By Gary Zandstra • September 27, 2018 Image courtesy of Didgeman In this ever evolving world of more, more, more, better, better, better, when is good enough, good enough? Is it really an absolute necessity to update or upgrade my 15-year-old sound system? The working life of a sound system can extend well beyond 20 years, and I’ve personally seen systems 30 to 40 years old still in use and functioning quite well. The question deserves considerable thought, and begs a slew of additional questions: 1. Has your programming changed (added a keyboard, drums, bass……..)? 2. Have you added any additional seating, like additional rows of seats in the front or back? 3. Are you experiencing intermittent problems or shall we say, surprise noises? 4. Has the expectation of your congregation changed? This article is provided by Gary Zandstra.com. I not a person who promotes technology for the sake of technology. However, I do enjoy thinking of myself as “hip” and an early adopter. In fact I owned the original Palm Pilot, one of the first Windows Mobile PDA’s and a Palm Treo Pro phone all purchased right when they were released. Oh yeah, I forgot the Apple Performa 405 PC I purchased in the early 90’s, the iMac, and now the Macbook pro….. Okay you get it, I love new technology and am not afraid to be one of the early one that jumps in, with some caution. I am usually not the first, but reside comfortably in the early pack that makes a purchase. I prefer to wait and see the viability and stability of the product. So what does my personal love of technology have to do with upgrading your sound system? Not much, other than show that I am not an anti-technology kind of guy. Getting back to the issue at hand. I would like to introduce a fifth question. 5. What is the expectation of people who come and visit your church? Between 1913 and 1920, Thomas Edison did more than 4,000 “blind listening tests” to promote his Phonograph equipment and Diamond disc recordings. Edison would rent theaters and concert halls to do a comparison. He would hire some of the prominent musicians of the day and have them behind a curtain. The musician would sing a song and then a recording would be played on the Phonograph. Believe it or not the audience could not distinguish any difference between the two. In other words, they could not decipher if it was live or recorded. If you are like me you have to be saying – Hold on! People had to hear the difference between a scratchy, frequency limited recording and a live person. I guarantee if we took the exact same equipment and repeated the test today, the majority of people would easily be able to point out what was live and a phonograph recording. Other than almost 100 years, what is the difference? Reference! What did people in the early 1900s have with which they could compare the recording? Okay, by now I think you get the point. There are a number of great reasons to upgrade your audio system; however, if it’s still in “working order,” then managing and dealing with the expectations of your congregation (also known as questions #4 and #5) are great reasons to update. So, how often should a system be updated? Ignoring changes in programming, seating, and any potential issues you may currently be experiencing with your system (do it today if these reasons apply, you are overdue), here’s my answer: if the system is older than your car, it’s time to update. This is my answer primarily because our family drives a 1998 Suburban and two other late 1990s-vintage vehicles. Maybe a better answer is every time the second number in your age repeats (10 years for those not good with numbers and abstract concepts), it’s probably at least time to begin considering upgrading. About Gary Gary Zandstra Consultant, Dan Vos Construction, Writer for Worship Facilities and ProSoundWeb Gary Zandstra has worked in church production and as an AV systems integrator for more than 35 years. He’s also contributed numerous articles to ProSoundWeb over the past decade. http://garyzandstra.com Comments Have something to say about this PSW content? Leave a comment! Cancel reply Scroll past the ”Post Comment” button below to view any existing comments. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Aiden Garrett says To me, the short answer would be “when things stop working” For example, if you’ve got a 15yr old desk and a multicore of a similar age (i doubt you would, but you never know!), you might find you’ve got 8 channels on the multicore that don’t work, and a few on the desk; that would be a good oppurtunity to go digital… Just my thoughts, anyway! Aiden Tagged with: Business Church Sound Gary Zandstra System Systems Technician upgrade Worship Audio · all topics Subscribe to Live Sound International Subscribe to Live Sound International magazine. Stay up-to-date, get the latest pro audio news, products and resources each month with Live Sound.