The Benefits of Webcasting

Webcasting is already being utilized by companies and organizations to widen the impact of important events, meetings, and messages. Depending on the nature of a and industry of a business, webcasts can be used in a number of ways:

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Provide in-time training and product information to your customers and employees.
Use the technology to demonstrate your products and services.
Make announcements in real time, offer online meetings, and spread awareness of events to promote your products and services.

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For companies that have multiple offices spread around different geographic areas, webcasting offers a means to address the entire company simultaneously from one central location in a cost effective manner. There are numerous benefits to employing this technology, including:

Larger audiences: Webcasting allows you to connect with anyone remotely, and all an audience participant needs is the internet. The greatest benefit is its ability to expand the reach of a message dramatically. For employee training, everyone can received the same training and information as everyone else. For a company launch event, the media and public will be able to see the launch in real time.
Cost effectiveness: Traditional events are expensive. In addition to the up-front costs associated with an event, there travelling, lodging, meals, and more. If all these factors are being paid for by the same company, such expenses can continue to grow astronomically. Most of those costs can now be eliminated thanks to webcasting.
Increase in revenue: Webcasting can increase employee productivity as well as help your company achieve results faster by cutting the time needed to market your products and services.
Audience connection: The audience can be as engaged with the presentation as if they were there in person. The live video streaming server can be configured to allow online audience members to submit questions and receive answers in real time. Audience participation can also be tracked, allowing for greater feedback and transparency.
Less of an environmental footprint: Because webcasting is virtual, it requires less resources to make a presentation or event happen, especially in terms of fuel needed to transport people long distances.
Output quality: Webcasting delivers good quality audio and video in broadcasts.
Better content: Webcasting truly puts the power of the internet at your fingertips and allows you to combine different presentation styles and multimedia. This flexibility lets you drive home your message more effectively than in more traditional settings.
Range of broadcasting: Webcasting can be broadcast to any location on the planet that has internet. It has no long distance impediments, such as radio, and can be accessed within seconds.

Zeo Systems can handle of the webcasting needs of your business or organization. From the initial survey, through the design and installation, and to the use of the system, Zeo systems will be with you every step of the way. Let our 40 years of audio-visual experience show you the way to webcasting.

10 Advantages of In-Ear Stage Monitoring

1–Superior Sound Quality
The expression “garbage in, garbage out” applies here. If you’re using wedges and can’t hear yourself unless you turn up loud enough to damage your ears and interfere with the house mix, then nobody wins. Alternatively, in-ear personal monitors deliver consistently clear sound to you onstage, regardless of your venue’s limitations. When you can adjust your performance to reflect what you hear, it’s a better experience both for you and the audience. Your confidence as a performer will get a big boost too.

2–Optimal Volume Levels
When using wedges, monitor engineers often end up in the middle of a volume war between the amplified and the unamplified. Singers, acoustic guitarists, and keyboardists can’t hear themselves over amplified electric guitarists and bassists, let alone over the drums. So, they ask, “Can you turn me up?”
“Maybe,” is the best the engineer can offer due to the limitations of power amplifier size, power handling of the speakers, and potential acoustic gain. If the room has bad acoustics, then peace is even less likely. With an in-ear personal monitor system, you’ll get studio-quality sound in a live-sound context. You can choose what you hear, and your engineers aren’t stuck waving the white flag.
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3–Elimination of Feedback
You know the sound of feedback: that intense buzzing whine that sends your hands to your ears. But what causes it?
Feedback happens when amplified sound from a loudspeaker is picked up by a microphone and re-amplified. This often occurs on crowded stages where microphones and monitor loudspeakers are too close together. When your whole band asks the engineer to turn up their mics, feedback is inevitable. In-ear personal monitor systems make this scenario moot. They seal the “loudspeakers” in your ears, breaking the feedback loop.

4–Hearing Health
Chronic exposure to the high sound pressure levels of wedges can damage your ears permanently. Earplugs can help, but even the best plugs alter frequency response enough to muffle the audio. In-ear monitors both protect your ears from outside noise while simultaneously delivering only the sounds you need to hear. With the controls in your hands, you can adjust the volume to a safe level. It’s by far the healthier option.

