By: Will Lee
In 2019, Christian Life Assembly, 25 miles from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, received a much-needed audio system upgrade. We had been using an Avid Venue mixing desk and personal monitor system, and while it had worked great for us over the years, it was time to take advantage of newer technology and capabilities.
One of the significant pieces of gear we were interested in implementing was the KLANG personal monitor mixers. We had never heard of them, but after a suggestion from David Ellis of Ellis Pro Media, our system integrator, we were interested in learning more about the immersive technology that KLANG brings to the personal monitor mixing market. I will admit that I was fairly skeptical about gimmicks and marketing hype, but the KLANG system really delivers on their claim for true immersion. We were able to get a demo of the system prior to our purchase and that was a big help in easing my mind and really demonstrating not only how easy the system is to use, but the benefits it would bring to our team.
We ended up with four of the KLANG:vier units, which provides 5 individual immersive in-ear mixes for up to five musicians per unit. The KLANG:vier units have 4 individual 1/4” TRS connections on the front panel for those that wish to hardwire into the panel directly, or you can use the DB-25 breakout if you have wireless in-ears. A wired network connection on the rear of the panel allows access to a wireless router for iOS and/or Android app control. Dante also connects on the rear panel, though be aware that there is only one connection for Dante; no secondary connection is available. Additionally, the Dante configuration is 24 inputs and 10 outputs. ADAT can be used for 24-channels of input, as well. A word clock connection is also available. Adjustable gain can be selected at -12dB, 0dB and +12dB, and you can choose between 44.1kHz and 48kHz sample rates.
We also have a KLANG:quelle unit, which receives the 5th output of each :vier unit and that gives us mixes for an additional 4 musicians, bringing our total mixes to 20 mixes for up to 20 musicians. We use Dante Controller to assigned the left/right outputs for the 5th output on each of the :vier units to the :quelle. Input/output for the :quelle provides Dante on the back, and four 1/4” TRS on the front or 4 XLR connections on the back lead out to the in-ears or headphones. Each output has a separate volume control and a separate -12dB, 0dB, +12dB adjustment.
A typical problem with traditional monitor mixing is when you introduce stereo sound sources, like keyboards, they can really clutter up the sound feeding into your ears. However, with the added dimension of depth to the KLANG system, I can now “place” those sources where they are around me using the KLANG app and their intuitive drag-and-drop capability. Being able to localize the musicians around me not only feels more intuitive and natural to what I would be hearing without in-ears, it provides the space for those instruments and vocals to reside in the frequency spectrum and space around me. When you figure that our sound system runs in mono, being able to have anfull 360-degree soundscape is really nice and it helps control volume levels and the overall mix every musician gets.
Our team quickly adapted to the KLANG system and the training and support from KLANG was a huge help, as well. They really support their customers; it feels like the support you would get from a small, customer-centric company and that level of support goes all the way up the personnel chain-we have gotten support from leadership in the company in addition to the dedicated support personnel.
One of the key features the KLANG system brought to our church was Dante; we implemented Dante because of the KLANG system and it has been one of the most beneficial moves we have made. While the initial setup for Dante is a bit challenging, having that capability allows us to think about future projects differently, across the entire campus.
While we do love what the system can do, we have found the 24 channels of the vier units to be a bit limiting at times. We have found work-arounds like combining drum mics into a single channel helps quite a bit, but we would like to see more channels being available for added flexibility, so we might address that in the future.
Also, the initial integration between the KLANG system and our Digico SD12 mixing desk wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, but with Digico acquiring KLANG, the integration was fully realized via firmware updates to the KLANG systems and the SD12 desk and the system works really well now. One of the especially useful features of this integration is the remote access and control from the SD12 desk to the :vier units, which allows the FOH engineer to quickly access and help musicians make adjustments to their mix on the fly.
All in all, we are thrilled with the KLANG system and the ease of use; it was important for not just our team of volunteers to be able to navigate it easily and quickly, but groups that rent our facility to be able to adapt to the interface and control with a minimal amount of training. Thus far, everyone has really loved the system and we are pleased with how well it functions and how well it supports the variety of programs we host.
The KLANG system is an awesome tool to have and the introduction of Dante to our campus will support us as we look at plans to expand our campus and improve our live stream and broadcasting ministries and in turn, improve the experience of those these ministries touches. We are very happy with KLANG as a manufacturer and look forward to implementing more of their gear in the future!
WILL LEE, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR AT CHRISTIAN LIFE ASSEMBLY