How to Set up Church Speakers

Tips on how to properly position speakers for church sound systems.

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A third set of loudspeakers will have to be delayed at yet a different setting to coincide with the sound emanating from the first two sets of loudspeakers.

In this manner, all sound source material reaches the ears of the listener at the exact same moment in time, regardless of how far back they are seated in the room, thereby maintaining speech intelligibility.

Though a church may have adequate ceiling height, if the room is very deep, it’s still advisable to use multiple loudspeaker placements on delay lines. Even if the chancel mains could be turned up loud enough to be heard at the back of the room, the sense of distance is audible (due to wall and ceiling reflections) and intelligibility is again adversely affected.

How to Minimize Feedback
Despite the general public’s degree of sophistication in regards to quality audio, it’s not commonly understood that microphones need to be out of the live sound field whenever possible to minimize feedback and annoying lingering overtones.

Keep loudspeaker enclosures in front of the mics, not behind them. Almost all pastors wear wireless mics, and many like to move about the room while speaking. A good church sound operator will be able to provide equalization so this may be done.

Keep Monitor Sound Confined to Chancel Riser
Monitor loudspeakers are a wonderful benefit for the performers using them, but they can have a deleterious effect on the sound.

If the monitors are positioned so that the monitor mix bounces off the back of the chancel and reflects back out to the congregation, it’s now combining at a different time interval with the sanctuary main mix, and we have adversely affected the speech intelligibility we had been striving so hard to create out front.

How Loud Should Monitors Be?
Monitors should be just loud enough to keep the performers comfortable. If the monitors are too loud in relationship to the main loudspeakers, no amount of positioning will help maintain clarity in the general seating area.

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Since many praise band players are now middle-aged veterans of once-youthful rock bands, gently remind them that the purpose of the monitor line is to lend support and enunciation so that they may execute the material more perfectly.

If the monitors are intended to provide a studio-perfect mix of all instruments and voices for the listening enjoyment of the players, then the church will need to be blessed with highly experienced and adequately funded audio technicians. Many larger churches in metropolitan areas are able to create this benefit for the praise musicians.

This article was originally posted on April 12, 2011 and republished with permission from ProSoundWeb.