Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Why your sound system rings, and how to fix it


1.       How to ring out a room
 
I am often asked as a sound technician about why certain sound systems seem to ring a lot. There are several reasons for this. If you have an understanding of all of these problems it might save you some time and money when you are having problems with your sound system.


Problem 1 – Not understanding the Gain and the Volume Controls
                Gain and Volume are not the same thing. Gain (sometimes labeled Trim) is the amount of sound that you are allowing into the microphone that is on the stage. Let’s consider this scenario. You are running sound for a recording session, and the artist wants a particularly open and far away sound. You could just add a lot of reverb, but that would sound like you’ve added a lot of reverb. Another way to get this sound is to place a mic in a far corner of the room, and crank up the gain, and have the artist stand all the way across the room, or even in the next room and yell at the mic. By cranking up the gain, the mic now has a wide pattern, and is picking up sound from all over the place. Remember mics have patterns to their pickup ability. Cardioid mics have a bit of a heart shaped pattern. This “heart” can grow and contrast as you turn the gain up or down. A shotgun mic has a pretty straight pattern, and picks up signal along a lengthwise pattern. Some mics are “omni-directional” where they pick up sound from all directions. Some are “uni-directional” where they only pick up sound from one direction. The thing to remember is that adjusting the gain changes the size of this pattern, no matter what the pattern is.
                Now consider this, if you are on a stage, and there are lots of instruments blaring away, and you crank up the gain all the way on a singers mic, you’ve adjusted the amount of sound that the mic can pick up. If you adjust the “cardioid” pattern wider than the singers head, then now you have whatever is behind the singer coming into the mic as well. So gain is something that you want to probably keep low, and often times is the first thing that causes ringing in a room.
                Since we are talking about gain, we need to also go over volume. Volume is controlled by two or more controls on a mixer. The first volume control is the main channel fader, usually these are numbered 1 through however many channels you have on your board. Another volume knob is usually located above the main volume fader and is usually labeled 1, 2, 3, or 4, or Aux 1, 2, 3, 4. These are the volume knobs for the different Auxiliary monitor signals. You may have only 1 or you might have 2 Aux sends on your board, or you might have four depending on how advanced your board is. These knobs are the monitor signals. Now something that might cause ringing is if you have the gain up on the mic, and it starts to pick up the signal from the monitor. This will cause a feedback loop, and will cause the earsplitting ringing that inexperienced soundmen are known to cause. It’s wonderful when this happens in a church full of old people. (No, I’m just kidding.) Anyway, this is another reason why you want to be careful about cranking the gain wide open.
Problem 2 - Not Understanding the Volume Faders
                The main volume fader is labeled in a strange way, it has a line for zero, and then it counts up in decibels, and down in decibels. Many people think that they have to have the volume fader set at zero. A really common thing for soundmen to do, is to ignore all those markings, and pretend that when you are pulled all the way down, that is zero. And then blend in the volume from there. Sometimes no matter what you do you will experience a little bit of ringing. A trick my mentor taught me was to take a piece of gaff tape, or labeling tape, and find where the channel rings, and then put a piece of tape so the fader cannot reach that point. That way when you are in the middle of a show, you won’t accidentally turn up that fader too much.
                A lot of boards have bus faders. These are volume knobs that can control a whole bunch of channels at once. You can assign which faders you want to control by pressing the right buttons. The trick with these is to set all your volume knobs first, and then use the bus to bring the whole section up or down.
                The final group of faders are the mains. These are the left and right channel. Typically, at most shows, unless there is a specific need for stereo, I run these in mono in the left channel, and sometimes have even used the right channel as a monitor send if I didn’t have enough monitor sends. This gives me one monitor that has the full mix (somebody always wants that mix anyway) and then I can use the aux sends for the other mixes. On a two aux send board, this gives me three monitor mixes, and for a small band that is perfect usually. Anyway, just like the other volume faders, you want to make sure you find out where everything starts to ring and tape them so you don’t bump up your volume too much. 

Problem 3 -  Not Adjusting your Powered amps and speakers volume knobs properly
                All your powered amps and speakers will have volume knobs too, if they are too close to microphones or each other they will cause ringing. So make sure they are not feeding into any live mics.

