The purpose of the sound system in your worship service is to make sure that all members of your congregation can hear the service clearly and pleasantly. Your equipment should also be accurate and easy to use to make life easy for speakers and performer. But what if you could use your system to do even more than these two primary tasks? Here are five tools that will help you provide the basics – and beyond.
MICROPHONES: Good mics are a priority for any service. Having both wired and wireless options will give you both the reliability and flexibility that you need to please every speaker, singer, or performer that you encounter.
PORTABLE SOUND SYSTEM: Having a smaller PA system will let you put on outdoor parties, meetings, intimate events, or even simultaneous sessions with a professional touch. A portable PA can also serve as a valuable emergency back-up in case there is an issue with your primary system.
RECORDING SOFTWARE: Making and sharing recordings of services had become common since cassettes first made it easy and affordable. This process is still valuable: It can create materials for marketing, reference or studying, and simply preserves the history and offers reminders of great events at your facility. Today, it’s easy to stream worship services, and even create podcasts on special topics for others to download. You can host these files yourself on your own website, or you use other options:
- iTunes – It’s easy to set up an account the iTunes store, upload your .mp3 file, add a title and description, and a link to your website on your iTunes store page.
- SermonCloud – In addition to iTunes, you can try this free mp3 hosting site exclusively for churches. Users can stream your files, and subscribe to and comment on your content.
AMPLIFIERS, SPEAKERS, AND MONITORS: Amplifiers are essential, as they determine the overall power of your church’s sound system. The power rating of an amplifier is listed in watts. To hear a noticeable difference in loudness, you usually need to double the power of the amplifiers behind your speakers. For example, there will be a noticeable difference between 400 watts and 800 watts, but not much between 400 watts and 440 watts. Keep this in mind when you are comparing the power levels and features of different amplifiers.
Monitors are the speakers positioned at the foot of the stage that performers use to hear themselves and each other. You can have one shared monitor or many – each performer may want to hear something slightly different, but each monitor mix will require separate settings and possibly separate equipment.
Professional speakers are designed to project sound much further than your home stereo system. Larger speakers can provide a fuller sound. They require more powerful amplifiers, but with a larger, more powerful system you can have both great sound and excellent coverage.
VIDEO INTEGRATION TOOLS: Multi camera recording, production and online streaming has become popular for many worship services, as has showing videos during services or events. Capturing your services and making them available online or via DVD will please your current congregation and serve as a powerful outreach tool. Video recording, projection, lighting systems, and the ability to play CDs and DVDs are essential tools and functions that must be integrated with your existing audio system in order to produce high-quality results.
Where to Save and Where to Invest
Most houses of worship don’t have an unlimited budget for gear, and need to get the most out of the equipment they already have. Thankfully, tools like older speakers can still be used, even with newer audio producing equipment (such as TVs, cable boxes, CD players, and computers) that only outputs audio signals through digital optical connections. There are many converters available that will allow you to bridge your legacy sound system with digital sources.
The most important tool that you can have, however, is well-trained staff. To make sure that you are making investments that will truly pay off, consider using part of your equipment budget to let your staff (or volunteers) learn from industry experts at events like the upcoming Worship Facilities Conference and Expo. This conference offers a track in Tech Arts that will give your team with “new ideas, techniques and skills related to audio, video, lighting and streaming so you can make an immediate impact when you return.” Full Compass’s own audio training expert, Kevin Peckham, will be sharing his knowledge as part of that conference as well.
Interested in hearing what Kevin has to say? Sign up for the WFX show, or watch his WFX presentation here.