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Published by , 2018-12-16 22:22:20

The Sound Bible

The Sound Bible

 

The Sound Bible 

  1 

The Flow of Sound 2 

Cords 2 
XLR 2 
1/4 inch audio jack
1/8 inch audio jack 3 

Microphones 4 
Patterns 7 
Types
Wireless Microphones 8 

The Soundboard 10 
Components 13 
Overview of Function 14 
Control Channels 15 
Faders
Fader Follow

 

The Flow of Sound 

● Sound first is picked up by a microphone and converted to an electrical signal 
or a signal is provided by an electrical device (such as a phone). 

● Stage Ports 
○ These XLR ports are connected to the patch bay in the light booth. 
○ At the patch bay the signal goes into the stage box, which compiles all 
of the electrical signals into a digital signal. 
○ The single cord carrying the digital signal connects to the soundboard, 
which directs this into all of the original electrical signals. 

 



● Wireless Microphone 
○ Wireless mic packs and handheld mics convert the electrical signal 
through into radio signal. 
○ Antenas by the sound board pick up the various radio signals produced 
by all of the wireless mics and send them to the receivers. 
○ The receivers, which are underneath the soundboard are tuned to a 
specific radio frequency and they receive the signal transmitted on that 
frequency. 
○ The receivers are each connected individually to the sound board. 

● Soundboard 
○ The electrical signal is send directly to the soundboard. 

● At the soundboard the audio is altered, and then all of the outputs are 
compiled into a single digital signal and sent to the patch bay. 

● At the patchbay the digital signal is dissected into individual outputs by the 
stage box. 

● From the stage box the outputs are sent to the proper amplifier. These increase 
the amplitude and power of the signal so it is enough to power the speaker. 

● After the signal is amplifies it is sent to the proper speaker. 
● At the speaker the electrical signal is converted into sound we can hear. 

 

Cords 

XLR 

● This is the most commonly used cord for sound. It usually has 3 pins (but can be 
found with up to seven), positive, negative, and ground. Sound travels out of 
male into female connectors.  

● Extra pins are used to transfer power, have two way audio transfer, or other 
applications. (Headsets have four, our omnidirectional mics have seven). 





● Mini XLR also exists for applications with limited space, such as the pencil mics. 

1/4 inch audio jack 

● Used for many output and input needs, such as guitars and amps, and smaller 
sound boards. Professional headphones also use this connector. Usually only 
male connectors are used with devices, which have female ports. 

1/8 inch audio jack 

● Used for smaller output devices, such as phones. 

 

Microphones 

Patterns 

● Cardioid 
○ This is the most common pickup pattern. 
○ The microphone picks up sound best right in front of 
it, and basically none at all directly behind it. 
○ Our handheld mics are cardioid. 

● Omni-directional 
○ This is a difficult pickup pattern to obtain and therefore it is 
more rare. 
○ The choir mics we have are omnidirectional, along with our 
lavalier mics. 

● Bi-directional 
○ These microphones pick up sound on two opposite sides of 
the mic. 
○ They usually have some component that separates the two 
sides of the mic. 

 





Types 

Dynamic 

● These are the most common type and most durable. 
● They work by having a diaphragm that is connected to a coil of wire which 

vibrates past a magnet when sound hits the diaphragm. 
● This system produces an electrical signal, so additional electrical power is not 

required. 
● Dynamic mics work best when fairly close to the source, they don’t pick up 

sound like our ears.  
● Most likely have a cardioid pickup pattern. 
● They are not the best when fine detail or general ambience is needed to be 

picked up. 
● All handheld microphones we have are dynamic. 

Condenser 

● These are more responsive and do much better at picking up details than 
dynamic microphones. 

● A capacitor works by storing electricity in the space between two metal plates. 
These microphones work by having one of the plates attached to a diaphragm 
do when sound hits it and moves the plate, the electrical signal changes 
accordingly. 

● Condenser mics have the benefit of being able to pick up mics in 
omni-directional and bidirectional patterns, along with cardioid. 

