Story of The Month:

Jim Elledge, Innovating Amid Challenges

Excerpt: Meet Jim Elledge, an experienced audio engineer at Inspiration Church. In this exclusive interview, Jim shares his journey into the world of audio engineering, the challenges he's faced, and the innovative solutions he's implemented to enhance the worship experience.

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Phenyx Pro has an unwavering mission: to bring inspiration and innovation to those passionate about sound and music. Therefore, we prioritize user experience and seek to gain deeper understanding of the role played by Phenyx Pro equipment in shaping the audio experience in their life. Against this backdrop, we interviewed Jim Elledge, a valued member of our Phenyx Pro community and the focus of our second 'Spotlight Story', to delve into how he began his career as an audio engineer and the challenges along the way.

Jim Elledge hails from Mesquite, Texas, bringing a wealth of experience as a retired Facility Manager and a dedicated member of the Tech Team at Inspiration Church. Since 2006, Jim has been a vital part of the church's audiovisual endeavors, serving as the sound technician for their Sunday services and assisting with equipment setup, including Phenyx Pro gear such as wireless microphone systems, in-ear monitors, and wireless guitar systems. Beyond his church duties, Jim extends his expertise to various A/V services and teaches FAA Part 107 Rules in his spare time. With his diverse skill set and passion for audio engineering, Jim embodies the spirit of our Phenyx Pro community, where innovation meets dedication. Now, let’s dive into what they shared with us in the following.

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1. Could you tell us more about your journey in audio engineering and how you became involved with the Tech Team at Inspiration Church?

In 2006, I decided to deepen my involvement with the church I attended. Upon seeing an announcement seeking assistance for the Tech Team, I was intrigued. With a background in computers, networking, and troubleshooting, I felt well-equipped to contribute. However, upon attending my first training session, I was surprised to learn that the focus was on audiovisual (A/V) technology, not computers. Too embarrassed to admit the mistake, I embraced the opportunity and ventured into the realm of audio engineering.

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2. Every creative journey encounters its hurdles. Could you share some of the challenges you've faced while managing audio for church services and how you overcame them?

Our church’s main sanctuary was built in 2001, featuring coax cabling with some CAT5 network runs added for future use and two rear projection projectors in 4:3 aspect ratio. However, as technology evolved, we faced challenges in leveraging our existing infrastructure while integrating newer technologies. To address this, we made upgrades, replacing outdated projectors with lighter, brighter, and sharper laser projectors. Additionally, we embraced wireless systems to overcome issues stemming from aging audio cables, which were prone to deterioration from age, water leaks, and even animal interference. Despite our best efforts, we encountered setbacks, such as a recent incident where a frigid Texas morning caused an aging cable to fail, disrupting the feed to one of our projectors. Due to similar incidents, we recognize the importance of wireless systems and consider them a possible reliable solution to enhance the worship experience for our congregation.

3. Teaching FAA Part 107 Rules indicates a passion for sharing knowledge. Do you see any parallels between your work in audio engineering and teaching UAV piloting?

At Inspiration Church, our Tech Team comprises dedicated volunteers who generously contribute their time and expertise to serve our community. As a senior member with extensive experience, I am committed to sharing my knowledge of our audio and visual systems. Just as aspiring UAV pilots must stay informed about evolving regulations, it's crucial to keep our team updated on changes in presentation software, lighting technology, and wireless microphone frequencies. We emphasize the importance of patience during training and updates, recognizing that mastering audio engineering is a gradual process. By breaking down complex concepts into manageable steps, we empower our volunteers to build confidence and proficiency over time.

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4. You’ve mentioned using a variety of Phenyx Pro equipment at Inspiration Church. How did you first come across Phenyx Pro, and what made you choose our products for the church’s audio needs?

Our congregation is smaller now due to more churches to choose from. Hence, a smaller budget to work with when upgrading or replacing equipment. The days of having worship leaders and band members staying stationary during service have disappeared. Leaders want to move about the stage to engage with their congregation for greater participation. Finding affordable and reliable wireless solutions became a priority for us. During my search for wireless microphone systems, I discovered Phenyx Pro. Our initial wireless microphone system purchase was the PTU-71 system with one handheld and one bodypack transmitters. This system provided us with more flexibility in getting the worship leader and pastor to traverse freely across the platform during services. Impressed by the performance and affordability of Phenyx Pro products, we expanded our inventory. The PTG-11 Wireless Instrument System, in particular, enabled our worship leader to use his acoustic guitar while moving about the stage, further enhancing the worship experience for our congregation.

