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A Forecast For The Future Of Church Audio
While some have told me they have everything they need in the way of equipment and support in the sanctuary, they are clearly not in the majority.
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This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.

The future of church audio is not all pretty flowers and sunshine. A student recently asked me my thoughts on the subject and the more I dwelt on the topic, the more I saw that the future is not pretty.

Here is my view, why the church is destined for that direction, and what you and I can do to change all that.

I want to start by traveling back in time, specifically to 1896.

Frank Humphreys, a clergyman in the 1890’s, wrote a book entitled “The Evolution of Church Music.” The focus of the book was music, not audio production, however, the insight he provides at the time most definitely flows across into the view of modern day church audio production.

“We are constantly standing on the threshold of new discoveries; we are constantly opening up new and unexplored fields, and new combinations surprise and delight us, proving the inexhaustibility and endlessness of the gamut of musical expression.”

“For the soldier there is martial music to cheer him upon the march, to excite him to victory, or to rejoice in his triumph; there is music which invites us to the joy of the dance; there is the music of love, pure and impure; there is mirthful music to make us laugh; and there is the solemn music with which we follow the dead.”

“All these fitly arouse and express the ever-changing passions of man. Shall the music of the Church be less adequate to its consecrated purpose?”

Frank nailed it. Go to any venue of the performing arts, be it theater, a concert, or dare I even say opera and what happens when the audio production is bad? We complain.

Everyone complains! Now let’s move to the church environment and what is the result of poor audio production?

At some churches, there might be complaining. In some churches, no one complains because “it’s church and therefore it doesn’t have to be perfect.” The church body and church leadership have just allowed for the “less adequate.”

This “less adequate” mentality is more than just in the quality of production. Also, it’s in the quality of the environment.

Worship music has changed a lot in the last 20-30 years but the environments in which it’s performed are, by-and-large, the same. Sanctuaries that once provided wonderful acoustics for choir and organ are now blasted with bass amps, electric guitars, and huge overhead speakers without regard to the acoustic properties of the room. The result is often a bad sound due to the lack of acoustical treatment and improper equipment installation!

The “less adequate” mentality permeates all areas of audio production in the church! We are faced with churches lacking proper acoustic treatment to meet the demands of the room. To make matters worse, churches are spending more money on equipment while ignoring training, and sound guys are left to the winds of fate.

The current state of church audio is not good.

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Comments (16) Most recent displayed first | All comments in chronological order
Posted by jimmight  on  10/05/11  at  11:08 PM
While this subject can be very touchy for most people, my opinion is that there has to be a middle or common ground that we all can find. I do appreciate that you have added relevant and intelligent commentary here though. 1z0-053 exams \1z0-054 tests \220-701 questions \220-702 questions \312-50 tests \312-50v7 practice exam \350-001 tests \350-018 practice exam
Posted by chris  on  03/25/11  at  09:30 AM
Thank you to everyone for your comments regarding my article. I wanted to make a few notes regarding these comments. @Anka: I've gone around and around in my mind with the "sound guy/gal/person/tech" naming. In the case of this article, I opted for "sound guy" for consistency. I tend to use that or "sound tech." I even know of a church with an all female crew! How about mix musicians! People need to see church audio as a ministry - not as a way to play with electronics. When they have that mentality, it tends to lead them to continual learning. When they don't, they should look to serve the church in other ways. What if you stop buying batteries out of your pocket? Simply say "we will be out of batteries in two weeks and the church secretary needs to place an order." Maybe that's what it takes to get their attention. I encourage you to keep up your great work for God! @Jim: While age can define musical preferences, it shouldn't define expectations. No matter the age group, for example, speech intelligibility is always important. @Brian: I'll just echo your words..."What a difference it would make if every weekend warrior was trained in their area they have been called to be in!" @Robert: I encourage you to check out my site as I attempt to explain the technical terms in most of my articles. @Steve: Great point about worship being a congregational activity. The congregation is like a grand choir and when they don't participate, the body suffers. @Bob: Thanks for your comments. Keep up the great work for the church body. There will be someone to walk in your door one day that has the same desire! @JimC: Thank you so much for your work. It's too bad more churches don't participate. If you ever want to try training again, drop me an email and I'll see if I can get word around and drum up some business for you. @Dorin: Thanks for your comment recognizing my article as a call to action (church sound guy statement) as that was my intent. @Marc:'re on an island...would you pay for my airfare!?! Seriously though, check out online resources like syn-aud-con and ownthemix for video training. Chris
Posted by Jim Crosby  on  03/25/11  at  08:53 AM
Response to Marc about training. Yes there is a lot of training online but most are expensive. I would suggest ordering "SMS iCD", Sound Made Simple. It's on CD or DVD so anyone can use it at any time. I know the guy who produced it, Chuck Walthall, and he has a great reputation around the industry. You can find it at: Yes there are others but this is a really good one.
Posted by Robert Hendrickson  on  03/25/11  at  07:42 AM
Thanks for all the comments, and please dont think I was angry, not that I just want to do an expert job. I work on big engines in my day job, they cost around $25,000.00 , a piece,and I do an expert job because I am trained. My Church sound system cost them about $200,000.00 and I am basicaly self trained. I have learned alot online and I will continue to do so. God bless the sound people.
Posted by Marc  on  03/25/11  at  02:20 AM
Very inspiring article - thank you. I am responsible for the sound team at a church in Mauritius, but my background is post-prod audio and I have very little FOH experience. We have a new expensive sound system and an amazing acoustically treated auditorium, but it's rather discouraging as our sound just isn't up to scratch, and we just don't have the skills to take full advantage of the system. On this island it's tough to get good training unless we fly someone in, and that's slightly beyond our budget at the moment. Is it worthwhile doing an online course, and do you know of any good ones that we could sign up for?

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