● Unlike the dynamic mics, condenser mics require additional power to work. 
● This additional power is called “Phantom Power” and is 48 volts.  
● Usually the sound board provides this power. 
● Our lavalier mics, pencil mics, and omnidirectional mics are all condenser mics. 





Wireless Microphones 

Radio Signal 

● The frequency that is transmitted can be adjusted on the microphone and the 
frequency a receiver “listens” on can also be adjusted. These must be the same 
for a microphones sound to be picked up by a receiver. 

● If two microphones are transmitting on the same frequency, the signal gets 
warped and the signal is not clearly transported, resulting in strange sounds. 

● Many devices produce radio signals, so frequencies must be chosen so that they 
don’t have interference. 

Reading the Receivers 

 
Frequency 

● The largest number is the frequency of the receiver shown in megahertz. Use 
this to compare with the other recievers; if two frequencies are too close 
together they can interfere with each other. 

Frequency Bank 
● Above this number we can see the number 15.8. This is the “frequency bank” 
selected. Frequencies are divided up into multiple banks and slots, in the image 
bank 15, slot 8 is selected. The exact selection doesn’t matter, but it makes it 
easier to communicate. 

RF signal  
● The leftmost meter shows the strength of the radio signal. If this is high that 
does not mean that any audio is being received, rather that a connection is 
made. 





● If a microphone is nearby and on, the RF should be all the way up.  
● When it goes really far away, such as the dressing room, the RF will look more 

like when the microphone is off. 
● When the microphone is off, the RF should be all the way down. If there is 

substantial RF when the microphone is off, that means there is the potential for 
interference. 
● When RF is below a certain threshold, the receiver automatically mutes the 
microphone. 
AF Signal 
● The second meter is audio signal. This is the sound signal volume that is being 
received, shown in decibels. 
● There does not need to be a strong radio signal to receive audio. 
● If there is a lot of AF when the microphone is off, there is interference and a 
better, cleaner frequency should be selected. 
● The top of the meter will light up when the audio “peaks.” This means it is so 
loud, the audio signal can’t be completely communicated, so it can become 
“crackly.” If this is happening the sensitivity of the transmitter can be reduced. 
● When properly calibrated, a microphone should rarely, if ever peak. 
● A sign a microphone is broken, without listening to the audio from it, is if it is 
peaking repeatedly. 
Battery 
● If there is a substantial radio signal the receiver will display the battery level of 
the transmitter, shown in thirds. 
● If the battery level is displayed the receiver has a considerable connection with 
the transmitter. 
● If the battery is not shown the transmitter could be dead, but the more likely 
reason is the microphone is simply out of range, such as the dressing rooms. 





The Headsets 

● Hillcrest has two models of lavalier microphones usually referred to as “black” 
and “tan.” 

● The tan microphones are Point Source CO-8WS omnidirectional microphones. 
These microphones produce a much clearer sound and are higher quality than 
the black microphones. The have a rigid boom that stick out along the side of 
the wearer’s mouth. Avoid bending this or adjusting it as it can be very fragile, 
and if this component breaks it can’t be fixed.  

● The black microphones are not stiff, and have a lower sound quality, however 
the audio can be improved with proper utilization of an equalizer. 

● When connecting the headset to the “mic pack” the connector should be 
securely screwed until it can be screwed further. This is the component most 
likely to break, so it needs to be secured and not bent when placed in the belt. 

Taping the Microphones: 

 
1. The first piece of tape should be placed next to the mouth. 

When the wearer smiles, the end of the microphone should 
stick out just past where their skin folds, right where the upper 
and bottom lips meet. If is sticks too far in front of this line, the 
microphone will pick up the breath of the wearer. The tape 
should be placed right behind of the microphone. 




