Do you load in and load out your system every weekend? Does your church meet in a school, movie theater, community center or other location that requires the church to provide the gear?
Portable churches have unique audio gear needs, and the below highlights three custom systems, by budget range, and the reasons why specific gear is selected in each system.
This list was designed around budget and tech skill set. Some churches need to be portable out of necessity, not by choice, and that plays into their budget. Equally, there are portable churches just starting out that don’t have a ton of money to throw at a sound system. I’m also going to assume that the volunteer that’s going to run this has no experience with a sound system.
The Three Custom Audio Systems
There are three categories of portable audio system, and there’s nothing wrong with being in the first one—everyone starts somewhere. Consider each a custom system:
- Bare-bones minimalist (1)
- Value-oriented (2)
- Future-growth optimized (3)
The differences between the three options are simple:
- Option 1 is geared to get something in the church with the knowledge that due to the extreme budget constraints, is only going to last until the church grows to the point where they can afford a proper system.
- Option 2 is geared toward a church that’s in the second phase of their development, which while having tithes coming in, doesn’t leave much room for equipment.
- Option 3 is for the decently-funded church that’s close to getting into a permanent space and wants to plan for the future, or for a church that is looking to expand into a secondary venue.
You can make arguments that Option 1 and 2 are throwing money away, but the reality of those churches in these situations is that if they didn’t get the most affordable option available, they wouldn’t have a sound system. Also, keep in mind that as a church grows it will need more than one sound system, so these options are geared to being repurposed in different rooms.
OPTION 1: Bare-Bones Minimalist.
Budget: $1,000–$3,000 (if you’re lucky).
Avoid purchasing used equipment. Used equipment means you’re rolling the dice. As tempting as it is to purchase, keep in mind that NEW equipment comes with warranties, and you’ll definitely want those.
Portable Sound System (two types):
- All-in-ones such as the Fender Passport or Yamaha StagePass ($399–$699)
- 8-16 channel Analog Board such as the Mackie VLZ, ProX, MIX, Yamaha MG, Soundcraft EPM or A&H Zed ($299–$499)
- Rolls PM, Behringer HA, Art HeadAmp
- Price range: $25–$39 per monitor. Don’t forget the cables to go to the snake!
- Elite Core Audio, ProCo RM
- Price range: $209–$500
- Shure, Sennheiser, Samson (incredible bang for the buck), Audix
- Price range: $49–$99.
- Audio-Technica AT, AKG WMS, VocoPro
- Price range: $199–$499