Ultimate Guide to In Ear Monitors for Churches
What’s the big deal with in ear monitors? Does your church need them to be musically viable? On today’s episode we talk to Taylor Knight, Technical Director of Harvest Bible Chapel and sound engineer for Vertical Worship, about the popularity of in ear monitors, the pros and cons that they bring in a church environment, the different set-ups you can buy for your budget, how to get the best sound out of your current gear and more. The hope is that by the end of the episode you’ll know whether or not in ear monitors are right for your church, and if they are, how you can get started! Enjoy the episode, and please feel free to leave us a rating on iTunes if you have found this podcast helpful!

Contact Taylor on Twitter – @taylorknight_

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Alex Enfiedjian 00:12 Hello, and welcome back to the worship team podcast. My name is Alex Enfiedjian. I am your host, today is Episode 14 of the podcast. And we have the great privilege of talking with Taylor Knight. Taylor is the technical director of harvest Bible chapel in Chicago, Illinois, and also works very closely with the vertical church band whom we all know and love. And so Taylor has a lot of experience with any ear monitors. And that’s exactly what we’re going to be talking with him about today. We want to know everything about in your monitors for the church. So hopefully, by the end of the episode, you’ll have all of your questions answered. And if not, Taylor graciously, even gave his email address out at the end of the episode. So if you really want to bug him, you can email him. Anyway, let’s get into the episode and find out if your church needs in your monitors what the pros and cons are, what you should expect, what kind of setup you should get all that good stuff. Let’s jump in and find out what Taylor thinks about all this. Hey, everybody, I’m here with Taylor Knight, which is a super cool last name. And Taylor is the technical director of harvest Bible chapel in Chicago, Illinois. Got that? All right, right. That’s right. And I connected with Taylor kind of randomly, our church was struggling with our in ear monitors and the mixes and just getting them to sound good. And so I just went online. And I was like, what’s the, one of the biggest churches I know. And then I googled and found a couple of email, contacts and emailed their tech team. And I didn’t expect to reply because you know, harvest is a huge church. And I think the next day, I got an email back from Taylor saying, hey, I’d love to help you connect with you call you when’s a good time to call we love helping smaller churches get things figured out. And so Taylor graciously called me and spent an hour on the phone with me. And I was like, man, Taylor, this is been super helpful, I would love to take some of the content that you’ve shared with me to help me with my inner problems to the church across the globe. So he agreed to graciously share his wisdom about in ear monitors. So, Terry, thanks for being here. Yeah, of course. Yeah.

Taylor Knight 02:35 Thank you for having me. And like I said, you know, we we, by number are a large church. But I feel like we’re comprised of some smaller local bodies here in the Greater Chicago area. And we love to I came from a smaller church that grew up, and I just love helping any local church and whenever we can, and so thank you for having me.

Alex Enfiedjian 02:56 Yeah, man. So tell us a little bit about yourself, and maybe like your family, and then also what you do at harvest Bible chapel.

Taylor Knight 03:05 Yeah, yeah. So I, yeah, I’m a I’m a young guy, I’m 24 years old, just moved to Chicago a little over a year and a half ago to take this job. This position here at harvest. I’m the technical director for our west campuses. So I oversee all the production and everything from the big events we do, you’ve probably heard some of the events we do like summer for the city and harvest University and act like men and vertical church band and their tours. And so we interact with all of those events and manage those events. My production history has primarily been driven by audio. I’m a front of house engineer by trade. And so that’s mainly what I do, but I also have to be competent as much as I can be and all other areas as well. So yeah, I guess I just got just got married after I moved here. married a gorgeous blonde from school. And we’ve been married just add a year now as of yesterday, no two days ago, and no kids yet. Keeping it keeping it simple. And yeah, we love love being here in Illinois. I’m originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. Hopefully you can’t hear too much of my accent. So, yeah, that’s kind of a just a little bit about myself.

Alex Enfiedjian 04:22 Awesome. Okay, so Taylor, I don’t know if you’d call yourself the in ear monitor expert, but you have definitely a lot of experience within your monitors, just from all the work you’ve done at harvest with the teams each week and then also going on tour with vertical church band and dialing in their in your mixes from the front of house board and all that stuff. So I just wanted to tap into your wisdom and insight that you’ve gained over the years, and just help help churches decide whether or not they want in ear monitors or need them and also help them if they decide that they do get the best out of them possible. So But before we do that, I just want to say I’ve noticed kind of a trend that a lot of the bigger churches have gone to your monitors. And I have this this hunch that a lot of the smaller churches are looking at this going, all the big churches have gone to in your monitors, it must be the magic bullet, it must be the thing that’s going to solve all of our musical problems. And I know, I used to think that before I went to your monitors, so can you maybe paint a more realistic picture for us? About in your monitors the pros and cons of using them in a church setting? Just kind of tell us, you know, the good and the bad?