2. This piece of tape should be placed behind the ear, below where the stiff 

section of the microphone ends. This piece of tape should keep the mic securely 
positioned around the ear of the wearer, without uncomfortably distorting the 
microphone. 
3. This final piece of tape is optional, but recommended. It provides additional 
restriction of movement. It should be placed on the middle of the neck, towards 
the bottom. When placed, the wearer should turn their head all the way to the 
right to prevent the tape from being pulled off when their head is turned. 
 

The Soundboard 

Understanding all of the capabilities of the soundboard and how to effectively 
use it is the most difficult area of sound. There is a lot to know in order to go from 
being able to turn on a mic, to mixing together multiple microphones and inputs, 
making them sound good, and sending them out to various speakers and outputs.  

The board Hillcrest has is an SI Expression 3. It is digital board. On analog 
boards, each dial and fader only has one purpose, and it does not change. With 
digital boards, the function of all the controls can be customized, and changed. This 
means that is can do more with fewer controls and a smaller board.  





Components 

 

1. Control Channels  7. Bus Selector/Fader Follow 
2. Control Channel Encoders  8. Assignable Channel Strip 
3. Solo Controls  9. FX controls 
4. Faders  10. Touchscreen Interface 
5. Main Mix Control  11. Metering and Monitoring 
6. Cue Controls 
 

Overview of Function 

Inputs 

Before jumping into individual components is important to understand how a 
soundboard like this functions. First and foremost, you must understand how fluid and 
changing the board is. Faders, dials, and buttons can all change their function. 
Looking at the soundboard you can only see 30 faders, along with the two main mix 
masters, but the board actually has four times as many controls. There are multiple 





“layers” of faders, which can be changed with the fader selector. When a different 
“fader” is selected, that is a different 
layer of controls. It is sort of confusing 
because the individual sliders are called 
faders, and the layers of these are also 
called faders. Therefore, to differentiate 
they will be called sliders and faders, 
respectively. So, layers of sliders can be 
accessed by changing what fader you 
are on. All of the inputs and channels 
controlled when fader A is selected are 
completely separate from the inputs and 
channels that are controlled when fader 
B is selected, etc. Along having four 
faders, the sound board also has two 
additional layers that function as 
equalizers that will be discussed later. This structure is illustrated in the image. 

Outputs 

Another important concept to understand is how sound is outputted. The 
different outputs can be called “Mix Buses.” A mix takes sound from certain inputs, 
alters it, and then sends it to a single output. On the soundboard there is a “Main 
Mix,” this is the master. When no mixes are selected, you are controlling the main mix. 
The sound from this is sent to the master LR and Mono channels, which we have set 
up as the house speakers. The soundboard can also “bus” sound to multiple other 
outputs, each of these collections of channels, settings, and inputs is another mix. 
 



10 

Control Channels 

A control channel is the collection of dials and buttons, along with the slider, 
that control a channel/input.  

 

Fader 

This is the slider that controls the output level of the channel. The measurement 
along the slider are how much it is adding/subtracting from the input level. At the 
bottom is the infinity symbol, meaning it is subtracting infinite decibels, so it outputs 
no sound. Further up the slider is the 0 mark, this means that it is outputting the exact 
level of the input. It is referred to as “Unity,” and this it is when the slider is here that 
the audio level should be what is desired. You might be asking, if a microphone is so 
loud that the sound is way to loud when the slider is as unity, what do you do then? 
That is where gain comes into play, which will be discussed later. After the slider goes 
past 0, or unity, it is adding decibels onto the output level. 

Along the side of the slider there a light strip that helps communicate what 
type of channel it is or how it is controlling it. The key for what each color means is: 

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11 

 

SOLO 

The soundboard has monitoring capabilities that are enhanced by the ability to 
solo certain channels. Underneath the bottom left corner of the board there is a port 
for headphones. When no channels are being SOLOed, the soundboard will send the 
audio from whatever mix is selected, with all of the alterations, to the headphones. 
When the SOLO button of a channel is pushed, the audio from only this channel will 
be sent to the headphones. Multiple channels can be soloed and be listened to at a 
time, which is extremely useful when trying to troubleshoot issues. For example, if 
there is a crackling sound being heard, you can solo out each microphone individually 
to determine which one is the cause.  

