Getting a Good Sound in Your Church
Having New Equipment Doesn't Guarantee A Good Sound
With so many churches now investing in high quality P.A. and sound equipment to deliver their message, the need for training has never been greater. All too often large sums of money are invested by the church and yet still the sound is not right. It can be very frustrating for all involved when due to lack of training, issues with the sound still occur. Typical problems can include mics not working properly, feeding back and in some cases dropping out altogether. Stage monitors can often be difficult to get right and if musicians are using radio mics or in ear monitors these too can suffer with interference and drop out. Everyone wants to be heard but with too many mics the sound can be harder to control and again dreaded feedback can rear its head.
There is no doubt having good quality mics and speakers does make a difference but not every church can afford them and often equipment improvements occur as funds allow. This can lead to new speakers being connected to old and unsuitable amps which in turn distort and again ruin the sound. As all church acoustics are different selecting the right loud speakers is essential. With so many makes and models to choose from what works well in one church may sound awful in another. Replacing an old, small speaker with a new, larger full range model may seem the obvious thing to do but sometimes that bigger, louder sound creates too much low end and reverberation. Having stage monitors is great for the musicians but only if they are set up correctly and sound clear. If there are too many they can interfere with the main speakers and also feed the sound back into the mics.
Digital mixers are being more widely used than ever before however they are often very technical to use and if the operator is not fully conversant with it then it’s very easy to make mistakes. These desks offer a multitude of functions, as well as the standard gain control and faders they have comprehensive paramedic EQ, graphic equalisers, DCA’s, mute groups, compressors, gates, effects, multiple busses, all of which can sound like mumbo jumbo to most people. The problem is unless you understand of all these functions, then rather than making the sound better it’s very easy to make it worse.
That said one shouldn’t let this put you off as modern digital mixers offer a fantastic range of tools for improving the sound and controlling the mix and with a day’s training even a complete novice can be getting to grips with the sound.
Many different mics are used in churches with some preferring to wear a lapel radio mic, rather than always having to talk into a lectern one. Others prefer to use handheld mics whilst others might choose to wear a headworn mic. All of these have their pro’s and cons and if set up and controlled correctly can sound great but again if not can cause clarity and feedback problems. Radio lapel mics are very popular as they allow the individual to freely walk about however if they walk too near to the speakers the sound can start to squeal as the sound feeds back. With good training the correct levels and equalisation can be set to improve clarity and prevent feedback, all of which leads to a much better listening experience.
Working with musicians can be challenging as you are often rushed for time to get them connected and playing through the system. Every instrument is different and if real drums are being used they can dominate the sound, forcing the vocals to be pushed into feedback. A simple solution is a drum screen which can lower the volume so a clearer mix can be achieved and stage monitors don’t have to be pushed so hard.
The Good News!
With all this equipment and the potential problems it’s easy to think why bother!, however with a day’s training the sound can be transformed.
Here at Base Sound we have been providing live sound engineering training for over 20 years and during that time have taught thousands of people from all walks of life on how to mix and control live sound.
You don’t require any previous experience and don’t need to take a degree course to understand it. We provide 1, 2 and 4 day training sessions to give you the essential skills to start mixing straight away. Many people have just one day with us and we offer on-site group training so you can learn on your own equipment.
With just one day’s training you can learn:
* Sound System Connectivity and Set Up
* Types of Mics, their Applications, Setting Up and Positioning
* Understanding and using the Mixing Desk
* Improving Vocal and Instrument Clarity using EQ
* Gain Structure, EQ, Signal Routing, Groups, Matrix etc
* Eliminating Feedback
* Setting up Stage Monitors
* Using Gates, Compressors and Effects
* Connecting and using your iPad or Tablet to mix from
For more information on how we can help please visit www.basesound.co.uk
If you are looking to update your system there are many things to consider such as the size of space, room acoustics, number of speakers, positioning, musician requirements, number of mics, mix position, future expansion etc.
We can also provide consultation on the best choices for your venue and supply and install it as well.
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Written by Howard Williams owner and trainer for Base Sound, a company specialising in 1,2 and 4 day live sound engineering courses and One to One sound engineering training - www.basesound.co.uk