The importance of sound in the church cannot be overstated. There are many different types of churches, and each has its own unique needs when it comes to sound systems. This blog post will discuss some things to remember when building a church sound system so your congregation can have the best possible experience while attending services.
Set Your Budget
Consider the following questions when setting your budget: How much money do you want to spend? What are your financial priorities for this project? Are any specific areas of sound that need improvement, or is it more important to improve overall quality throughout the facility? If so, what improvements would be necessary to make those changes? These questions must be answered before you can start shopping for your sound system.
Build the System You Need, Not What Others Think You Want
Churches must have a say in what they want from their new sound system. It is not uncommon for someone outside the church—a contractor or an audio company representative, for example—to suggest sound equipment the church may not need.
Build for Tomorrow’s Needs, Not Just Today’s
No one knows what tomorrow will bring regarding technology or worship styles. The church needs to be proactive regarding sound equipment rather than reactive. The good question is, what will the congregation need in five years? How can you ensure that your new system allows for growth and change without forcing the current team of volunteers into a corner about their design choices?
Reliability Is Important Too
Reliability is key if the church wants to build a lasting sound system. It’s not uncommon for churches to upgrade their equipment every five years or so, and anyone with credibility will tell you this. In short, it’s important to purchase quality products from reputable manufacturers to make sure your sound system stands the test of time.
Research the type of sound system you want
You will need to decide whether or not you want an analog or a digital sound system. Each has its pros and cons, but it’s important to note that the church should choose what they need instead of simply purchasing equipment because it is available.
For example, an analog sound system will be less expensive, but it may not offer the same flexibility as a digital sound system.
Digital systems are more customizable and allow for easier future upgrades. They can be programmed with presets for each type of sound being reproduced. For instance, If you have a traditional and contemporary music service, each service can have its own preset.
However, they can also cost significantly more than an analog option. It all depends on what you need to accomplish your goals as a church facility.
Research the best places to purchase your equipment from
Researching online and asking around can help you find places that offer quality equipment at a competitive price. It’s always wise to get quotes from multiple retailers to know exactly what each vendor is offering in terms of pricing, warranties, etc., before making any decisions about where to purchase your sound system.
Asking friends and colleagues for a referral is also a good idea. If someone has recently purchased sound equipment, they may be able to recommend the place from which they bought it and offer insight into their experience when working with that vendor.
In addition, you should ensure you understand your options when purchasing any sound system to get exactly what you need and nothing more.
Although we all like to support our local businesses, not all of us have reputable or cost-effective dealers in our local area. You may consider shopping online at Guitar Center, Sweetwater, Amazon, and eBay. Believe it or not, most of the large sound system dealers also use Amazon and eBay to sell their products.
What To Buy – Speakers, Amplifiers, Mixer, Microphones
Before you even start shopping for a system, it’s important to remember that no sound system is complete without speakers. Therefore, your first step in building a church sound system should be choosing which type of speaker will work best with your congregation’s worship style and musical requirements.
Choose a speaker system.
There are two types of speakers to consider when beginning the process of building a church sound system. You can choose passive or active units, which each has advantages and disadvantages. An example would be that an active speaker is self-contained about power amplification, while a passive speaker requires external amplification.
Active speakers also tend to cost more than an equivalent set of passive speakers, but they also offer some other advantages. For example, you can set up multiple active speakers in different room areas and control their volume independently.
Passive speakers are less expensive but do not offer as much flexibility when controlling sound output. While it is possible to place multiple passive speakers around the room, they cannot be adjusted independently of each other without using an external amplifier for power and volume control.
The main advantage that active units have over their passive counterparts is flexibility; however, if simplicity trumps flexibility in your book, then you may want to choose a set of passive speakers.
Passive speakers are ideal for churches with a limited budget or those who do not want to be burdened by the unnecessary complexity of an active speaker setup. Whatever option you choose will depend on your unique situation and what needs need to be met to accomplish your goals.
Once you’ve decided on the speaker system you need, it’s time to choose microphones. Two main types of microphones can be used with a sound system – dynamic and condenser. Each has its advantages and limitations, so deciding which one will work best for your specific situation is important.
Dynamic microphones are the more affordable option, but they have some limitations. Dynamic mics are less sensitive than condenser models, so they pick up less background noise and require a higher sound pressure level (SPL) to operate effectively.
On the other hand, they are more durable and can handle high SPLs, which is important if you use them for a live performance.
Due to their flexibility and affordability, dynamic mics are a popular choice for instrumentalists who do not want or need an extremely sensitive microphone that will pick up every nuance of their performance.
Condenser microphones are known for being extremely sensitive, which is why they are often used to record vocals and acoustic instruments. This high sensitivity means that condensers will pick up background noise much easier than dynamic models; however, modern technology has made it possible to adjust the microphone’s settings, so that background noise is not as much of a problem.