Taylor Knight 05:38 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So I totally agree that that’s definitely a trend. And I think it’s a good trend. But it’s not because it’s solving all the problems that bands and production people are having across the board, it does solve some of the problems. But practice and hard work as a band and dialing things in. And being smart with your resources. And engineer is always going to make things better. And so I guess a way away that ears will solve some of your problems. From a production standpoint, you are going to have the ability to to kind of isolate that monitoring so that you’re not using things like live wedges on stage, and you’re going to reduce stage noise, as well as the potential for feedback. And then on a musician’s standpoint, you’re going to be able to integrate things like click, and to go along with loops, which is definitely a new thing. And very prevalent in really, all of music, not just worship world, but just the industry in general. And then there’s also the ability to sometimes with wedges, you can’t not everyone can afford to have a wedge. So usually with the in ear monitor situation, everybody has their own mix, and they can hear exactly what they need to hear. And for the most part, having this kind of better monitoring system does allow a band to be tighter, and feel a little more comfortable. And you know, that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a it’s not like a switch takes some getting used to but it’s it’s clearly given some some tightness and

Alex Enfiedjian 07:21 yeah, tightness to bands. Okay, so tightness, ability to use click and loops, reduce stage volume, reduce chances of feedback, those are some of the the upsides of using in ears. But tell us maybe a little bit of the cons like, what are some of the downsides of using in your monitors in a church setting?

Taylor Knight 07:42 Yeah, you know, and there’s a lot of variables depending on what system you use, you know, whether it’s something that’s network based, like the avium mixers or beringer, Allen and Heath and blue, there’s still a few others out there that have had sort of making systems like this as well, or using something like wireless packs, and sending mixes to them. So the cons on a production standpoint would be if you’re using, I guess, actually both of those, whether it’s the network based or the wireless packs, that’s just a little more work, you know, you were still mixing legends before, but there’s just a little more that goes into mixing a pack or mixing a or routing for a VM based or network based monitor. So no longer are you just feeding into mixes, but now you’re having to say, okay, for the AV arms, I’m going to direct all this stuff out, I’m going to build a mix for this and and you’ll have your band changes every weekend and your layout of your AV changes every weekend. And so you just have one more puzzle piece to have to figure out for your weekend services. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s not a it’s not always a convenient thing. On the wireless side of things you’re you now run into you know whether or not you use wireless mics and other wireless technology, you now have the the wonderful headache of having to deal with RF issues and making sure that you’re not having interference or dropouts. Which is just one more thing the other problems are plus having to keep up with batteries, making sure that those things are battery up and having that in your budget you know, all those things really add up as a as a bit of a headache sometimes so and then on the musician side of things. If you’ve never used it before, I don’t know of anyone person that’s ever put in ears and then said wow, this is this is the best. This is the easiest and I don’t ever want to do anything else. You know most most people especially vocalist they put those in and it’s just a it’s a different feel, you know having the isolated sound of your own voice in your head versus having a mixture of the room accompanied by the wedge that’s in front of you. It’s just a it’s a different feel. And as a worship leader specifically you you know you always hear about guys feeling disconnected from the audience and unable to lead effectively and, you know, kind of be a leader in this in this Spirit led worship movement and so so yeah, that’s that’s not a not always an easy thing.

Alex Enfiedjian 10:16 Yeah. So I mean, it’s not all rosy like, there are upsides and downsides to all this. And that’s, that’s really what I want to help churches understand is that it’s not like I thought it was, it’s not this magic bullet. And I really, really thought that, you know, if I just buy these things, everything’s gonna get better, and the band’s going to get better. And it wasn’t like that. And it was tricky. And it was difficult. And there was a huge transition period in the learning curve. So I just I want to help churches understand that so that they can make an informed decision on whether or not they should move to your monitors. And then if they do decide to move to your monitors, hopefully, by the end of the episode, we’ll be able to give them some tips and tricks to help them really get the best out of that. So let’s talk about that for a moment. Let’s say there are two hypothetical churches listening to this podcast. And they’ve they’ve weighed the pros and cons. And they’re like, yeah, we think going to a near monitors is going to be worth it for us, we want to do it. And now we just need to know what kind of gear to buy. So let’s say hypothetical, church number one is like super rich, there’s like unlimited budget, they can buy whatever they want, they, they will buy what the pros buy, they’ll buy what Chris Tomlin gets, or what vertical church band gets. And then the other churches more like just an average church with a smaller budget, and they’re going to need to, you know, count their nickels and get the mid range setup. So I’d like for you to kind of describe both of those setups, the the fantasy setup that all the churches wish they could have, and then maybe more of a real setup that most churches could actually afford. Like tell us what What’s your dream setup Taylor? Like, if you could get any setup for the vertical church band tour? What would you get?

