PA systems are designed primarily to help the congregation hear the spoken word: sermons, readings and testimonies – and music; both live and pre-recorded. Any PA system comprises key links in the ‘audio chain’ including – input, control, amplification and output. Like a chain, any weak link will reduce the overall effectiveness of the system.
Unfortunately Church sound reinforcement does not offer a ‘one size fits all’ type system. The many differing styles of building and the needs of congregations, vary enormously. Understanding what you as a church would like to achieve with your PA system will enable you to make the right decisions when it comes to choosing. Key factors to consider are; versatility and flexibility, and simplicity of use. For example, systems can be very simple to operate but not offer much in the way of flexibility, conversely a complex system will be versatile but often require training to operate. These and many options in-between influence budget so it is worth considering what you can reasonably achieve on a given budget. More money and equipment does not necessarily offer better sound quality without proper integration and training but a very limited budget will inevitably produce limited results and can often be a false economy.
Hints & Tips:
Loudspeakers must offer sound coverage to the congregation
Speakers should be forward of the microphone positions to prevent feedback (howling)
Choose the right microphone for the job – not all mics work the same way!
Ensure the PA operator is well positioned to hear what the congregation can hear
System setup is at least as important as the equipment of which it comprises
A sound system is only as good as it’s weakest link – e.g. poor mics will usually sound poor!
More microphones equals more potential for feedback (howling)
A good sound system will often go unnoticed by the listener!
PROs & CONs
Enhance the Worship – be heard!
Improve clarity of music/voice
Link other rooms eg. crèche
Record services for distribution
Can be very easy to operate
Engage whole congregation
Listed buildings usually require approval (Faculty etc)
Best solution may be beyond budget
Cheap ‘solutions’ can be worse than none!
Any Sound System is only as good as it’s weakest link – this includes product type, quality, setup, configuration and the experience of the sound operators! – if in doubt, ask!