Thursday, October 21, 2010

tuning PA - again

Our rig at church consists of 2x JBL VRX 932 and 1x JBL SRX 718S per side.
If you know much about sound gear, you've probably already noticed a problem.

1. VRX boxes have a 15 degree vertical coverage. 2 boxes = 30 degrees coverage.
30 degrees = not anywhere near enough. So essentially, we have all our speakers blasting away into a small, 30 degree wide patch of the congregation. There is a massive, and I mean massive SPL increase in the hotspot.

To make matters worse, the sound booth is against the back wall - where coverage is the worst.
So all the treble you hear there is reflections off walls & floor.
Behind the sound desk is a large glass wall. So most of those reflections sound almost like they are coming from BEHIND you. Which they are.

I've been trying things to fix this situation for ages, and indeed spent some time rewiring stuff to try yet another wacky idea.

First, I aimed the 'array' further back. This means the front two rows are going to lose fidelity, but moves some coverage back toward the sound booth.

Next, I set the VRX boxes to 'Passive' mode. This activates JBL's array shading feature. What this means is that the top box, pointing towards the back of the room, can be run louder than the bottom box, pointing at the centre/front of the room. Before, the speakers were bi-amped, and both running at the same volume.

Has this helped? I think so. I've only listened to it in an empty room, but it seems to me that the hotspot is much less, well, hot. The coverage is no better, sadly.
Surprisingly, I haven't noticed a lack of audio quality, there's a tiny bit of comb filtering that wasn't there earlier, but that's only in a very small area.

I also set the 31 band graphic master EQ flat, and did all the room tuning on the DSP parametric filters. For some reason, the DSP filters have never been used, weird, because that is the correct tool for tuning a system. We'll keep the graphic around for fast tweaks.
It did need some pretty full on para EQ, (filters at 41, 61, 2.7K, 6K, 10K) but, seems to be sounding ok now. I've also delayed the subs to try to get better fidelity.

Might still be too bright, but it's hard to tell from a mastered CD. We'll try it out this weekend


if you understand what I'm talking about, good work. If you don't, fair enough. We can't all be nerds :p)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

amazing team

just have to skite about our amazing team for a second. we just had our weekly meeting, and after chillaxing for a bit (and singing happy birthday to the lovely rachel cheah), we split up into groups and rewrote a song for half an hour. Some of the stuff people came up with was killer!

Then those of who are rostered on to play on Sunday AM had the easiest rehearsal ever, everyone totally nailed every part of every song.
We literally ran through each song once and went home. Awesome.

it's a ball hanging wit you guys


Sunday, October 17, 2010

guitarists - my top five influences

I am many things, but deep inside I am a true, bona-fide guitar nerd.

It's interesting how things shift though. 5 years ago I was totally gear crazy, spent countless hours researching, dreaming and scheming, all in search of the perfect tone.
Now I care much less about the gear. I have barely changed my guitar rig at all in the last year or so, or even really tweaked my settings. My focus has shifted to how I play.
I realized that the last few worship sets I've played, I've only used two pedals, an OD and delay. But I haven't just used one tone, I've been flicking between pickups, rolling off tone and volume knobs, playing with my fingers and generally enjoying really playing the guitar.

These are the guys who inspire me, the guys who I steal riffs and vibes from.

(1) The incredible delay master himself, Mr. The Edge

Most people peg him down to being a one trick guitarist who covers up his playing with tons of delay.
Well, that's probably true. He doesn't have a huge pile of great guitar technique. His lead playing is certainly limited.
But this guy's timing and feel are absolutely OFF-THE-CHAIN. He brings to the band a strong supportive layer that the singer can build off. And he is always, always tasteful in the way he does it.

The truth is that he's a genuine sideman. He don't care what he's doing, and he can do it all.
Piano? sweet. Guitar, no worries, Drum, Bass? yep. Produce a record? sure. Write a song that sells millions of copies? all in a days work. Run a hotel? Get married in a beanie? Manage a band? Make being bald cool? Sing better than Bono?

So what really inspires me about the Edge is not his guitar playing. It's the scope of his skills. He's a man who has never stopped working and learning. He's THE MAN.

(2) Keith Scott

This is not really a guitar hero list as you may have figured out by now!
Keith Scott has been playing guitar for Bryan Adams since the 70's. Like The Edge, he isn't the band's star. He's there to support Bryan. Like The Edge, he's a great singer and producer too.

