On the road with Martyn Joseph

Martyn Joseph playing at the Bristol Colston Hall 2014

Martyn Joseph playing at the Bristol Colston Hall 2014

Over the last year our MD (Rowan Burton) has spent some of his time working with the Artist (Singer & Song Writer) Martyn Joseph as his Tour Manager. He was responsible for:

– Setting up and taking down the sound system.
– Operating the lighting.
– Liaising with the venues technical staff.
– and not least driving the van.

Travelling all over the country with Martyn Joseph, Rowan covered a lot of miles in the van. Travelling from the Eden Court Theatre, Inverness to The Brook, Southampton, they covered the length and breadth of the country together.

Rowan was able to use the skills he has developed over a number of years in the entertainment industry. He was able to solve many different problems presented to him whilst on the road with Martyn, from a broken speaker to lighting being refocused on the fly.

When he was last on tour in February of this year (2015) Rowan took his GoPro camera with him and shot this video (Music written and recorded by Martyn Joseph):

Testimonial – St Andrew’s and St Bartholomew’s

Another great Testimonial from work we did over last weekend!

We hired a number of our LED Lights to St Andrew’s and St Bartholomew’s church in Churchdown Cheltenham.  As well as the LED lights we also hired 4 t-bar stands and a lighting control system.  We installed and set the system up for the church and gave a quick training course on how to use the system correctly.

They sent us a great testimonial:

[su_box title=”Testimonial” style=”soft”]The Production Works offer an outstanding and personal service. We hired a full lighting rig for ‘Revive’ – a full day and evening annual church event for around 200 young people from across Gloucestershire. The lights added a real professionalism and atmosphere to a very successful day. While the support from Rowan in setting them up and a few questions on the day was second to none. I would confidently recommend TPW to anyone. We will definitely use them again.’

Many thanks

Mark Brooks
St Andrew’s and St Bartholomew’s
Churchdown[/su_box]

 

St Andrews

Glossary of Sound Terms

Adapter

A device to convert from one type of connector to another.

Amplification

The increase or decrease in the size of the signal.   Often referred to as the Gain of a system.

Attenuation

The amount of reduction in the size of a signal.  Measured in decibells (dB).

Audio

The frequency range that we hear.  Often quoted as about 20Hz to 20kHz.   But the highest frequencies we can hear decreases with age down to about 12kHz.

Balanced signal

A signal carried by two conductors “+” and “-” each with an equal impedance relative to ground.   In audio applications typically carried by a screened twisted pair cable.

Cable

A means of connecting one piece of equipment to another – see separate descriptions.

Cardioid

A heart shaped reception area showing the locations where a microphone will pick up signals.

Combo

A self contained amplifier and speaker housed in a single cabinet.   Typically used by guitarists and keyboard players as their main source of sound if they don’t have access to a PA system.   Alternatively they can be used in conjunction with a PA system as dedicated monitors for guitarists or keyboard players.

Condensor Microphone

A high quality (powered) mic used for speech often with a much wider pickup range than a dynamic mic.  It uses the change in capacitance to produce the output signal.    A DC voltage needs to be applied to enable it to work.   Power is either supplied via an internal battery within the mic case, or via phantom power.

Conductor

The metal (copper) part of a cable; the part that actually carries the electric current.

Current

The amount of electricity flow.   Usually measure in Amps (A) or 1/1000ths of an amp: milli-amps (mA)

Decibells

A unit of measurement.  Can be referenced to specific audible volumes (dBA) or to electrical power (dBw) or voltage (dBV).   Alternatively it can be a relative measurement of one quantity to another (dB).    A change of +3dB means a doubling of the power.  A change of –3dB means a halving in power.   A change of 10db means increasing or decreasing the power by a factor of 10. The scale is linear so a change of 20dB means increasing or decreasing the power by a factor of 100.

