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Church Sound Gear Selection and Set-up

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Before you even start shopping for a sound gear, it’s important to remember that no sound system is complete without speakers. (There are some preliminary steps you can read about here.) Therefore, your first step in building a church sound system should be choosing which type of speaker will work best with the worship style and musical requirements of your congregation.

1. Choose a speaker system

There are two types of speakers to consider when beginning the process of selecting sound gear. You can choose passive or active units, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. An example would be that an active speaker is self-contained with regard to power amplification while a passive speaker requires external amplification in order to function.

Active speakers also tend to cost more than an equivalent set of passive speakers would, but they do offer some other advantages as well. For example, you can set up multiple active speakers in different areas of the room and control their volume independently.

Passive speakers are less expensive but do not offer as much flexibility when it comes to controlling sound output. While it is possible to place multiple passive speakers around the room, they cannot be adjusted independently of each other without using an external amplifier for power and volume control.

The main advantage that active units have over their passive counterparts is flexibility; however, if simplicity trumps flexibility in your book then you may want to choose a set of passive speakers.

Passive speakers are ideal for churches that have a limited budget, or those who do not want to be burdened by the unnecessary complexity of an active speaker setup. Whichever option you choose will depend on your unique situation and what needs need to be met in order for you to accomplish your goals.

2. Choosing Microphones

Once you’ve decided on the type of speaker system you need, it’s time to choose microphones. There are two main types of microphones that can be used with a sound system – dynamic and condenser. Each has its own individual advantages as well as limitations so deciding which one will work best for your specific situation is important.

Dynamic mics

Dynamic microphones are the more affordable option, but they do have some limitations. Dynamic mics are less sensitive than condenser models so they pick up less background noise and require a higher sound pressure level (SPL) to operate effectively.

On the other hand, they are more durable and can handle high SPLs which is important if you’re going to be using them for a live performance.

Due to their flexibility and affordability, dynamic mics are a popular choice for instrumentalists who do not want or need an extremely sensitive microphone that will pick up every nuance of their performance.

Condenser mics

Condenser microphones are known for being extremely sensitive, which is why they are often used to record vocals and acoustic instruments. This high sensitivity means that condensers will pick up background noise much easier than dynamic models; however, modern technology has made it possible to adjust the microphone’s settings so that background noise is not as much of a problem.

In addition to being extremely sensitive, condenser microphones are also very fragile and more expensive than their dynamic counterparts. Because of this, they tend to be the choice for singers who want an exceptionally clear recording of their voice during practice or performance.

3. Choosing A Mixer

The mixer you choose will depend on the number and types of speakers and microphones that you’ve decided to use. It’s important for all of your speaker wires to match up with the inputs on your mixer so make sure everything is compatible before making a purchase.

If you choose to go with a passive speaker system, then your mixer will need an external power amplification source.

Most mixers also come equipped with onboard EQ and effects so that the sound coming from each individual speaker can be tweaked as necessary during installation or performance.

The number of microphones, instruments and other audio sources will determine how many channels the mixer needs to have. If you only need a few channels and your sound system is relatively basic, then an entry-level mixer should be sufficient for your needs.

Entry-level mixers are usually intended for smaller groups or solo performers who don’t require any extra bells and whistles on their sound equipment. Most models in this range come with onboard equalization as well as some effects processing which can be helpful for adjusting vocals or instrument sounds.

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Duke Taber has been a Senior Pastor of various churches since 1988. Prior to that, he was involved in the Christian rock scene opening for such notables as Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Rez Band, and once played briefly with Darrel Mansfield. Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world. Currently he is serving as a Technology Consultant for Living Waters Fellowship In Mesquite NV.