Tuesday, March 24, 2009

:: how to sync two bands together in two different rooms

We launched two simultaneous worship locations with two bands playing in time together with the exact same music. I mean, they start together, play electric guitar solos together, stop together, and transition together. You can download a chart of how this works. But first, let's talk about why this monster was created.

  1. We wanted live music in order to stay away from the feeling of an "overflow location."
  2. With the new location (right below our main auditorium), the sound and vibration of music bleeding through the floor/ceiling would give us issues. We didn't have another room option with enough seating.
  3. We needed to exactly time the announcements, videos, and message for a video switch over.

Synchronize two live bands in the two separate rooms with a click track in order to clean up both audio and video switching seamlessly.

Does this really work?
This isn't theory folks, we did this last week. God prepared us with our December light show - where for the last two years God allowed us to put together a drive-in light show synchronized with 16 live musicians in 11 different windows via a low-power FM radio transmission to vehicles. God help us for creating these monsters.

What you'll need:
1. Double the musicians.
2. One new FOH audio operator (aka sound guy).
3. A crazy, but logical, in-ear-monitor setup played to click tracks (Aviom, Hearback, or the like)
4. Prayer

So how do you get the bands to sync up when they can't see each other?
  1. Click track source. It's usually a metronome or a loop on laptop/iPod. We use a DB-90 Dr.Beat by BOSS and hook up a memory UP/DOWN pedal through a TRS (stereo) cable on a BOSS A/B floor pedal. All songs are programed with the tempo. Then there's a START/STOP pedal that cranks it up. The DB-90 Dr.Beat gives us a count in (usually 4 beats), then the bands start.
  2. Click track is fed into Room 1's IEM (In Ear Monitor) system, per usual, so the band stays in time and can start and stop without any drummer stick clicks for worship leader mouth-off's.
  3. Run a CAT5 cable from Room 1's IEM system to Room 2 and put another IEM Aviom/Hearback box at the FOH board. Use this IEM box to dump the click/loop/ and lead vocal (or instructions on mic) into a second separate IEM system that Room 2 will use.
  4. Setup channel 1 in Room 2's IEM system (Aviom, Hearback) to have the feed from Room 1's IEM system. This gets the click from Room 1 into the ears of Room 2 musicians. Voila...they can now play with the band upstairs. But you aren't done yet, what about loops? Read on...
  5. Use an aux send or send group from Room 1's FOH board down to Room 2's FOH board.
  6. Setup a COM (communication) system so that when the leaders in Room 1 and 2 talk in their mics...they can hear each other. The way to accomplish this is to send from Room 2's FOH board back to Room 1's IEM system.
This will serve for your audio for any video, message, or anything else you can't duplicate in Room 1. This also gets any loops into a Room 2's hands from upstairs to blend with Room 2's band. Almost done, remember when you rehearse together or if there's a crash-and-burn in Room 1...Room 2 will need to know. You need a 2-way COM setup...
Download a visual layout here.

And you're done. Yes, there's lots more to it...but that's the quick run down.

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