By Gary Zandstra • June 3, 2013 Good church sound often crescendos or crashes at the mixing board. A new whiz-bang mixing console will not improve the quality of sound one bit if your sound system is flawed in design, doesn’t have enough amplification, delivers uneven coverage, or has poor system processing. But even if all of that is in sync, the board can still fail to orchestrate good sound if a sound engineer isn’t operating it properly. A Complex Board I’ve trained sound technicians in church ministries on systems ranging from a 12-channel mixer to a 56-channel mixer, and on systems that have a single loudspeaker to systems with multiple clusters cross-matrixed to deliver left-center-right information into a room. All of this taught me that the mixing board is one of the most complex components of a sound system. To obtain good sound, an engineer must have a good understanding of not only what all the buttons do on a soundboard, but also the concepts behind pushing those buttons. Employing some simple principles can go a long way to helping raise the performance level of your church console. Step 1: Go For The Gain One of the most important components of a mixing board is gain structure. If the gain structure is off, you will have distortion or noise (hiss) in your system. A graphic showing various functions discussed in this article. (click to enlarge) If gain structure isn’t right, the board also will be awkward and unpredictable in its response. For example, sliding the lever from the bottom to part of the way up could result in parts of your loudspeaker system flying by your head. Well, it might not be quite that bad, but the effect could clean out your ears and the ears of everyone around you. You may also find yourself riding the fader on the board all the way to the top without getting the right level of sound. In the process, you’ll generate all kinds of hiss. On most mixing boards, the first knob on an input channel is the gain (or trim) knob. In layperson’s terms, this is the master volume-control button. If we liken the mixing board to a plumbing system, this knob is the master valve. If the valve is barely open, the water pressure (or sound) is low; if open too far, the pressure will be so high that it will produce incredible distortion. Mackie has a very good paper outlining the way to set up channel gain. I’ll borrow the salient points here: —Turn the input trim control of the desired channel all the way down. —Connect the mic or line input to that channel (turn down or mute all other channels). Press the channel’s solo button, making sure it’s set to PFL mode if you have a PFL/AFL option. As a musician begins to sing or play, turn up the channel’s input trim. You should see the input level on the mixer’s meters. Adjust the input trim until the meter level is around zero (0) dB. —Adjust the channel’s volume the way you want it with either fader or gain control. Don’t forget to turn up the master volume or you may not be able to hear the sermon. Read the rest of this post 1 2 3 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 This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Paul Kirby (Pastor) says Sir can you please recommend me a mixing board for my church. My church holds 200 chairs. Emmanuel Nana Addo Amoah says I'm newly in sound engineering and i want tutorials on how to make a good church sound Tagged with: Audio Basics Consoles Engineer Gary Zandstra Mixing Technician Techniques 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.