If there's one guitarist I try to emulate more than any other, it's this guy. He's technically a better player than the Edge, but he still doesn't have to be the star - he's there for the songs.

(3) Mark Knopfler

I'm a rhythm player at heart. Marky isn't. But he has a totally unique style of lead guitar playing. It's more like singing than anything else. Every time he plays a note,  I feel like it's as integral to the song as every lyric, unlike the guitar 'heroes' I.E. the hugely overrated Slash, Jimmy Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Jimmy Page types. He's an amazing songwriter, and not a terrible singer, all though his vocal style take some effort to appreciate! His last record was incredible too.

I'm totally guilty of trying to steal his right hand finger technique.

(4) Derek Trucks

I love the slide guitar. I remember my friend Nick Watson learning fretless bass years ago. I asked him what the appeal was, and I still remember him saying 'There's a lot of beauty in the in-between notes'. And I agree 100%.
So although I'm not great at it, I try to have a slide at the ready for a different sound and vibe.
I reckon this guy is the best slide player I've ever seen. Like Mark Knopfler, he doesn't use a pick.

(5) Nigel Hendroff

Nigel Hendroff pulls together a whole pile of influences into amazing guitar parts that carry the emotion and spirit of the songs. Like every other player in my list, he's there to serve the song, and in his case, to serve the vision of the worship leader and the serve the church.

This is a great example of some solid guitar playing. He's doing the Edge thing with dotted 8th note echo, but he's taking his note choices way further than The Edge ever has. He's nailing every single note, perfect timing, perfect feel. He's providing a big wall of sound, but still threading melody through it all, never playing too much but always there.

So those are my favorites, and why, in no real order.


Thursday, October 14, 2010


as it happens, i am no lighting expert. however, i understand and love the effect lighting does have.

Our auditorium has, for as long as I can remember, and probably since adam met eve, been lit by 6x metal halide lights. These things are painfully bright, and have the snazzy effect of making our church look exactly like a supermarket. When I walk in, usually my first thought is something to do with the price of meat and GST rises attempting to bankrupt me at every turn.

Our foyer looks great with halogen downlights, our stage looks great with a full wall RGB cyc and a bunch of pars and fresnels, and our auditorium has supermarket lights.

Well, it does have dimmable halogen downlights around the edges. But as they don't throw far, they have never been used very well.

Well, after seeing Elim Howick's lighting rig, and their clever use of halogen worklights as house lighting, I thought I'd have a wee hunt through the church under stages and in cupboards ect to see what I could see.

I found an amazing array of stuff, including a spare 5-channel dimmer pack and controller, and hit the jackpot - 7 matching halogen worklights, in a range of conditions.

First I tried mounting a working one on the lighting truss and bouncing the light off the roof. I learned two things.
a) our church does not have a pretty roof b) acoustic tile doesn't reflect light very well.

However, pointing the light directly down caused a pretty nice spread without too many shadows, and not too bright either. So most of the rest of my day was spent fixing halogens and mounting them on either our front or back truss. After a few calculations to make sure I wouldn't blow fuses constantly, I got them all hooked up to a dimmer channel, and DMX'ed to the lighting desk.
I ended up with 6 covering the centre of the room. They meet up nicely with the side downlights, and the room is pretty evenly covered in a nice warm glow.
It can be faded as one pleases, and it creates a much nicer atmosphere for the room.

Not bad for half a days work and a pile of dusty broken equipment.


(sadly, my work was noticed by josh, our kids church leader. my next project will be the kid's auditorium. stupid infernal lighting.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

equippers worship conference: 'One Heart'

Well, as promised, here's a post-conference update.

Wow. Just flipping, wow. I have no idea where to start.

You have to start somewhere so I'll start here: that was a totally life-changing event. Not like oh, wow my ipod/phone/mac/pad/thing is life changing, but actually, I don't think I will ever be the same.

The Ben Brunskill that exists now has a new outlook, a new vision, a new heart and a bunch of new friends compared to the Ben Brunskill that set off casually to go to a conference on friday night.

So what was it like? Much like every other conference I've ever been to. There was worship (via music) and there was teaching. But what worship, and what teaching it was.

So the worship:
I think the reason that often worship fails to take off in many services is a lack of people actually responding to God. Constantly, people seem to be just waiting for the sermon or lunch or sport on TV after church.
They don't really seem to latch on to the opportunity to chase after God in prayer, thanksgiving and sacrifice. They begin to get there after a few songs.
Often, the first 2/3 songs are just throwaways, just getting people in the mood.

