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  • Request Advice on General PA Setup / Purchase

    Hello,

    I've popped in and out of some threads here looking at what people have said given other users' setups and questions on new equipment. Got a few ideas, but nothing sure. I'd appreciate any advice you might have regarding my current PA Setup at my Church.

    Number one question is am I missing something (e.g. an EQ)? What do people think of the DriveRack in my situation (I was considering one, but if it won't really contribute for my setup then there isn't much point getting it)?

    A side question could be how do I fix that lavalier problem, but I can save that for another thread.

    Technical Specs -- All of them
    The room is roughly 30 x 50 feet long. Stage wall (four foot window either side) and stage right wall (three four foot windows) are outside, hard walls. Stage left and back are indoor walls. The audio booth is toward the back, stage right of the room.

    Mixer: Allen & Heath ZED 22FX.

    Amplifier: QSC GX5. A&H L & R channels are plugged into the QSC separately, then the Speakers are plugged into the QSC separately from there. (Stereo). Knobs are set at -10db presently.

    Speakers: 2 x Yamaha S115V. The singers are pretty close to the Stage Right Speaker, one foot back; the speakers are roughly six feet ahead of the pulpit. This could be pushed forward, but that'd require moving a chair out of the first row of the side pews (2 aisle sanctuary setup). I'm guessing doing this might dull the sound heard by anyone in the very front row (which usually isn't populated, but...)

    Monitor: 1 x Fender Speaker that came with a Fender PASSPORT PD250+ (unknown RMS, but the Passport amp was 125 W per channel, so I'm wagering somewhere in there). I'm using this as a monitor because money's tight and the Yamaha's replaced it/them as the FOH Speakers.

    Monitor Amplifier: Peavey XR 600E (was used prior to building becoming a church for overhead/ambient music, I'll get to why I'm using it and not the fender further down). 105 W per channel.

    Back-Fill Speakers: One in either back corner, small Peaveys. I don't know their model, but I do know they do not like going anywhere near FOH (obviously). I keep the volume low on them so they don't buzz but they're audible enough. These are powered off the Peavey XR 600E as well.

    * Monitor is run through PA1 Input using Balanced 1/4" from the A&H's AUX1 (direct to amplifier, skip the Peavey controls, my mixer handles the volume).

    * Back speakers get their feed from the A&H REC OUT RCA fed to the TAPE IN on the Peavey, their volume is controlled on the Peavey.

    * Reason I'm using the Peavey and not the Fender as an amp is because the Peavey has four 1/4" outputs on the back, 2 PA1 and 2 PA2. PA2 is handling the back speakers, that left me PA1 for the monitor (with one PA1 left open). The Fender only had two outputs.

    A&H AUX 2 is used for the Presenter or Pastor run through Balanced 1/4" to the Left Channel on the M-AUDIO Audiophile 192 in the Computer.

    A&H AUX 3 is used for the Praise & Worship Team run through Balanced 1/4" to the Right Channel on the M-AUDIO Audiophile 192 in the Computer.

    We have 2 Shure PGX SM58 Wireless Mics; & an OM-2 Wired Mic and a Unspecified Wired Mic that run through a snake to the Sound Booth. These are primarily for the Praise & Worship Team.

    We also have 1 Shure PGX Lavalier Mic (Super Cardioid & Omnidirectional attachments, currently the Super Cardioid is being used). This is the Mic I'm having the most trouble with (the others were cleaned up when I could finally move the speakers out in front of the singers, though the wired mics still have a good amount of hiss left in them when idle and not muted).

    Computer is plugged into the A&H to provide MP3 or CD Sound. There's a CD Changer also plugged in, and a TASCAM CD Recorder (what they used before I started using the computer as the primary recording device).

    Gain / Volume
    So, that's the long and the short of everything I have.

    Wireless mics tend to live around 0 or Unity, or lower, with Main Volume set around Unity.

    Wired mics tend to near +7db Fader (in part due to soft singers or distant mics--working on it; while feedback isn't as troublesome as it was before it's there when the Gain goes higher than +20db Mic).

    Lavalier's settings are in flux. Still trying to find a setting where the Pastor's voice is even, doesn't sound tinny, and I don't get that lovely piercing ear screech from feedback trying to pump up the volume (often he's defaulting back to one of the wireless mics which sounds fuller/deeper and can get much louder without a hint of feedback).

