one-weekend kuching trip


went on saturday, back on sunday.

so i was approached by my KL pastor some time towards the end of 2012 on the Kuching’s church new sound system. they were renovating the place and she thought maybe i could advise them or hold a workshop to give them a little more insight and such. i did fly to kuching for a church camp  right after my finals but never got around to checking out the new system.

i carried the “workshop” idea for more than a year until i was approached by my kuching pastor. we met during the “impacting the marketplace” convention and quickly decided that i should fly down to kuching the next weekend. i spent the next one week preparing slides, studying the fundamentals and refreshing my knowledge….until i had a bad feeling.

i don’t know how else to describe it. it wasn’t like i was nervous or anything. the people who i was going to meet were, after all my “family”; people who i grew up with until i moved to KL. but for some reason, every part of me just felt like, i should scrap the enter powerpoint presentation and just go with the flow, ask them for a list of problems and then work either around or fix them. i got the idea from Law of the Lid – first chapter of John Maxwell‘s book “The 21 Most Irrefutable Law of Leadership”.

the basic idea is that, i could teach them everything and anything that they can learn about live sound reinforcement, but 90% of the given knowledge probably gets thrown out the window before they even begin to digest. i figured, that they only need to solve their current problems and work around with whatever they have at the moment.

anyways, i landed KIA around noon time, so naturally my pastor brought me to their favourite laksa place for lunch! (but it was closed, so we went to the one behind it lol.) after lunch, they brought me back to their place to freshen up and get ready for the “workshop”.

only after we arrived at the church i told my pastor that i was going to scrap the “workshop” idea and requested for a white board and a marker instead. i did however create a google doc for when anyone was interested to learn more than the system that they have at the moment.

scribble, scribble, scribble
scribble, scribble, scribble

musicians’ problems:

  • don’t know how loud is loud.
  • can’t hear themselves, others & worship leader.
  • can’t hear the congregation.

sound engineers’ problems:

  • sound is different inside & outside the room.
  • don’t know how to EQ, balance & panning.

my “problems”:

  • room reverberation to me is quite high for an environment that plays reasonably loud music. RT60 is about 1s.
  • they have 2 pairs of speakers on stage, stacked on top of each other on each side. The bigger one is (obviously) at the bottom but it’s only because they were too heavy for the mounted “holders” by the wall, from the smaller speakers. they are also looped, because they bigger speakers only use speakons and their speakon cables aren’t long enough. so they loop the bigger speaker from the smaller speaker while receiving signals through a TRS cable.
  • the board is in a secluded room, with only an opened window for reference.
  • drum is in the corner.
i requested the band to play.
i requested the band to play and get themselves warmed up. speakers left are behind the guitarist, speakers right are behind the keyboardist.

solving/working around all our problems combined:

  • don’t know how loud is loud: i introduced the SPL meter to the engineers. get them started with at least 85dBSPL in an empty hall, slowly going up to 90-95dBSPL. for a small hall, i advised not to go over 100dBSPL especially when the congregation fills up the space. as for the musicians, they’re all going DO from their amps & keyboard, so i advised to have their volume around 30-50%.
  • can’t hear the people on stage: this was actually “solved” by Uncle Jeffrey, the bassist himself, as he turned the top speakers towards the musicians. i suggested getting started on a monitoring system once they bought speaker stands and longer speakon cables. at the moment this kinda worked.
    • side note: the guitarists were playing the same chords & strumming pattern throughout the songs. i gave suggestions to the electric guitarist to play a different register or chords inversion or some lines with a different patch besides the clean tone. instant contrast!
    • another side note: the keyboardist was playing at a lower register, clashing with the bass and was drowned in the mix. i suggested to play an octave higher. the pastors couldn’t stop praising the keyboardist for playing so beautifully with the band. hohoho
    • another another side note: never blame everything on the engineer 😉
  • can’t hear the congregation: this varies from week to week so everyone kinda understand that they’ll just have to pay a little more attention to the congregation while worship leading.
    • side note: the mix will sound slightly dull once the hall is filled so naturally, i asked them to boost 2k and above on the master graphic EQ the next morning.
  • sound is different inside and outside the room: we tried keeping the board in the room since the church consists of many kids and leaving the board outside means risky business. but when i got every engineer to try to EQ the vocalists, it got a bit too much of a hassle walking in and out of the room to get more precise adjustments so we just took the board out and get it over with. -_- hahahahahah
  • don’t know how to manipulate & balance the sound: everyone got a chance to soundcheck the band (you can imagine the musicians going AGAIN?! after each engineer is done hahahahaha) and had a rough idea on how to EQ. i made some notes on what each EQ band does so they could understand better. i also suggested making a list of ALL the vocalists and instruments’ EQ settings and have it laminated and pasted on the wall/table (THIS IS SO MR VINAY). i also got them to pan the instruments and vocalists just so they could grasp the idea of separation and being able to hear them individually.
  • RT60: we did play around with the internal effects but i just thought it was unnecessary when the band is playing. if it was only just a vocalist and accompaniment, then a bit of delay is nice.
  • drums in the corner: the drummer that week was quite controlled. the stage was loud but it wasn’t heartbeat-thumping loud so i just gave the engineers the mandate to tell the drummer to keep it down if he/she was overpowering the stage. also, i suggested installing some kind of “high absorption coefficient” curtains behind the drums but only after a proper consultation with a proper engineer lol.
that is the secluded room. we brought the board out eheheh
that is the secluded room. we brought the board out eheheh
i love labelling mah boardz :D
i love labelling mah boardz 😀
SE for that week: HALLESBY! and more labels on the cables lol
SE for that week: HALLESBY! and more labels on the cables lol
things are probably going to stay static from this point on so i just coiled the cables like that.
things are probably going to stay static from this point on so i just coiled the cables like that.
mixer by the corner.
mixer by the corner.

overall, the pastors were very happy with the changes that i was bringing in. i personally hope for a more “production-like” system taken into consideration; where the engineers will be there the earliest and the last to leave, taking time to soundcheck, and getting the band to play for a full rundown after all the songs are learned. but all in all, i just hope everyone learned a bit of something and carry on, teaching those who couldn’t make it that day. 😀

anyways, i got really exhausted from all the explaining and walking around PLUS HUNGRY after everything. we ended around 6.30pm and went straight to dinner at some air-conditioned kopitiam lol fancyyyyyy hahahah.

I WAS FLIPPING OUT OVER MIDIN
OH HEY LOOOOK IT’S MIDIN
HOSTS. my pastor and ze beautiful family :D
HOSTS. my pastor and ze beautiful family 😀
yummy papayas after dinner :D
yummy papayas after dinner 😀

i crashed pretty early after shower. usually i’d fall asleep around midnight but after replying some emails i fell asleep around 9. z.z

i started the day with mee kolo (ehehehe) and then went straight to church. after that, i met up with Emily and we went to have lunch at Sugarbun!! i had le fish burger omnomnomnom. we had a lot of time to kill so for desert she took me to Sunny Hill and i had a banana split. ice cream of the day was chocolate and vanilla :3

usual Sunday congregation
usual Sunday congregation
she told me not to post on Facebook :P
she told me not to post on Facebook 😛

after ice cream, she drove me around the city to sightsee for about 45 minutes before dropping me off at the airport just before 2.30pm.

overall i enjoyed this trip a lot. not only did it challenge me to some extend, i learned a lot and had tonnes of fun!! PLUS, I WAS FLYING ON MY OWN FOR THE FIRST TIME. i just love travelling. i wanna travel again. :DD

music played while blogging:
Muse – 2nd Law (full album) [x]

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