What made the worship at this conference really incredible, is that there was no warm up song.
No effort made, or even needed, to get people engaging with God.

I'm not sure how many people were there, but I would say 250+, and every single one of them came expecting God to turn up in a powerful way. All of those people are from local church worship teams, and they know how to get into God's presence. So everyone just went there. We had a rushed soundcheck, no time for rehearsal.
We started worshipping, the congregation started worshipping and God's presence just flooded the place in seconds. We just worshipped, some of us onstage with a sound system, lights and instruments, some with voices and hands raised, standing, kneeling and dancing in the congregation. all the same body, all equals, with ONE HEART. one purpose, one vision. To worship our wonderful God.

Unity commands a blessing. (Psalm 133.3) God says where two or three gather in His name, his presence will be there (Matthew 18:20) and it was and in a powerful, incredible way.

And that was just the first worship set. It only got better and better.

The teaching:
God was stirring something up. He really was. We were totally challenged and guided.
Jordan Smith, a pastor, not a musician or singer, spoke on the importance of worship, and how worship needs to be central to our lives and our churches.
 Libby Huirua blew the roof off with a message on being remarkable for God, growing your gifting and heart and achieving greatness not for money, pride or popularity, but as a signpost to show what God can do with ordinary lives dedicated to Him.

Henry Seeley spoke on how it's our heart that controls how we worship, and the importance of our worship, our lives, our relationships and everything flowing from a heart that is passionate and dedicated to God. He also spoke about letting your heart go first, not your skills. If your heart is right, and your priorities are right, God will upgrade your skills and enable you to achieve more for God's glory. I can testify that he is completely right and we all need to constant check out hearts and attitude.

Wayne Hui preached the entire old testament. And no one fell asleep ;-)
He was focused on the topic of God taking Israel to victory, even though it took a long time, God's plan came to pass and it will in our lives too. He talked about the importance of worship as a prophetic act, and an act of spiritual warfare.

Everyone threw out dozens of incredible keys, scriptures, tips and it will take me a few more days to just decipher a fraction of this stuff.

So that was Equippers 'One Heart' conference. I'm  so, so glad that I went, and I'm even gladderer that I brought some of the team with me.

I honestly feel like I've gone to a whole new level in my personal relationship with God and also in my capacity as a musician, worshipper, leader and teacher.

watch this space - the spiritual atmosphere in new zealand has changed. we are taking back our land.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

october roster

A few changes have been made, here's the latest version for y'all:
Any queries? You know where to find me,


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

That crazy time of year: Conferences

So we've pretty much just gotten back from the annual Elim national church conference.
All the church staff went (except for our poor long suffering finance Jedi, Beth) and a energetic contingency of youth and youth leaders also made the trek.
It was well worth it.

The conference theme for this year was 'Kingdom', and it was all about breaking our ridiculous, religious churchy mindsets and really understanding the fact that we are citizens of God's Kingdom here on earth - and we represent Him wherever we go and whatever we do, not just in church!

One of the speakers was Dr. Myles Munroe, and I got a lot of great notes from his messages.
The stuff that I appreciated most from him was the real practical leadership keys he was giving out.

He had a great theory which pretty much said that everyone should be a leader, leading with their own unique gift to the utmost of their ability. Very cool stuff, and reminds me I need to study my notes. I'll add that to my very long do to list. : )

And this weekend, a bunch of our worship people are going to the the 'One Heart' worship conference put on by Equippers church.

This is totally going to be great, and I'm honored to be playing in the band as well.
It feels a wee bit sacrilegious to say it, but I get to be onstage helping to lead worship alongside of some of my personal heroes and influences.

Most of all, I'm looking forward to being backstage franticly taking notes on how Wayne and Libby Huirua and Henry Seeley lead, not just with the practical stuff but also spiritually.

And right now I'm going to go keep working on the songs, because I know that if I don't nail them, Wayne Hui will not be happy.
And fair enough. His job is to help and encourage musicians give God their absolute best.
That's a pretty cool job!

I'll let you know how it goes.


I have created a blog-y sort of thing

Hi, my name is Ben Brunskill.

Together with my wife Jo, we lead the worship team at Elim International Church, in beautiful (sometimes) sunny Wellington, New Zealand.

I figured a blog might be a good way to keep in touch with the team and generally share some of the thoughts I have about things and stuff. And so here I go with my blog-y-thing.