In this episode, I speak with Todd Messer, teacher and technology coordinator at a Christian school in New Jersey. Todd is also an active member of his local church, where he volunteers his skills serving in audio. We delve into the nitty gritty of church audio equipment and recommend some ways you can determine what sort of system best fits your church’s audio needs.
In order to determine what type of audio equipment would best fit your church’s needs, consider the goals you have for your audio equipment:
- What kind of amplification do you need?
- Does your church have 30 members or 500 members? What size is your auditorium? What are the acoustics in the building like?
- Do you plan on broadcasting or recording your audio content?
The key, necessary components of an audio system are as follows:
- Input- a microphone
- Output- a speaker
- An amplifier and/or mixer
Some speakers have amplifiers built in; you may only have an input and output with a built in amplifier.
Consider the following to help you determine what sound system setup will best fit your needs:
The amount of amplification you need depends on the size of your room, the acoustics of the room. Whatever you choose, ensure that your amplifier is more powerful than what your amplification needs will be. It is always better to underutilize the capacity of your amplifier than to push an amplifier to its max.
Are you in a temporary or permanent meeting situation? Do you need a portable sound system or can you set up something permanent?
Consider the amount of inputs you will need. Does your church have an elaborate band with multiple instruments? Does your church regularly have multiple people involved throughout the service? How many microphones will be necessary? The size and type of mixer that you select will determine the amount of inputs and outputs you can use simultaneously.
Beware the wattages if you use an amplifier that is separate from your speakers! You can easily destroy your speakers or set your amplifier on fire if your amplifier is too powerful for your speakers’ capacity. Always ensure that your speaker capacity is greater than your amplifier capacity.
Also consider: are you going to need to route your sound somewhere? Do you want the service audio to be piped into the church lobby? What about the nursery?
Beware of what your microphone needs are. Will a stationary microphone be sufficient for your style of service and the presenting style of your pastor? Does your pastor move around a lot?
Are you planning to record your services? Where will you position the recording device? Consider the fact that depending on where you place it, nearby sounds may be picked up on the recording. If you put the recorder on the pulpit, it may pick up every time your pastor turns a bible page, every time his wristwatch clinks, every time he grasps the podium.
Here are some tips, once you’ve determined your audio needs:
- With microphones, you get what you pay for.
- Shure microphones have a great reputation; they make very good products. You can count on it to work and it’s reasonably affordable for how high end it is.
- AudioTechnica is a good name that is less expensive than Shure.
- Mackey is also a good name.
- Zoom is a great brand for digital recorders. Good brands to look into with amps are Crown and QSC.
- If you’re looking for ways to learn more about audio equipment, look for volunteer opportunities at smaller local schools or other organizations to pick up tips and tricks
- If you plan on recording your audio, redundancy is important. You may want to have a backup recorder running simultaneously to a primary recorder so that if there is some malfunction, you have a fall-back recording.
- Use the best quality microphone you can afford as the input for your recordings. It will make a huge difference in the overall quality of your recordings.