D-I Box   (Direct Injection Box)

A device that is used to connect an unbalanced signal, typically from an instrument via a jack plug, to a balanced cable connected via an XLR plug.   They can be either active ie powered by a battery; or passive ie not powered.   They are used for changing signal levels and for isolating equipment connected via mains plugs/sockets located a long way from one another eg a guitar amp and a mixing desk.

Dynamic Microphone

A mic used by vocalists that is intended to be used by a single person at close range.  Use electromagnetic induction to produce the signal.

Dynamic Range

The variation between the smallest and largest signal levels that the system can operate over.

Earth Loop

One phenomenon which causes unwanted 50Hz mains hum to be heard.   It is often caused by connecting two pieces of equipment together, each of which is connected to the mains at different locations in the building.   The remedy is to have just a single earth connection for the whole system or to isolate the two pieces of equipment via a DI Box.

EFX (Short for Effects)

These controls and connectors are normally used to feed effects units, things like reverberation units, gates, delays, and other pieces of kit that alter the sound of signals

Signals are fed from the desk into the effects unit and then back into the mixing desk.   The level of signal going to the effects unit is controlled by the “EFX” control on the relevant channel.   The overall level of the combined signal going to the effects unit is set by the “Effects Send” control.   The level of signal feeding back into the mixer is controlled by the “Effects Return” control.

Equaliser

A device to alter the gain of different frequencies making up the signal.  Tone controls in Hi-fi.

Fader

A volume control that is normally a linear slider control.   Often they are calibrated in dBs.  Pushing the slider away from you increases the volume; pulling the slider towards you reduces the volume.   There is one fader per input channel, a pair for stereo F-o-H labelled “L & R” and one fader for each of the “Monitor” outputs.

Feedback

A problem caused by microphones being placed to close to a speaker that is feeding out an amplified version of the microphone signal.   Often heard as a high frequency scream or whistle.

Female Connector

Sometimes referred to as a socket.   A connector that accepts the pins from a male connector.

Fold-back

A secondary PA system intended solely for the use of musicians so that they can hear themselves and other members of the band.

Frequency

The pitch of a sound.   Measured in Hertz (Hz) or KiloHertz (kHz) ie 1,000s of Hertz

Front-of-House (F-o-H)

The main source of sound intended to be heard by the audience / congregation.  Salem’s Main system is 160watts per side.   Salem’s gallery system is 40 watts per side.

Gain

The amount of amplification in a system.  Usually measured in decibels (dBs).   A 6dB increase = a doubling in voltage.   A 3dB increase = a doubling in power.

Graphic (Equaliser)

A multi-channel device (typically 15 or 31 channels) that provides very accurate adjustment of narrow bands of frequencies to counteract the audio characteristics of the room.  Once set the adjustments should not be altered.  The Salem system has a 15 channel stereo graphic equaliser.

Groups (in Mixing Desk)

A means of combining several channels together before feeding them to front-of-house so that the level from all of the channels can all be controlled together by a single (Group) fader.

Headroom (in amplifiers)

The amount of spare capability above the operating level before the amplifier begins to go into overload.

Hertz (Hz)

Measurement of frequency – the number of cycles per second.   1 cycle per second = 1Hz

Hyper cardioid

An extreme example of a cardioid heart shaped frequency response giving a very narrow, focussed, reception area.

Induction Loop

A single loop of wire, invisible to the casual observer, that circles a specific area of the room.   People sitting inside the loop can turn their hearing aids to the “T” position and listen to the signal fed from the mixing desk into the loop amplifier.    This is useful on speech and recorded music but is much less useful on live music.

Input sensitivity control

This control determines how much signal from whatever source goes into the relevant mixer channel.   The key point is to have just the right amount of signal so that the channel doesn’t distort (too much signal), or be subject to electronic noise (too little signal).   The correct level is set using the PFL and LED indicators.

Insulation

The non metal parts of a cable that separate the conductors.  Often some form of synthetic plastic.

