It is depressing to hear the awful sound reinforcement in so many of our churches. The sound is hardly audible, or the sound pierces the ears. The monitor mix overshadows the house levels. The soloist cannot be heard over the instrumentation. The feedback is excessive. These are just a few of the symptoms of bad sound in our churches. In many cases, churches have very inadequate equipment. But I would dare say, that in the majority of cases, much of the problem lies with one major component of our systems–the operator.In general, we would not hire a pastor without Bible training, a pianist without musical training, or a church cook without culinary experience, yet we are quick to put any willing soul at the helm of our church sound system without providing adequate training. By the way, adequate training is not the same thing as showing a person how to turn on and off a channel and how to increase and decrease the gain on those channels.
Adequate training involves, among other things, an understanding of signal flow, mixing techniques, an understanding of speakers, various types of microphones, and a good dose of critical listening skills. In so many cases, a technician with proper training can take an audio system that sounds awful and make it so much better by understanding how to make the needed corrections.
In my survey of churches, very few have people running the audio systems that have even a knowledge of the basic essentials of mixing sound. So the question comes, how do we change this?
Finding excellent, hands-on training opportunities seems to be rare. NC is very fortunate to have some world-class training coming our way September 8-10 during the Worship Arts Technology Summit. On Thursday, participants spend the day learning the basics of audio systems with intense hands-on training. This is followed by two additional days of instruction on a more advanced basis on Friday and Saturday. The three days of training is $149/person plus food/lodging costs at Ridgecrest. This could be the best investment you ever made for your church’s sound. Learn more about the audio track.
Imagine how much better our times of corporate worship can be if we have appropriate audio reinforcement. Yes, you may need to upgrade some of your equipment, but it may be upgrading (i.e. training) the most important component (the operator) will drastically improve the sound in your worship space.
I hope to review some learn-at-home products soon, but in my opinion, there is no substitute for live training.
What ways has your church provided needed training for your audio technicians?
Thanks for pointing out that a technician with proper training will ensure that the audio system will sound great no matter the quality it has. I hope we hire a good one to install an audio system in our church since we need a bigger one. This is because we have moved to a property which is wider to cater to new members.
That’s a good point that you should have a professional set up your sound system for your church. I had one of the members of the church set up the current one we have, but it doesn’t sound great. Having a pro set it up would probably make it sound better.
Im going to be honest. I’m totally that guy that has little experience in learning sound and how to mix. Great post. I just came from reading this other article on how sound is important. this dude was talking about “checking out” from the service b/c it’s hard to focus.
would you agree man??
thanks for the post, awaiting opinions guys!!
This is a really informative post. Thank you for sharing it with us.
If the church is like ours they can’t afford to pay the sound tech.
Most churches just don’t have the budget to hire a professional sound tech for all their events. We don’t have one in our congregation, but if we did, instead of having him run sound at all our events, if I could pay him, I would pay him to TRAIN all of our volunteers, not run sound himself. Then, if we run out of money, or have an additional service, or need help in another room or … I have more help! Also, it’s part of discipleship and I expect all my leaders to be discipling others, not just about spiritual things, but in practical ways. I would love to explore the idea of having professional sound engineers that are paid to train and mentor local volunteers…
While I agree with Steve about the location of the equipment, in many cases that’s just a reality we have to live with. However, if we teach the techs to get out of the booth during rehearsal and learn what the room sounds like they can still do a great job. I’ve dealt with mixing locations in balconies, 2nd level booths and back walls. If you know your room, you can mix from anywhere.
I agree that the #1 issue is trained sound techs, but a close 2nd is where many churches locate their mixing consoles. How often have you been in a church to see the tech poking his head out of a window in the wall in the back of the worship center trying to hear what’s going on in the room. What about the tech sitting with his back against the back wall of the room trying to mix for where he’s sitting, only to blow the people in the first few rows away. So let’s get them trained and set them up for success.
I am aware that some churches pay their A/V techs, but probably most of the medium to small churches do not. How about it, folks. What do you do? Do you think the sound guy should be paid?
How many churchs today pay the audio/visual tech. This is a very demanding job in the church and finding volunteers to operate the system is challenging.
I agree 100%. My motto for years has been “A good audio tech with mediocre equipment can make a mediocre group sound good. A bad audio tech with excellent equipment can make an excellent group sound bad.” Unfortunately, most tech folks are lay-people and I’m praying they can get off work to get to this needed training. Thanks for providing this.