Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Month: November 2008 (Page 2 of 2)

Webinar on the FCC Ruling

iLevite is hosting another webinar to follow up on the FCC ruling of Nov. 4. This is important information for church sound folks, especially if you’re using wireless mics (and who isn’t?). Panelists include: Chris Lyons of Shure, Karl Winkler of Lectrosonics, Kent Margraves of Sennheiser, Curt Taipale, Jacquelynn Green of AT.

If you read this before 10 AM CST on Nov. 11, you can listen live. If not, iLevite is hoping to record the event so you can hear it later. Visit iLevite for more information.

Update on FCC Ruling

It’s been a week since the FCC voted on the issue of White Spaces. The cynic in me believes that they chose Nov. 4 as their day to vote figuring the rest of the country would be earnestly following the other election, and they could escape any real critique. That may be, but the techies among us were just as concerned about what will happen to our wireless mic spectrum. 

Details are still coming out, but overall, it looks like generally good news for those of us who use wireless mics. I talked a bit with Chris Lyons of Shure and Kirk Longhoffer at WFX, and got a few more details. The short story is that the unlicensed white space devices will be limited to a few unused TV channels in each market, the will use spectrum sensing and geo-location to avoid other signals (which means churches can register their frequencies) and they are not allowed to use channels 14-20.

So overall, it’s good news. Kirk Longhoffer has a more detailed assessment that you can read at his site, TechnoPraxis. I just met Kirk and learned of his site at WFX, and I have to say, it’s a site to check out. Stay tuned for more details, particularly regarding the ruling on the 700 Mhz relocation plans. In the meantime, check out Kirk’s article.

Thoughts on WFX Fall 08

Though I had to leave a day early, WFX was a wonderfully helpful conference. First, it was great to hang out with Colin Burch of FaithTools (and one of his volunteers, Erik). We had a lot of fun together; it’s always great to meet with other tech guys and hear their stories and passions. I also got to meet up with Brian Davis for a little while. Brian introduced me to a few other people I knew of but hadn’t met, and some new friends (Anthony, Kirk and Mark). I really enjoy networking and meeting new people, and putting faces to names/twitter photos. 

I will be recapping the conference in more detail later, but for now, I thought I’d run down some of the cool gear I saw at the Expo. This is in no particular order, just remembering it as I think of it.


There’s a lot of momentum toward digital audio transport right now, and Yamaha finally got on the bandwagon. With the introduction of the SB168-ES, the now have an Ethersound-based solution. The 168 is essentially a 4 space high rack mountable box with 16 inputs and 8 outputs. By connecting to an Ethersound MY card, you can now transport audio back and forth over a single ethernet cable. The channel count will depend on the board in question, but even the lowly LS-9 could do up to 32 channels bi-directionally. The stage box is expected to be shipping in January and retail for around $3,000, give or take.


Regular readers of this blog will know I’ve been really big on the V-Mixing system of late. I had some really good conversations with several reps and a fair amount of hands-on time. I came away even more impressed. The interface is really usable, the sound is great, and I’m completely enamored by the price point, considering the ability to transport 48 channels bi-directionally. The board has a great feature set, solid options for stage boxes, and some new things in the pipeline that I can’t talk about (I was sworn to secrecy). I will say this; some of the new stuff will be potential game-changers and I will be holding off placing orders for UR’s new system until it’s officially announced early next year. I just wish I could tell you about it!


LEDs are the wave of the future. Every lighting booth was full of them. The technology is getting a lot better, and the feature sets are growing. I saw one moving head fixture that could zoom from 8-12 degrees, with full RGB color mixing. The color purity is getting much, much better, and there are more options than ever. Best of all, they draw substantially less power than conventional lights, with nearly the same output in many cases. While we won’t likely be replacing any of the really high-end fixtures like a Mac 700 with an LED unit just yet, for many applications, they are the bees knees. Depending on what we end up doing with the UR plant next spring, I will be looking hard at these. Here’s a sample from Elation.


I stopped by the Kramer booth to look at their video over UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) products. I’m looking closely at these for sending video from our presentation computer to the projectors because CAT-5 cable is a lot cheaper and easier to use than a VGA or DVI cable once you get past about 25′. I wasn’t sure of the quality–until yesterday. They were sending full 1080i video over 300′ of CAT-5, and it looked amazing. No skew, now color shift, no blurring. It looked like high-def video. Best of all, the products are very affordable. These deserve your attention if you’re dealing with projector runs, digital signage, overflow rooms or any other long distance video application.

There’s more, of course, but that’s all I’ve got right now. Over the next week or so, I’ll write about some other cool stuff I came across.

FaithTools Live

One of the coolest things I got to do was sit in with Colin Burch on the FaithTools Live from WFX podcast. We were also joined by Eric, a volunteer from Colin’s church. Look for the episode in a week or so.

Eric, Colin and Mike record FaithTools using some vintage AKG D190E mics and Colin’s MacBook Pro and ProTools. The old meets the new in recording technology!