5–Reduced Vocal Strain
The most powerful singer is no match for an amplified guitar turned way up, or even a drum kit as-is. When singers can’t hear themselves over the stage mix—which often happens with wedge monitors—they push their voices too hard, damaging vocal chords and shortening singing careers. In-ear personal monitors allow you to hear yourself clearly when you sing, and you won’t have to scream over guitar amps and wedges. In addition to your own vocals, you can include in your mix as much or as little of the other instruments as you want.
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6–Stereo Monitoring
A distinct advantage of most in-ear monitor systems over wedges is the ability to listen in stereo. Our ears are made for stereo listening, so a stereo mix is more like a natural listening environment. When you’re able to listen to a natural-sounding mix, you’re more likely to listen at a lower volume. This means healthier ears over the long term.

7–Clean Audience Mix
Wedges are directional at high frequencies, but they become omnidirectional at low frequencies. Why that’s bad: when wedges are turned up, low-frequency bleed from the backs of the units can muddy the house mix and make vocals unintelligible to the audience, especially in smaller venues. When you use in-ear monitors, the front-of-house engineer can concentrate on delivering the best possible audience mix without having to factor in bleed from the stage mix.

8–Portability
If you play an amplified instrument or drums, then you’re no stranger to schlepping gear. Amps weigh around 55 pounds each. Wedges weigh about 45 pounds each. The more of those you have, the larger the vehicle you need, and the more you’re spending on gas. A complete in-ear monitor system fits in a briefcase, with no extra schlepping, vehicle space, or gas required. Plus, getting rid of wedges and speaker cables gives your stage a cleaner, more professional look, which matters if your gigs are weddings, worship services, and corporate events with different aesthetic standards than the average night club.

9–Mobility
When you use wedge monitors, you’re limited to a sweet spot onstage where the mix sounds as good as it gets. Move a little to the right or left, and things go downhill. Why? Because loudspeakers are directional. Using in-ear monitors, on the other hand, is like using headphones: the sound goes where you go. So, if you want to play to the crowd on either side of the stage, you hear the same mix wherever you go.

#10–Personal Control
Perhaps the most empowering part of in-ear monitoring is having direct control over what you hear. You’ll still rely on the monitor engineer for fine adjustments, but you can adjust the volume using the knob on your bodypack, and you can choose different mixes yourself.
If you use a stereo mix, you’ll hear the same thing in both ears, but you can pan left and right to hear more or less in either ear. From there, you can use the bodypack controls to adjust the balance of the sound sources. For example, you might want vocals and guitar in the left ear, and drums and bass in the right.

The Impact of Sound Systems on Learning and the Academic Experience

Hearing a message in school is critical for students and staff, regardless if it’s a school-wide announcement or directed at a specific room or individual. The ability of an administration to communicate loud and clear with all school occupants can be a matter of academic success or personal safety. While your school weighs the options of installing a brand new system or upgrading an existing sound system, it is prudent to research various systems on the market and determine which ones meet your school’s specific needs.

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Paging Systems

This is arguably the most crucial piece of audio equipment in a school. They are used for a multitude of purposes: to send emergency messages, to broadcast daily announcements, and to call students or staff to the main office, just to name a few.

Usually there are one or two speakers per classroom with the rest of the system’s speakers distributed throughout bathrooms, corridors, and general public areas of the school. Traditional paging systems centered around one microphone in the main office, however, modern systems are integrated into the school’s telephone lines, allowing administrators, teachers, and other staff entry to the paging system by entering an access code into one of the telephones.

Classroom Systems

These systems are designed for the specific needs of individual rooms throughout the school building. Music rooms, for example, might require special speakers and other equipment to allow students to listen to music without a sacrifice in audio quality. Lecture halls and theaters can require a variety of speakers throughout the space in order to assure that students can clearly hear what is being said through the microphone(s).

The number of speakers in a given room with is contingent on the room’s capacity and its intended use. Effectively designed sound systems will allow students to hear teacher lectures, student presentations, films, and so forth. The purpose of these systems is to enhance the academic experience of students and to allow staff to perform their jobs more effectively.