Taylor Knight 12:07 Yeah, yeah, yeah. So no budget, church, one, anything you can get what I’ve liked most of the things that I’ve worked with, and what we take on tour with VCB. And, and a lot of like, well, we can house on a good day is is sure PSM, 900, or 1000s. And they are, they are quality in two arenas, they’re they’re RF wise, like radio frequency wise, they’re really easy to dial in and sync up and manage, as far as making sure you’re not having interference and dropouts, which is great. And then also from an audio fidelity standpoint. They just transmit high quality, and they’re not they’re not too compressed or anything like that they have good volume, you’re going to get plenty of volume out of them. And you can do stereo or mono. So they have a lot of flexibility in ARD. And we haven’t had any complaints at all from any of our guys. And in the PSM though, when 1000s actually even on the radio frequency side of things, they’re they’re so technologically advanced that they can operate on two different frequencies at the same time, so that in the event that one of those frequencies that you set up, starts having interference or dropouts, it will immediately seamlessly switch over to the redundant frequency to ensure that your music your musician doesn’t lose his ears, which is awesome. And so. So that’s, you know, wireless technology. And, and honestly, not just you know, a lot of people think it’s just about budget, it’s not just about budget, it’s even about like manpower. So you know, on tour, we do this, you know, but it’s not the ideal circumstance. If you have to make you know, if you have eight musicians are a band members on stage, and they all have their own ears, that’s eight different mixes that you have to manage on top of many, what’s going on in the room. And what we have at our two main campuses here in harvest are we have a completely separate console and person dedicated to mixing ears, which is great, that that that cuts down on the workload and the capacity and the front of house engineer. And honestly, having that separate console, helps to make sure that all the EQ and compression or lack of compression and mix and all that stuff is geared towards the ears because honestly, anyone who’s who’s mixed ears or Front of House knows that the way you EQ stuff and the way you manipulate audio for monitors is is quite different than what you would do for from a front of house perspective. So having that dedicated console should also be considered in that budget and you know, if you have an unlimited source of money, that’s great. And usually, just as a little tip, usually you want your front of house console And your monitor console to be the exact same just for ease of workflow and some other things. So that would be the unlimited budget.

Alex Enfiedjian 15:08 So sorry, real quick. So what you’re saying is, you have two different consoles, you have a front of house console, and you have a separate monitor console, that’s exactly the same as the front house console. And you’ve got two different guys mixing two different things. One guy is mixing monitor mixes, and he’s mixing each mix and sending those mixes wirelessly through the Shure PSM nine hundreds to the team members, and they’re listening to those mixes through their earbuds. So can you tell us quickly about the earbuds that you guys like to use? Like, what is the vertical church band use?

Taylor Knight 15:42 Yeah, for sure. So the actual ears themselves, you know, we can, we can get away with using universal ears that are like two or three drivers, two or three little speakers inside of those headphones. And they just, you know, they’re just like little foamy. So you just kind of, you twist them up, put them in your ears, and they expand and they isolate or the best, you know, if you have the budget to and you’re talking, you know, three, three or $500, maybe more depending on what kind of quality when you can get custom molded ears. And so what you do is you go to a doctor, and they’ll fill your ears up with a foam like thing. And what they do is they’ll give you a mold of your ear, and you send that off to a manufacturer, like a big name that you’ll hear is like 1964, or ultimate ears are. Those are probably the two that I’m most familiar with. But they they’re their big names in testimonials. And so they’ll they’ll mold you a set of ears that are formed specifically to you. And you can get you know, from two to little speakers all the way up to six speakers per side in a set of ears, which is incredible that technology exists. And obviously with that amount of speakers comes at greater fidelity overall and just better range and clarity for what the monitor sound like for that musician,

Alex Enfiedjian 17:07 right. So so like the really, really, really rich churches buy all of their musicians, custom molded 1960 fours or ultimate ears, right. And that and this is just for fun, you know, the fantasy version of of the best in your monitor setups. But can you talk to us now more like on a realistic setup? Like what the average church in America who actually has budget constraints? What could they buy, like, what’s a more mid range way to get a good wine good in your monitor set up? And then maybe you could even talk a little bit about like this super, super budget version of in ear monitors, like if there’s any way that like a little tiny church in New Mexico listening wanted to get in yours, but they just have like hardly any money, like what would be the ultra budget version of yours?

Taylor Knight 17:56 Yeah, yeah. So the most common mid to low range in your budget would be something like the AVM system, or I believe you mentioned Alex that you guys have an allen Heath system. But they’re there, it’s the network based system that I was referring to earlier, which is what’s happening is from a front of house or monitor console, you can you can send up to 16 channels of inputs. So you know, that’s, you know, mixes one or two channels, or you can send direct outs of those individual inputs to a distro and that distro turns all that audio into network signal. So use like a cat five or cat six cable when that goes to all these individual mixers. So you have every musician on stage has a mixer. And they can control the volume of all 16 of those inputs. And then they have a basic tone control of bass and treble for a high end low end and then they have an overall master level for that as well. And then there’s some more flexibility that’s I’m just kind of describing the basic avium structure but I know Allen and Heath and beringer they have even more flexibility or even more channels with what you can do. Some of them ability you can actually tone control or EQ every individual channel even from the mixer itself. As an audio guy and a production guy, I’m obviously steer clear that a little bit. musicians have good ears, but I think mine is better just because I’m an audio guy. So I just think using a using a nice console is better. But obviously we’re talking about budget here. So that’s really helpful. And then and of course you know, like you just use like a headphone extension with a basic set of universal ears for that setup. And then the lower range like the I think the absolute cheapest I could think of that I’ve done before would be headphone amps. So you can do you can do that one or two ways. This is essentially your you would do the same thing that you would do for wireless in ears, where you send an individual mix to an individual person down their own. headphone amp. But of course, in this case, there’s no wireless. So it’s all, it’s all physical. And that there’s a lot of conversions that usually have to happen for that to take place, you know, from depending on what kind of console you have, and what you know whether it has XLR or quarter inch outputs or something else. And whether or not your stage has a XLR outputs, or quarter inch, or nl four, or you know, whatever you might have. So you have to just you have to, it’s not just as simple as Oh, I’ll just get this and it works, you have to figure out what works with your system. But you can usually figure out some kind of conversion to get to individual headphone amps, which are essentially, they’re just little amps that are amplifying the signal that you’re sending down those lines, and you just have a basic control volume. And that’s it. And then you would also just use, you know, you could use everything from a pair of headphones, from Walmart to some decent, you know, single or double driver, universal IRS from Sure, something like that. Yeah, and it’s very, like I said, it’s pretty basic setup,