In addition to being extremely sensitive, condenser microphones are also very fragile and more expensive than their dynamic counterparts. Because of this, they tend to be the choice for singers who want an exceptionally clear recording of their voice during practice or performance.
Choosing A Mixer
The mixer you choose will depend on the number and types of speakers and microphones that you’ve decided to use. All of your speaker wires need to match up with the inputs on your mixer, so make sure everything is compatible before making a purchase.
If you choose to use a passive speaker system, your mixer will need an external power amplification source.
Most mixers also come equipped with onboard EQ and effects so that the sound coming from each speaker can be tweaked as necessary during installation or performance.
The number of microphones, instruments, and other audio sources will determine how many channels the mixer needs. If you only need a few channels and your relatively basic sound system, then an entry-level mixer should be sufficient for your needs.
Entry-level mixers are usually intended for smaller groups or solo performers who don’t require extra bells and whistles on their sound equipment. Most models in this range come with onboard equalization and some effects processing which can help adjust vocals or instrument sounds.
You will need a larger mixer if you mix a full worship team with a band. Professional-level mixers are better suited for groups who have multiple inputs and need an extensive array of audio controls.
Professional models come with significantly more channels, which allows you to handle complex sound setups without running out of input options. Many also include digital effects processing, USB connectivity, and other features that make it easy to tweak your sounds.
Choosing A Power Amplifier
Power amplifiers are designed to boost the audio signal from your mixer to be strong enough for your speakers. If you’re unfamiliar with sound systems, this part may seem confusing—but don’t worry!
A power amplifier will only amplify the electrical energy coming through a preamp or microphone input which means they can be connected to any mixer. All you need to do is ensure that your power amp has enough wattage and channels for the sound system you’ve designed.
Professional-level amplifiers are much more powerful than entry-level models, which means they can handle complex setups without a sweat.
Power amplifiers are rated by the number of watts of power they produce. You will need an amplifier to put out at least 500 watts of power per channel for a large worship space with multiple speakers.
Smaller worship spaces can get away with a smaller amplifier, so professional-level models are often available in smaller wattages.
Where To Place The Equipment
The speakers and stage monitors go on stage or near the platform area, where everyone can see and hear. If your worship team is playing music with an electric guitar, bass, and drum set, then you will also need to make sure that there are speakers for those instruments in front of the band.
Microphones should typically go on stands on the stage to face the musician or instrument they are capturing. The lead vocalist, as well as the backup vocalists, will need their mic, as well as a backup, in case anything goes wrong with either one during the service. Your pastor will need a pulpit mic or a lapel mic as well.
The mixer and power amp should be located in a sound booth at the rear of the auditorium. You don’t want a lot of extra wires and cables cluttering up the walkway, so ensure everything is hidden away from view.
How To Set Up The Sound System
Now it is time to set up your sound system. Here are some tips to help you build a church sound system from scratch.
Build A Sturdy And Attractive Sound Booth To House All Of Your Equipment
A sound booth is an enclosed space with partial-height walls. The booth must be large enough to house your mixer, power amp, microphones, and other equipment, such as AV equipment, safely away from the congregation.
You will need to make sure you have openings either in the floor or the ceiling to run all the cables you need to run from the booth to the front of the church sanctuary.
Install All Necessary Wiring In The Walls, Ceiling, Or Flooring
You will need to run an audio snake from the platform to the sound booth. This very long cable runs all of the necessary cables from the stage to your mixer. It will be hidden away from sight, but you need to ensure it has proper openings in the floor or ceiling where it can run through into its final destination.
Learn How To Connect All The Wiring Together
You will need to connect all the microphones to the audio snake. You will then need to run the audio snake from the platform to the sound booth. You will need to connect the snake’s outputs to the inputs of your mixing board. Make sure your connections on stage correspond to the channels on your snake that you connect to your mixer.
Once this is done, you will need to connect your mixing board’s main and monitor outputs to your power amplifiers.
The exception to this is if you are using active speakers. If you use active speakers or monitors, skip this step.
Once you have connected the main and monitor outputs from your mixer to your power amplifiers, you then connect the outputs from your power amplifiers to the audio snake and send the signal back to the stage.
You then connect the audio snake to the speakers or monitors on stage. This should complete the connection, and your mics and instruments should be heard from the speakers.
Test Out Your New Sound System With Music Before Using It For Church Services
Once you have connected all of your equipment and checked to ensure everything is working properly, it is time for the final test.
Before using the sound system in a church service, run through some music that will show off your great speakers and any other instruments on stage. Make sure every instrument sounds fantastic, including bass drums, guitars, and keyboards.
If you are using monitors, ensure the monitor levels are set appropriately for each musician on stage so they can hear themselves properly while playing their instrument. Make any adjustments that need to be made before you start your church service or another event with your new sound system!
They didn’t teach a class on building a church sound system in Bible College when I went. I had to learn by the school of hard knocks. Hopefully, my experiences over the years have helped you put together the right sound system for your church.