Jack

A type of audio connector – see section on cables and connectors

Level

The size of the signal measured in volts (V) or milli-volts (mV).  Often equates to “volume”.

Line level signal

A signal at an intermediate level of around 1v RMS

Loop Amplifier

An amplifier specifically designed to accept a signal from the mixing desk a feed it into the induction loop.   Typically they have a set of indicators to show that a signal is present.

Mains Hum (50Hz)

A low frequency “hum” caused by local mains operated equipment close by the audio equipment.   It can be eliminated by correct earthing and use of balanced cables wherever possible.

Male Connector

Sometimes referred to as a plug.   A connector that has pins that mate with a female connector.

Mixer (Mixing Desk)

A device which combines signals and sends the combined signal to other devices (typically a power amplifier).

Monitor (has two meanings)

  • To check a signal either by eye (looking at a meter) or by ear (via a speaker or headphones).
  • Fold-back speakers are often referred to as monitors.

Multi-Core (Snake)

A set of cables running from a stage box, located near the stage, to the mixing desk.   Typically a single out sheath will contain 8, 16, 24, or 32 channels.   In some case there are also four channels feeding signals from the mixing desk to the stage to feed power amplifiers and fold-back systems.  Salem’s system has 9 individual channels feeding 3 boxes each terminated in 3 XLR connectors.

Mute

A push button switch that switches an input channel completely off or on.

Ohms

The unit of measure of resistance.

Omni-directional

A reception area that extends over the full 360 degrees of 3-dimensional space.  Can be applied to microphones or radio aerials

Neutrik Connector

A professional high quality audio connector manufactured by Neutrik.

Pan pots

Rotary controls on each channel that adjust the balance between the left and right F-o-H signals

PFL   (Pre-Fade Listen)

A switch which feeds a single channel to the LED indicators and the headphone output.

Phantom Power

A 48v DC voltage generated within the mixing desk and fed down the multi-core into condenser mic’s.  In some desks phantom power is either fed to all the input channels or to none of them.   On other mixing desks it’s possible to switch phantom power onto single input channels.

Piezoelectric pickup

A guitar pickup that generates an electrical signal as the result of applied mechanical stress caused by the vibration of the body of the guitar.  Typically located under the saddle of acoustic guitars.

Power Amps

The main amplifiers that provide most of the amplification in the system.  They are fed from the mixing desk and feed into the main front-of-house speakers and into passive (non-powered) fold-back speakers if present.  Salem’s fold-back units include their own power amplifiers.

Pre-amp

The first stage of a multi-stage amplification system.   Typically converting low level microphone or acoustic pickups to line level signals.  May also incorporate some form of tone control or equalisation.

Screen

A woven or foil metal sheath that surrounds the insulated conductors in a cable.  It’s normally connected to the earth of the system.

Shotgun Mic

A very highly directional microphone often used to collect signals from a “point source” at some distance from the microphone.

Signal

A way of representing audio information electrically.

SM-57 Microphone

A professional quality dynamic PA mic.  Manufactured by Shure.  It’s the industry standard for mic’ing instruments.

SM-58 Microphone

A professional quality dynamic PA mic.  Manufactured by Shure.   It’s the industry standard for speech and vocalists.

Unbalanced signal

A signal carried by two conductors one of which is at earth potential.  Examples are coax cables with a single core and a screen.

Voltage

The size of a signal typically measured in Volts(V); or 1/1000ths of a volt (milli-volts (mV)

Watts

The unit of measurement of power.   In our context normally measured in milli-watts (mW), watts (W) or kilowatts (kW).

XLR

A type of audio connector – see section on cables and connectors

 

Written by David Smith and Updated by Rowan Burton

Copyright © The Production Works 2015

THE SOUND CHECK – Detailed Instructions for the Amateur Sound Engineer

Take control
This is your time to get things right, probably the only time you’ll have to determine what the band are doing. So take control and use the time wisely.