Alex Enfiedjian 21:01 just to reiterate like, what you’re saying is that the very cheapest, most basic way to get in your monitors would be for your front of house guy to use the main, the main house console, and he’s creating monitor mixes, but instead of sending them to wedges, he’s basically running a really long headphone cable all the way up to the stage to the person who’s correct. Yeah, yeah. So like you said, there’s some more conversions that need to happen besides that, but that’s the basic idea. Now, I want to talk a little bit about kind of these different hacks, that that you can do like a mid range budget, you can do these little tricks to turn your mid range budget into something that’s a really cool setup. And I think I’ve seen you guys do this really cool trick at harvest Bible chapel. And what that is, is that you guys are basically splitting your front of house board to two different layers. So like, let’s say it’s a 64 channel board, and you only need 32 channels to mix front of house. So what you guys have done, I think, is you’ve split that board into two layers. So the top layer is the 32 channels to mix the front of house. And then the bottom layer is a duplicate of every single channel that you EQ and compress differently than the front of house, specifically for the in ear monitors. Now, that’s a really cool trick, because you basically have created a monitor console off of your front board. So can you kind of talk a little bit more about that awesome hack you guys did?

Taylor Knight 22:37 Yeah, that’s actually very, very well articulated, Alex, that’s exactly what we do for all of our satellite campuses. We don’t have the the resources or the manpower on our satellite campuses to do what we do on the road or at our mains. So we have a Yamaha LS nine that has exactly that. It’s it’s 32, physical faders, but 64 digital channels. And so the second layer is all of those same first 32 channels, you know, digitally represented there, copy and pasted, if you will. And we use that second layer, to dedicate, you know, that channel. And obviously, the only thing that that you can’t duplicate would be the head amp or the gain. So you set your gain structure for your first layer, and then that carries over to the second. And then you have a completely separate EQ and routing and effects and all that stuff that you can do on the second layer, which is really helpful.

Alex Enfiedjian 23:29 Yeah, and that’s really, really helpful, like you said, because the EQ that sounds good in the house does not sound good in people’s ears. And we had to learn that the hard way. So that’s super, super good hack. You take one console, and you basically split it into two consoles, and you duplicate every channel. So you got Alex voice, one goes to the house and Alex voice two goes to my ears and their EQ totally separately. You just really need the amount of channels on your console to duplicate all the channels that you need. That’s the only kind of barrier that would stop someone from doing that. Right.

Taylor Knight 24:05 Yeah, yeah. Or if it’s not, you’re still an analog world. Obviously. duplicating channels isn’t really something you can do. So yeah,

Alex Enfiedjian 24:14 yeah, no, that’s really cool, though. I mean, that hack that idea if people can do that, split your channels and use one for the house and use one for the IRS. Like that’s gonna be amazing. That’s a really great hack to kind of boost your mid range setup. Here’s another one that we’ve done at our church that I think is really cool and I wanted to share it. So if some of the churches are listening have like the AVM setup, but all of your musicians are like, you know, physically tethered by their ears to their AVM mixer. One way that you can make that wireless is it’s pretty simple. So here’s what we did. We made our AV setup well it’s actually not AV on but we made our personal mixing setup wireless and The way that you do that is instead of running a cable out of the back to your ears, you run a cable out of the back to a wireless transmitter, which then beams the signal to your ears. So let me just kind of explain how we did it. Basically, out of the back of our Allen and Heath mixers, there’s the little stereo headphone cable, right. And so instead of plugging headphones into that, I just plugged with a stereo cable that splits off into two quarter inch cables. And I ran that cable underneath the stage. So I actually drill the hole in the floor pocket. And I ran that cable under this stage, and I brought it up on the far side of the stage into a little rack that has four wireless transmitters in it. And I did this at each, at each station where people stand wherever each personal mixer is I drilled a hole in the floor ran a cable under the stage, and I popped up back where that rack is. And I just plugged it into the back of the wireless transmitter. So now when they make their mixes, instead of it going straight from the mixer into their ears, it goes under the stage into the transmitter and beams that wireless wireless lead to them wherever they’re standing on the stage. And so they can move around. They’re not tethered, and it’s not pulling on their ears. So that’s a really, really cool way to let your people still be in control of their mixes, but get them untethered so that they can be wireless and free. So any other hacks or thoughts about hacking your current system to make it better? No,

Taylor Knight 26:32 I mean, that’s, that’s a pretty, that’s a pretty common one. I think it’s a really good idea. I, I can’t really think of anything else. Okay.