This function has the quirk that if only one channel is being SOLOed, it will 
send the audio level if the slider was at unity, regardless of where it is or whether the 
channel is even ON. This is called PFL routing. This is also extremely useful because it 
allows the soundboard operator to listen to a microphone for issues and troubleshoot 
without turning it up for the whole audience to hear. Once more than one channel is 
selected, only levels that are actually being outputted will be send to the headphones. 
This is called AFL routing. The volume of the headphones or “monitor” can be 

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adjusted with the dial labelled “monitor” in the top right corner of the board. Above 
this dial there are lights that indicate what type of routing is being using. 
Additionally, all SOLO selections can be cleared with the button labelled “SOLO 
CLR” above the FADERS buttons. 

SEL 

This is the Select button. When this button is hit, the entire Assignable Channel 
Strip, along with controls on the touchscreen all control whatever channel has been 
selected. Only one channel can be selected at a time. The master slider for each mix 
can also be selected. This button is also used with the “Interrogate” function of some 
other buttons, which is explained later.  

ON 

This button, simply controls whether the channel is on or not. If a channel is not 
on no audio will be outputted from it.  

Metering 

These lights display that activity of the gates and compressors that control the 
channel. They will be discussed in the section for the Assignable Channel Strip and the 
Gate and Compressor sections. 

Encoder 

This is a dial that can control one out of the following three characteristics: 
Gain, Pan, or the High Pass Filter. Generally, the most useful option is the Gain, and 
this is what will usually be selected. The selection can be changed with the three 
buttons to the right of the encoders. 

  
Gain is the very first alteration to the audio that is inputted. It either subtracts, 
or usually adds to the amplitude of the audio signal, measured in decibels. It is also 

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the first thing that should be set for a channel because all other settings are reliant 
upon the level determined by the gain. Gain can only be set in the Main Mix. 
 

Faders 

This collection of buttons determine what “layer” of channels and slider is being 
controlled. There are four faders and two layers that control a Graphic Equalizer. 
Each fader has a default setup which can later be changed. That default setup is 
shown here: 

 
While this is the default setup, the function of each slider across the four faders can 
be customized. 

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Graphical Equalizer 

The Graphical Equalizer or GEQ can be accessed with two bottom buttons of 
the FADERS section. It is only available if a mix master is selected using the SEL 
button above the slider. This equalizer is split into LO and HI, each having 14 ranges 
that can be controlled for a total of 28 levels of control for the equalization of the 
mix. Equalizers will be further explained in the Assignable Channel Strip section. 
 

Fader Follow 

This section of the soundboard contains all of the buttons for the different mix buses. 
When one of the mixes is selected, the control channels will light up and now control 
the levels sent to that particular mix.  

Pre and Post Fade 

Each mix master, along with each individual channel, has the option of being set as 
either a post fade or pre fade.  
Post Fade 

Post fade means that the input into that mix is the output from the main mix. 
For example, if the slider in the main mix is set to -∞, none of that channel 
audio is being outputted, so in a mix set to post fade, no matter what the levels 
are at, nothing will be outputted out of the mix being nothing is being inputted. 
This is useful when you want the output of two sources to match, and so you 
don’t have to change levels in the mix when they are changed in the main mix. 
Often post fade is used and all of the sliders in the mix are set to unity so that 
the mix output matches exactly the main mix.  
Channels that are set to post fade will glow green. 
Pre Fade 
Pre Fade means that the input is directly from the source; the main mix and the 
mix are getting the same input for that channel and altering it differently. This 

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is useful for when you want the output of a mix to remain constant regardless 
of changes in the main mix. 
Channels that are set to pre fade will glow yellow. 

 
The type of fade can be chosen if the channel or mix master is selected. Then, in the 
INPUT menu of the touchscreen interface, the fade setting for each mix can be 
changed. 
 
 

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