How loud is your church worship service? Do people complain?
My first experiences with church sound level complaints was pretty flippant. I thought, “Seriously? Have you nothing more important to think about?” However, the truth of the matter is, church volume is something that cannot be ignored. If you have people in your congregation that complain about the volume being too loud, their volume with continue to increase until something happens.
When someone complains about the volume being too high, what’s your first reaction?
- Do you think those at the battle of Jericho complained about the volume?
- Wow! Really? We’ll have to re-check our levels next weekend.
- I’m sorry, let me turn that down for you.
I recommend the second reaction. There’s no need to start a battle. We’ve got more important things to do in the church than bicker about the volume like an old married couple.
The first thing you should do when faced with the too loud crowd, is purchase a decibel checker or sound level meter. It’s the best $70 or so bucks your sound team will ever spend.
Once you’ve acquired your meter, check your levels before service during worship practice from different locations throughout the auditorium. I also suggest testing them in your booth location, as you may want to keep a steady check on the levels throughout the live service. During the service, implore some help and run level checks in various locations throughout the sanctuary. After doing this for a few weeks, you won’t have to do it with as much frequency, as you’ll have a better handle on the room
How Much Is Too Much
Depending on your church’s setup, this may vary from spot to spot. I remember an older couple who would regularly complain about the levels being too high, yet they would always sit right in front of the main speakers! I wasn’t able to completely deal with the complaints until I had some raw numbers on the decibel levels, before suggesting they try different seats due to their proximity.
Although decibel education is a great way to deal with this problem (learn more about decibel levels here), it doesn’t stop their. Remember that different people of different ages are sensitive to different frequencies. It isn’t that older people dislike electric guitars, it’s because electric guitars run a frequency range that can be a problem for those that are older.
If you were hoping for a numeric answer, you’re not going to find it (I used to run my sound at around 80-85 db with peaks in the low 90s). This number is going to vary from church building to church building, congregation to congregation and so on. The most important thing to keep in mind is that as a sound engineer, you are their to design the best experience possible for everyone. If there are those in your church who are uncomfortable, do your best to serve them.
Remember, running the sound board is an act of worship.
What have your experiences been with church worship sound levels?