Gym Systems

Homecomings, pep-rallies, and sports games are all staples of an American high school. These exciting, school-spirit building events can attract audiences of all sizes. A gym’s sound system is critical in making sure that everyone is engaged and entertained on the court or on the bleachers.

It is important to have a correctly designed sound system for such a large space. Various speakers must be used to blanket all corners of the gym in sound while accounting for loud audiences and untreated, aurally reflective surfaces like wooden floors, brick walls, and metal ceilings.

Zeo Systems enjoys the challenge of designing and installing sound systems that can increase school pride, open learning opportunities, and enhance communication throughout the school. For further information, request a consultation

Installing Hearing Loops Brings Inclusivity to Your Business

Hearing impairments can inhibit communication in all aspects of life, business meetings being no different. Have you ever given a presentation to audience members with hearing aids and worried that they might miss spoken content? Luckily, technology has the answer in hearing loops systems which are designed to act as personal sound systems for those with hearing impairments by sending sound directly to their hearing aids.

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What is a Hearing Loop System?

The system is an audio induction loop which transmits sound waves through wireless magnetic signal. This signal is then received by the hear aid’s telecoil. Hearing loops offer a great level of audio quality and clarity because the signal comes directly from the source (ie. microphone, recording, ect) without any ambient room noises. Many hearing aids unfortunately mix room noises together, leading to confusion and frustration for the listener. However, the filtration found in hearing loops allows the hearing aid to individualize each sound as it happens in real time and prevents the listener from falling behind in the presentation.

Where Are Hearing Loop Systems Used?

Already common in banks, cinemas, and theaters, hearing loops can be helpful in conference rooms, event venues, schools, and stadiums. Practically speaking, hearing loops can be used any place at any time. They can be installed for private individual offices as well as large meeting spaces. For private offices, the hearing loop uses a binaural system for computers and phones. For large rooms, room loop rotation is utilized, especially for microphones, carrying signals from around the room and transmitting and filtering them to the hearing aid.

Perks of Hearing Loop System

Requires no pick up and uses a universal magnet signal, which reduces the amount of unwanted sound interference and is compatible with any pre-existing hearing aids
Easy to hide and won’t disturb others within close proximity like systems that have excess sound coming out of the headset
Personalized to your needs and increased flexibility in wear and use in transient situations, such as at teller windows and drive-thru stations
It’s a big money saver because once installed, fewer portable receiving units need to be purchased
Current hearing aids can be used with the system, so the out-of-pocket cost decreases drastically in the long run

Zeo Systems offer installation services for hearing loop systems for your business. Our hearing loop systems conform to all ADA requirements for those with hearing disabilities and can work with you to accommodate your business’ needs.

Funding Needs for Audio-Visual Systems

Quality audio-visual systems are an absolute necessity to grab an audience’s attention. This is especially true in schools, offices, and house of worship. When preparing to install a new audio-visual system or integrate with an existing system, the concerns of the audio-visual budget, its funding options, and the need for technical support must all be addressed.
Audio-visual systems can make up a significant amount of a facility budget. Indeed, in modern high-tech building projects, the audio-visual work is often the largest sub-contracted job. Qualified professionals should inspect the building or facility, and the prospective client should shop around for reasonable quotes for the level of desired AV equipment. It is best to determine the interplay between available funds and the requirement of various systems early in the process. If the budget is too small, then either the project must be reduced in size or more funds must be acquired. Furthermore, the source of the funding should be decided. For example, is the audio-visual system part of the initial building costs like an electrical system? Or is it paid for from capital funds? Or perhaps the operations budget? The source of funding should be one the first decisions made.
The scale of the project will greatly influence available funding options. Will the project be a full-size building, integrations, renovations, or a one-off installation? These projects are handled differently between organizations. Funding options may include private internal capital, or public capital approved by a government body. Realistic appropriations need to be made as early as possible if the project is to include significant audio-visual capabilities. It is usually difficult to request additional funds once a budget is drawn up and approved.
Unfortunately, many brand new multi-million dollar systems sit underutilized or understaffed, and thus are not used to their full potential. To avoid this disparity, the audio-visual project budget should include allotments for additional training or for hiring additional staff. New systems can be unfamiliar with a staff accustomed to older technology. The technical staff may be required to address operations and maintenance concerns. In this case, additional funding for training may be needed to bring staff up to par with the latest systems. Additionally, even with training, the existing staff may not be able to handle the advanced systems. More staff may be necessary in this event.
Budgeting and funding should be agreed on and set early on in the project planning process. Effective budgeting can completely transform the audio-visual capabilities of a building or cause a total headache. Zeo Systems recommends avoiding the headache.