Alex Enfiedjian 26:40 Okay, well, we’ve covered already the pros and cons, we’ve explained the different kinds of setups that people can get. And now let’s say that these churches have gone out and they’ve bought their new in your monitor setup. Now tell us Taylor, like, what are the best practices when using in your monitors, like, I’ve heard things like you should always wear both ears. I’ve heard that you shouldn’t use compression, you should use a separate EQ, you can set up ambient mics, like all the things that you’ve learned from, from working with musicians over the years tell us what are the best practices, not just from the musician side? Although we want to know that, but also maybe from the tech standpoint, what are the best practices for using your monitors?

Taylor Knight 27:20 Yeah, for sure. So from a from engineer standpoint, the first thing I always tell all my guys, when I’m teaching them audio is the first thing that matters is gain structure. So in signal flow, for audio, the first thing that that that any input hits in your console, is the gain. And if your if your gain structure isn’t right, then everything downstream from that is going to be affected. So your EQ and compression and even just the overall tonal quality and the volume and whether or not you’re, you know, like if you ever run into a situation where you’re your lead singer is like, hey, I need more myself, candy, I can’t hear myself and I’ve got to turn up all the way on my AV arm, or you’ve got to turn it up all the way in his mix. And he still wants more, I would say about 99% of the time, that’s because you don’t have good game structure. You know, you know, you always want to blame your musician and say like, Oh, he’s being too greedy, or he can’t hear himself or he’s deaf. And I’ve had my more ignorant days where I thought the same thing, but I think, as I’ve learned, there are some good practices like that, that you can do to make sure that they’re doing the best that you can do. Apart from game structure, I always less is more in monitor world, I try to do minimal EQ, most musicians they need. And they typically want a very true representation of their electric guitar amp or their voice or their acoustic guitar, you know, or their, their synth sounds on their keyboard, you know, whatever the case may be, they spent a lot of time developing that sound and so you’re not doing them any justice by over manipulating that audio. So usually, no compression is where I would always start and then if it’s too dynamic, or you feel like you’re having to change their mix a lot, slowly add that in. But yeah, very minimalistic, and all that you do in monitor world. It’s it’s all about the gain structure. And then, from a musician’s standpoint, I’d say kind of working off of that same relationship, as you’re communicating with your engineer. It does. This is almost seems secondary, but it really is important to learn the lingo for each of you to kind of understand what what you’re saying, you know, I, my guys, you know, like, they’ll leave at least learn enough, you know, hey, I can you get up my, my voice, I can’t, I can’t hear it enough or whatever. And they understand that when I gain something up, it changes the volume for them. And it usually changes the tonal quality of it. So they’ll ask me that a lot. But ultimately, your engineers in charge of interpreting was needed. And so the more you can be precise with your language, you know, audio is a hard thing to describe. And it’s it’s a it’s very subjective at times, especially when you’re trying to tell someone what You’re hearing in your ears versus what someone else is hearing. And, and then, as far as actual practice as a musician, like actually using the ears, you’ll always hear people debating about whether or not it’s best to have both ears in or one year out, or something in between. The problem with that really just lies with, it’s really just a matter of, of ear damage. So if you have one area, and when you’re out, it’s just, it’s just a law of nature that you’re going to have to turn up your ears louder than you would if you had both ears in. And so now you’re, you’re subject to some ear damage, potentially, you know, it’s not always the case, but you’re a little more susceptible to it, if you know, that’s kind of do it at your own risk. Be careful doing it, I totally understand needing to be in connection with your audience and trying to lead them well. But there’s some other solutions, too, to make sure, you know, like audience mics, and I’m sure we can talk about that a little bit later. But just being watchful that don’t, don’t at least be aware that like you have a risk of doing that. And then, you know, honestly, keeping your your ears not your physical ears, but your your electronic ears clean, making sure that they’re clear of ear wax and things like that. Don’t be susceptible to over your physical ears. Don’t be Don’t be susceptible to cleaning them too much. It’s actually not healthy for your ears to be cleaned every single day or too frequently. Ear wax is is not a pesty thing. It’s actually a it’s a protective thing that your body does to protect your ears. So obviously you don’t want ooze coming out of your ears. But you want to make sure that you’re not being too diligent in doing that, you’ll your ears will actually become raw after a while. So

