It was 2001, and I was one of two FOH engineers for a medium sized congregation here in south Louisiana. Me and the other guy would alternate Sundays engineering, and this one particular Sunday it was my turn. I find out the day before that we are going to have a "Youth Sunday" at our church where the youth group took over the main service. Because of this, I decide that I'm going to get there early to make sure everything is rolling well. To my dismay, I find out that someone in leadership gets the bright idea that they don't want the youth group to use the house system. Instead, they bring out an old portable system they had in storage. Mixer, Speakers, Snake, Microphones...everything. Not only that, but they also decide that at the last minute, they are going to slap together a separate sound booth. I walk into the new booth to find out what kind of gear I have to work with, and to my dismay I find this Ross powered mixer:
Except the one I had, had about 20 years of dust on it, some of the knobs were missing, and I am pretty sure that when I turned it on, it coughed like a 70 year old chain smoker. I ask a volunteer there, "Hey, do we have an extra graphic EQ I can borrow?" Then the dude looks at me and says, "You don't need one, it's built right into that there sound board." I start to panic and go see what they have me running for speakers - Oh yea baby, Audio Centron all the way. The 1980's value brand leader!
100 ft. speaker cables under the chairs; nice and thick to handle the 200 watts of Ross chest thumping glory for about 400 people. Microphones were of the Asian variety, & each with a "handy dandy" switch on them. Drum set was a 1980's something or another, and the guitars were rather pointy.
To make matters better for the devil himself, the youth band get there late, and start "sound checking." Then, about 5 minutes later, the congregation files in.
Off we go! How exciting.
The band starts playing, and it sounds like a blend of Sandy Patti, The Ramones, and Yoko Ono. Not just stylistically speaking, but as if 3 different songs are being played at the same time.
About five minutes into this onslaught sonic fury of geriatric terrorism, an armchair engineer comes up to offer me some "much needed" advice to the tune of: "Oh my God, what are you doing?"
Audio is a really tough gig. When everything goes splendidly, you rarely get any credit, and when it goes terrible, everybody and their grandmas will tell you what you need to do, and how bad it turned out. This audio engineering gig has been a really long ride, but it still is very rewarding. You sooner or later will get to the point that it really doesn't matter if you are recognized for your work or not. I'm not saying that it isn't deserved or that it shouldn't be appreciated, but what matters is being recognized by our Father. We as audio engineers in the church serve God by serving people. We really have an audience of One. When things get rough & heated & stressful (which will happen), we all have to remind ourselves that people are more important than our reputation as audio professionals.
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