Before the band arrives

Initial Set up
• Make all the connections before you turn on the system
• Set up the mic’s and the other cabling where you think the band will need them
• Use default standard connections if you have them
• Feed inputs into the desk in a logical order
• This can be a standard layout; bass drum left, rest of drums then other instruments, then vocals; or mirror the layout of the band
• Use inputs for vocalists that mirror where the vocalists stand
• If vocalists tend to hold their mic this is OK – label desk with singer’s name
• If vocalists tend to swap mic’s, colour code mics with tape so that the colour is visible from desk; label the channel with the appropriate colour
• Mute all input channels on desk
• Set all faders to zero
• Ensure that all power amplifier controls (to F.o.H. and fold-back) are set to minimum
• Turn on the system in the following order to avoid damaging equipment
• Instruments and other input devices first
• Mixing desk next
• Then finally power amplifiers to F.o.H., Fold-back and Loop Amplifier
• Select an appropriate Pre-Fade Aux out to feed fold-back amplifier(s)
• Set all Equalisation controls to mid position
• Set all pan-pots to mid position

Check connectivity and main units are working
• Play an MP3 track to ensure that F-o-H, the fold-back (if present), and the loop amplifier are all working effectively – don’t worry about levels at this time; just confirm a signal is present
• Check all mic’s are working – test one by one; two people are really helpful here
• Check instruments are working if they are available

Set Nominal F.o.H. Level (Volume)
• Play a CD (ensue that CD channel is correctly routed to F.o.H.)
• Adjust input sensitivity (if there is one) for nominal signal level from CD player into desk
• Set CD channel fader to “0”
• Set F.o.H. faders to “0”
• Adjust F.o.H. amplifier to a suitable setting to give maximum expected volume required

Set Nominal Fold-back Level (Volume)
• Play a CD
• Set CD channel fader to minimum
• Set appropriate CD channel Pre-Fade Aux Out (to Fold-back) gain control to “0”
• Set overall Pre-Fade Aux Out gain control (to fold-back) to “0”
• Adjust gain of Fold-back amplifier(s) to a suitable setting to give maximum expected volume required in the fold-back speakers

Set up Induction Loop
• Play a CD
• Set CD channel fader to minimum
• Set appropriate CD channel Post-Fade Aux Out (to Loop Amplifier) gain control to “0”
• Set overall Post Fade Aux Out (to Loop Amplifier) gain control to “0”
• Increase the CD channel fader to “0”
• Monitor the led indicators on the loop amplifier
• Adjust Loop amplifier input level and drive controls (usually this is done via a screwdriver adjustment on the loop amplifier) until the signal registers (typically green / amber) but is not regularly overloading (into the red)
• Monitor the level of the appropriate overall Aux Out level with PFL
• Check functioning of the loop across all reception areas within the loop with a loop tester if you have one

Set up Graphic Equaliser (if present)
The purpose of the graphic equaliser is to balance out unwanted effects of the room acoustics
• Set F.o.H. Faders to minimum
• Set all Graphic Equaliser gain controls to 0dB
• Open up all mic channels
• Set all mic channels input sensitivity controls to a medium level
• Set all mic channels EQ settings to mid range with Gains set to 0dB
• Set all mic channels pan controls to centre
• Set all mic channel faders to “0”
• Increase F.o.H. Faders until the system begins to exhibit feedback
• Try to identify the frequency at which the system is “ringing”
• Adjust Graphic Equaliser controls until the ringing stops (or is reduced)
• Increase F.o.H. Faders until the system begins to exhibit feedback again
• Repeat the process of adjusting Graphic Equaliser settings until the system is stable
• Once the graphic equaliser has been adjusted correctly you should not need to alter these settings again unless the room characteristics change significantly. Note that room characteristics will change depending upon how many people are in the room.

