Getting a Good Sound in Your Church

Having New Equipment Doesn't Guarantee A Good Sound

With so many churches now investing in high quality P.A. and sound equipment to deliver their message, the need for training has never been greater. All too often large sums of money are invested by the church and yet still the sound is not right. It can be very frustrating for all involved when due to lack of training, issues with the sound still occur. Typical problems can include mics not working properly, feeding back and in some cases dropping out altogether. Stage monitors can often be difficult to get right and if musicians are using radio mics or in ear monitors these too can suffer with interference and drop out. Everyone wants to be heard but with too many mics the sound can be harder to control and again dreaded feedback can rear its head.

There is no doubt having good quality mics and speakers does make a difference but not every church can afford them and often equipment improvements occur as funds allow. This can lead to new speakers being connected to old and unsuitable amps which in turn distort and again ruin the sound. As all church acoustics are different selecting the right loud speakers is essential. With so many makes and models to choose from what works well in one church may sound awful in another. Replacing an old, small speaker with a new, larger full range model may seem the obvious thing to do but sometimes that bigger, louder sound creates too much low end and reverberation. Having stage monitors is great for the musicians but only if they are set up correctly and sound clear. If there are too many they can interfere with the main speakers and also feed the sound back into the mics.

Digital mixers are being more widely used than ever before however they are often very technical to use and if the operator is not fully conversant with it then it’s very easy to make mistakes. These desks offer a multitude of functions, as well as the standard gain control and faders they have comprehensive paramedic EQ, graphic equalisers, DCA’s, mute groups, compressors, gates, effects, multiple busses, all of which can sound like mumbo jumbo to most people. The problem is unless you understand of all these functions, then rather than making the sound better it’s very easy to make it worse.

That said one shouldn’t let this put you off as modern digital mixers offer a fantastic range of tools for improving the sound and controlling the mix and with a day’s training even a complete novice can be getting to grips with the sound.

Many different mics are used in churches with some preferring to wear a lapel radio mic, rather than always having to talk into a lectern one. Others prefer to use handheld mics whilst others might choose to wear a headworn mic. All of these have their pro’s and cons and if set up and controlled correctly can sound great but again if not can cause clarity and feedback problems. Radio lapel mics are very popular as they allow the individual to freely walk about however if they walk too near to the speakers the sound can start to squeal as the sound feeds back. With good training the correct levels and equalisation can be set to improve clarity and prevent feedback, all of which leads to a much better listening experience.

Working with musicians can be challenging as you are often rushed for time to get them connected and playing through the system. Every instrument is different and if real drums are being used they can dominate the sound, forcing the vocals to be pushed into feedback. A simple solution is a drum screen which can lower the volume so a clearer mix can be achieved and stage monitors don’t have to be pushed so hard.

The Good News!

With all this equipment and the potential problems it’s easy to think why bother!, however with a day’s training the sound can be transformed.

Here at Base Sound we have been providing live sound engineering training for over 20 years and during that time have taught thousands of people from all walks of life on how to mix and control live sound.

You don’t require any previous experience and don’t need to take a degree course to understand it. We provide 1, 2 and 4 day training sessions to give you the essential skills to start mixing straight away. Many people have just one day with us and we offer on-site group training so you can learn on your own equipment.

With just one day’s training you can learn:

* Sound System Connectivity and Set Up
* Types of Mics, their Applications, Setting Up and Positioning
* Understanding and using the Mixing Desk
* Improving Vocal and Instrument Clarity using EQ
* Gain Structure, EQ, Signal Routing, Groups, Matrix etc
* Eliminating Feedback
* Setting up Stage Monitors
* Using Gates, Compressors and Effects
* Connecting and using your iPad or Tablet to mix from

For more information on how we can help please visit

If you are looking to update your system there are many things to consider such as the size of space, room acoustics, number of speakers, positioning, musician requirements, number of mics, mix position, future expansion etc.
We can also provide consultation on the best choices for your venue and supply and install it as well.

