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Ten Reasons Why Church Sound Systems Cost More

In a day of internet deals on cheap gear and cost consciousness, system integrators should remind customers of some basic truths...

A letter from an AV systems integrator to a church building committee might read:

Thank you again for the opportunity to provide you with a proposal for the sound system for your house of worship.

While we appreciate your interest in “good stewardship” in the funding of this project, and understand your request for “church pricing” for the work, the following points should be kept in mind when determining the best value for the dollars spent.

#1 – Dynamic Range

Church sanctuaries are usually quieter than other “places of gathering,” and as such the sound system must be quieter than usual to prevent audible noise in the audience area.

Our proposal provides for 96 dB of dynamic range – a figure typical for recording studios and other critical listening environments. This extended dynamic range assures that the sound system will not be the “weakest link” when it comes to system performance.

Audio equipment is not “plug and play.” There are no strict standards that all manufacturers follow when establishing the operating parameters of their equipment.

All electrical devices produce noise, that annoying “hiss” that can be heard in the background on some systems during quiet portions of the service. Audible hiss can be eliminated from a sound system if its gain structure is adjusted properly.

This process is carried out after the system in installed, and when done properly, will result in the maximum potential of all equipment to be realized. Our proposal includes an accurate and meticulous adjustment of the gain structure of the sound system.

#2 – Energy Ratios

Many listening environments have a “sweet spot” for which the sound system performance is optimized. In a house of worship, every seat must be optimized for adequate signal-to-noise ratio and suitable early-to-late energy ratios.

Our proposal provides a minimum of 25 dB signal-to-noise ratio and an appropriate early-to-late energy ratio for your type of worship – for every seat in the audience area.

#3 – Uniform Coverage

Many auditoriums are plagued with “hot” and “cold” spots in the sound coverage. This can usually be attributed to interaction between multiple loudspeakers, and is unavoidable when more than one loudspeaker is required to provide sound coverage for the audience.

A good design assures that there is even coverage in the audience area, and that no seats are rendered unusable by loudspeaker interaction. Our design addresses this critical issue, assuring you that there will be excellent sound quality at every listener seat.

#4 – Versatility

While it is possible to design sound systems that are optimized for speech or music, your system must perform well for speech and music. Since the attributes of these two types of systems are often at odds, this is a very difficult task.

The proposed system has the accuracy and clarity required for speech reproduction, while maintaining the extended frequency response and power handling required for music.

#5 – Hum and Buzz

Audible hum is a major detriment to a church sound system. It usually results from improper grounding practices, either in the installation of the wiring or the actual equipment. Off-the-shelf equipment must often be modified to work without hum.

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The proposed system shall be grounded properly, and all system wiring shall be routed and shielded properly. The proposed equipment will be tested for proper grounding, and and suitable modifications made when necessary, ensuring “hum-free” operation.

#6 – Gain Before Feedback

Whenever a microphone is placed in the same room as a loudspeaker, the potential for feedback exists. Things that aggravate this further are multiple microphones and long miking distances; both necessities for most churches.

Two things are required for a system to work properly. The sound system must be extremely stable, meaning that loudspeaker array design and mic placement are critical to the end result.

Your sound personnel must understand the limitations of the sound system and be trained to manage the open microphones and working distances for people using the system.

Our proposal addresses these issues, providing a stable system along with operator training to assure that feedback does not hinder the performance of the system.

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Celebrating over 50 years of audio excellence worldwide, Audio-Technica is a leading innovator in transducer technology, renowned for the design and manufacture of microphones, wireless microphones, headphones, mixers, and electronics for the audio industry.