Problem 4 - Not ringing out the room ahead of time
                Ringing out the room – this is an important topic that I want to end with. Every mixer has at least two EQ settings, a high setting and a low setting. Some mixers will have a mid setting, and some will have two mid settings. Then some mixers have built in graphic eqs, with several settings. But I find that having a separate eq for each of the mains channels, and each of the monitor sends is important. Here is the problem, certain frequencies are just tricky and will cause ringing when you try to bump the volume. If you use a spectral analyzer (frequensee is a good app for your phone) you can see exactly which frequencies are ringing. Once you get the room to ring (by playing white noise through the system) you find where the first ringing is, and turn down that frequency on the eq for that speaker. Then you turn it up some more until it rings again, and then you locate that frequency and turn it down. Then you do this until you can crank the volume all the way up. (Like I mentioned before some rooms are just tricky, or you might not have enough eq faders to mess with to do a perfect job. This is a good reason to go ahead and splurge on the EQ with a ton of faders instead of buying the cheap one. Anyway do your best, and then mark the board if you can’t get all the ringing out.) Just repeat this process for each one of the speaker systems you set up. If you run your mains in mono, then EQ them first. Then turn off the mains, and EQ each of the monitor lines you set up. Then turn everything on and double check it all to make sure everything is going to work.
                Once you’ve rung out the room, and set up all the sound, then bring in the band to do a sound check. If there is anything ringing after that, it’s probably something that can be adjusted with the eqs that are built into the board itself.
                Hope this helps.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mind Map Video

So yesterday I started a new youtube channel to post videos that have to do with my concept of Whole Brain Thinking. I know that a lot of New Agey people have taken over the whole brain market with their newly packaged Transcendental Meditation, (which by the way is exactly the opposite of Whole Brain Thinking, as the ancient Japanese knew well by calling it "No Mind"), but I have a lot to say about the subject.

Being a natural ambidextrous person I use whole brain (using both sides of your brain at the same time) thinking every day. We live in a society that is seriously lacking in logic, but those people who seem to be logical often are missing the artistic part of them. And then the whole world seems to be missing a connection with God that is part of a fully functional system, and then of course there is the physical side of things. So this channel will explore these topics in greater depth.

My first video for the channel is about Mind Mapping. Mind Mapping is a whole brain exercise that helps you figure out a topic you are studying. So I made a mind map of my channel, and what I want to discuss on it. You can see part one of the video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUo9dxCZnCA

I hope you enjoy the video and get a lot out of it, and I hope that you too can become a whole brain thinker and become wiser and more intelligent in the process!

Later,

Willy

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sinawali Update

Ok, so after consulting with Wmpyr, I reorganized the previous Sinawali charts. Here are three charts one for 6 count sinawali, one for 8 count and one for 10 count. If you double up on each one you can also use these charts for 12, 16 and 20 count sinawali's I believe.

If you want to print them out from a pdf, I am including a link to both the jpgs and pdfs of the files.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/l5ngcv1runasrk7/AAAaQhYEAeEYmLnincDWWwrsa?dl=0



I am hoping to make a video soon explaining how to use the rhythm chart at the bottom. If you need drum lessons in Winston Salem give me a call, and you too can learn to play drums and wield escrima sticks at the same time! :)

8 Count Sinawali Chart

Ok, so in my last post I wrote about my new fitness program, and I discussed a chart that I designed for the Heaven 6 sinawali, or in fact any 6 count sinawali. In this post, I am including a chart I designed for an 8 count sinawali. Hope you find it useful.





As you can see on the chart, I have listed four grids at the top which will allow you to write in moves from similar sinawali if you want to see them all on one page. The diamond shape in the middle is for strike angles. The man in the middle is for marking target areas. The boxes on either side are the movements of the sinawali, and the lines coming off are for your notes. The outside columns are for add ons that can make the sinawali more complex, while the inner lines are for notes that remind you of proper techniques. The music staves at the bottom are drum staves that allow you to insert whatever rhythmic pattern you want to work on . There is a reminder to put a key signature because a complex key signature can really throw off an opponent. And finally down at the bottom is a color coding system, so you can use markers to color code each strike by coloring in the number or outlining the box, which will tell you where you want that particular strike to land.