Set up Mixing Desk basics
• Set channels into appropriate groups, speech, instruments, vocals, drums etc
• Mark up the white strip with names or instruments that are using each channel and each group

Default settings
• If you are able to leave your system set up then you may be able to leave it set in the default position – if you can this is really helpful

Once the band has arrived

Set mixing desk input sensitivity levels
• Get the band to play something where all band members play/sing at maximum volume.
• Channel by channel press the PFL button to feed that channel to the LED indicators.
• Ensure you know which input channel is fed from which band member / instrument.
• Adjust the input sensitivity level of each channel so that amber lights flash but not the red. (Occasionally flashing red is OK)
• From then on leave the sensitivity controls as they are unless there is obvious significant change in signal level on a specific channel. If this happens use the PFL to adjust the input sensitivity as above.

Singers
• Ensure singers use mic’s correctly; they are often reluctant to; with dynamic mic’s they need to be close up to the mic

Set the Equalisation
• In order to get the right sound from a particular channel it may be necessary to adjust the equalisation.
• Do this just by ear until each channel sounds right.
• If you are not able to discern this then I suggest you leave the EQ settings at mid range.

Set the PAN Controls
• If you want a stereo mix, adjust the appropriate PAN controls. But note that this will give quite different sounds in different parts of the room.

Set Actual Fold-back levels
• Always try to get the musicians to accept the lowest volume fold-back possible. The louder the fold-back the more likely it is to be heard by the congregation. If this happens it will “muddy” the sound from the F-o-H speakers which is really what you want the congregation to hear. In the worst case very high fold-back levels can dominate F.o.H.
• Use a PRE-FADE Aux out to feed the fold-back – this make the fold-back volume independent of F.o.H. volume
• Set each fold-back overall output gain control to a nominal “0” level
• Monitor each channel via the headphones and PFL switch (just so that you know which channel you are dealing with at any one time).
• Adjust the relevant Aux Out (Fold-back) gain control on each channel so that the musician/singer is happy with the volume of themselves in their fold-back monitor
• Having set the level for each fold-back channel adjust the overall output control to suite the musicians. At this point you may need to adjust the volume control on the main fold-back amplifier unit.
• Finally check that all band members are happy with their sound in the fold-back. You may need to repeat the above steps several times until all band members are happy with their fold-back.

Set / Check induction loop

• In general I don’t feed live music from the band into the loop as it tends to sound quite “muddy”. I only feed speech and music from a CD or Tape into the loop. However, you may choose to feed all signals into the loop if you wish.
• Set the appropriate Aux Out gain control for each voice (speech) channel to “0” . This (in conjunction with the channel fader) determines the amount of signal from each individual channel feeding into the loop.
• Ensure that the overall Post Fade Aux Out (to Loop Amplifier) gain control is set to “0”
• Monitor the led indicators on the loop amplifier
• Assuming you’ve adjusted the Loop amplifier nominal input level before the band & speakers arrived, you should not need to adjust the level into the loop amplifier again. However, if you do find you need to, do this by adjusting the overall Post Fade Aux Out (to Loop Amplifier) gain control until the signal registers (typically green / amber) but is not regularly overloading (into the red) on the loop amplifier.
• Once the loop amplifier has been adjusted correctly for the event you should not need to alter these settings again.

Finally Set Front of House

Having set up the band, the loop and the graphic equaliser you can now set the F-o-H levels.
• Un-mute each of the channels you want in the mix
• If you have set up groups, set all group faders to “0”
• Bring up the fader for each channel in the mix until what you hear from the F-o-H sounds a good balanced mix.
• Adjust the group faders until you get the overall sound to be what you want.
• Try to ensure that each singer/instrument can be heard clearly. During the sound check move around the auditorium so that you hear what F-o-H sounds like at different positions.
• You may need to adjust the balance between the channels as the programme varies from loud to quiet pieces of music and between speakers.
• You may find that certain instruments particularly drums, brass, woodwind and violins produce so much sound that they can be heard without the use of a PA system. This is a really difficult problem in a relatively small auditorium. The best that you can do is to work closely with the musicians, explaining the problem to them, and ask them to be sensitive to the level they play at so they don’t drown out the other musicians feeding through the PA system.
• I often monitor the sound without looking at the band. This way I just use my ears to hear what the overall sound is like with being confused by what I’m seeing.

