Are you running sound at a small church or a new start-up church? If so, chances are you’re struggling with the sound system. I’ve seen a lot of “inventive” systems cobbled together by well-meaning folks and believe it’s time to toss out a life-line. I’ve put together a list of the essential pieces of sound gear for a small church. Because most small churches don’t have much of a tech budget, I’m not going to be specifying high-end equipment. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have pro-quality and tour-grade gear. I want you to have good gear—I’m NOT here to say it’s OK to buy bargain-basement gear. (A quick note; these are personal preferences. Your mileage may vary.)
The basic sound gear components needed for a small church with a contemporary service are:
[drum roll, please]:
- Mixer: 16-24 channel analog mixer with four or more auxiliary sends or a 16-24 channel digital mixer.
- Cable snake: 16-24 channels with four or more auxiliary returns, 100-150 ft. snake—whatever gets you from the stage to the booth.
- Two 15-inch three-way powered speakers for front of house (same brand and model line as the subs).
- One or two 18-inch powered subwoofers (same brand and model line as the mains).
- One 1/3-octave equalizer for front of house (not needed with a digital mixer).
- One 2-channel compressor for pastor and one other channel (could be lead vocal or guest mic) (not needed with a digital mixer).
- Either four powered stage monitor wedge speakers or four in-ear monitor systems.
- Four to six vocal mics.
- Kick drum mic.
- Four instrument mics.
- Mic cables.
- Pastor wireless headset mic.
- Mic stands (regular and shorty).
- Furman power conditioner for the equipment at the sound booth.
Alrighty then. Now that I’ve defined what I consider the minimum requirements for sound gear, let me start unpacking why. Below, I’ve highlighted details behind some of this sound gear. It contains a good bit of brands to avoid and highlights a few for consideration.
16-24 channel with four or more auxiliary sends analog mixer or a 16, 24 or, yes, even 32 channel digital mixer.
Here’s what a typical lineup of channels might look like:
- Kick drum
- Drum Overhead
- Bass Guitar
- Acoustic Guitar
- Electric Guitar
- Extra Instrument
- Lead Vocal
- Backing Vocal
- Backing Vocal
- Pastor mic
- Extra mic
Even though I show four mics for drums (ch. 1-4), I usually recommend just miking the kick drum and the snare in a live room. Now if you have a really dead room or you have a huge building, then use all four mics. If not, you have three channels that are now open. As you can see, there are enough channels for a typical contemporary band. If you have a choir, then you may need more than 16 channels and may need to look at a 24 channel board.