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Make a big impact for less than $500

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"We've looked everywhere.  Someone must have 'picked up' the wireless microphone."  Not the words I wanted to hear five minutes before the service.

Our church hosted the Judson University choir on Sunday.  The platform had been cleared, and everything was set up the night before, except our lone handheld wireless microphone.  That's the microphone that the choir director requested to allow him the freedom to speak from different places. I couldn't find it during set-up, so I texted a couple people, one of whom said that it was in the pastor's office, so I didn't sweat it.  But the next day, we still couldn't find it. 

Like many of you, I'm the volunteer media team leader at the church I attend.  We work with a fairly limited budget, and it appears that I need a new wireless transmitter. Ugh!

With limited budget money, our purchases have to be spot on. 

We get daily questions about how to best utilize specific amounts of money, and the answers to the "how to" questions are particularly critical at amounts under $500.  

Here are some specific ideas.

Read more: Make a big impact for less than $500

 

The List Will Never Be Done

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by Mike Sessler, Church Tech Arts

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Photo courtesy of Michael Mandiberg

Get a group of TD's together and it won't take long for the discussion to shift to how busy we all are. We all have a seemingly endless list of projects and tasks that we need to work on, and the pressure we feel (either from internal or external sources) to get them done—preferably right now. I too was one of those TDs. Years ago, I walked into a building that needed every single system updated, upgraded or replaced. In every room in the building. It was a long list. I know many of you are in similar situations. I started thinking that if I worked really hard just for the first few months, I could get it all done. But I came to realize that's simply not possible.

The truth is, the list will never be complete.

That realization can either be frustrating or liberating, depending on how you choose to deal with it.

I decided to go with liberating. Here's what I mean.

Read more: The List Will Never Be Done

   

Top 8 Microphone Myths Exposed

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by Davida Rochman, Shure

There are microphone myths just like there are urban myths. And their longevity rivals Bigfoot, Nessie and that mysterious Roswell incident in 1947.

Right here, right now, we’re setting the record straight on mic folklore that we’ve continued to debunk over the years. Check each one of these off your list, and when the subject comes up (yes, it will come up), you’ll be the expert.

Wireless Microphone Interference

1. There are wireless microphone frequencies that are completely free from interference.

False.  This is a myth that is being propagated by some pro audio manufacturers. The fact is there are no frequencies that are completely free from interference because there are no frequencies that are reserved only for wireless microphones. Even if there were, you could still have interference from other wireless microphones occupying that frequency band.

There are no “safe frequencies”.  All of the radio spectrum is allocated for different uses by different types of equipment. Every wireless microphone operates in a frequency range that contains other devices.  There is no exclusivity in the radio spectrum for wireless microphones.

Our advice: use wireless equipment that is as broadly tunable as possible.

2. Condenser mics are not as rugged as dynamics.

False.  In the days when this myth came into existence, condenser microphones were very expensive, studio-grade models.  The microphone they were compared to might have been a dynamic like the SM58®. If the ultra-expensive, circa 1930s vacuum tube microphone were dunked into a glass of beer or dropped on the stage ten times, or even one time, it probably would stop working. It will become a paperweight while the SM58 will survive all that.

Today, all of our condenser microphones are engineered to hold up to exactly the same abuse as an SM58. They go through the same exact environmental testing. Drop testing. Temperature testing. Humidity testing. Salt spray testing.  Vibration testing. Electromagnetic testing. They have to pass the same battery of tests, and they do.

The SM81 was introduced around 1978 as a studio condenser microphone. But because it is made from a machined steel handle and has the same sort of milspec environmental capability as the rest of our microphones, it was quickly embraced by the touring sound industry. There are SM81s out there on tour today that are probably fifteen or twenty years old. You can drive over them with a truck. Drop them on the floor. Hit them with a drumstick. And the same is true of all our condenser vocal mics.

So, in the modern era, the fragility of Shure condenser microphones is just a myth.

Read more: Top 8 Microphone Myths Exposed

   

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

   

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What others say

Thanks for the great job you all have done!  Thanks for suggesting and sticking with the digital board. The benefits are awesome.

We are so pleased with having great sound, lighting tech...etc in the building.  I have been in many new churches where the sound is squeaking, squawking etc. and it ruins the services.  We have had few to no glitches. There are still many things that I would like to do.

By the way the remote clicker for the Power Point worked great, reached from the platform to the back of the room.

I am looking forward to continuing a working relationship and a growing friendship.

Pastor Steve Hubbard
Ebenezer Baptist Church