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Church Sound Files: Surviving A Soundcheck

Soundcheck doesn’t have to be a painful process. Take some time to develop a system that works well for you and communicate clearly to the band.

By Mike Sessler February 28, 2011

Photo by Word of Life Church, 2009.
This article is provided by ChurchTechArts.

Soundcheck time can be one of the most productive times of the weekend from an audio standpoint. It can also be one of the most frustrating. I have seen a soundcheck turn normally mild-mannered and reserved musicians and engineers into angry combatants.

My brothers, this should not be. Soundcheck can be very efficient, productive and dare I say fun; but we have to do a little work first.

Because there are so many different ways to do a soundcheck (and so many different church situations), I’m not going to prescribe one “perfect” way.

What I want to do instead is offer a series of suggestions that hopefully apply to all situations, and you can create your own plan. Sound good? Here we go…

Line Check First
Few things will frustrate your musicians more than having to stop soundcheck to troubleshoot a bad cable, DI or patch. Before the band even arrives, go through and line check every single line that you’re using that weekend.

Even if it’s the same cable you used last week, in the same channel with the same processing. We typically don’t check the actual DIs themselves, but we do pull the mic cable out, attach a 57 to it and make sure we have signal.

If it’s an active DI, make sure phantom power is on. And don’t forget the wireless mics. Make sure those are on and working.

Declare Your Intentions
A few minutes before soundcheck is slated to start, I will get on the talkback and say something like, “Hey everyone, good afternoon. We’re going to start soundcheck in 2 minutes, so if you could get plugged in and in place with your ears in and ready to go, it would be great!”

Once we actually start, I’ll say something like this, “Hey guys, we’re going to go through each channel one at a time so I can get levels.

Once you hear the level stop changing, you can set it in your ears (we use personal mixers). If we can have only the instruments I ask for playing it will make it go really quickly.

Let’s start off with the kick.” Making sure everyone knows what is coming up will help them stay focused. This is important because as we all know, most musicians are very ADD.

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About Mike

Mike Sessler
Mike Sessler

Maker of Magic for Velocity Pro Systems
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 the Maker of Magic for Velocity Pro Systems, which provides design-build production solutions for churches and other facilities.


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Jeon says

Thank you for this wonderful article!

Derek Sexsmith says

Great article Mike!  I do my soundcheck a little bit differently, but most of the info is very much the same, the same principles at least.  I am going to pass this on to our worship leaders to show them the importance of it.

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