WFX Keynote Address

Dave Ferguson of Community Christian Church spoke at the keynote. He gave a great talk on innovation, and the set looked sweet as well. I believe many, if not most, of the lights were LED fixtures. The colors popped and the intensity was right there.

Oddly, in a conference devoted to worship facilities and worship technology, there were a host of technical problems. All the videos appeared to be running from Windows Media Player. I could tell because the play bar appeared at the beginning of every video. I would have gladly lent my MacBook Pro running ProPresenter if they had asked. Also, it was odd that one of the cameras for IMAG appeared to be shuttered at 1/15th of a second. The other one was fine, but every time they switched to the medium/wide shot, there was a shutter effect. Could have been 24p, but it looked shuttered. What’s up with that?

And there were several times when Dave asked for a graphic and it wasn’t there. Or it would pop up after he went on to another point. Made me feel really good about our presentation team. 

That’s not Dave. That’s some other guy. Just wanted to show the set.

I’ve got a lot more for WFX recaps, but that’s all for now. Stay tuned!

Observations on Houston

I arrived today in Houston for the WFX conference. Here are a few things I noted on my journey. 


  • It’s really important to pay attention to your boarding pass, and not talk on the phone while you walk to your gate. I could have sworn it said A3, not E3. Turns out, the two gates are about a 15 minute walk apart. So down and back, it was 30. Oops…
  • I do not believe it’s possible to make seats any more uncomfortable than the airlines have managed to. Congratulations.
  • George Bush airport is a big place. I am pretty sure I’ve been in towns (and perhaps counties) that are smaller.
  • When Super Shuttle describes itself as “shared transportation from the airport to your hotel,” they are not kidding. Today, I shared a ride in a van with 10 of my new, close friends. It reminded me of youth group trips in a 12 passenger van…only much quieter.
  • The architecture in downtown Houston is fascinating. Tonight I ate dinner at a place called Cabo (it was very good), which is across the street from a building built in 1882, which has a brand new parking deck built right next to it. You see this all over downtown. The very old, and very new. Somehow, it works.
  • I always eat too much at dinner when I’m on the road. And too late. This always makes it hard to sleep. You’d think after spending 10 years on the road a lot, I would have learned by now. But no…
  • I’m super-excited to hang out with some friends over the next two days, and to make new friends. And I am really excited about checking out some new gear for Upper Room. 

If I have wireless tomorrow, I’ll post when I can. Thanks for reading!

White Spaces Filling Up

While most Americans are busy watching the results of the presidential elections, those of us who regularly use wireless microphones have been anxiously awaiting the results of another vote. The FCC voted today to open up the “White Spaces” to other unlicensed devices from Google, Microsoft, Motorola and others. While this will be a boon to internet access, it is likely to be a nightmare for users of wireless mics.

So far, the white space devices have not been able to successfully detect and avoid wireless mics (and at times even TV stations) more than about 50% of the time. So over the next few years, expect to start having issues with wireless mics, even if you are properly frequency coordinated and under the 698 Mhz range. It’s a jungle out there, and it’s going to get more crowded. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

As for the proposed 700 Mhz band relocation…well, I don’t know how that turned out yet. The final rules are not yet available. But as soon as I hear something, I’ll let you know. As we’ve been saying all along, start making a plan to move out of the 700 Mhz band, whether sooner or later. 

More to come…stay tuned!

Countdown to WFX

Tomorrow I fly to Houston. I’ve been looking forward to going to the WFX Conference for quite some time. Since Upper Room is in the midst of planning to be planted, I’m doing tons of research on new equipment, facilities design and system design. I’m thoroughly excited to be able to start from scratch for our new systems. I hope to be able to get some good hands-on time with some of the gear of particular interest (the RSS V-Mixing system for example), and meet some equipment reps. We’re starting almost from scratch, so we’ve got a lot of gear to purchase.

I’m also looking forward to meeting up with some friends that I’ve only virtually met. I’m looking forward to finally shaking hands with Colin Burch of FaithTools and Brian Davis of Worship Tech Online. I have a really full schedule, but if anyone else is coming down and would like to meet up to talk for a few minutes, please shoot me an e-mail (mike[at]churchtecharts[dot]org). [update: I had previously listed my e-mail as .com instead of .org. I’ve been a bit scattered lately…sorry]

On a sadder, more personal note, some of you may have noticed in my Twitter feed that my father passed away last Friday. His death was not entirely unexpected, but was very sudden and caught my siblings and I really off guard. I will be leaving WFX early to fly to Virginia for the funeral. I will be bouncing amongst 5 airports in 4 days, so if you think of it, say a prayer for me, especially Thursday and Friday. The schedule is really tight and a missed flight would be bad. For everyone who’s Twittered, called and e-mailed thoughts, prayers and condolences, know that they are much appreciated and have been very sustaining. It’s times like these that being part of the Body of Christ is so precious. 

More from WFX coming soon!

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