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Church Sound: What I Learned In Smaart Class

Gaining insights on acoustic theory and why things behave the way they do

By Mike Sessler February 4, 2014

This article is provided by ChurchTechArts.

Spoiler alert: I’m not going to tell you everything I learned at the Smaart class, presented by Rational Acoustics. Even if I wanted to, there would be no way to condense 24 hours of intensive training down to 750 words.

But I can share a few insights with you. Much of the class was focused on theory, with a large part on acoustic theory and why things behave the way they do.

I knew some of the information already, but I loved the way Jamie (Anderson, our instructor) walked us through it. (Read more about Jamie here.) One thing that was reinforced over and over was a problem we run into at churches all the time.

You can only align a system that was designed to be aligned. He talked a lot about aligning subs, and how that’s a big topic today. Everyone wants their subs timed to the mains—which in itself is a good thing.

However, if your subs are sitting on the ground and the mains are in the air, you can only align the subs with a single point in space. If you want them truly aligned over most of the audience area, you need to get them closer to the mains. Which brings up another good point.

Too often, people want to solve problems with measurement/tuning that can’t be fixed with measurement or tuning. There is a four-step process to going from no system to a useable system. It starts with venue evaluation and modification; goes on to system design and equipment choice; followed by equipment verification and installation; and finally, system optimization and tuning/voicing.

You simply cannot fix a bunch of problems that were created in the first three phases using Smaart and some DSP. It’s possible to mitigate some of them, and we can certainly help a poorly designed and installed system sound better, but it’s never going to be ideal. And speaking of design…

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About Mike

Mike Sessler
Mike Sessler

Project Lead at CCI Solutions
Mike has been involved with church sound and live production for more than 25 years, and is the author of the Church Tech Arts blog. Based in Nashville, he serves as project lead for CCI Solutions, which provides design-build production solutions for churches and other facilities.


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