Blame the Sound Person

Pity the poor sound volunteer. Often pressed into service to do the seemingly impossible: make everything sound good.

If it sounds bad? It’s their fault.

If it sounds too loud? It’s their fault.

If it sounds too soft? It’s their fault.

The switch to livestream made an already challenging role even more challenging. Many churches do not have the resources to hire experienced audio people. And fewer still can run two mixes, one for in-person and one for the livestream.

Even if they do, the basics around acoustic treatments and proper monitoring systems for the livestream mix can be left out due to cost or space constraints.

And when it is apparent that the livestream doesn’t sound very good, who gets the blame?

You guessed it.

The poor sound volunteer.

I’ve done numerous seminars over the years. And I’ve trained hundreds of sound volunteers. For the most part, they are all good servants wanting to do nothing more than to help. The same basic elements that can help improve sound still apply: decent equipment, workable listening environment, appropriate skills and training.

Larger churches will usually invest in good equipment. And many of them will treat the listening space — whether in-person or the mix room for the livestream. Those churches that can will have a staff role for audio production and that person will develop the volunteers.

For small to mid-size churches it can be hit and miss. Budgets for audio systems may be limited. Listening spaces may be less than optimal. And the lead audio person might be the individual who raised their hand to help without the benefit of a lot of audio experience or training.

Is it worth the effort to improve the quality of sound for a livestream? Does it really matter?

In our technological age, production has become a thing for churches. This is a relatively new development and it is unclear to me whether worship is more or less geniune because of the level of production. My take is that we should always do our best whenever we gather — in-person or online.

One thing is very clear though. Bad sound gets noticed. As does good sound. Just not in the same way. Bad sound is distracting.

Here are some examples from a training seminar I did a few years back. It takes you from highly polished livestreams to, well, let’s just say, less polished livestreams.

These examples attempt to show the variance in audio quality in church livestreams. My voiceover shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Each clip shows people expressing their worship. Regardless of the quality, ultimately it is the heart that matters most.

Dialing in Delay Like a Pro

Delays. An integral part of the Praise and Worship sound. Jordan Holt does a great job walking through the process of dialing in delay pedal regardless of genre. Some good tips.

Allen and Heath GLD-80

Haven’t ever used one. I’ve worked on all sorts of consoles over the years, from the big SSL and Neve desks all the way down to the small Soundcraft and Mackie mixers.

On the digital side, many churches install the Behringer X32 console. Decent board, easy to navigate.

I have only just started seeing the GLD-80 in churches. It is being used in the church I attend down in Florida and at the church I attend in Canada. I don’t have any data points to determine the relative popularity of the GLD over the X32 consoles in churches so it could well be that I haven’t been attending the right churches!

I’ll get to work with it in early July for a week.

To get familiar with the console, I downloaded the GLD editor, a software app that mimics the functionality of the board very closely.

Aside from the routing, which would vary considerably from site to site, the basics are conceptually similar to most any digital console. The workflow looks pretty straightforward as well. The installation uses an L-C-R system design, not all that common in live sound, and that will be a fun environment in which to mix. Adds Kemper Profiles

It was only a matter of time before Kemper profiles would find their way on Somewhat expensive though. Nigel’s profiles are priced out at $30 USD each. Not sure why this hadn’t happened earlier. I wonder if they will do the same for Helix or leave that part of the market to Worship Tutorials.

The preset market, whether for Kemper or Helix, is still largely a cottage industry, typically run on a best effort basis by the passion of the individual preset creator.

Bringing this part of the market into commercial sites like signals a pretty interesting shift in how churches can equip musicians. I can see a scenario where a worship leader not only sets the parts for a guitarist but integrates a link to the specific preset for the song to download straight into a Kemper of Helix. No more worries about how the guitar rig might sound on a Sunday. Might still have to worry about the talent of the player.

Now Serving

I have played in churches since I was 16 years old. Almost 50 years now. Hard to believe. Back when I started, electric guitar players were not necessarily the most popular member of a praise and worship team. There was a fair stretch of time, almost ten years, when I served only on bass guitar as electric guitar was not to be played at church.

Then came a new generation of worship music and worship leaders. Contemporary Christian music evolved to become the mainstream style of worship music for many evangelical churches. And it opened up opportunities to serve on electric guitar.

When I retired last year and moved away, I was really concerned about whether there would still be opportunities to continue serving a church in music.

I am so thankful to have found churches in both the United States and Canada that have welcomed me into their worship ministries.

We just came back to Canada on May 1st and I am already fully engaged at our new church home, Harvest Barrie.

A little apprehensive as I will be doing a number of firsts for this coming weekend. First time out with a new team of players. First time out on a new stage. First time out with a new guitar. First time playing through a new (to me) sound system.

Our church provides a silent stage so I will be playing through my Helix. I have to have 8 songs memorized for Sunday. No music stands. And the monitoring system is all in-ear with the band playing to a click track.

I have a bunch of resources that I use to help me prepare. These include:

Planning Center Online – this is where the worship leader posts the songs and the charts

Worship Artistry – I have been a long-time subscriber to this service. I find it is a quick way to get at the various guitar parts in worship song. Many of the songs we use feature a variety of guitar parts with specific hooks, tones, arpeggios that need to be learned

Worship Online – Similar to worship artistry. Handy if the worship team is going to have a second electric guitar

Rehearsal Mix – a life-saver for me. Often the keys are different from the original cover and it is very helpful when memorizing the tunes to groove in the muscle memory in the correct key

For the Helix, I have used presets from Worship Tutorials, and Guitar For His Glory. And I have acquired numerous IRs for the cabs on the Helix. But, what winds up happening now, is I build my own presets. A preset for each song with multiple snapshots depending on how the tones need to change for that song (e.g., intros, verses, choruses).

