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Church Sound: And One Of Them Still Drives Me Crazy…

10 things no one tells you about church audio, and what to do about them...

By Chris Huff April 14, 2014

This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.

Once the initial excitement of working in audio production wears off, it leaves one with a few unfortunate realizations.

I’m not saying audio work stops being fun. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I still have fun.

I only wish someone would have cracked open the secret envelop and let me see the truth before being up to my knees in XLR cables.

This post reveals these “secrets.”  At the end, I’ll explain what can be done so everyone is back to having fun, albeit a lot wiser.

1. Worst-case scenarios really do happen.

If it can break, blow up, catch fire, power down, or in any way outright fail at the worst time possible, it will. I’ve had a mixer blow a fuse. Just last week a wireless mic battery failed mid-service for no apparent reason. Green light to DEAD – no red warning light in between.

Worst-case scenarios can force the tech to learn parts of the audio system normally left untouched. Mix engine reboots, digital mixer configuration settings, under-stage cabling, whatever is normally taken for granted will eventually fail – usually during the church service.

2. Audio production is hard work and mixing is only part of it.

For some, this is a big revelation. Mixing is only a part of audio production. Stage setup, battery replacement, and cable maintenance are all part of the job. And if that’s not enough, see point #1.Oh, did I mention it requires working with people?! (Only sort of a joke for some of us…)

Mixing isn’t always easy. For example, the church has two guitarists and a singer. That’s all they’ve had for years. Next weekend, they will have their first full-size worship team. Time for a new mixing strategy. This isn’t impossible but it does require learning amp miking, drum miking, and a new way of mixing.

3. It requires your A-game and there are distractions.

Live audio is no place for slacking. Once, from the pulpit, a pastor called my name TWICE before I snapped out of a daydream. Talk about embarrassing. Focus is crucial.

Distractions will come. During a service I’ve had congregants ask me questions. I’ve had to fix a video production issue. I even had someone complain about the volume during a worship set. The sound booth is not a place free from distractions.

4. Great mixing doesn’t guarantee great worship.

There are days when the band is great and the mix is great and everything seems perfect. Yet not everyone is worshiping and praising God.  Good audio production helps create an environment conducive for worship. That’s all it can do.

Read the rest of this post


About Chris

Chris Huff
Chris Huff

Chris Huff is a long-time practitioner of church sound and writes at Behind The Mixer, covering topics ranging from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians – and everything in between.


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