Resources

Five Things Every Audio Pro Should Know How to Do

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by Alex Milne

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These five common concepts and skills separate the skilled audio professional from the beginner.

In our opinion, they are essential to a full understanding and mastery of audio systems.

They are evenly divided between simple overarching concepts that can be applied to any project, and practical skills that can be used to save time and money, or engineer elegant solutions to problems that emerge in the field. 

1. How to coil cables right.

Many types of audio-visual cables contain twisted wires inside a sheath. This gives them a natural coil that can easily be disturbed by improper coiling. The wires become tangled inside the sheath, and the natural coil ruined, shortening the cable’s life. Other types of cable, like coaxial cable, have no natural coil. They still benefit from proper handling, which avoids knots, tangles, and crushed insulators.

The right way to coil a cable is by using the “over-under” method, which is better shown than explained. This video from the London School of Sound does an excellent job showing how to coil cables using the over-under technique.

2. How to build cables from scratch.

Many audio cable connector schemes follow a basic blueprint: positive, negative, ground. If you know how to strip and make a connection from raw cable, you can build cables to custom lengths and salvage good portions of damaged cable - which is incredibly useful. Although the specific procedure for soldering a connector varies by type, a soldering station (iron, sponge, solder, helping hands), box cutter, and pliers with wire snips are often all that is required to solder the more common types, like XLR, ¼”, and 3.5mm, during an emergency repair.

For best results, and to avoid damaging equipment...

Read more: Five Things Every Audio Pro Should Know How to Do

 

Five Wireless Microphone Mistakes That Are as Common as They Are Avoidable

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by Alex Milne

They’ve happened to the best of us. After paging through stacks of manuals, phoning and perhaps yelling at manufacturer technical support lines, and checking and re-checking dozens of options on menu screens, we discover the cause of our wireless microphone malfunction is something so breathtaking simply, so glaringly obvious, that we can’t believe we didn’t think of it in the first place.

The following five mistakes are blunders shared by inexperienced and experienced audio pros alike. Do not be ashamed.

1. Dead Battery

The lifeblood of the wireless microphone transmitter, the battery, is a fickle creature.

The useable life of a battery is influenced by a number of factors, which makes it hard to pin down just how many hours you’ll get out of a microphone. The type of battery in use, the brand, the temperature, and - the oft-ignored curveball - the transmitter power (20 mW vs 50 mW, etc), can all dramatically change how long your handheld perseveres.

Some people play the russian roulette game of guessing how much juice they’ve got left on a case by case basis. Others invest in a battery tester or multimeter. The most paranoid users (and the wisest) don’t let a mic go up on stage without fresh batteries. This results in a lot of half-used batteries that go in the battery recycling bin, but it is a heck of a lot better than a mic going dead. You can purchase batteries by the case from your favorite audiovisual retailer. If you do any kind of mission critical work, we encourage you to do the same.

Read more: Five Wireless Microphone Mistakes That Are as Common as They Are Avoidable

   

17 seconds to better audio

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Listen to for 17 seconds to hear the difference that 17% can make. 

 

Problem: The main worship facility at South Delta Baptist Church of Delta, British Columbia seats approximately 1600 people with both main floor and in the upper balcony. Due to a 4 second reverb/decay time, a large percentage of the congregation was challenged in hearing the message due to a lack of vocal intelligibility - caused by excessive reverberation and echo.

Solution: Primacoustic Broadway panels were placed on only 17% of the wall surface and spread evenly throughout the sanctuary. Since the style of worship incorporates amplified instruments, careful attention was paid to the stage area to control reflections from vocal monitors, guitar amplifiers and drums.

As a result, reverberation was decreased from 4 seconds to just over 1 second, greatly improving intelligibility and enhancing the worship experience for everyone.

If you'd like to talk about acoustic solutions for your worship space, please get in touch with us.  We would be glad to create a custom solution for you. 

   

What are the differences between the Shure QLX-D and ULX-D?

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We get this question a lot, and thankfully, we found some information from Shure that neatly summarizes the facts and confirms our suspicions about audio quality.  The following article is a Tech Tep from the Shure Applications Engineering team.  

Typical Applications for QLX-D - corporate events, live music, higher education campuses, houses of worship, hotels, conference centers. For a corporate installation, consider QLX-D if all the receivers are on the same floor and/or use the same Ethernet network. For live music, consider QLX-D for a small or medium-size concert hall.

Key Differences between QLX-D and ULX-D

In terms of audio quality, reliability, and RF performance, QLX-D and ULX-D are the same. The primary differences are network sophistication and RF flexibility.

Read more: What are the differences between the Shure QLX-D and ULX-D?

   

Video display solutions for bright rooms

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Is your video projector washed out?  Not washed up, but washed out - as in, the light in the room is so bright that you can't see the image, no matter how bright the projector is.  It happens all of the time -- house lights, stage lights, sunlight.  Some of those can be fixed, but you can only go so far. 

Every day, we watch televisions, computer monitors, and our devices (phones, tablets, etc.) and we're pretty spoiled.  High brightness and beautiful color, and if you're indoors, these video displays generally unaffected by the light around you. 

Then we decide that we want to see that same image in a meeting room or auditorium.  If we're not careful with lighting placement or choosing the right projector and screen, we can see something like this.

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 2.54.18 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can't make out anything (video or words).  But that's what overhead fluorescent lights (let alone sunlight) can do.

With a conventional projection screen, there's not much else to expect, since the projected video image is picked up equally well compared to the other light sources and reflected back to your eye.  Add to that that the darkest part of the white screen is as black as your black on the screen can be. 

Does that make sense?  If so, how do you get a really good, dark, detailed black on a white screen with high ambient light.  Well, you don't. You get what's shown in the photo above. 

So what are my options, you ask?  Read on...

Read more: Video display solutions for bright rooms

   

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What others say

The new mic worked great this weekend.

Thanks,
Tom Robinson, Technical Ministries
Christ UM Church