Audio-Visual Needs for Houses of Worship

What does a house of worship need in order to maintain its relevance and secure its future? One major answer lies in the presentation of services and how they connect to the congregation. It used to be that new technology was seen as inappropriate for houses of worship, however, the outside world is increasingly throwing that philosophy to the curb. People have become accustomed to high-quality audio and visual presentations in most facets of their lives – at home with their entertainment systems, at work with projects and presentations, even at the grocery store self-checkout screen. So why should their religious experience be any different? In demand are churches and other houses of worship in which the choir can be clearly heard, the sound is mixed at a professional level, and the lighting evokes the right atmosphere for the service.

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Arguably the most important piece of equipment in the house of worship, a quality audio system is critical to ensure that every word and note is heard from speakers, singers, and musicians. Zeo Systems has extensive options and designs to make the sound perfect even in large and spacious or small and cozy halls.

Video

It is nearly a requirement to install large screens with live video capabilities for very large houses of worship. Congregations want to be able to see and connect with the speaker and witness, as well as hear, the emotions in his or her voice. Zeo Systems’ video experts take into consideration the needs of the building and the congregation and can install screens in accord with existing or future audio and lighting designs.

Lighting

Proper lighting can evoke atmosphere in the building and also bring out emotion in the congregation. Lighting can be installed pre-programmed in a way that highlights predefined areas like pulpits and sitting areas. Lighting can also automatically adjust for other ceremonies like weddings and funerals. One of our main goals in a house of worship is to make all audio-visual equipment practically invisible, and our technicians pride themselves on performing this step of the installation process.

Zeo Systems is available to do house of worship audio-visual installations throughout the Northeast, focusing on the region of Greater Philadelphia. To speak with a technician, please call (215) 956-0328.

Explaining Microphones and Their Uses

As if by magic, cardioid microphones can pick up what they are aimed at, but reject sounds to the side and rear.

For example, talk into a cardioid mic from all sides while listening to its output. Your reproduced voice will be loudest when you talk into the front of the mic and softest when you talk into the rear.

Because they discriminate against sounds to the sides and rear, cardioid designs help reject unwanted sounds such as room acoustics (reverberation), feedback or leakage. For this reason, they’re the most popular microphone choice.

How do they work? In other words, how do you make a mic directional?

Start by making it omnidirectional. Take a mic transducer, made of a diaphragm and some hardware that changes diaphragm motion into a signal.

Then put this transducer in the end of a sealed can, so that incoming sound contacts the diaphragm only on its front surface.

Sound from the front presses on the front of the diaphragm and makes a signal. Sound from the side or rear bends around to the front of the mic.

This sound also presses on the front of the diaphragm and makes a signal. So the mic responds the same to sounds from all directions. In other words, it has an omnidirectional polar pattern (“omni” means “all”).

Note that the omni mic becomes directional at high frequencies. That’s because the mic housing blocks high frequencies that arrive off-axis.

Now suppose we put some holes in the can behind the diaphragm. We carefully size these holes and add acoustic damping such as felt or foam to create an acoustic phase-shift network.

Some of the sound wave travels to the front of the diaphragm, outside the mic. The sound travel time, from the rear port location to the front, we will call T.

Some sound also enters the rear ports and is delayed. If the delay inside the mic is set the same as the delay outside the mic, sounds arrive at the front and rear of the diaphragm at the same time, in phase.

Sounds push on opposite sides of the diaphragm, also in phase. The diaphragm cannot move, so sounds from the rear make a very weak signal. Rear sounds cancel out. You have created a cardioid polar pattern.

Sounds coming from the front do not cancel out. Why? Frontal sound waves travel to the rear ports during time T. Inside the mic, the phase-shift network further delays the sound by time T. The total delay is 2T. Since there is a big delay or phase shift between the signals at the diaphragm’s front and rear, a frontal sound makes a strong signal.

