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Top 10 Church Sound Problems

Trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. A poorly designed sound system won't sound good, no matter what the sound tech does. Good sound systems cost what they're worth. If a system is properly designed and installed, many of the potential Sunday morning pitfalls will go away.

  • Trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. A poorly designed sound system won't sound good, no matter what the sound tech does. Good sound systems cost what they're worth. If a system is properly designed and installed, many of the potential Sunday morning pitfalls will go away.
  • Turning a molehill into a mountain. Sound team: Don't distract the pastor during a sermon to remind him/her to turn on the mic! This should have been addressed in the pre-service sound check (see No. 8). And pastors: When something goes wrong in the sound booth, don't call attention to it! Many church sound operators are volunteers, and if you insult them and they quit, you'll be on your own.
  • Lack of coordination with worship leaders. Talk with the musicians and pastor ahead of time, and find out the game plan. As a member of the sound team, you're an important member of the worship team. Don't hesitate to ask to be included in worship planning and coordination.
  • Inattention. System operators should get the church bulletin, stay alert, read ahead, and see what's coming before it happens. Be prepared.
  • Keeping the sound desk unlocked. Children like to climb to the balcony, and those colorful knobs and switches are often too great a temptation. If you don't want a disaster on Sunday, lock it up during the week. If your choir and pulpit mics won't work, check the phantom power switch…kids love to push that button!
  • Dead (or weak) batteries. Most wireless devices (such as microphones or instrument wireless systems) require a full 9 V of battery power. Eight volts might still enable the device to function, but once the power falls below 8 V, you'll have problems such as pops, fizzes, etc. Make sure you have a generous supply of new 9 V alkaline batteries in stock at all times.
  • Ignoring what might have happened between Sundays. Weddings are among the worst offenders because pulpit furniture is normally moved out of the sanctuary, along with microphones, cables, and floor monitors. Not only can things be damaged during weddings, but things usually aren't put back where they came from.
  • No sound check. Many problems can be avoided by simply checking out the sound system before worship begins. Take a walking tour of the pulpit/chancel area. Check for unplugged mics, broken cables, hanging choir mics that are twisted out of position, etc. Turn on the system, and visually scan the mixing board.
  • Overuse of wireless mics. There's only one advantage that wireless mics have over their hard-wired counterparts: the freedom of movement they afford. But that freedom comes with the cost of dealing with RF interference, drop-out, and battery issues.
  • Too many open microphones. The more open microphones, the greater the risk of feedback. For feedback prevention, proper system equalization using real-time analysis (RTA) is a must. In addition, churches should consider installing some type of electronic feedback eliminator.
  • Source: McDuffie Systems, www.mcduffiesystems.com



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