Noise gate in chapel sound system sounds terrible over broadcasts

Discussions around receiving, originating, and holding Church broadcasts and conferences in meetinghouses including schedules, setup, equipment, and support.
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shanebankhead
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Noise gate in chapel sound system sounds terrible over broadcasts

#1

Post by shanebankhead »

For our sacrament broadcasts, we are pulling the audio feed directly from the chapel system. But the noise gate built into the chapel system frankly wreaks havoc on our musical numbers, as the audio cuts in and out during soft and dynamic passages. This has long been an annoyance of mine, but is generally not too noticeable for sound reinforcement in the chapel. The gate works great for cleaning up speaking voice, but the effect on music is very noticeable and disruptive for broadcasts.

For important meetings like Stake Conference, I always run a parallel audio path directly to the webcast. Now that we're doing weekly broadcasts, mixing a separate audio path really isn't a good option to roll out to 7 wards in 3 buildings, if I want to keep my sanity.

I am finally putting in an FIR to see if we can get the mixers re-programmed to lower the threshold or remove the gate on at least one of the microphone inputs. But just so I can have an intelligent conversation with the technician if/when this gets addressed, I'm wondering if anyone here has had a similar experience or found other solutions.

Mainly I'm wondering if you guys know if the noise gate can be programmed per input, or if it is on the output. It might be nice to keep the gate on the pulpit, but remove it from the aux mic inputs that we use for musical numbers. I also remember one of the church technicians mentioned to me that the microphone mix is not necessarily fixed, but there is some sort of intelligent gain sharing going on with the different inputs, so I am curious about that too. Let me know if any of you have researched or addressed any of these things already. Thanks!
russellhltn
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Re: Noise gate in chapel sound system sounds terrible over broadcasts

#2

Post by russellhltn »

In my experience, the ones who control programming of the mixer have a degree in sound. Rather then trying to come up to their level, I'd describe what's happening in detail so they can decide on a fix. Be sure to describe if you're using the "record out" or the audio feed the satellite rack as they may be different outputs with different options.

If I was to take a wild guess, I'd think the issue would be what the system does if there's no strong inputs on any of the channels - does it turn all the channels off, or does it default to just the podium mic on.
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shanebankhead
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Re: Noise gate in chapel sound system sounds terrible over broadcasts

#3

Post by shanebankhead »

Actually, I am a professional audio engineer with a degree. So I suppose part of the problem is that I just don't know and have no control over what is happening "under the hood", so that frustrates me a bit. But I totally understand and respect the need to keep a closed system, so I'm not complaining.

Since ours is a standard building sound system, I guess I am amazed that there aren't a ton of posts complaining that their microphones are cutting in & out for music during broadcasts. Anyway, my main goal was just to see if anyone else here has already been down this road.
russellhltn
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Re: Noise gate in chapel sound system sounds terrible over broadcasts

#4

Post by russellhltn »

shanebankhead wrote:I guess I am amazed that there aren't a ton of posts complaining that their microphones are cutting in & out for music during broadcasts. Anyway, my main goal was just to see if anyone else here has already been down this road.
I'd think we'd see a few more posts if that was the normal situation. One if the issues you'll face is that nothing will be done until they can bring the tech out to work on the system. Unless another building has a failing sound system, that's not likely to be real soon.

One idea worth exploring is to plug in an auxiliary mic into the sound system to pick up the musical numbers. Give the automatic mixer an option.

As for the gain sharing, it's standard practice to turn down the overall gain as more mics are turned on at the same time to avoid feedback. I'm not sure what else might be involved.
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sbradshaw
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Re: Noise gate in chapel sound system sounds terrible over broadcasts

#5

Post by sbradshaw »

What software are you using for the broadcast? Could the software be trying to reduce "background noise" and therefore cutting out the music? Noise reduction is common for teleconferencing software like Zoom.
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craiggsmith
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Re: Noise gate in chapel sound system sounds terrible over broadcasts

#6

Post by craiggsmith »

There are a number of different systems and audio contractors out there. We had a similar problem but it was due to built in noise cancelling in the microphone we were using for the webcast; the sound system in that building is an ancient analog system with no processing. We switched to the aux output and it's been better, although the music is still soft. Our stake center has a newer digital system that only allows one active mic at a time, which thwarted our efforts to mic musical numbers with more than one mic (we now use a mixer). I concur that you should be able to just tell them the issue and they should know what to do, but if you can talk to them directly it might be best; we have mixed results from our audio contractors. Ideally you would be there to test it. Unless they just turn off the gate completely.
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shanebankhead
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Re: Noise gate in chapel sound system sounds terrible over broadcasts

#7

Post by shanebankhead »

OK, thanks for the feedback guys. I guess that answers my question and maybe I'm either being over-critical of the system performance, or our system just needs some adjustment. I was assuming since it is the same in at least two of our buildings, that it is a standard configuration for everyone.

Also, regarding the comments about webcasting software, this is definitely an issue with the sound system in the building. We're already disabling the voice processing in Zoom, and we notice it in Meetinghouse Webcast too, which doesn't have the voice processing. I notice it even in the overflow areas in the building, and it happens with any of the system microphone inputs. For most musical numbers it's OK. But it is apparent with the really good musicians who play or sing with more dynamics.

I've submitted the FIR already so hopefully they'll contact me to discuss the issues.
russellhltn
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Re: Noise gate in chapel sound system sounds terrible over broadcasts

#8

Post by russellhltn »

shanebankhead wrote:I was assuming since it is the same in at least two of our buildings, that it is a standard configuration for everyone.
It's probably the standard in your area. I believe the church uses different contractors for different areas, even in the same country. I fall under Marshal Industries out of SLC. Other vendors may set up differently.

I'm suspecting this isn't an actual noise gate, but what the system is configured to do when there isn't enough signal for any of the mics to be considered "active". If it's noticeable in the overflow, that's a strong augment that it's not set well.
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torriem
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Re: Noise gate in chapel sound system sounds terrible over broadcasts

#9

Post by torriem »

russellhltn wrote:I'd think we'd see a few more posts if that was the normal situation.
I've seen this in my building also, but I didn't realize what was going on until I saw this post. So I have a hunch it happens far more often than thought. I've noticed this problem quite often when one of the stake presidency speaks. In the rack I'd hear the audio cut out, but I could still hear it coming from the hall. I always wondered what was going on, but never realized what the cause was. It only happens with some speakers, and it's not a problem bad enough for listeners to notice and complain. But it is definitely there. Now that I know I can open up a ticket in FIR.
enelson5
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Re: Noise gate in chapel sound system sounds terrible over broadcasts

#10

Post by enelson5 »

In our Stake Center, there's a button we press to get the Satellite audio injected into the Chapel sound system. When the button is pressed, the audio DSP (digital signal processor) goes into a mode where the pulpit mic only picks up sounds of a sufficient amplitude (think of someone making a local exit announcement after a satellite broadcast), and all softer sounds are muted. All other mic inputs in the chapel are disabled in this mode.

I've used the satellite audio signal path to push select audio sources from the "control room" into the chapel during Stake Conferences, but this requires someone in the chapel to push the satellite button so I can send the audio and then unselect the satellite button so that all other mic inputs operate normally.

Hopefully, this info this might provide some clues about what could be happening in your buildings.
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