encoding software and it doesn't even require any ongoing cost, if you're willing to watch an occasional advertisement.

Read more: Your easiest streaming solution!

   

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What others say

Dave,

All the shipments came yesterday! I just want to say how impressed I have been of your customer service. It has been great working with you and I plan to continue buying from you in the future and will recommend you to any church looking to buy equipment.

As always thanks for your time,

Steven Teters