Editor’s Note: Here’s an interesting thread from the PSW Church Sound forums. It’s lightly edited for grammar and formatting. Enjoy.
Posted by Ken
I’ve been volunteering in small to medium size churches to help with their sound system issues. Most of these places have no budget and little expertise. So far I’ve been seeing the greatest issues as poor loudspeaker placement, poor microphone choice, and poor microphone technique.
Clearly failed equipment also fits in there.
I’m just wondering what you see as common church sound issues? It seems like some sort of a publication could help these folks, but I know they wouldn’t read it.
Reply by Nathan
What does small to medium size mean to you? Why do these places have “no budget” (what does no budget mean to you?) Are we speaking technically only or can we include the ‘human’ element?
Reply by Tim
Speaking as a lifelong church sound man:
The expectation is that unpaid and untrained volunteers (often using poorly configured, inadequate equipment in difficult rooms) will achieve a magical result that makes everyone happy.
Reply by Mark
I think the biggest problem in a lot of churches is that A/V is an afterthought, a line item that has to be minimized at all costs. This leads to no budget, no vision and very little thought to how A/V can assist in the broader purpose of the church.
If a church leader has a great message to portray, then isn’t the delivery of that message important? Shouldn’t the message be clearly seen and heard? Shouldn’t the focus from the congregants be on the words being said, rather than the fact that something is squealing or can hardly be heard at all?
In my mind, the vision of a church must include an understanding of how the building, including the A/V, works into the broader vision of the community outreach and spiritual teachings of the church.
It must be a means to a clearly defined end, rather than an afterthought.
Reply by Keith
Absolutely! So why is it that they (generally) don’t want to pay for good results? I may be mistaken, but it seems to me the preacher isn’t a “volunteer.” And further to that, as a consultant, why am I asked to give churches a “break” on pricing?
Reply by Stephen
Very well put, Tim. Some time ago in a discussion with my pastor on how we could improve an event we do using headset mics, he made the statement referring to a high end production, “They do it.” My response was, if you want to do what they do, then you have to do what they do.
Usually the problem boils down to being willing to spend an appropriate amount of money to get the desired results.
On the other hand, sometimes that is a reaction to sound providers/contractors that are not willing to put together a system that meets a churches needs and part of that need is defined by their budget. Potential contractors tend to say you need top of the line, everything else is junk. A lot of times very good results can be had with a smaller budget.
Even in other areas, i have been in situations where an initial overly high quote turned people of to even considering a professional job and the results where disastrous. By no means do I mean that contractors should work for cheap, or sell substandard gear, but a country church in a rural area running 100-200 people using 3-4 wireless systems can certainly get decent results out of Shure SLX systems, if their budget won’t support QLXD’s.
That’s the problem I run into-finding someone that will say, “Let’s see what we can do within your budget.” Maybe that includes an upgrade/growth plan, too.
Reply by Lee
The mattress companies were on to something when they came up with the “one third of your life is spent on this thing, why would you cheap out?”
As a couple of you mentioned above, apply the same tactics to the sound system, except that the number goes from one third to “Nearly 100 percent of your churches “business” is conducted through this A/V system. Why would accept a sub-standard system? Is The Word just not that important to you?”
The funny thing is, is that when they want a new sign, or some new landscaping they always manage to pull together the funds. For the life of me, I will never understand why HOW A/V systems are seen as a necessary evil and an after thought, rather than a key tool in delivering their message. And it’s a tool that needs to be kept up.