Hope this helps. I'll be trying to get a 10 count cart up soon.

Escrima/Arnis/Kali Chart for Sinawali

So this year, I wanted to get into shape. I started a new diet (actually, I've tried four different diets this year) and I've lost about 20 lbs, trying to lose about 40 more pounds total. And one of the things that I've added to help my heart is an exercise program. I am doing a weekly additional exercise program. The first week I started by doing 100 jumping jacks, the second week, I added sit ups/crunches (I alternate) and I'm trying to work up to 100 of those. The third week I added planks, which hopefully will work up to 100 of those a day. And one of the other things I've been doing is adding a martial arts training for sword/stick fighting from a martial art called Modern Arnis (aka Escrima or Kali).

So there's a really cool guy on Youtube who calls himself Wmpyr, who makes great Escrima videos. If you want to learn how to do sword fighting, he's your man. You can check out his channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/wmpyr

Anyway, so I came up with a chart that will help me learn my sinawali weaves and I am uploading it for you. I also have included drum rhythm staves, to help develop rhythm when training.

Here it is!

I'm also working on an 8 count sheet that can be used as well.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Album Available on Band Camp Today!!!

My new album is being released today on Band Camp! Of all the albums I have recorded, I think I am the happiest with the sound of this album. The band camp version will have 6 un-mastered bonus tracks (including Sloop John B) that will not appear on the CD version that is coming out at the end of march. It isn't completely a mandolin album, but I do play a lot of mandolin on many of the songs. Check it out and feel free to snag the downloads today! I'll let you know when the CD comes out! https://willyminnix.bandcamp.com/album/wayfarers-saints-rogues

Saturday, February 18, 2017

How to Play Mandolin In Other Keys Part 3



Hi Everyone,

As you know the topic we are focusing on this month is how to play in how to play the mandolin in other keys if you are tuned to Open D tuning. 

If you haven’t already, you are going to want to check out this week’s video. In this video we are continuing to move the boxes up and down the neck, and are tackling the key of A! I think you will feel ready to play at any bluegrass jam after you get this week’s lesson mastered!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8R-EO22jNA

We also have a new lick of the week video out which you can check out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ1N_0yFCCc
And if you are also a guitar player, or have a guitar player in your circle of friends who might be interested in slide techniques, you can check out the new slide guitar video for the Open D tuning here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKVpu5dDx4I

For those of you who are members of the newsletter, you are already aware that you are getting access to lots of tips and tricks that aren’t covered anywhere else. And if you are not a member, consider joining so you too can get the most out of this month’s topic. You can join here! http://eepurl.com/cAk3dj

You’re also going to want to check out my books, videos and CDs to get the most out of your lessons. If you look around on the blog, you will see links to all of my books, links to other videos that you may not have seen yet, and tons of other info that should help you as you strive to be the best musician you can be!
I hope you have a great week. Thanks for checking out my new material!

God bless,
Willy

Friday, February 10, 2017

How To Play Mandolin In Other Keys Part 2



Hi Everyone,

As you know the topic we are focusing on this month is how to play in how to play the mandolin in other keys if you are tuned to Open D tuning. 

If you haven’t already, you are going to want to check out this week’s video. In this video we begin our discussion on how the five pentatonic boxes can be moved around on the neck. The video for this week delves into what you can do to play in the key of G. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_aDuJUIAmM
You can also check out the new lick of the week video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OUHAau3bEQ
For those of you who are members of the newsletter, you are already aware that you are getting access to lots of tips and tricks that aren’t covered anywhere else. And if you are not a member, consider joining so you too can get the most out of this month’s topic. You can join here!

Introducing Guitar Videos:
This month Minnix Music is also rolling out a new line of videos. This series will be focusing on how to play slide guitar in Open Tunings. The first tuning we are discussing works great with ADAD mandolin: Open D tuning. If you want to check out that video, or know a guitar player who might enjoy it, you can find it here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKVpu5dDx4I

You’re also going to want to check out my books, videos and CDs to get the most out of your lessons. If you look around on the blog, you will see links to all of my books, links to other videos that you may not have seen yet, and tons of other info that should help you as you strive to be the best musician you can be!
I hope you have a great week. Thanks for checking out my new material!

God bless,

Willy