Sound-check complete

• That completes the sound-check and you are now ready to start the performance.

Written by David Smith and Updated by Rowan Burton

Copyright © The Production Works 2015

World Cup 2014 Uruguay Vs England

World Cup 2014 - Providing Projector and Sound SystemLast summer the accountants Hazlewoods came to us with a different request. They wanted to show the Uruguay Vs England Worldcup 2014 football game live at Cheltenham Town Football Club. They asked us to provide a projector and screen to show the football as well as a sound system.

They wanted to provide a great experience for some of their clients, staff and partners – By showing the football on a big screen, providing a great atmosphere and providing drink and food.

There were a few challenges to overcome in being able to provide a great service for Hazlewoods. The first one that the video Projector and Screensignal for the live broadcast came into the building in a completely different room to where the football was going to be shown. We invested in some new technology that meant we could send the HD video signal over Cat 6. This is a great bit of tech that is now part of our stock.

Another challenge we dealt with was the position of the projector. The ideal location for the projector was in the middle of a table where they wanted to seat guests. This would have also mean that there would have been shadows on the screen. We therefore hung the projector 2.5 meters in the air from one of our stands. This moved the projector out of the way and stopped any shadows appearing on the screen.

Hazlewoods were very happy with the service that we provided. This is what they had to say:

[su_box title=”Testominal” style=”soft”]We worked with The Production Works in June 2014 to provide our audio and visual needs for a live TV event. Rowan provided an excellent service and went to every effort to improve the quality of our event by offering HD screening, alongside site visits prior to the event. We look forward to working with The Production Works again in the future.

Emma Halling
Marketing Executive
For and on behalf of Hazlewoods LLP[/su_box]

 

Testimony – Cornerstone Church Brockworth

On the 20th of December we provided a sound and lighting system to Cornerstone Church in the village of Brockworth.  They had a big nativity service with a much larger than normal congregation so needed a bigger sound system.  They also wanted to give it a different feel to a normal service so we used our new LEDJ Performer series lights.  These created a great effect and enhanced the performance (click here to find more out about the LEDJ Performer Lights)

This is what they had to say:

[su_box title=”Testominal” style=”soft”]We had a big event to put on for our church with a show that around 450 people came to, ten times as many as we normally have on a Sunday.  So we were really pleased that we chose The Production Works with our lighting and PA needs.  Rowan’s communication beforehand was really helpful and his advice and expertise for the dress rehearsal and event itself was excellent. We look forward to working with them again and would recommend The Production Works to anyone.

Paul Crump
Chair of the Trustees
Cornerstone Church Brockworth[/su_box]

 

New to our Stock – LEDJ Performer 18 LED ParCan Lights

We have just added to our hire stock the LEDJ Performer 18 RGBWA.  LEDJ PerformerThis is a great LED ParCan that has 18 individual chips which can each produce the Colours: Red, Green, Blue, White and Amber which mix together to create any colour.  The lantern has a 40 degree beam angle which means they can splash colour across a whole stage.  The lights are great for front lighting a stage, from behind across a band or uplighting in a venue.

They have the following features:

  • 18 x 10W RGBWA LEDs
  • Beam angle: 40°
  • DMX channels: 5 or 9 selectable
  • Static colour, colour change, fade, auto, sound active and master/slave modes
  • Bracket allows for multiple rigging or
    floor standing applications
  • 4 push button menu with LED display
  • 3-Pin XLR in/out sockets
  • Captive power connection
  • Fan cooled

 

They are a great addition to our hire stock and we look forward to hiring them out.  Get in touch for a quote: 01242 807841 or rowan@the-production-works.co.uk.

 

Information in this post was taken from the manufactures website.

