How To Use An Audio Compressor In Your Church System, Part 1

The pro audio world uses compression more than any other form of signal processing, because it makes the music or message you are trying to convey easier to listen to, more consistent and improves intelligibility.

How To Use An Audio Compressor In Your Church System, Part 1
Since we will only be using one channel for our purpose, we've zoomed in on channel 2 in the image above. There are two parts of the channel. Outlined in red is the expander/gate which can be used to reduce background noise in the channel when no one is talking.
How To Use An Audio Compressor In Your Church System, Part 1
Since we will only be using one channel for our purpose, we've zoomed in on channel 2 in the image above. There are two parts of the channel. Outlined in red is the expander/gate which can be used to reduce background noise in the channel when no one is talking.

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How To Use An Audio Compressor In Your Church System, Part 1

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How to Use an Audio Compressor In Your Church System, Part 2
How To Use An Audio Compressor In Your Church System, Part 1

Technology Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, November-December 2017
The November-December 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers a review of the 49 New Product Award entries this year, as well as those entries up for Solomon Awards in 2017.
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Audio compressors can process one or multiple channels of audio depending on their design. The most common consist of two channels that can operate as two separate compressors or as a stereo unit.

Since our first application is the pastor’s microphone, we will look at only one channel in single mode. Whether your pastor uses the popular Countryman E6i ear-worn headset microphone, a lapel, or a pulpit microphone, you can benefit from adding a compressor to his signal chain.

Connection

The most common way to connect a compressor to a mixer channel is through the channel insert jacks on the mixer using an insert cable which is commonly a cable with two “mono” phone plugs (Tip/Sleeve) to go to the Input and Output jacks of the compressor and one “stereo” (Tip/Ring/Sleeve) phone plug to go to the Insert jack on the pastor’s Input channel on your mixer. The cable will have labels to show which phone plug is for input and which is for output. (Some insert cables have XLR connectors instead of phone plugs, but these are much less common.)

With the compressor connected to the pastor’s microphone channel we are ready to look at its features and how to use them. We’ll use the popular dbx 266XS Compressor 2-channel compressor as our example.

Since we will only be using one channel for our purpose, we’ve zoomed in on channel 2 in the image above. There are two parts of the channel. Outlined in red is the expander/gate which can be used to reduce background noise in the channel when no one is talking. This won’t be covered in this article, but it can be very useful (refer to your manual for more information).

If you have a similar feature on your compressor, turn it off unless you have learned how to properly use it. The compressor portion is outlined in gold. We have also zoomed in on this section (below) to better show the controls.

First, let’s talk about each control. We’ll give you suggestions for how to create the right settings at the end of this article.

Threshold

Starting at the left, the first control knob is the threshold. The threshold sets the point or audio level that the compressor will start suppressing the volume. The settings range from -40 db to +20 db. The red arrows indicate the most likely range for our application. The final setting will depend on the pastor and the input sensitivity of the mixer channel.

We will assume the sensitivity (trim) control on the mixer channel is set correctly. See the mixer owner’s manual for an explanation on this setting if you experience results different than described below.


Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, November-December 2017
The November-December 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers a review of the 49 New Product Award entries this year, as well as those entries up for Solomon Awards in 2017.


Article Topics

Technology · Audio · Team Management · Team Development · Intelligibility · Microphone · Mixer · Pro Audio · Signal Chain · Sound System · All Topics

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