5. Could you share a particular instance where Phenyx Pro equipment played a crucial role in a service or event at the church?

In smaller churches with limited budgets, meeting the needs of ministerial staff can be a challenge. There have been instances where multiple staff members needed to be on stage for discussions or activities, each requiring a bodypack microphone since they talk using their hands and a handheld microphone limits them. Recognizing this need, I was thrilled when Phenyx Pro introduced their new bodypack for the PTU-1/2U True Diversity System. Investing in four of these wireless bodypacks to complement our existing PTU-2U systems proved to be a game-changer. Not only are these bodypacks durable, capable of withstanding occasional drops or bumps, but they also offer an affordable solution tailored to our specific requirements. With Phenyx Pro, we've found a reliable partner in meeting the diverse audio needs of our ministry.

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6. Are there any improvements or additional features you’d like to see in future Phenyx Pro products to better serve the needs of church audio teams?

While the skilled technicians work to improve current products and offer new and improved systems, it would be helpful to have a networking solution available. It would be helpful to hook up the microphone receivers to change settings and scan for frequencies from a computer. Hopefully, not a lot to ask!

7. Considering the rapid advancements in audio technology, how do you envision the future of worship services and the role of audio engineering within it?

As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, the future of worship services is poised for transformation, with audio engineering playing a pivotal role. We're witnessing a shift towards more compact and digital mixer designs, with mixing capabilities accessible through tablets or smartphones. This trend is revolutionizing the traditional setup, potentially phasing out the need for dedicated mixer booths. Concurrently, there's a growing emphasis on enhancing the visual experience, characterized by LED screens, programmable lighting effects, and sophisticated presentation software operating multiple screens.

In this evolving landscape, audio engineering encompasses more than just setting up instruments and microphones for a front-of-house mix. Custom mixes are now in demand for streaming, in-ear monitor units, overflow rooms, and foyers. As such, Tech Team must adapt, expanding their skill set to encompass not only sound mixing but also managing presentation software, operating lighting systems, switching visual feeds, and operating cameras. This multidimensional approach ensures that worship services are not only sonically immersive but also visually captivating, creating a truly engaging and impactful experience for congregants.

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8. For those new to managing sound in a church environment, could you offer any tips or best practices for using wireless audio systems effectively?

For those new to managing sound in a church environment, effective use of wireless audio systems is essential. One common challenge is accommodating requests for special sound mixes from band members or singers, each with unique preferences for their in-ear monitors. To address this, consider investing in wireless in-ear systems like the Phenyx Pro PTM-10, providing each user with a personal mixer to customize their mix. That was a solution that has paid for itself many times. It not only enhances the performers' experience but also saves time previously spent fine-tuning mixes, allowing for a better overall room mix.

Additionally, it's crucial to educate singers and speakers on microphone etiquette, including proper placement to reduce noise and the preferred method for muting, whether from the microphone or mixer. The glare I get from the audience when the singer starts off a song with a mic they muted! By implementing these best practices, we can ensure smoother performances and a more enjoyable experience for both performers and audience members.

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Some Closing Thoughts

As we conclude our conversation with Jim, his insights shed light on the evolving audio landscape of the church tech team. With a blend of resilience, creativity, and a commitment to excellence, Jim exemplifies the spirit of innovation enhancing the worship experience through audio engineering. It is truly an honor and exciting to witness our products supporting Jim and his team. Phenyx Pro's reliability and affordability have been instrumental in meeting their diverse audio needs. This underscores our continuous drive for improvement and innovation. We look forward to sharing more user stories and collectively pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the audio industry.

If you have further questions or want to connect with Jim personally, please join our Facebook Group. Jim has always been anactive member in our group. Click this link and start to explore: https://www.facebook.com/groups/phenyxpro

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