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Church Sound: Regardless Of The Gear, Let Your Ears Be The Final Judge

Somehow I convinced myself to patch in an analog dual 1/3-octave EQ sitting in our front of house rack...

We have very nice JBL VerTec line arrays that we make available for ministries to use at no cost, and recently, we used them for a concert with Robin Mark (he wrote “Days of Elijah” and many other popular worship songs). I set it up following our morning worship service, ran a few checks, and fired up a CD. 

As always the system sounded great right out of the gate, and I decided to head home and eat lunch with the family, and return for sound check about two hours later.

On the return drive to the church, my mind began wandering, and somehow I convinced myself to patch in an analog dual 1/3-octave EQ sitting in our front of house rack (and that I have not used in more than five years).

My thinking was that since I had not worked with Robin before, a 1/3-octave might come in handy for making any necessary fine-tuning adjustments with relative ease.

After patching in the EQ, meeting Robin, and dealing with a couple of stage positioning issues, I started sound check. For this event, I was acting as producer, so my main front of house engineer manned the mixing console. 

Right from the start the system seemed just a touch harsh and the left/right balance seemed off. That should have been my first clue that something was awry. 

Robin was great to work with, and our house band that was accompanying him was well rehearsed and tight. My front of house guy and I spent most of the sound check/rehearsal time messing with the 1/3-octave EQ, trying to take out some of the upper midrange “gack,” and also trying to figure out the left/right level difference that I was hearing.

Overall the rehearsal sounded O.K., and Robin seemed happy, so he departed to have dinner and prep for the show. But the main worship leader in our house band lingered behind, and told me that he had come out into the house a few times to listen and he thought the main PA was sounding a little aggressive.

I immediately agreed and thanked him for putting into words what I was hearing. 

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