    The Request
    Right, so after all that, I'd appreciate any recommendations you have (should I purchase anything? What's with the lavalier feedback?). A few items that've popped up from forum searching: the DBX DriveRack 260, a DBX or Peavey Equalizer, a Crown XTi 2000 Amp, etc.

    Budget? Let's say $1,000 for the sake of getting ideas (I'd like to go no where near it, but I know you get what you pay for).

  • #2
    Okay, I'm a little confused. Lots of info but I don't know if you ever stated what your technical problem is.

    If nothing is wrong (to your ears anyway) with your PA, why do you want to fix it? In other words, is there a particualr problem you would like to address?

    Comment


    • #3
      Hello,

      Gain / Volume

      Wireless mics tend to live around 0 or Unity, Main Volume set around Unity.

      Wired mics tend to near +10db (in part due to soft singers or distant mics--working on it; while feedback isn't as troublesome as it was before it's there when the gain goes higher than +20db Mic).

      Lavalier's settings are in flux. Still trying to find a setting where the Pastor's voice is even, doesn't sound tinny, and I don't get that lovely piercing ear screech from feedback trying to pump up the volume (often he's defaulting back to one of the wireless mics which sounds fuller/deeper and can get much louder without a hint of feedback). Side note, the transmitter pack is set to "Mic" (I presume +10db); lowering it to 0db or -10db seems to draw in substantial amount of hiss.

      Budget? Let's say $1,000 for the sake of getting ideas (I'd like to go no where near it, but I know you get what you pay for).


      Don't ask me why, but I'm taking another stab at this. I personally think you've got enough stuff for three or four threads so I'll just start with a few things.

      1. Your system seems overly complicated. This isn't causing your feedback, but it can't be helping. That's all for now.

      2. When you say the mics are near +20dB are you talking about the fader? What fader goes to +20dB? And if you're talking about the gain, oh never mind. Maybe check your gain structure or get new singers

      3. Dump the Lavs and get wireless headsets. As you've found out, you can't rewrite the rules of sound. Even a good lav probably wouldn't work the way you want it to - in your situation.

      4. Yes, you need some kind of an EQ. No don't get a Driverack - yes they're great, but tell me, how many people in your church (besides you) would EVER learn to use it? Start with a stereo 31 band EQ (DBX 231 for example) and learn how to ring your system. If you've got a bunch of keen sound enthusiats, then maybe down the road you can look at a Driverack, but I would start with the basics.

      5. Good mics will aid somewhat in lowering GBF (Gain before feedback) but only so much. At this point the Lav is the real problem. that and maybe speaker placement and EQ.

      Obviously all points above are my opinions, not fact - but hey you asked!

      Hopefully others here won't be afraid to wade in. I know your post seemed a little daunting at first

      Comment


      • #4
        Reading the original post made me dizzy. For now, I am going to respond to only one issue.

        If you have to use a lavaliere mic, it is one area that you can't cut corners on to stay within budget. The good news is, one of Shure's best "gain before feedback" lav mics is one of their less expensive. The Shure WL185 is not the best sounding mic they manufacture but it gets quite loud without drastic EQing. It's a Cardioid pattern which might be a little more friendly than Super Cardioid. I feel this mic should be paired up with a reasonable quality wireless system...Shure ULXS or better. Shaster's suggestion of headset (or earset) mics is a good call but some people don't want to wear them and, in that case, you have to deal with lavalieres.

        Dennis

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes, we need more description of what problems you are having.
          If it is feedback, than in addition to what Shaster said, I'll ask about a common issue I see at our Church when others mix. Are you muting mics that aren't in use? Especially when trying to get level out of the lav, make sure any other mics that aren't being spoken or sung into are muted. Every time you double the number of open mics you lose roughly 6dB of GBF.

          Winston
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-c1JDsmREI
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPUXD...eature=related
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          http://www.sisterwivesband.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Thought it might be a bit much information, but I was trying to give the whole picture in case there was any obvious missing pieces. Thanks for the ideas so far.

            Number one question is am I missing something (e.g. an EQ)? What do people think of the DriveRack in my situation (I was considering one, but if it won't really contribute for my setup then there isn't much point getting it)?

            A side question could be how do I fix that lavalier problem, but I can save that for another thread.

            "1. Your system seems overly complicated."

