3 Portable Church Sound Systems for Every Budget

Brand and Model Notes

The X32/M32 are identical operating systems. The X32 currently delivers the best bang for the buck. With digi-boards, things are constantly changing. So much so that by the time this article is six months old, things will have already changed.

Powered speakers will help with setup and teardown and reduce the complexity and time. Keep in mind that you need an electrical source close to the speakers or that you use a heavy-gauge/heavy-duty extension cord. Plug them into a Furman on-stage surge protector strip. Do NOT plug them into a Furman or similar rack mount power unit. You’ll probably draw more power than the unit will tolerate without shutting down.

You can’t go wrong with any of these mic brands. Stay away from the bargain side of the models though. I read somewhere that 90 percent of all the world’s music facilities are tuned for the characteristics of the Shure SM57/58 models. They aren’t sexy, but they are reliable and you should always have a couple in your mic locker. The Sennheiser E385 is another venerable mic. Try to avoid using a condenser or ribbon mic on-stage except for overheads. Condensers are extremely sensitive, and while they can sound incredible, they will pick up EVERYTHING around them.

Look to digital wireless microphones because digital doesn’t compress the signal and you get a wired dynamic range without the wire. They also operate in the 2.4Ghz range and are pretty interference free. It’s another area in a major state of expansion, so do your research. Same brands are above.

OPTION 3: Future-Growth Optimized

Budget: $10,000+

At this level, most techs know what they’re doing and have a pretty good handle on the technical needs of the church. You’re either repurposing parts of Option 1 or 2 or are building a Pro-level system.

Audio Mixers:

Digital Snake:

  • These boards have corresponding digital snakes.
  • Cost: $3,000–$5,000

In-Ear Systems:

  • Same as OPTION 2 (Aviom, Allen-Heath ME1, Elite Core, Behringer P16) but usually running in stereo mode. Quite likely, you’ll be using the systems in conjunction with wireless in-ears from Shure and Sennheiser.
  • Cost: $2,000–$5,000

Microphones:

  • Any Pro-level model. At this stage, you should know what mics work for you.
  • Cost: $100–$900.

A Final Note

My experience has shown that through evaluating a church’s expectations against their budget, these three outlined systems meet the common needs of most portable churches.

This list is by no means exhaustive but is meant as a general high-level guide to get you thinking about your unique needs. The brands and models I’ve mentioned are ONES I’VE USED OVER MY CAREER AND TRUST. There are other brands and models that are equally good that I haven’t used. So, do your own research and base your decisions on the facts and not the marketing hype. I’ve linked out to a few brands and models in this post to get you started.  

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Brian Gowing
Brian Gowing has helped over 30 churches meet their technology requirements. Brian works towards shepherding the church, analyzing their technical requirements, sourcing the equipment, installing the equipment and training the volunteer personnel. As he likes to say ‘equipping the saints with technology to help spread the Good News.’