When it comes to church audio systems it pays to work with a business that has a proven track record within the industry. Churches can be extremely challenging from an acoustical perspective and having a clear understanding on how to tackle these challenges can make the difference between a happy congregation and a mad one.
The Acoustical Challenges of Houses of Worship
Churches can be absolutely stunning structures. Even in the U.S. there are churches that are well over 100 years old. Many of them were designed before electrical amplification was even an option. This meant they had to rely upon the natural acoustics of the building to ensure that the message from the pulpit was heard by the entire congregation.
A major consideration during the design of modern day and ancient churches was making sure that the speaker could easily project their voice throughout the building. Unfortunately, these same properties can introduce a whole host of difficulties into an amplified system.
One of the biggest problems is with reverberations and echos. The small spaces in the ceilings of older churches can wreak havoc with loud echos. These echos make it nearly impossible to understand what is being said even when amplified at lower volumes.
Special consideration must be given to speaker placement, volume levels, frequency levels. There are software packages that can integrate all of these things together to help eliminate unwanted sounds and echos. But it takes a great deal of training to design and implement church audio packages.
Starting the Process
If you’re in the market to update your church’s sound system you should start by talking to other churches in your area. Nearly all modern houses of worship have sound systems that were installed by professional audio companies. Some offer a much higher level of service than others. But along with that service often comes a higher price as well.
Here are some important points to cover when researching possible candidates:
- how well did they listen to your needs during the design phase?
- did they come up with a budget that was in line with what you discussed?
- how did they handle change orders as they came up?
- did they end up coming in at or under budget?
- was the installation crew capable and did they work well with other onsite contractors?
- were your expectations properly met?
- did they properly train the staff on how to use the system and perform minor troubleshooting?
- how responsive is their service when issues come up?
All of these questions should give you a good idea of what sort of installation and service you will receive when dealing with a specific contractor. Obviously you can prioritize which are most important based on your specific circumstances.
Staffing for Audio/Video
Another consideration when updating your system or installing a new one is whether or not you need someone on staff capable of operating the system for you. In many instances churches will rely upon members of the congregation for this sort of help. This works fine if you have someone that is qualified. But if not, consider hiring someone on a contract basis. This allows you to have the help you need on hand during services, but you avoid having to pay a salaried employee.
Another possibility is to use automation products to help streamline the process. Control4 and other home automation manufacturers design products that are perfectly capable of being used in a church. They can automation systems startup, shutdown, audio, video, and even the lighting and shades.