I have the time to really nail the tunes now and it has been a lot of fun getting the fingers stronger and getting into the finer aspects of tuning the Helix platform. I continue to be impressed with what the Helix can do.

Kemper Performance Packs

This is a review that I did on a set of Kemper Performance Packs produced by Guitar For His Glory in collaboration with Tone Junkie. For any guitar players out there using a Kemper rig, the big challenge is finding a great set of profiles and building performances from those profiles. A profile is a snapshot of the sound of a mic’d amp and may include some internal effects processing (e.g., compression, EQ, delay, reverb). A performance is a group of up to five profiles into a song. The profiles may vary between sections of a song, one profile for the intro, a different profile for the verse and so on.

In the Praise and Worship guitar community, many players are migrating to the Kemper platform for silent stage, tonal flexibility and consistency, monitoring and for FOH mixing. Finding a great set of performances built around many of the popular songs in current rotation at churches can be very challenging. Troy has done a great job building his packs and he asked me to do a review so here it is. The review is really pertinent to those guitarists serving in churches however the performance packs would also be very helpful to players using the Kemper for U2 and Coldplay tones.

(I ordered and paid for Packs 1 and 2 and the review is based on my own experience with these packs).

Kemper Performance Packs 1, 2 and 3 from Guitar for His Glory
Pros: Awesome sounding performances hand curated from various Tone Junkie profile packs with a total of 30 amazing plug and play songs all featuring shaped reverbs and delays.
Cons: If you have purchased profile packs from Tone Junkie you may be paying again for some of the profiles in these Kemper Performance packs. Depending on your guitar and signal chain, you may need to make some minor EQ changes.

About Guitar for His Glory
As a Praise and Worship guitarist, I spend countless hours tuning and crafting my tone as part of my preparation for the worship services at my church. I use the Internet to track down tutorials on how to cover worship songs and it did not take me long to come across Troy’s YouTube channel, Guitar For His Glory. His channel was launched in 2015 and offers comprehensive walkthroughs of worship songs as well as gear demos.

I am totally impressed with Troy’s character, servant heart and talent. It is obvious that he works exceptionally hard to serve well with his instrument and he puts a particular emphasis on crafting great sounding parts for guitar. More importantly, he shares his knowledge extensively to the Praise and Worship guitar community helping many players, like myself, to sound their very best.

Troy’s touch and tone are first rate. And he achieves this, in part, through his deep knowledge and understanding of the Kemper. So naturally, as soon as Troy offered his performance packs online, I immediately placed my order.

About the Kemper Performances from Guitar for His Glory
One of the first questions I had for Troy when I purchased my Kemper, roughly a year ago now, was what profiles should I use? I’m sure for many of us, when we purchased our Kempers, the vast quantity of profiles was overwhelming. It takes time to go through profiles and to find those sounds that just fit naturally into a particular song. And then shaping the effects also takes a lot of time.

The Kemper Performances from Guitar for His Glory feature a selection of profiles from Tone Junkie. Troy has hand selected the very best of these amazing profiles and they come as part of each Guitar for His Glory Kemper Performance Pack. Profiles like Bend Sun Chimer 3, MATCH 30\15 Veri, ACE Rolex HILL GOLD, TJ AC30 GOLD, Ace Sonic Pope BLUE and many others. These performance packs alone may save you countless hours reviewing profiles. But Troy also provides numerous reverb and delay patches for each of the performances. Over the past couple of days, I have learned more about how to exploit the reverb and delay engines in the Kemper solely through Troy’s work. And I was able to use his performances as a base to build performances for other songs not included in his performance packs.

Bottom Line
If you are looking for some killer profiles and performances for many of the most popular worship songs handcrafted by a tone master then go no further than the Kemper Performances from Guitar for His Glory. They are a terrific starting point to save time and to learn how to craft tones. Highly recommended.

Renovation Work


In what passes for spare time these days, I have been busily engaged helping our church renovate the main auditorium. I had worked on the main front of house system several years back. The above shot shows the progress that we have been making on the stage.

This time, the list of audio/visual improvements for the auditorium was pretty extensive:

  • New stage lighting with three rows of lights, 12 LED Par fixtures and 4 LED Ellipsoidal fixtures
  • New DMX controllable LED house lights
  • New lighting controller
  • New stage curtains (not up when the above photo was taken)
  • New projection system for the front of house, 2 16×9 screens and 2 high performance projectors
  • Projection system for the back of house, 1 4×3 screen and 1 projector
  • Complete rewiring of the electrical system for the entire auditorium
  • New audio/visual booth
  • New digital audio console

And lots of wiring, programming and software updates for the various digital controllers and computers that support the programs we hold at our church.

This has been a big project and there is still a lot to do before we reopen the auditorium next week. Looks like my labour day weekend holds a lot of labour.

X32 Console

We are doing some improvements to the AV system at our church including a new sound console. I did an overview video of the new board for our team of volunteers.

Very impressive advances in digital consoles over a fairly short period of time. This particular board packs a lot of punch for the money.