Audio visual systems are a common feature of the modern world and can be found everywhere from airports to grocery stores. Yet few places can benefit from a good AV system quite as much as a church. Old, outdated, or incorrectly sized AV systems can make it difficult for parishioners to clearly hear speakers at the podium.
Although designing a well-working AV system may not seem like such a difficult task, the open acoustic space of a church often makes things more difficult than you realize. If you would like to learn more about what it takes to correctly design a church AV system, keep reading. This article takes a closer look at three key considerations to keep in mind.
1. Speaker Placement
Few factors play as heavily into the overall performance of your AV system as the placement of your loudspeakers. Even with an adequate volume level, incorrect speaker placement can make it difficult for parishioners to hear clearly enunciated speech. Most experts agree that a central cluster of speakers provides the best results while minimizing unwanted sound wave reflections.
Yet a central speaker cluster doesn't always work for larger churches. Those sitting near the wings will be at something of a hearing disadvantage, thanks to their increased distance from the speakers. In that case, having speakers on the left and right sides may ensure better overall coverage.
Just be aware that the sound waves from each set of speakers will arrive at slightly different times for those who aren't sitting in the exact center of the church. This factor can contribute to making speech less audible. Select speakers that have a narrower sound coverage pattern to minimize the amount of left-right bleed.
2. Mono Vs Stereo
AV systems comes in two basic formats: mono and stereo. A mono system means that the exact same material issues from all of the speakers. In a stereo setup, by contrast, sound material varies from left to right. Many churches favor a mono setup, since it means that all parishioners will hear the exact same thing, regardless of where they happen to be sitting.
With stereo, those sitting near the wings may have a hard time hearing material from the opposing side of the speaker system. However, stereo becomes more advantageous for churches that rely on pre-recorded source material played from CDs or mp3 files. Most of these sources contain stereo signals. Stereo music, in particular, may not sound entirely correct coming out of a mono system.
3. Sound Booth Location
The mixing board and other sound controllers make their home inside of the sound booth. Here an operator can make alterations to volume levels and other factors, thus ensuring ideal sound conditions inside of the church. Of course, in order to know what changes to make, the operator - and hence the sound booth - must be located within line of sight of the speakers.
In other words, the sound booth operator must be able to hear what the parishioners hear. If the sound booth has a location outside of the main sound stage, the sounds that reach the operator may be softer and/or muddier. This imprecise sound information may cause them to make changes that don't benefit those in the audience.
Churches frequently place sound booths one of three places: in the wings, up on a balcony, or at the back of the main floor. If possible, try to choose a central location. Likewise, orient the booth so that the operator faces the pulpit while standing at the sound board.
Ensuring audible and clear AV sound should be a high priority for every church. For more information on what it takes to get the best audio setup for your church, please contact the AV experts at Creative Acoustics.