September 6, 2018
I was at Metro for a majority of this afternoon working on some updates to the sound setup.
I'll talk about these in order.
First, I'd like to say that without Brian Patnode taking the wooden monstrosity off of the back of the cart, many of these things would not be possible! Thanks Brian!
1. Added a rack shelf to the AV cart.
My original idea was to add a rack shelf in case it made more sense to move the wireless mic receivers to the cart (instead of having them sit on the stage box) and to plug them directly into the board. It doesn't make sense to do this right now (more about this later) so we now have a rack shelf below the storage box which can hold keys, phones, batteries, etc. I donated the shelf from my home studio setup.
I also made significant changes to our saved Mosaic scene.
One of the main changes I made to our scene was adding subgroups.
Subgroups benefit us in a handful of ways. Most importantly, they allow us to blend multiple tracks together and process them as a group.
Some will wonder if the DCAs will do the same thing. The answer is yes and no. DCAs are like remote controls for volume and allow you to change the volume levels of multiple tracks at once. That's where the comparison starts and stops
Subgroups not only allow you to change volume levels, but eq tracks, compress tracks together (for glue), get more efficient processing (sending multiple tracks to the sub instead of one at a time, etc.). They also let us take advantage of some of the built in effects Midas has for bus processing.
Here is some more information on Subgroups from Midas:
I made 4 stereo subgroups.
Those subgroups are...
ALL DRUMS (blue)
ALL MUSIC (includes guitar, keys, and other harmonic tracks - yellow)
ALL BASS (red)
ALL VOX (green)
The color of each subgroup corresponds to the color of the individual tracks (e.g. drum tracks are all in blue so ALL DRUMS has a blue scribble strip)
Here's how they look (Busses 9-16)
Note: DCAs are still active and can be used as before if you don't want to use subgroups.
Signal flow is: Individual Track -> Subgroup -> DCA -> Master
3. Simplified & Removed Effects & In Ear Monitor Busses
In order to add subgroups, I had to remove some rarely used effects and in ear mix busses.
Originally we had 4 effects: "Vox Verb", "Drums Verb", "Guitar Verb", "Delay"
I got rid of "Drums Verb" and "Guitar Verb" since these instruments can normally be sent to the same reverb as the vocals to create a cohesive ambiance.
Delay was salvaged and the delay tap (on assign #3 at Metro) is still active.
These two post fader effects are now sent to two separate mono busses (7 & 8). They return to the board in FX return as FX1 and FX4 respectively. FX2 and FX3 are unused but can be patched in as insert effects (e.g. transient designer for drum bus, tube amp for harmonic distortion, etc.).
Likewise, I took away the last two IEM busses since we rarely have more than 5 performers at metro. There are now 6 IEM busses (busses 1-6)
Here is how busses 1-8 now look:
On a related note, I patched in 4 mono de-essers for vocals so we can give the vocals more energy without being overly sibilant.
4. Moved iPod, iMac, and Video channels to AUX Layer
We have 2 out of the 3 plugged into AUX inputs so I moved them all to this layer (instead of 24-32).
You may question the difference between the 'Video' and 'iMac' channels. We normally play our service from a video we receive and download from the Hope Center. We receive this video from a black box that is rack mounted into the AV cart. This is labeled as 'Video'.
The last couple weekends, we have run service elements from an iMac that sits on the table (different from the video) for things like a live roll in. This is more common when we run a live service at Metro (e.g. last weekend with Naeem and his siblings - no video to play from North, so we did everything live). This is plugged in as a separate input for now.
I moved these tracks to AUX for the following reason...
5. Added a row of 8 inputs for loop trackouts / Virtual soundcheck
One of our most pressing issues is splitting the loop track to have more mix control on what goes on there.
Since splitting our church into two locations, personnel is limited. Not to mention, live drums at Metro without a drum shield is an acoustics challenge.
Because of this, more elements than just pads and the occasional synth bass are making their way onto the loop track.
In addition, it is impossible for musicians to separate these sounds in their in ear mixes.
We have talked for weeks about how to split the loop track from Ableton Live.
But here is an alternate way to do it using USB...
I created those audio tracks ahead of time and saved them onto a Pro Tools session. I used them as a 'virtual soundcheck' to double check and fine tune settings without the band being present.
Aside from plugging into the card in the back via USB, all I needed to do was download the Klark Teknik drivers to use the IO interface between the Midas and Pro Tools. Fairly simple to do.
2 ways to make the USB approach work...
A. Have a USB cable run from stage to back of the auditorium similar to how we have the AES cat5 cable running. I can't imagine this will be cheap but you never know.
B. Have the laptop in the back and let someone else on production transition the songs.
Note: if we used an 8 out audio interface and kept the laptop on stage, we could just change these tracks on the board back to AES mode.
I relabeled tracks 24-32 the following:
Prog Click, Prog Guide, Prog Drum L, Prog Drum R, Prog Bass L, Prog Bass R, Prog Mus L, Prog Mus R.
6. Mosaic Metro Multitrack Recording
Need I say more?! The ability to record each track from a worship experience separately and mix it in a studio setting for possible later release online.
This still needs more testing to make it official, but using the DN32 USB I successfully captured myself speaking into a mic while recording 31 other tracks simultaneously into Pro Tools. Then I played the recorded vocal back on loop mode through the board and added board effects to it.
Here is that...