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Worship Install From the Ground Up, Part 2

Show 100-2

In this edition of the SVC Podcast, SVC Contributing Editor Bennett Liles continues his talk with AV technician Kevin Kuhn from Morgantown, W.V., about the complete AV system installation he led for non-denominational South Ridge Church in nearby Freemont. Kuhn provides details on the hybrid wedge/in-ear stage monitoring system design, miking the pastors with lapel vs. head-worn models, and tech crew training on the new AV gear.

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

South Ridge Church in Fairmont, W.V., did its homework for a big sound, video, and lighting installation. Acoustic treatment and a solid plan made a good foundation and audio team leader Kevin Kuhn has the rest of the story. That’s coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

Kevin Kuhn, thanks for being back with us for part two on the SVC Podcast from Morgantown, West Virginia, and we were talking last time about how you teamed up with Northern Sound and Light for a sound, video and lighting installation at South Ridge Church. New construction, I believe, so plenty of live sound at South Ridge Church. One of the things we didn’t get into in part one was the stage monitoring. How do they handle all that?

Keven Kuhn: Sure. Hi, Bennett. So at South Ridge one of the things I was concerned about was it’s a relatively small room. Although the stage is very long it’s not very deep and we were concerned about having a lot of monitors on stage bouncing off the back wall and back into the audience and clouding up the house mix. Part of our efforts to keep the stage volume down was to use an in-ear monitor system that also did have an impact. It influenced our console choices. You remember we chose the Soundcraft Expression for our system and that has a plug-in card for Aviom which allows us basically to take a digital 16 individual channels out and throws them up on stage so that the individual musicians have their own mix station and can mix their own monitors, which would do two things. Not only would it help with the stage volume, but also it would take a little bit of pressure off of the volunteer mixing in front-of-house, which is sometimes a difficult enough challenge aside from mixing monitors. So to be able to give the musicians that power in their hand felt like it would be a good move. So far I’m talking with the musicians themselves and the pastoral staff, and they’ve been pretty pleased with that. [Timestamp: 2:21]

And I think you went with self-powered units for the main house. Was that the situation for stage monitoring or did you go with all in-ear monitoring?

We did break it up into two types of stage monitors. I did want to make sure that they had the flexibility of using stage wedges specifically for the vocalists. Anyone who’s stuck their finger in their ear as they’ve spoken or sang knows that it sounds very strange and it’s kind of difficult to get used to. So we decided to go with stage monitors for the vocalists who would be up front, but then for all the individual musicians we went with an Aviom system for their own personal mixes. So we did use, I believe, JBL H boxes with Crown amplifiers that were housed in a rack off the side of the stage. [Timestamp: 3:12]

And one of the more important sound sources is going to be the pastor and there are definitely some differing philosophies on miking the pastor. How did you handle it? Did you go with lapel mics or did you manage to talk them into a head-worn system?

You know, there’s a lot of different theories on a speaking microphone. We went with a Sennheiser wireless system and then actually we have a couple of different microphones for those systems. I believe we have a couple of lapels, the MKII 2’s and the MK 102’s I believe, but then we also have, I believe, a Countryman over-the-ear jawline mic, and I believe the pastor is using the jawline for a majority of speaking but a lot of leaders give us a little flexibility for guest speakers or other individuals who may not be comfortable or may not sound very good on the jawline mic. [Timestamp: 4:08]

Well, that was a lot going on and a big project with the construction delays that we talked about before. How long did the whole project take from what they were doing before to the new building and being ready to go with all of the new sound, video and lighting?

Boy, that’s a great question. I want to say that they were thinking about 18 months for the building process. A lot of that, of course, was site preparation and building preparation and process as well. I tried to work with the electrician and the architect ahead of time to have, for instance, conduit placed in the correct locations so that when we go to fly the speakers, the arrays, things like that, all we have to do is pull a line, which makes my job a lot easier. The actual audio-video installation component probably was spread out over the better part of about two months or so directly. [Timestamp: 5:00]

Well, that’s not bad at all. A fairly long process instead of a quick rush job where you have to get it done and get out fast.

There was a lot of late nights.

And Northern Sound and Light provided a lot of the gear. You’ve worked with them on a number of things before.

Actually, Bennett, I’ve worked with Northern Sound on quite a few projects. They did provide a good majority of the gear. The Renkus-Heinz boxes were actually provided by a company out of California; Laservision World was the company. We went with them because at the time they were helping us do some design work and just getting some ideas, and basically we pre-ordered the boxes before we even had a building, to be truthful, so that was one of those kind of interesting arrangements – ‘I hope this works’ – and in hindsight it turned out really well. I’m very pleased with it. And most of the lighting came from Northern Sound and Lighting, and then a lot of our video equipment itself came from Full Compass. They provided the projection systems and video distribution systems that we had installed. [Timestamp: 6:06]

And at South Ridge Church they have a lot of volunteers on the tech crew as most churches do. Did you have to train a lot of people on the new gear or did they just pick it up and run with it from the beginning?

The volunteers that they have are fantastic. We did work with them for an extended period of time. My discussions prior with the South Ridge staff was that basically once the system was installed and they were ready to move, I would kind of run the sound for a month or so until I was comfortable with the system. We kind of tweaked it and made sure that we got most or some of the bugs worked out, and if there were problems that way, putting the new volunteer into a new room with a new PA commissioned for the first time just doesn’t sound like a good plan. So I definitely wanted them involved though, and they wanted to be involved, so it was really helpful to have them side-by-side asking the questions, trying to understand exactly what was going on, the ins and outs of the PA, and within a couple of weeks they were up and running and mixing themselves as well. I actually pulled resources as well from another church to help me out with lighting and programming all the lights. With the volunteer staff – I should say the volunteers and staff that they have down there – it was really a great experience all the way around. [Timestamp: 7:26]

It’s great to see it when they’ve got it down enough to sort of make it their own thing and start having fun with what they can do after you’ve gotten them started. So have you got any other church projects going right now?

I don’t necessarily have any church projects right now. I’m in the design stages of possibly building a studio for myself, so I’m starting to research all the necessary groundwork for that, if that t comes to fruition for the next year or so. [Timestamp: 7:53]

Alright. That’s great. You’ve got yourself as your own client on this one.

I just wish I wasn’t so picky.

Well, you’ll need to have a meeting with yourself and talk about that.

The problem only comes in when I keep asking for more money.

At least you can tweak it any way you want it once it’s done.

Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.

Kevin, thanks for giving us the details on the South Ridge Church project and how you got them going with new construction and a whole new sound system. I appreciate that and it was great hearing about it.

Great. Well thanks, Bennett. I appreciate it as well.

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