Alex Enfiedjian 31:47 I’ve never talked about ear wax on my podcast. Hey, so you talked a little bit about compression. We had a problem with compression A while ago, when we first got our ears, the board was digitally sending the signal compressed to our ears. And I just couldn’t hear any clarity. Everything was like all hot and crispy is the way that I was describing it. It was like everything just sounded squished together and crispy and like hot and it just didn’t sound good. I couldn’t hear any of the definition between instruments. And so I finally called a few friends. And they said it sounds like you’ve got compression over compressed. So don’t send compression to the engineers. And so if there’s any churches out there who are like why do our mixes sound so unclear, we’ll check your compression, if you’re if you’re bored sending compression to your ears, that that might be the reason. And then you also talked about EQ, like using a different EQ from the house than from the ears. And when we first moved to any ears, I was I was seriously having pitch issues. And I I rarely sing off pitch but I was always slightly sharp. And it was because our house EQs where they were dipping these huge sections of my voice out of the EQ. And so I couldn’t even tell where I was singing because like massive sections of my frequency range were gone in my ears. And so it’s really important, like you said, if you can to either don’t EQ the the instruments or the voices, or just like you said use minimal EQ on the voices in the guitars and stuff because people get used to hearing their voice a certain way. And then when in the house, they’re like dipping huge sections in your voice, it really throws you off. So Taylor, I wanted to ask you also, have you ever heard the concept of giving the vocalists like a different mix than the keyboard? I mean, then the drummers or the bass players like I heard that for vocalists, you should give them more of the acoustic instruments like the acoustic guitar and the piano so that they have pitch and timing. References. Can you talk about that? A little?

Taylor Knight 34:03 Yeah, so this is, you know, I’ll confess this, I’ve had to confess this to other people to honestly, most people don’t know this. But even though I’ve, I’ve been, you know, somewhat successful, and as a front of house guy, I’m not a musician at all. So I don’t know a whole lot about music. I’ve just been in the industry long enough to where I know enough to, to understand how music goes and arrangements and things like that. I just, I understand the basic concepts. But since I’m not a musician, I didn’t really know at first like what people need to do their thing. So you know, a drummer needs something different than a lead vocalist versus a bgv versus a lead guitarist. And so you really just have to keep in mind what each of those positions is doing. So, you know, a vocalist, like you’re saying, they need to be able to they need to be on time, and they need they need pitch and so on. And key and all that. So usually the first things I’ll put, you know, I’ll even teach my guys to kind of pre make, like, when we have background vocals in a weekend, I have them kind of pre make a mix for them. And it always starts with their vocal at the very top, the surrounding vocals. So if they’re trying to harmonize with someone, or they’re following the melody, you know, whoever that is, needs to also be very close to their vocal. And then, like you said, making sure that there’s keys and acoustic guitar, most of our worship leaders will lead with acoustic guitar. So it’s good to have that, that that person who’s leading the way. And the acoustic guitar just provides some rhythm and, and tone as well. And then I’ll even make sure that there’s something like, just not a whole lot. But just, if you have click, you know, if you’re if you do, if, obviously, you’re using any ears, put the click in there, or if the click is annoying to them, or they’re not used to it, at least make sure there’s a little bit of kick and snare for timing sake. And then I’ll just start there. And then, you know, some musicians, they like, the whole gamut, like, they want to feel the whole experience. So they’ll ask for the whole band and they want, they want to hear something that’s close to resembling the house or, you know, their own wants and desires. And, but as far as what’s necessary. That’s a good point. Alex is just making sure that those those basic things are there. And that’s, that’s usually where I start.

Alex Enfiedjian 36:21 Yeah. Now, have you ever heard of, I’ve heard of some churches doing this, where they, they take their house mix, and they send it to the in ear monitors as an ox channel. And so for people who really want that full big sound to feel like they’re like listening to a record there, they’re actually listening to the house mix, they they just turn that up or down, and then they just turn themselves up or down. And they don’t have to worry about controlling all the individual instruments separately. As a group, I’m sure there are many downsides to doing it that way. But do you have any thoughts about that?

Taylor Knight 36:55 Yeah. Yeah, you can do that. That’s not a bad idea. the only the only issue comes in, I mean, it just practically speaking, as far as routing things, even like, even a really nice console doesn’t have a whole lot of, there’s not a whole lot of ways that you can do that. So like the the most basic way that a newer high end console consent and stereo mix to something is doing matrix, I only have eight matrixes on my console. And depending on you know what, like, I have at least five other things that need need that same mix before my ears do. So like, you know, if you’ve got a lobby feed or a broadcast feed or recording, or whatever the case may be, you know, those things are going to eat up those sources. So it’s not a bad idea as far as IRS go, if there’s a way that if you have all the all the things you need to, to make that happen for as many vocalist as you need it to happen for, then great. But practically speaking, I just, I don’t really have the bandwidth with the resources that I have to pull that off most of the time. And it’s like, but audio wise, though, it’s not a bad idea. That’s, that’s probably pretty cool. You know, as long as you’re musicians, as long as your vocalist is okay with that? Yeah.

Alex Enfiedjian 38:11 Do you have any other like tips and tricks, technical things that that you can tell us to do? Like, maybe maybe we can talk a little bit about audience mics, like, I know that we tried using audience mics in our in ears to regain that connection with the congregation. But for me, and it’s probably us doing it wrong, it really muddied up my mixes like, it would just make things really mid range and sound bad. So I ended up turning him way, way, way down in my mixes. But maybe you can talk a little bit about audience mics, which mics to use mic placement, just share some of your wisdom on that.