            Regarding the back speakers and/or monitor? The back speakers aren't loud enough to make it to the stage, though I am still working on the monitor's volume (I think the thing's acting as a front fill unintentionally because of reflection and might cause problems; since I just set that up last week I'm still working on it).

            "2. And if you're talking about the gain, oh never mind. Maybe check your gain structure or get new singers"

            I am talking about the gain. The wired microphone faders are at +7db, Gain is at +15-20db Mic (not line). I do have more headroom with the main volume now that the main speakers have moved forward, but you're right that I may need to redo the entire gain structure or really stress the singers need to be louder.

            "3. Dump the Lavs and get wireless headsets."

            If it comes down to it we could try that, but the Pastor would really prefer a lavalier instead.

            "4. Yes, you need some kind of an EQ. No don't get a Driverack [...] stereo 31 band EQ (DBX 231 for example)"

            Thank you for the recommendation.

            "The Shure WL185"

            I double checked and the one I got was the WL184. When the Pastor's chin is down and he's speaking straight into it sound is good, clear, and deep. When his chin's level is when the volume drops and it's a fight of getting the volume up vs. feedback. I'll keep the WL185 in mind, however.

            "Are you muting mics that aren't in use?"

            I mute any mic not currently in use (keeps unwanted noise out, and reduces hiss in the speakers). With the lavalier I test it with everything else muted.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm in the "stay away from the Driverack and get a simple graphic EQ" crowd.
              tlbonehead@yahoo.com
              www.myspace.com/tbone_tommy
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              - Hughes Kettner Edition Tube 20 (the early Voxy sounding one) Sounds & looks good. $250 + shipping. SOLD
              - Crate Palomino V8 - 10" Celestion - Very clean - on Ebay (sold)

              Comment


              • #8
                I double checked and the one I got was the WL184. When the Pastor's chin is down and he's speaking straight into it sound is good, clear, and deep. When his chin's level is when the volume drops and it's a fight of getting the volume up vs. feedback. I'll keep the WL185 in mind, however.


                I have used WL184s and not had any big problems. In addition to adding a stereo 31 band GEQ to the main Left and Right, try inserting a 31 band GEQ in the Lav channel. Tune the system musically with the main L&R EQ and then use the inserted EQ to deal with lavaliere issues only.

                Dennis

                Comment


                • #9


                  A side question could be how do I fix that lavalier problem, but I can save that for another thread.

                  "2. And if you're talking about the gain, oh never mind. Maybe check your gain structure or get new singers"

                  I am talking about the gain. The wired microphone faders are at +7db, Gain is at +15-20db Mic (not line). I do have more headroom with the main volume now that the main speakers have moved forward, but you're right that I may need to redo the entire gain structure or really stress the singers need to be louder.

                  "3. Dump the Lavs and get wireless headsets."

                  If it comes down to it we could try that, but the Pastor would really prefer a lavalier instead.

                  "Are you muting mics that aren't in use?"

                  I mute any mic not currently in use (keeps unwanted noise out, and reduces hiss in the speakers). With the lavalier I test it with everything else muted.



                  Your lav problem seems to be your number one issue, although the solution might reside in other portions of your system, as well as with your lav mic. I agree with Winston, quality mics in that area are essential - but they still might not work the way you want, depending on your room, system limitations, and so on. Also muting is a good thing, forgot to mention that.

                  Your gain sturcture still seems strange to me. I personally wouldn't want to be running my mics at +7dB on the faders (on a constant basis). That seems too high. It would appear that either your masters are down too low or your "trim" isn't set correctly, or (fill in the blanks). Do you PFL the channel sources (mics and so on) to set gain to "your products" unity?

                  I deal with school productions on a semi-regular basis. Speaker and mic placement can make a huge difference between success and failure.

                  There used to be some info on feedback... posted on the Shure website. You might take a look and see if you can find anything. Basically the further away from you mic sources your speakers are, AND the closer and louder your sources are to your mics, the better your GBF will be. Obvious, but sometimes we want to change those rules, and turn lead into gold. Can't do it yet, maybe someday

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think in this case, a picture or two might be worth a thousand words. Can you post a picture of your set-up? Especially where the mains are positioned in the room and in relation to the pulpit.

