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Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

After 15 years of great discussions, the Sweetwater Forums are now closed and preserved as a "read-only" resource. For discussions about current gear, check us out on Facebook, YouTube, inSync, and our Knowledge Base.

Forum for Houses of Worship


As churches grow, so does their need for sound systems. I noticed Yamaha took the time to specifically write a book to be used by houses of worship. My Sweetwater Rep tells me a great deal of business is done with small to medium churches. Clean, crisp sound is just as important to us as with any other venue. We recently updated our entire sound system, and I spent many hours researching mixers, recorders, mics, and speakers. I think a forum that deals with our unique sound needs would be an advantage. I read posts about amping and eq'ing large gymnasiums and I chuckle: try filling a gymnasium with sound that has a cathedral ceiling 20 foot at its peak. Those pesky pews act like hard baffles as well: you get the point. What say ye Sweetwater?
Tom Anderson, IL.
December 13, 2010 @08:51pm

Good idea!
December 13, 2010 @08:56pm

I think it is a potentially good idea. I'd like to reduce the overall number of forums here. I don't think we need as many as we have. Maybe when we restructure we can do something that will address this. As it stands now I would think 90% of your live sound questions could be effectively addressed within the Noise Gate forum.
December 14, 2010 @04:23pm

Das, I could see why mutltiple forums could cause confusion and a great deal of time to maintain. I am appreciative that you give your customers this platform. Perhaps one of your older forums that does not get much traffic could be hi-jacked. Peavey and JBL both are making products specifically marketed to churches. You have to admit our sound needs are very unusual.
December 15, 2010 @12:55am

Perhaps this is an interesting and helpful discussion unto itself. I've mixed in houses of worship. I've installed systems ranging from the simple to the ridiculously complex in them. I've also done lots of other types of sound gigs over the years: corporate events of all shapes and size, club gigs, concerts, festivals in stadiums, orchestras, dramatic productions, on site TV shows, etc. And in just about every imaginable environment. As I think about this I do wonder what really is all that different or unusual about the house of worship aspect when taking all of these into account. I mean, all of these examples are different, and have their unique needs, yet they are still fundamentally similar in many ways.
When you say their needs are very unusual, can you characterize more specifically what you mean (especially with regard to how a separate forum about it would be necessary)? Understand I'm not battling you at all here -- just trying to understand the background thinking a bit more.
December 15, 2010 @01:21pm

I do not see your input as being anything but helpful, and far from being combative. Yes, I stand corrected; forgetting that all sound operators enjoy being in the most impossible environments and are still expected to work miracles. ( Miracles here is used in the most religious sense. lol ) I think the most unique problem we deal with is angular walls and high cathedral ceilings. As with most venues we are dealing with hard surfaces that reflect sound- yet the cathedral ceiling create reflections that are church specific. In addition to the environment; I would like to add products developed specifically for houses of worship such as Peaveys Sanctuary series. A pro and con discussion as well as "what works and what does not." The other topic is recording services- what products. I have been reading many of the forums regarding specific uses of sound reproduction; all are insightful but none deal with our specific needs.
December 17, 2010 @02:13am

Thanks. That helps. I don't know when we'll make any changes, but consider it all noted.
As for church sound, most medium to small churches I've been in have horrible acoustics for a combo band. There really isn't that much that can be done from a PA perspective that will remedy it to any significant degree (assuming the PA and operator are basically decent). The main advice I've had for people is to suggest going with a center cluster and keeping the coverage pattern off the walls and ceiling.
The two biggest things that can be done to help (in my estimation) are to change the acoustics, which is not easy or cheap...and virtually impossible to get past any church board, etc., or to get the band on electronic drums, eliminate (or greatly reduce the volume of) guitar and bass amps, and get the band on in ear monitors. With little to no stage volume to compete with I can get a good mix in any room anywhere under any circumstances. As soon as you introduce acoustic drums and/or stage monitors in those rooms you lose nearly all control, and everything else has to compete with that. It quickly turns into cacophony.
December 20, 2010 @02:23pm

I am going to try something on the radical side in regards to monitors. First I have absolutely no idea who is hearing what- I have tried to get the stage to communicate via hand signals; perhaps another forum itself: ( standardized hand signals so the operator can discern what you are hearing.) We have four new Mackie C-200's coming in this week. The old Peavey long throws have to go- our former sound guy bless his heart; knew nothing about spatial speakers. Secondly I ask the deacons to spring for a good set of headphones so I can monitor the monitors.
I am going to mount the monitors on the wall; projecting down to the stage with partial coverage in the front rows. The PA speakers I am moving to the rear to project to the front. Quasi Moto surround sound. I hope to get the volume down; I currently have to throw sound 60' to cover the rear- reflection city. I am going to set them up higher and angle them down, in hopes of losing the cathedral ceiling reverb effect. I have Eq'd from mid to high trying to lose the hollowness I am hearing and came to the conclusion it is reflection.
December 22, 2010 @02:25am

Let us know how it works out. Just keep in mind, every speaker you add contributes to the cacophony. Ideally you want to try to meet your needs with the minimal number of drivers, especially in a bad room.
December 22, 2010 @01:31pm

In did the wild thing; I took the monitors off the floor. We purchased 4 Mackie c-200's; two for the mains and two for monitors. I wanted the same tonal quality from all sound sources. I think part of the original problem was long throw mains and near field monitors. Obviously tonal quality changed pending where you were seated with these older speakers. By using all the same speaker style; the EQ, compression and effects are produced identically from the mains and the monitors.
Because of the room parameters; the main area being 40 x 60 square with a recessed area 16 x 24 being the platform. I mounted the monitors 10' above the stage (15 degree downward); 3 foot out from the rear wall on the side walls. Mackie's are spatial in regards to sound field, so I was careful to keep the angle away from direct reflection off the side walls. I also realigned the output on our Yammy mixer to disable the main fader and to utilize Aux1 as the monitor main and aux2 as the PA main. This allowed me to keep the monitor level about 25% lower than the main PA, knowing they would be throwing sound out into the main area. Taking the monitors off the floor also helped with freeing up walk areas.
The placement of the monitors also by nature created a natural reverb; so I dialed back effects to compensate what they produced. The main PA set on the main walls in front of the recess on both sides. Again I put them higher up on the walls and pitched them downward. The effort in placing the mains and the monitors higher and directing them downward was to help minimize the "cathedral" ceiling reverb most older churches have to deal with. The added benefit is total coverage of the stage with wall mounted monitors as well as the monitors acting as a center channel in conjunction with the mains.
The side bonus is the monitors being twice the distance from the mics as compared to the typical floor monitor placements. Further away means more gain with no feedback. With the dispersement pattern of the Mackies being 80 x 90 and spatial in nature; we have a very clean sound pattern evenly dispersed throughout the platform and main seating area. For churches with this type of typical seating layout I would certainly recommend they give this a try. With the little reflection we have left; I am actually incorporating as part of the "effects." With all the speakers being utilized as part of the overall sound production; the volume can be dialed back as well.
optix52- Tom
December 28, 2010 @03:56pm

In our church we have a small closet at the back of the stage. We put a amp in there and miced it when we have a player who demands a amp. Bass is direct and guitar most of the time is pedal board to di. We are blessed with in ear and has reduced monitor levels for singers to the no problem level.
January 23, 2011 @06:50pm