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24 March 2020

Need to LiveStream Your Church Service?

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The Coronavirus has changed the way we worship right now.  My church has been recording services and playing them back via YouTube. However this week the state of Michigan has mandated that people stay at home which will be forcing us to try something different — broadcasting music and messages from our individual homes.

Below is a link to our service from last weekend at Park Church (where we have a 81-rank pipe organ with some Walker digital stops and a Rodgers-Moller Hybrid organ in the chapel). Sunday March 22, 2020 – 10:30 Worship Service from First Park Congregational Church

If you have never streamed a worship service before, it can be a bit intimidating. Concordia Publishing House has written a blog post and recorded a video that walks you through the process with a free tool called Open Broadcasting Software (OBS). You can read the post and watch the video on the Concordia Technology Solutions blog. It is hoped that this will be helpful to those of you trying this for the first time as we seek a solution for worship for Holy Week and Easter 2020:

How to Livestream Worship   +   3 Tips for Stress-Free Live Videos   +    5 Ideas and a Tip for Facebook Live              Four Easy Ways to Use Video on Facebook

Tips tp Live Stream your Rodgers or Johannus Organ

With many churches suddenly experimenting with live streaming worship services, tech crews are discovering that microphones in the sanctuary usually don’t provide the desired organ sound for the video being streamed.

We’ve been getting calls this week asking if there is a way to get a “line out” audio feed directly from the organ console.  The answer is: YES.

Most Rodgers and Johannus organs have stereo line level outputs located under the keyboards:

  • Rodgers: look for the small panel with a number of connections either on the left or right side under the keyboards.  There are two 1/4″ mono phone plug outputs for Line Out Left & Right (stereo).  (Note: a few Rodgers models do not have a line out–see footnote below).
  • Johannus: look for the small panel on the left side under the keyboards.  There will be either a single mini stereo phone plug output or two RCA outputs (stereo Left & Right).

Connecting the organ line out to an audio board/mixer requires converting the high impedance (hi Z) output of the organ to low impedance (lo Z) of the microphone inputs at the mixer.  Use a “direct box” as follows:

  • Use audio cables with appropriate connectors (1/4″ phone plug or RCA) plugged into the organ going to the Direct Boxes
  • XLR microphone cable from the Direct Box to your sound board/mixer that is feeding the live stream

Click here to see an example of a Direct Box.

Click here to learn more about the function of a Direct Box.


Sound Quality Tips

  • The line out feeds are stereo.  Preserving the stereo signal will enhance the sound of the organ for the live stream listeners.
  • If the line level is too low, there are settings in the organ that control the output level that might need to be increased.  Please call us for assistance–we can probably step you through the process over the phone.
  • Please note that the reverb settings in the organ affect the line out.  If your sanctuary has reasonably good acoustics, the reverb settings may be very low or even turned off.  This will result in the line out signal being “dry” (little or no reverb), which does not sound natural–NOT good!  You can either add reverb in your mixer board (if possible) or adjust the reverb configuration in the organ to provide the desired level of reverb.  This easy to do–we can assist you over the phone if necessary.
  • If your sanctuary has good acoustics for music, a very natural organ sound can be achieved by setting up good microphones to capture the “live” organ sound in the middle of the room (not close to the speakers) and mixing it with the feed from the organ line out.  Experiment with the balance between the two (and the position of the microphones), using the line out feed for clarity and the live feed to create the natural sense of hearing the organ live in the church.  (Note: if your sanctuary has a relatively dry acoustic, this additional effort may not yield useful results–stick to the line out feed using the internal reverb system in the organ).

For Rodgers organs that do not have a line out, the headphone jack can be used.  Use a cable with a 1/4″ stereo plug.  Plugging into the headphone jack silences the organ speakers, so you will need to use a splitter so that the organist can still use headphones to hear the organ.  Alternatively, use a powered monitor speaker for the organist and other participants to hear the organ.