Taylor Knight 38:50 For sure. So, as I said earlier, you know, when you’re trying to accomplish that same kind of connectivity between worship leader and the audience to gain back that same like atmosphere and ambience of the room, and just hearing your congregation as well. Audience mics is a solution not just for churches, I mean, a lot. any big tour I can guarantee you has has this as well, because it’s not just worship leaders that want to feel that even even Coldplay wants to hear what’s going on in the arena as they’re playing. They want to experience this as just as much as the fans do what’s going on in the room. So the, you know, it starts with the mic itself. So you have to have a mic that is designed to pick up what you’re trying to pick up. So what we we always recommend, usually a shotgun mic, or some some kind of probably some kind of a shotgun is like a pickup pattern. So that’s like, you know, you’ve probably heard terms like cardioid or omni directional, it’s just kind of the, it kind of just determines how it’s picking up audio and the shotgun pattern is what I I would recommend for audience mics because it’s not going to be too defined, it’s going to have some distance on it. And that’s really what you need for audience right because the audience mic is not something that’s going to be very, it’s not like you’re closely miking your congregation or the room, it’s, it’s something that’s very like open and you don’t want something that’s omnidirectional necessarily, because if you have that, then you’re likely to pick up things that are behind it as well. So typically, you want to aim audience mics in such a way that you’re not picking up like too much of the band itself or too much of the PA, you’re really just trying to get what’s going on out in front of you in the room and a shotgun mic is, is or something very comparable is is the best. So you know, you can look up any number of those, we actually use a sure it’s fine. These actually aren’t, I’m pretty sure the pickup pattern on these actually aren’t shotgun, but they’re there. They work for the rooms that they’re in the Shure SM 80 ones. They’re like a pencil condenser mic, you’ll see them sometimes on overheads for drums. You know, they work for things like that, I guess. But the just the, the pickup pattern as well as the frequency pickup that they have, I actually have that hanging up in the air in the room that I typically mix in here at harvest. And then we also have audio technica. I don’t remember the model numbers to be honest with you, but Audio Technica and Sennheiser also make the other two or three audience mics that we use on some of our other venues. But you seriously, if you just look up a faithful brand like that, and shotgun pickup pattern, you’re going to find something that will work you don’t need anything that’s like super expensive. In the mic world for audience mics, just something that that fits within those parameters. And then once you have that the two most common ways I’ve seen or done myself with audience mics is hanging from the ceiling. So this could be a single mic in the very center have your room hanging down, you know, and I’m talking like 2030 feet above, above your people’s heads, depending on how big your room is, you know, as high as you can get it without being too close, or, you know, obstructing view of anything and all that jazz. You know, there’s once again, there’s always so many variables. And then there’s I’ve also seen,

Taylor Knight 42:11 a common thing that you’ll see on tours is the audience mics are usually right beside the PA right alongside of it pointing out towards the audience. Sometimes this will be like, if you’re in a big room with a line array, you’ll see it mounted to the bottom of the line array on either side pointed down towards your audience, which is cool, because you’re still getting a little bit of pick up from the front of house mix, which is you know, a lot of guys like to feel that a little bit. And then obviously, you’re going to get the the noise from your crowd, you know, claps and singing and response. And then we’ve also seen, like our Meadows campus has steel beams up in the top of it that are pretty low. And we actually just mounted audience mics in four different locations. And that room so far left, far right center, left center, right of that room are shotgun mics, pointed down towards the audience. And we use that for broadcast as well. So that’s one reason why we had so many, you don’t really need that many for just just your ears. But that’s why we have that. And then as far as dialing them in, once you’ve got those inputs on your console, very minimalistic, like I put a basic high pass filter on it usually up to like 100 or 150 hertz. And then I’ll just listen to it, I just use my own ears. And then if it needs to be shaped at all, you know, if it sounds too muddy, or it’s a little too crispy on the top end or whatever, I’ll dip some of that out, I don’t ever add anything to it, I’ll just take out what what doesn’t need to be there. And, and then depending on how dynamic it is, because of where they’re placed, and things like that, I will I will do some compression, if I need to. This will make it so that it’s not too dynamic for your ears. Because sometimes, depending on where they’re placed, if it’s too dynamic, then it’ll throw your band off. Or it’ll you know, it’ll be louder than it needs to at times or whatever. And if you compress it, it makes it a little more consistent. And I think you can do that without without any audio or fidelity navigation. So yeah, does that is that that might be too much. But

Alex Enfiedjian 44:09 no, no, not at all. Actually, I still have even more questions. Like, it sounds like you guys have your mics hanging in front of the PA at some of your venues, which I would think would end up making the mic pick up the PA and not the people. So tell us like, how do you get around that? Like how do you make sure it’s picking up more people than actual PA.

Taylor Knight 44:31 Right. So if you’re if you’re in that configuration and it isn’t the middle of the room, it’s pointing usually straight down or at an angle away from the PA. So and because of the pickup pattern of it, it’s going to reject some of some of the PA in that direction anyways, and you want to make sure like it’s far enough out from the PA that that’s not going to be the foremost thing that you hear. It’s okay if you hear some of the front house but you just you want to make sure The foremost thing that you hear is what’s going on in the room. And I’m telling you that the easiest way to dial that in is just listening to it, like, like, put it somewhere you think it’ll work, dial it in, put some, put some headphones on from front of house and just listen to it and listen to how it responds with, you know, your full church in there, listen to how it responds when the band is, you know, going it’s hardest listen to how it sounds when your pastor is preaching, you know, all of these things, and just play around with it till it till it’s what you need. Cool.

