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Improve Your Church Sound Without Spending A Dime

Understanding that while the laws of physics don't compromise, many other things do.

By Jeff Lange August 27, 2019

Sound quality can be drastically improved by incorporating one thing: compromise.

No, it’s not a dirty word. Without it marriages fall apart, friendships fade, churches split and wars are waged.

Of course some things are not open to compromise, but in most cases we can’t live without it.

One of the biggest challenges to getting quality sound in a church is getting the sound department and music staff to compromise.

Some sound people are unwilling to change and feel they have nothing new to learn. You may hear them say, “I’ve done it this way for 20 years and never had a problem until ‘so and so’ showed up.”

Too often, musicians and singers have similar feelings: “I’ve held the microphone this way since I was 5 years old and I’m not about to change now.”

There is one factor that will not compromise: the laws of physics. The laws of physics are inflexible and do not respond to flattery. They don’t care. The laws of physics just are.

Unfortunately, we will never have perfect acoustics, perfect sound systems, perfect worship teams or sound departments. So compromise must come from somewhere else, and whether we like it or not – it’s up to us.

Respecting the laws of physics, we – sound team, worship team, musicians – all must compromise to produce the results we desire.

Singers might have to do with a little less monitor from time to time, and they might – gasp – even have to re-learn how to hold a microphone.

The keyboardist might need to use a different sound that fits better with the rest of the instruments.

The choir director might need to arrange the choir’s positioning behind the microphones differently to get additional (and necessary) volume in the sound system.

And the sound operator might need to compromise with all of these individuals and elements and more, in addition to also compromising on things like volume levels in consideration of the congregation.

Let’s remember our purpose. When we diminish our own preferences and keep our focus on God, good things happen!

Keep that in mind and it’s a lot easier to compromise, making it far more possible to dramatically improve the sound quality in our churches.

Without spending a dime.

Jeff Lange has assisted many churches internationally in designing audio/visual systems that are tailored to the needs a church worship service. A consultant and trainer for Sonic Art, LLC, he is frequently called upon to assist in identifying and resolving audio/visual problems due to system and/or acoustic challenges, and he also serves as a consultant liaison and training manager for Aviom.

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Martin Massinger says

This is something I’ve found to be invaluable in the success I’ve had running sound for our church. It’s not about giving up on principles you know to be true, but knowing that you don’t know everything. It’s also about realizing that the opinion and perspective of the musicians is just as valid, and needs just as much air time as your own.

I have found such a freedom in holding the process loosely, and involving the musicians in the dialogue. They have, more often than not, happily made changes, once they understood the problem, or how they could be part of a solution. I, likewise, have found other ways of doing things to better accommodate their needs. I’ve found that what they do on stage has a huge effect on the overall quality of the sound. So, for me, their comfort and self-confidence is paramount. Just my thoughts…

Mark Dubosky says

I agree with the overall approach that is expressed here, I am not sure that compromise is the best word to describe what is being illustrated here. What is REALLY going on here, based upon my experience, is an unwillingness too often to admit when one is simply mistaken about facts.

I have tried countless times to instruct musicians on microphone positioning and technique, board operators to not clip the mix buss, not have "thunder bass" etc., even when the congregation does not want that either.

This is really a matter of self-aggrandizement, and narcissism that states, "I will do things my way, no matter who it hurts, or no matter what physics dictate, simply because I want to, whether it works or not!"

The REAL problem is finding people, both musicians and technicians, who recognize that it is not about ME, but HE (GOD).

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