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Install Your Own Church Sound System? Here Are Some Cautionary Tales

It isn't exactly rocket science, but you need to do your homework

By Curt Taipale September 11, 2018

Image courtesy of ddzphoto

Voice of Reason

Now, don’t go around telling everyone that Curt said that no church should install their own sound system. I didn’t say that. All I hope to offer here is a voice of reason in your eager pursuit to save a couple of bucks.

If you’re thinking about installing your own sound system, please determine now that you will sort through every possible issue. Develop a contingency plan for all of the things that are going to go differently than you plan, because they will. Step back and think it through before your eagerness gets the best of you.

For example:

  • What are you going to do when the input panels for the floor pockets don’t come in with the connectors laid out the way you told them to?
  • What are you going to do when you discover – after the scaffolding and scissor lift are long gone – that the cluster is flown two feet higher than it should have been?
  • What are you going to do when the mic snake you ordered arrives with totally the wrong connectors?
  • What are you going to do when your consultant discovers through his acoustical testing that two of your four main loudspeakers have their woofers wired out of polarity – that they came that way from the loudspeaker manufacturer!?!

No, really. Tell me what you’re going to do. Because if you’re installing the sound system yourself, you ARE the sound contractor. It’s your job to make sure the installation and every device in the project is working correctly and installed properly.

Wait, There’s More

And if you’re like most churches, you’re not only installing the sound system, you’re also installing the video system, and the stage lighting system, and… The size of the task can mushroom beyond your wildest expectations in no time.

I assume you’ll be trying to accomplish this task while gainfully employed in another job, so your installation efforts will be done in the evenings and on weekends. You’ll probably need to take vacation time during the last few days of the project when everything comes together.

And I assume that, if you can find volunteers as eager to help you as you are to take on this project, that they too will be there whenever they can. Be prepared to discover that their available times might not be the same times as you plan to work, or nearly as often.

Do your best to step away from the project long enough to see the big picture and what the process is going to do to you, to your life, to your family, to your friends who are going to help you get this job done, and to your church.

The church as a whole has enough people who have been burned out or hurt emotionally through their service to their local church. We don’t need to add any new people to that list.

Uncle, Uncle

Okay, I’ve beat you up enough. If after all of this you’re still convinced that you need to do the install yourself, get prayed up and go for it. As long as you know up front that it’s not as easy as you think it will be.

The reality is that there can be tremendous value to having church staff and/or volunteers install their own sound system. More important than the money you’ll save is the fact that they’ll emotionally take ownership of the system more quickly.

Also, if anything ever goes wrong with the system – and we both know that will be discovered on Sunday morning before the service – your volunteers will know where every piece of equipment and scrap of wire is in the entire facility, and how it’s hooked up.

They may even be able to track down the problem and fix it before the service instead of sometime later next week when the sound contractor’s audio technician can schedule an appointment.

That works, of course, until the folks that did the install get relocated by their job or move to another church for some reason.

Remember that, whatever happens, God is still on the throne. So have fun. Or else.

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About Curt

Curt Taipale
Curt Taipale

President, Taipale Media Systems
Curt Taipale of Taipale Media Systems heads up Church, a thriving community dedicated to helping technical worship personnel, as well as the Church Sound Boot Camp series of educational classes held throughout the U.S.


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Scott Frazier says

I'm trying to get our name out in the audio field a bit better I know its nor perse your forte being an advisory but if you have a lead or something that would be valuable to either your's or my clients please let me know.

Charles B. says

I'm that guy. The only one who will work to make a project a reality. My pastor and I want to enter the modern world and webcast our services to publicize our church, and serve homebound parshoners. Also, our sound board, etc. was cool for the 1970's. How much do I know about getting tech installed? Not enough. However, I know how to ask the vestry for money. I need a plan and professionals. Do you have any advice for me?

Lawrence French says

I need a comprehensive discussion on sound and LCD video screens operated by bluetooth.
Any suggestions?

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