Alex Enfiedjian 45:29 Okay, last question about audience mics, I promise. I want to know how you guys mix your audience mics into your ears, like how do you know the right level to add? Where your musicians are like, okay, it sounds good, I hear the congregation but it’s not muddying up my mix. Like, I’ve heard of some churches, mixing all of the band first, and then adding in just a little bit of audience at the end. Is that what you guys do? Yeah,

Taylor Knight 45:55 I mean, honestly, we haven’t had like a, a workshop on on that or anything like that with our worship leaders. But yes, I would, that’s exactly what I would recommend, though is, is start with, with just building your mix for your band, you know, and what you need and, and all your other inputs, build that mix first. And then add in the audience mics as as a filler for ambience and the room. And most of the time, that’s going to get where you where you want to go. And you just have to play around with it, you know, like as you add that you for whatever reason, if you, if you if you’re starting to hear more of something than you were before you can, you can mess around with your mix a little bit more and make sure that’s good. And you I guess the most important thing is you want to make sure that you’re not losing anything. So if for some reason, you know, if if it didn’t get placed, right, and I didn’t get down in well enough, and you’re getting too much of the PA back into those audience mics or something and you start having phasing issues in your ears. It’s because the source of the audience mic versus the input source on your AVR, or your ears or whatever, however you’re doing it is they’re cancelling each other out. So if you add those audience mics in, and you start to notice some very significant mix changes, that’s probably why. So that’s a there’s not like any one answered. To solve that. It’s just a matter of continuing to dial that in.

Alex Enfiedjian 47:20 Yeah. Taylor, man, this has been like, super helpful for me, and I’m sure all of our listeners, and I just want to give you a chance, before we say goodbye to send us off with any final thoughts like what would you What would you leave us with today?

Alex Enfiedjian 47:34 Um, yeah, so

Taylor Knight 47:36 I would just say, every opportunity, I get to talk to other technical elite leaders or worship pastors, and people who are just continuing to try to make the worship environment, excellent. For for God’s glory. I would say the biggest complaint I always hear is always having to do with budget and leadership, not wanting to go the direction that you want to go. And my my immediate response to that is, is twofold. It’s one, you’re going to your faithfulness, to submit to your leadership and their decision making honors the Lord first and foremost. And I think in honoring the Lord, He will bless your ministry and your vision along the way. And that’s more of a spiritual thing. But I think it’s important. And then secondly, as far as your budget goes, I mean, the reality is, your your church leaders, there’s some special circumstances out there, I’m sure, but all in all, your church leaders want what’s best for your people. And if you want what’s best for your people, then then you’re on the same team. And so as they allow, allow you to budget for certain resources, or all this pretty new gear or whatever, then you you know, take advantage of that, but in the meantime, be a faithful steward of what you have. I have done excellent production with some crappy gear. And you know, it takes a lot of time and experience to dial those, you know, not so good equipment or whatever. It takes some time to learn how to best utilize those things and squeeze the most excellence out of those things as possible. But I think if you if you seek out you know, it’s I’m sure there’s a lot of guys out there that don’t work at their church full time in this capacity. There’s a lot of part time guys out there who just volunteering their time to lead a whole ministry. That’s a lot of that’s a lot of investment. I get that. But if you the more resource resources you can get ahold of with podcasts like this and YouTube videos and resources that manufacturers put out like Yamaha and finding information and finding ways to best use the resources you have, will really prove to be most serving to your team and worship in production as well as your church body.

Alex Enfiedjian 49:50 Pure gold right there. Oh, man. Taylor. Thank you, Taylor. If anyone wants to reach out to you online and get ahold of you, how would they How’d they find you?

Taylor Knight 50:02 Sure, yeah. So as the rest of the world does, I guess I have a Twitter account. And you can you can you can direct message me or whatever on there. My username or handle is just Taylor night underscore. So ta y LR Can I ght underscore on Facebook? And I mean, why not? My email address is t night. T k na ght at harvest Bible. org. And just like I got your email, Alex, you know, I can’t always respond to everything. But I tried to make sure that I make time for other other local churches doing the same thing that we’re doing, and try to offer my, my experience.

Alex Enfiedjian 50:48 God bless you, Taylor, man. So encouraging. And I know a lot of people listening to this. We’re, we’re blessed by your time. So thanks for making the time. Thank you so much. Thanks. Appreciate it. All right. Well, that’s it for today’s episode. Thanks again, Taylor, for taking the time to equip the global church with your insight and wisdom and experience, it was really a blessing. And if you guys are wondering, where can we find links to all the different gear that was discussed? I will put it in the show notes for you. So it’s easy for you to do a little bit of research for your in your setup that maybe you’ll be getting or maybe not. Okay, next month, we’ll be back with another episode and we will be talking with my senior pastor Ben sibyls. about the relationship between senior pastors and worship leaders. That should be a great conversation. So I’ll see you next month. And in the meantime, have a great weekend leading your church to worship Jesus

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