High frequencies do not reach the rear of the diaphragm because they are filtered out by the rear port’s RLC filter. The cardioid mic is directional at high frequencies because its housing blocks high frequencies off-axis.

How about a bi-directional ribbon mic? The ribbon is fully open to sound on its front and rear. Sounds from the front and rear experience a phase shift as they travel around the ribbon, so you get an output signal.

But sounds from the side press equally on the front and rear of the ribbon, in phase. The ribbon cannot move, so you get a weak output from side sounds.

By changing the delay of the rear ports, you can get almost any pattern between bidirectional and cardioid, such as supercardioid or hypercardioid. Each of these two patterns has a rear lobe that is in opposite polarity with the front lobe.

There’s a lot to know about microphones. For more information, please visit us at ZeoProductions.net.

Finding the Right Audio-Visual Professional

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The quality of sound in your house of worship is relative to the quality of your services. Having the right connection gin the audio-visual industry is crucial, and most houses of worship have strong business relationships with an audio-visual integrator who knows your system and works to refine your sound capabilities.
If you’re looking for an audio-visual professional, finding the right one can be and daunting task. Where do you meet someone in the industry? And who can you trust to do quality work at honest prices? This checklist will hopefully give you some of the answers you need:

1. Check and Verify Your Contractor’s License
In order to install sound systems, various states require low-voltage licenses. The first step you should take is to check with your state’s commerce department and verify that your prospective contractor’s license is in good standing. Simply perform a web search for “State Commerce Dept. of [your state].”
2. Networking
Ask officials at other venues and houses of worship who installed their audio systems and if there is anyone they would recommend. Local businesses and schools would also be good resources for finding a recommended professional.
3. Phone Test
Once you’ve gathered some names of reputable audio-visual professionals. Give them a call. Do they answer right away or return your voice mail within a short amount of time? Do they take the time to explain their services to you over the phone or in a thoughtful email? Every house of worship is different and each audio-visual job is therefore customized. A professional who shows you’re a personal touch in communicating is more likely to show that same personal touch in his audio-visual work.
4. Check their Credentials
After contacting your list of professionals, ask the following questions: Do any of the candidates hold certifications in A/V technology? Do they attend industry trade shows on a regular basis (every 2-3 years is a good start)? How long have they been in business? Do their references check out?
5. Get Some Quotes
Ask each company to quote some church sound systems on your wish list. Do they provide a detailed, itemized quote or is it just a dollar figure? Pricing opens up another complex conversation, but let’s keep it simple: Is this local professional offering more value than an Internet wholesaler? In most cases, he/she will see the sale through and make sure the product is being used properly, and a slightly higher price for the aforementioned personal touch is worth the investment in the long run.
6. Do You Work Well Together?
Finally, ask yourself if the audio/video integrator will work well with you and the other leadership at the church. Again, personality can go a long way.
To carry your message, you must build from a healthy foundation and that includes a good relationship with your A/V specialist. Work on building one today and you’re well on your way to the best sound system for your church.

Building Your Church’s Audio-Visual Team

Assembling a team of audio and visual technicians for a small church can be quite the challenge. Usually most technicians are volunteers, there is not much feedback until something goes wrong, and the team experiences a lot of turnover. Below are some strategies designed to assemble and retain a team of talented church audio and visual technicians.

Dealing with volunteers who have gone through training or who are going through training to become paid technicians is a good place to start. Their volunteer work at your church presents the possibility of community networking and securing opportunities for their careers.

Vision/Expectations: When meeting with new volunteers, be sure to communicate your goals, vision, and commitment requirements. If you and a volunteer come to an agreement for moving forward, you should place them on a one-month trial period for orientation and training. After the completion of this trial period, you should meet with the volunteer to review progress and decide whether or not to keep them on your team.

Team Structure: Rely on structure and empower your team leader to oversee all aspects of your audio-visual capabilities and presentation. Your team leader is responsible for orientation and training while reporting to the Technical Director. Depending on the amount of equipment your church needs, scheduling your team in rotating shifts might be the best way to keep organized and spread out the workload. Make sure that volunteers have enough responsibility to be truly involved with their work, but not too much as to burn them out. A good rule of thumb is to have volunteers serve two to three times per month.

