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Church Sound: The One Tip That Will Save You Every Time

Novices as well as seasoned pros don't do it and pay the price

By Gary Zandstra March 27, 2013

I can’t believe that I’m writing about such a simple thing. It’s something that should be a given, a natural for every sound person to do for every gig. Yet I find novices as well as seasoned pros not doing it—and then paying the price.

What is it? Simply checking every input before the service or event starts.

By checking every input, I mean either using headphones or turning up each input one at a time and listening to see if the input is working properly (no noise on the line, etc…).

This check should also include testing and checking the battery level on all wireless microphones.

I also have each pastor talk over the sound system right after I give them their wireless mic. This check usually happens an hour before the start of the service while the musicians are rehearsing.

Depending on the pastor and the trust level we have with each other, I instruct them to keep the mic on or guarantee me that they will turn it back on before the start of the service. If it’s a guest pastor, I usually lock the beltpack on or tape over the switch.

I also do a “line check,” listening to every input on headphones using the PFL (pre-fade-listen) on each channel. This usually happens about five minutes before the start of the service. My logic is that it’s close enough to the start to make me feel comfortable that nothing will go wrong or change, while also leaving enough time to correct or change the plan if something is not working properly.

One last thing. If we’re planning on showing a video during the service, I have the video guys run the entire video with audio playback going over the main loudspeakers, so I don’t get surprised by a jump in audio level or having the video freeze in the middle of playback.

Like I said at the outset—this is simple stuff. But we’ve all seen it countless times or maybe have done it ourselves: a person gets up to talk, and… silence. We always wonder, did the mic just die, or was it not checked ahead of time?

Unfortunately, too often it’s the latter.

Gary Zandstra is a professional AV systems integrator with Parkway Electric and has been involved with sound at his church for more than 30 years.

About Gary

Gary Zandstra
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.


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