Base Sound- Sound Engineering Courses - Blogs:
Written by Howard Williams owner and trainer for Base Sound, a company specialising in 1,2 and 4 day live sound engineering courses and One to One sound engineering training -

Getting a Job as a Sound Engineer

Getting a Job as a Sound Engineer

If you are passionate about music but do not want to be in a band, then you may of thought about becoming a sound engineer, however you may also be wondering about what employment opportunities actually exist. Essentially there are two types of sound engineer those that work in recording studios making recordings for commercial release, adverts, games etc. Then there are live sound engineers that mix the sound for performing musicians, bands, theatre artists and also those doing presentations, conferences etc, all to a live audience. This information is to help provide some guidance for live sound engineers on how they can find work. Firstly there are many options available to you but depending on where about’s in the country you live will depend on how far you will have to travel to find them. With regards to finding employment then it is worth looking at all the places where sound engineers are needed. Firstly look at the local pub & club scene in your area and find out which ones have live music and see if any have their own in house PA system and need a sound engineer to mix once a week. Very often you won't get paid much or if you do it might simply be a couple of free beers but it is a great way to start out and get some practice. That said many pubs having live music will often expect the band to bring their own PA but there is nothing to stop you from getting the band's number and seeing if you can still engineer them. If they agree it would be a good idea to meet up beforehand at a rehearsal and familiarise yourself with their equipment just so you know what you are working with. Talking of rehearsing, try also looking up rehearsal rooms in your local press and see if you can put a business card on the notice board as these places will often have many different bands practicing every week and there are bound to be some looking for an engineer. It is also worth checking out local venues in your area such as town halls and nightclubs that have live bands playing and seeing if you can help out but if there are no immediate opportunities try and meet up with the engineer that works there or who works for the band and see if you can help. Sound engineering isn't just about live bands as also theatres and amateur dramatic groups always need sound engineers. Today a lot of churches also have PA systems and will welcome an engineer to help them mix.

In terms of searching the web there are various sites that offer in house jobs in venues and theatres and also Conference and AV companies advertise for freelance engineers to work on up and coming events. There are magazines such as: The Stage, Light & Sound International, Pro Sound News, TPI Magazine all of which have links to job opportunities
There are organisations that also have links to jobs such as PLASA, ABTT that can also help.

There are many companies out there that hire out sound and lighting equipment to all sorts of live music clients ranging from village fetes to major rock concerts and they can be found in various directories such as The White Book, and Showcase, Both of these directories are worth owning as they list a huge range of companies involved in the live music industry. They will be listed under headings such as sound equipment rental or Audio Equipment Rental/Hire. A lot of these companies are looking for people to work in the warehouse and assist with gigs and in time will give you the opportunity to engineer. As a sound engineer the best way to get on is to be flexible and accept you are not always going to find work at exciting rock and roll festivals but also be prepared to offer your services to engineer at conferences, public speeches etc. This is known more as corporate sound engineering and often there is a lot more work especially during the weekdays in this area. Many sound equipment and audio visual rental companies work in this field and look for sound engineers that are technically competent to operate the mixing desk for a conference, exhibition, presentation etc where a sound system has been hired in for speeches and for play back of backing tracks. Although this type of work may not be as exciting or challenging as a 7 piece rock band it is good day time work and there is plenty of it. However you might need to to learn to set up some basic projection or lighting equipment but very often they will provide training in this. From Easter through to October holiday parks up and down the country become very busy and are often providing live entertainment every night so it is well worth enquiring into these places about sound engineering work. The same goes for Cruise liners operators such as P&O, Royal Caribbean which operate many live venues on their ships and are looking for competent sound engineers to be based on the ship whilst cruising. Whilst this will often require long spells away from home it can be a great way to get to know working bands and performers and really develop your sound engineering skills. Of course many sound engineers decide that they want to purchase their own equipment and start offering both their equipment and engineering services for hire. Whilst to begin with it may take a while to get going once you have built up a good database of clients the work can really take off. Owning your own equipment can allow you to then provide high quality equipment and engineering to a variety of clients such as function bands doing corporate gigs and playing at weddings. Also you can then offer your services to marquee companies and event organisers that are especially busy during the summer months. You can also get in touch with your local county council and see what local music festivals and events are taking place and if you have your own equipment, provide a quote to supply and engineer it. If another company is providing it, get their details and see if you can engineer or just help out. This business is all about networking with equipment rental companies, events organisers, venue operators and constantly putting feelers out. There are always opportunities out there and very often once you are known and deemed to be a likeable person as well as an excellent sound engineer, word will soon travel and more opportunities will start to present themselves.