Some Simple Sound Check Pointers – for the First time Sound Engineer

Some Simple Sound Check Pointers – for the First time Sound Engineer

We created this for a recent sound training course we ran at a church in Cheltenham.  We thought that other people may benefit from some of the tips here, please read and implement into your own practice.

  • Get as much as possible ready in advance of the band arriving.
    Time with the band will be at a premium; so get as much kit as possible set up and working before the band arrives.
  • Set up the desk where you get a good idea of the general Front-of-House sound
    If you are setting up a mobile system position the desk somewhere that gives a good overall impression of what the congregation is going to hear.
  • Keep the set up tidy.
    Make sure that you don’t set up a “rat’s nest” of cables. Not only will that make it difficult to diagnose problems but it will also cause a health & safety risk on stage.
  • Make it easy to identify the various channels
    Set up your channels in a logical fashion and colour code cables wherever possible; ideally so that the colours can be seen from the sound desk
  • It’s a Sound Check not a Rehearsal
    A sound check is the time to get the technical things right not a time for musicians to rehearse; this should be done at a different time.
  • The Sound Engineer is in charge
    Impose discipline into the event.. It’s up to the engineer to get the sound right; so all musicians should respect that it’s the engineer who calls the shots during sound check. This is the one opportunity for the engineer to get it right so make the most of it! Agree this up front.
  • Start Time = Ready-to-play time
    Agree a “start time” with the band & insist that this means “be ready to start playing at the agreed time” not arrive at that time. That means instruments set up, ready and tuned. The engineer should also be set up and ready to start setting levels at the same time.
  • Musicians’ discipline – remain quiet unless you ask them to play
    Ensure that musicians don’t fiddle with their instruments & they remain silent unless you ask them to play. Then you can get on with your tasks without distraction
    It’s purpose is to balance the monitors for the Musicians and set Front-of-House mix
    The first task should be to set the monitor volumes so that the musicians can hear themselves adequately. Then the Front-of-House (F-o-H) mix should be set up.
  • Confirm channels – Get musicians & singers to “play” a short solo
    Early on confirm which mixer channel is being used by each individual musician. To do this get each musician to play a short solo
  • Set input levels – Use a “loud” piece of music with all musicians involved
    The first issue for the engineer is to make sure that the signal levels don’t go into distortion on loud pieces. So, to set input levels, get the band to play a piece that is loud, that all musicians know well and where all musicians take part.
  • Set up Foldback levels
    Set up initial foldback levels for each musician so that they can hear themselves adequately without drowning out everyone else.
  • Keep monitor levels as low as possible
    F-o-H signals should be the dominant sound heard by the congregation but they may also be able to hear the monitor signals. So, keep monitor levels as low as possible so that they don’t “muddy” the F-o-H quality.
  • Set up F-o-H mix
    Once you’ve set up the initial foldback levels set up the F-o-H mix. I find it helpful to do this without looking at the band. Just concentrate on the sound they are making.
  • Recheck that all band members are happy with their foldback
    Having introduced the F-o-H sound what the musicians hear will be different to the initial foldback levels so may need some adjustment. This may involve some degree of compromise as the number of foldback channels is not unlimited.
  • Encourage musicians to listen to more than just themselves
    Musicians tend to just listen for themselves in the monitor. However, try to get them to develop the technique of listening to each member of the band as well. That way they’ll help each other by getting a feel for what others are playing and hearing.
  • Get musicians to tell the engineer the problem not the solution
    Musicians tend to say “can I have more of …” But get them to explain what their problem is so that you can adopt the best technical solution, which may be to turn others down!
    It may sound strange to the musicians
  • Get band members to understand that they don’t hear what F-o-H hears. So they should not worry if they feel the overall sound isn’t right. The F-o-H sound will sound very different. The engineer is in the best position to assess F-o-H and it’s the engineer’s job to get that right.
  • Once set up it should take less than ¼ hour
    Assuming there are no technical hitches (which of course sometimes there are) a sound check for a small band should take no more than ¼ hour.
  • Thank band members for their cooperation and close it down.
    Make it very clear to the musicians when you have completed the sound check. That way they will know that they can then move on to the next stage of their preparation for the event.

