changing the audio world, one system at a time .... church sound, video and lights

Church Sound

Church Systems

CHrist Life Center Church before we installed the mini line arrays.

Most church buildings today are not designed for sound, so even the smallest church building needs a sound system. Therefore the sound system is the cornerstone of every local church.

Why do churches go through at least 2 sound systems before they get one that really works?

The reason is that the music stores don't usually have the churches best interest at heart. While they do have good equipment, they usually don't have the necessary skills to determine your needs?

Do you think of speech reproduction first? or Do you design for music reproduction? There is a difference and You can have both.

An oversight that we often witness in sound system design is the failure by the designer to differentiate between speech and music. The assumption that a spacious sounding music system will reproduce speech in an acceptable manner can be an expensive one. The quality of music reproduction, by nature is very subjective. Like art, there is no absolute criteria for good or bad. Speech on the other hand, can be judged on the basis of intelligibility. While there is certainly room for improvement in the current methods of testing speech, it is possible to assign a quality score to a sound system's ability to reproduce speech.

The criteria for proper reproduction of speech and music are almost the opposite. A simple example helps illustrate the point. A choir in a reverberant space sounds very pleasing to a listener during a musical performance. Ask the same choir to read a sermon to the congregation and there will be total confusion. The timing inconsistencies and pitch variations that make the musical performance a pleasing experience can only confuse speech. Placing too many loudspeakers, with the inherent timing differences to various listener positions can have the same effect.

All churches need a dual function sound system
One for speech and
One for Music Reproduction (canned or live)

There is a difference in system design for each.

Design for Optimum Speech Reproduction
Single point of origin (center speaker system)
No reflections within 10 ms
No high-level late reflections (>50 ms)
Positive direct/reverberant ratio (Reflective sound hinders  vocal intelligibility)

Design for Optimum Music Reproduction
Several points of origin desirable (at least a two point of origin speaker system. L/R stereo)
Comb filtering can change the tonal character of the direct sound field in a pleasing way
Negative direct/reverberant ratio a plus for many types (organ, choral, symphony)
Reflected sound desirable

The ultimate sound system should provide: even and full bandwidth coverage to every seat in the venue out of both systems

What is a dual function system? It is a Left/Center/Right system. The L/R is used during the worship portion of the service and the cluster (center) is used primarily anytime you need speech reinforcement. You can set up great sound for both your pastor and the musicians by carefully planning, and understanding the dynamics of designing a dual function system. The key is a realistic approach to what your sound needs are now and what you project them to be in the not too distant future. (most churches have a 5 year itch cycle. At that point you start to think that you need to upgrade your sound system) So plan for upgrade every 5 years or If you can, add improvements to your system every 2 years your system will always sound fresh and new.

If your facility is 5000 seats or less you do not need multiple speaker layers on delays

You can achieve full coverage with the latest LINE ARRAY technology (a vertical stack of multiple speakers or speaker array). In fact most concerts that you go to today use the same technology but in single channel (mono) mode.

The Conclusion
All churches need a system that excels at music and speech reproduction, therefore it should be a multi-channel system in design (L|C|R ).

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