Base Sound- Sound Engineering Courses - Blogs:

Written by Howard Williams owner and trainer for Base Sound, a company specialising in 1,2 and 4 day live sound engineering courses and One to One sound engineering training -

Managing Stage Noise

Managing stage Noise

We've all been there. You get to the front of the stage so you can be near to the band but often it's the monitors and guitar amps that are louder. As you get further back the sound is a confusion of noise as the stage sound interferes with the main front of house. The result being a mix that's lacking clarity, muddy, barely audible vocals and guitars and bass swamping the mix. The musicians might be loving the wall of stage noise but the singer is not and in a vain attempt to hear themselves they end up shouting into the mic, straining their voice, and really struggling.

Bands are teams!
Ok so you've spent your life learning your craft whether it be bass, guitar, drums, keys etc but when you join a band it is no longer about just you but the collective sum and creating a song that sounds musically great that everyone wants to hear. Let's be honest even a die hard bass player when they go and see their favourite band leaves the gig singing the melody line….not the bass line.! So with any band if the vocals can't be heard then it's never going to be a great gig!
With large arenas and festival concerts, stage noise is less of an issue, as the distance between the musicians increases so there is less spill and the main PA is normally a lot louder than the monitors. That said I have been to gigs of more than 5000 people where the monitors were so loud that with the main PA blasting above it, the resulting sound was just a car crash of noise!
So for the smaller gigs managing stage noise is essential to avoid too much sound going back into the mics and polluting the mix. Also the louder the sound the louder the vocals monitors need to be and the more likely-hood of feed back.

So what can be done?
In boomy halls the drum themselves can be almost too loud before they’ve been even been mic’d up so using a drum screen to contain the sound and reduce spill onto the stage mics makes a huge difference.

Positioning guitar amps so that they are on a stand nearer the musician’s ear line means they will not need to be turned up so much to sound as loud as they would if they were at floor level. Facing them away from the main vocal mics can also help reduce spill.

Keeping the bass amp to a sensible level and making sure it is running though the PA rather than trying to fill the hall as well will make a big difference.

If you are using multiple mics on stage look at which ones can be muted when they are not being used as all of these are picking up the stage sound and then running it back to the monitors they are routed to.

If you are micing up a drum kit with several mics then using noise gates can stop the spill from one drum onto all of the mics and greatly increase the clarity though the main PA and improve feedback. This in turn will help prevent less noise getting back to stage and onto the mics.

If you have Graphic Equalisers on your monitors you can use them to both ring out the sound and remove the troublesome frequencies and also shape the tone. This will help un-needed tone such as bass being amplified through the vocal monitors and creating further spill and muddiness.

How about in Ear Monitors!
The ultimate way to control stage noise is not have any monitors at all. In ear monitors allow all the performers to set their own mix and level without having to make any stage noise at all other than their own instrument amp and some even play with pre-amps only. For singers especially, in ear monitors can be a revelation as they can hear themselves without having to shout which means as well as not straining their voice they can put more feeling and expression into their performance.

Finally the best way to control stage noise is simply stop forever turning yourselves up!

Base Sound- Sound Engineering Courses - Blogs:
Written by Howard Williams owner and trainer for Base Sound, a company specialising in 1,2 and 4 day live sound engineering courses and One to One sound engineering training -