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Church Sound System Problems

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by rapscaLLion, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    Location:
    Canada
    Hey,
    The church I attend has been having problems with the audio system since about six months ago. This system consists of:

    -2 speakers and another distro speaker for people sitting off to the side
    -3 small monitors for the stage
    -1 amp each for the speakers, distro and monitors (I think)
    -1 really old diamond studio board
    -12 or 16 (not sure) hardwired mic inputs around the room
    -8 wired mics (at least) and one wireless mic

    The equipment is crap because the church was broken into, and a lot of great equipment was stolen a few years back. We have made do with what we have so far, but in the past few months we have been noticing an ever increasing problem: The use of wired microphones causes static crackle every so often. The floor is carpet, which is immediately suspect, but I am told that these problems are a recent development. The mic ins and speaker outs travel through a socapex connecter, of which there are two wall units were this connects to the board and amps. It could be static electricity, or it could be broken mic cables, but it is really driving us crazy. We have budgeted money to fix the problem and get new sound equipment (especially a new mixing board), but we'd like to know what the problem is before we invest in anything new.

    If anyone knows any possible causes for this, or anything we can try to fix the problem, I would appreciate some advice :)
     
  2. soundman1024

    soundman1024 Active Member

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    Location:
    Denver
    Would it be possible to rent/borrow a soundboard and a snake sometime. Try the soundboard and if it still crackles then it is most likely the wires in which case it is most likely the wires. You could then try the snake with the other board and you would have narrowed down your problem.
     
  3. RelativeMischief

    RelativeMischief Member

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    Location:
    Kelowna, BC. Canada
    Clean your inputs/outputs on the board. Now some questions as well:

    Does the problem sound in all speakers?

    Did someone play with the gains on the mic and now they're distorting?

    Do you have any outboard gear (comps, gates) that could be causing the problem?

    Does the problem belong to all wired mics in all snake inputs?


    The key to troubleshooting is localizing the problem area (which is a big task sometimes, thus why I mention it). Try switching mics/cable/inputs/outputs, try inserting and removing outboard gear etc... until you find the piece of gear that has the problem, then try to determine the problem within the gear and see if you can fix it yourself (ie cleaning) or if you need to send it to the shop.
     
  4. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Location:
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    Soundman’s idea is a good one as the most likely cause of your problem is either a faulty wire and/or connection or multiples of either.

    From your description I am unclear as to whether you have 2 stage boxes which are connected to each other by a multicore cable, and then you patch from one box into your board or you have a tail (Socapex to individual leads for each channel). Also, is the multicore easy to get access to, or is it “hidden”?

    In addition to checking the mics themselves and the cables that connect the mic to the wall/stage inputs, I would also look at any patch leads (or tail) that you use to connect the board with. Also, check the sockets on the boxes as well.

    An easy way to check the mics and mic cables is to plug them directly into the board and try several combinations and also move the cables and connectors to see if the noise is there or not. Also remember that it could be your board! Do you notice any of this noise when you move a fader or pot? If so, probably not a bad idea to give the board a good clean and service. However, lets look at this with the assumption that the fault is somewhere before the board.

    Permanent installs are subject to more crap getting into them that the cables that you roll up and put away each night. Especially those where the boxes are close to the ground. Every time the floor gets swept, mopped or vacuumed, the inputs get exposed to dust, crap and water and also bashed about. Don’t forget little Johnny* poking things into them as well or critters nibbling on them.

    Also, like any connector solder joints can become “dry” over time. If you know what to look for and you have permission and coverage (should something happen) I would open up the boxes and check the condition of the solder joints.

    The major problem with trying to find intermittent problems is the fact that they are intermittent. I would try one channel at a time and try to introduce the problem by wiggling connectors and cables to see if this causes the problems that you are experiencing. Most of the time the problem will be in the connector or within a few inches of it. However, it is not uncommon for a break to occur anywhere in a lead, especially if the lead has been stretched, kinked, twisted or cut. So look for such deformities in cables as well. If the multicore is easy to access, gently move it around whilst testing each mic channel.

    Such problems are often time consuming but not impossible to find and fix given that you plan your approach and work through each component.

    *Little Johnny is a fictional character and is used solely for the purpose of illustrating a possible causative factor. Any resemblance to any person(s) living or otherwise is purely coincidental.
     
  5. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Location:
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    What has been said so far is all good advice. Please reply back with info and your results of some of the troubleshooting tips given here...

    Typically--a sudden onset of crackling is not a static electricty problem. Its usually a connector/cable/potentiometer/ outboard gear or console issue. If you can locallize and narrow down the problem to specific mics, channels, cables, or equipment pieces, or other direct cause & effect, you can better figure out and help us visualize what is in most likely need of replacing, fixing or cleaning... Try and re-create the crackling problem--and see if you can move the porblem around to see where you can trace it down to.

    Also, when you say socapex--are you referring to a multipin snake system that RESEMBLES a socapex or mass connector of sorts used in some audio snake systems--or do you really mean an actual 12 guage 19 pin 6 circuit socapex connector...which is geared more for lighting and electricity or (in some touring use) speaker feeds?

    -w
     
  6. blademaster

    blademaster Active Member

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    Occupation:
    Automation Engineer
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    Mountain Home, AR
    every one gave excelent stuff and some is over my head one thing that you could try is plugging in a XLR cable directly into the board and see if you still get the same prob
     
  7. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Check each piece individually. First, attach some borrowed speakers and amp or powered speakers or headphones to the output of the board, and put a borrowed mic with a borrowed mic cable in. All of the borrowed/rented equipment must be checked out before testing. If the board seems fine on all channels, check the mic with this system on each of the mic lines coming from the sending end of your scoapex snake. If the crackle is here, it's your mic lines. If that is still fine, try sending it straight through the amps to borrowed speakers, not your speakers. Make sure to get speakers that can handle the power. If there is still no problem, the hook the speakers up at the other end, where the normal speakers go. If the problem is there, you have bad speaker lines. If there is still no problem, the culprit is probably your speakers. This is, of course, all dependent on you borrowing a heck of a lot of gear.
     

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