We are more than happy for you to use this information and can provide a printer friendly version if you require.  However whenever you use this The Production Works should always be credited.

Written by David Smith and Updated by Rowan Burton

Copyright © The Production Works 2015

Hucclecote Methodist Church – Sound System Upgrade

Last year we upgraded the sound system in Hucclecote Methodist Church, Gloucester.  They had a rather outdated system and asked us to come in and look at various options for them.  We looked at the needs of the church including that they now wanted to start showing films.  We provided a comprehensive quote detailing the work we would undertake and the equipment we would install.

After a couple of consultations and meetings talking through the best options the church awarded us the contract to update the system.

Working over one day we upgraded the system and removed the old one.  Adding in 2 new RCF C3108-120 speakers at the front of the church mainly for when showing films and then 4 RCF MR55 speakers for sound reinforcement during services.  We then placed into a flightcase at the back of the church all of the equipment needed to run the system including a brand new Yamaha sound desk and 2 new amplifiers.

The church were very happy with our service and their chairperson had this to say:

[su_box title=”Testominal” style=”soft”]The Property/Finance committee of Hucclecote Methodist Church would like to record their thanks to The Production Works for their excellent service in providing us with a new sound system for our Church.

The advice and recommendations given by Rowan Burton were very good and well received by the committee. He is also to be commended for providing an excellent installation and aftersales service. We were also extremely impressed that he allowed us the loan of equipment on a trial basis to assess before making a decision as to our purchase.

We have no reservations in recommending his company to future prospective customers.

Bernard Brewster
Chairperson
Property/Finance Committee
Hucclecote Methodist Church[/su_box]

 

Sound and Lighting Tips

Time has come again when schools are putting on their summer production, there can be lots of complicated things that you need to sort out and organise. Here at The Production Works we understand that things can be stressful and would like to help. If you have any sound or lighting questions then please do get in touch for advice. We have also put together this list of useful hints and tips to help you with the technical aspects of your School’s Production.

 

Hints and Tips:

  • The first thing you need to do is put together a technical team, with a technical manager who is responsible for sorting out all technical aspects. This will take a weight off your shoulders.
  • Then think about getting your pupils involved, helping with your school’s production. Some of the pupils at your school may want to get involved however not want to be on the stage. Helping out with the lighting, sound, set and AV may be the way to involve them – if it hadn’t been for a teacher getting me involved in the technical side when I was 14 I wouldn’t be here now.
  • Have someone from your technical team (staff or pupil) in every rehearsals looking at the technical things – making notes about sound and lighting effects. This will mean that the technical team will then know about changes made during rehearsals.
  • If you have limited amount of lighting keep your lighting design simple. Start out with a general wash over the whole stage. This will give you good coverage catching all the action (remember the parents have come to see their child perform not the best lighting in the world). Once you have a simple wash then you can start to add in some colour – I would add this colour from behind to add some depth to the stage
  • During scene changes avoid lighting Blackouts. There is nothing worse than that awkward moment when the lights go down and all you can here is some clattering and banging (and maybe even the odd swear word). The audience would much prefer to see the scene change so maybe just dim the lights and try and incorporate the scene change into the performance
  • Microphones are a great way to amplifier the sound of your performers however you need to pick the correct one. There is a lot to say on the subject and there are a lot of variables, for specific advice give us a call on 01242 807841 or email rowan@the-production-works.co.uk

 

I hope you find these hints and tips helpful. If you have any questions about the hints and tips above or anything to do with the technical side of your school’s production then please do not hesitate to get in touch. I am more than happy to give you free advice.

I have also set up a Linked In group where you can ask questions in an interactive manner:  goo.gl/I9dsn

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