Training: A good team is built with passionate people who want to be part of the organization, and proper training allows you to highlight these people. Pairing new volunteers with experienced veterans for the trial period allows for observation and then actual practice. The final step in training should be to allow the trainee to teach a lesson to someone else, as teaching reinforces learning and existing knowledge.

Community: Community is vital and monthly community nights can serve to build professional relationships between paid and volunteer personnel as well as those outside the church audio-visual team. Having a sense of belonging to a team unites people in your ministry. People recognize the value of being included and the value having a leader whom they can approach. Building relationships with your team gives you personal and professional leverage.

A Quick History of Live Sound Systems

Amplified sound for live music and events did not come about from a demand for fidelity. Traditionally, promoters thought of lighting and image as having priority over sound quality, and sound budgets were often 10% or less of the of the full cost of the production. (Indeed, even today’s audiences go to see their favorite performers.)
With the births of the electric guitar, amplifier, and rock n roll within a fifteen year window in the mid-twentieth century, a perfect storm conspired to allow the younger generation to unleash loud music upon the world. As sound system design was still in its infancy, most available amplifiers were not powerful enough to handle the loud volumes being blasted through them, quickly distorting the sound – exactly what the rock musicians of the 1960s wanted. Promoters then learned that audiences will come to a concert even if they can’t hear the performance, (and as long as the headliner as a big enough name.) Case in point was The Beatles’ 1964 world tour. The band played mainly through small 12” house PA speakers driven by 100 Watt amps. This set up was easily drowned out by the screaming audience and helped to turn the band away from live performances.
As The Beatles had encountered, most PA systems in the 1960s were comprised of stacks of 12” speakers. Because of the heavy rotation of bands, most venues only had two 4×12 speaker stacks on the stage. The speakers themselves were the product of the more conservative, softer 1940s and 50s music trends. The speakers had been designed for country, gospel, and jazz; not the hard-driving sound of rock n roll. Indeed some manufacturers were so anti-rock n roll that they would void warranties on equipment that had been run at full power or threaten to sever dealership lines with retailers who catered to rock musicians. But by the late 1960s, successful rock n roll bands kept attracting larger and larger audiences, prompting manufacturers to develop larger audio systems.
The result was two differing schools of though and audio design. The first was the line-source PA system which consists of large speaker columns placed throughout an arena and directed straight at the audience. The philosophy behind this setup was for all members of the audience to be able to hear the music at the same volume throughout the venue. This sacrificed dynamic fidelity and realism, failing to reflect the true sound production happening on stage while allowing the entire audience to hear equivalently in large environments. An alternative philosophy developed and placed emphasis on dynamic fidelity and clarity by amplifying each individual instrument and voice through separate sound systems. This setup required huge walls of speakers to share the stage with the band, and while great clarity could be achieved, inexperienced roadies were notorious for misaiming the speakers, causing jumbled sound.
Audio systems began to migrate from the floor to the ceiling by the 1980s in the form of ceiling clusters, allowing for more floor space for staging and allowing for greater fidelity because the sound comes from a single source. The result was a scaling down in size for onstage instrument amplifiers and an increased complexity for onstage monitor speakers.
By the 1990s, the development of larger, more powerful line-source speakers allowed promoters to book ever larger events. Originally, line-source speaker systems were confined to small stacks that had to be placed in many locations around the venue. They were also highly inefficient and were barely used outside of live concerts. Other media venues, such as movie theaters, had viewed line-source speakers as unacceptable and instead favored carefully designed and calibrated horn systems. However, the growth of larger, cheaper power combined with improved rigging technology, line-source speaker systems became dominant in providing audio to large venues while increasing sound fidelity.
Constant improvements and innovations to designs and techniques are bringing us into a new age of audio technology. Larger and clearer sound systems are now used for festivals teeming with audiences ranging into the hundreds of thousands. As the live music and events industry continues its evolution, Zeo Systems will stand prepared to deliver the latest technological advancements in audio to our clients.