                    Without addressing every little thing that might be wrong with your system, here's a few things I can tell you right off the bat:

                    Lavaliere mics suck. They're horrible things that should have never left the confines of the TV studio. They weren't meant for live sound. If they were, they'd perform better, wouldn't they? Do everything you can to convince your pastor that spreading the word of God is much better done through:
                    a. a podium mic or vocal mic on a stand (if he doesn't move a lot)
                    b. a handheld wireless mic
                    c. a headset/earset mic

                    Back-fill speakers? Unless you're doing Pink Floyd in quad or using directional sound effects, it's NEVER a good idea to use rear fill speakers in the audience. I can pretty much guarantee that they're doing more harm than good. The Yamaha speakers you have should be able to reach the back of the room OK, if they're positioned correctly. Re-purpose the Peaveys, maybe as front fills.

                    Sound booth? Is this enclosed or open to the space?

                    Monitor - is this a stage monitor? For whom?

                    Also, can you give us an idea of what's going on with the music? Are there musicians involved? Just singers? Does the pastor sing? Rocking gospel or hymns to an organ?

                    I'd agree that a drive rack is not the answer to your problems, but a graphic EQ can help.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'd go hardcore and sell everything, get the money and buy a few powered speakers and a mixer.
                      YMMV.

                      Release your inner DJ... then you will begin to see.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Agree with what everyone said about the Lav mics - get rid of it, and if you must use it (yeah, i know some pastors insist on it) get a single channel EQ to insert into it.

                        Your mixer and speakers are adequate (although i guess it does depend on the type of music). If you're looking for a modern "rock style" church music, you'd love some subs but i suspect with your budget that may be a question for another day.

                        I'm also in the "lose the rear fills" category. 50 feet should be fine for people to hear the FOH speakers. If it isnt, maybe try getting them up higher. Often churches have sound systems that have sort of evolved from the days of using those "100v" style roof mounted speakers where they have heaps of speakers (completely unsuited to music and even pretty poor for preaching) and the church guys have the idea in their head that the solution is "lots of speakers". No!

                        You'll find an EQ of some sort (+1 on the DBX 231 as a cheap but solid option) really helpful.

                        Maybe someone from another local church who's ahead of you but knows this stuff could help you out? Where are you?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Good grief, I completely missed the "back fill " speakers, so confused was I.

                          Yes and yes, lose the back fill speakers, unless there is something really peculiar with your set up. Think about it - your lav mic (as troublesome as they are) now has more places from which to feedback. And two of them are in front of the mic!

                          I believe as stated, we need some "pictures at eleven". Or maybe a diagram or some detailed dimensions.

                          This is like doing an install over the internet. Fascinating in a way. But I must say, I'm not a "licensed" (manner of speaking) install guy. I have placed systems, but that's not my day job.

                          Of course if your church has the bucks you might look for someone to come out and assess your situation (also as suggested).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm with tlbonehead on this. I use and love my Driverack but the DR would not be right for your situation. The 31 band will be much easier.
                            "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." - Hunter S. Thompson

                            Band promo shots on railroad tracks were cool in 1981...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Lose the back speakers sounds like a good idea, especially with the Yamahas up there now. I was listening for that this week actually and I think they cover the sides and center seating just fine on their own.

                              Sound booth is open.

                              Monitor is pointed at the singer/instrument pit (typically we don't have musicians at the moment, but we do have an electric piano--that likes to add hiss when it's on--and a drum set--which as you can imagine can be excessively loud in the wrong hands).

                              Music is a variety, but often contemporary Christian. Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Hezekiah Walker, Nicole C. Mullen, etc. Rarely do straight hymns. Current Interim Worship Leader buys accompaniment CDs so they can use the Demo (includes leader singer) or the Background Vocals only track. Pastor rarely sings with them.

                              Here's a picture of the mixer I took just today after the Praise & Worship and Sermon was over. I'm still working off the base I made when we had the Fender speakers up there, so don't yell at me too loudly if these look horrible We have a PRaise and Worship practice tomorrow that might help me readjust now that the speaker situation has improved drastically.



                              Main volume is usually kept at unity/0db, the picture shows it was a little lower as I was fiddling trying to compensate for a low-speaking congregation member that had the mic toward the end.

                              Also, here's Stage Right:



                              And Stage/Stage Left:



                              I appreciate everyone's recommendations thus far. I'll look into some local opinion and advice regarding the setup on site as well. We're located in the Austin area, so there's plenty of possibilities, just need to find one.

                              Comment













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