Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Church sound systems

Awhile back the Associate Pastor at New Church was looking for people to run the sound system during the worship services.  Being a friend of the AP, as well as his Admin Assistant for a few hours a week, I knew that if people didn't step up this job he would wind up stuck in the sound booth every Sunday.  I was familiar with the Sound System at Old Church so I volunteered.

I am beginning to wonder what I have gotten myself into.  At Old Church there were a few people who knew something about sound and they actually ran the system from time to time...or should I say they attempted to corral the system and coax it into working on Sunday mornings (can I get an AMEN from any other church people?).  At New Church they have people who know something about sound who REFUSE TO RUN THE SOUND SYSTEM.  Of course, I did not find out this information until after I was in the sound booth that first morning and one such person came up to adjust something.  Um...okay.  We had a little bit of a chat and he went back to his seat and all was well.  But that was not the only person.  The next time I ran sound it was someone else who had a suggestion...in the  middle of the service and so it goes.

If I thought the sound system at Old Church was bad, nothing compares to New Church.  Just before we started attending the speakers went out.  The speakers are on the ceiling a good 20-25 feet or higher in the air.  In order to change out the speakers, they need to bring in a lift.  In order to change out the speakers, they need money (which seems to be in short supply unless it is a pet project or something that certain people think is important and then, voila! a whole new system will appear...without getting input from anyone who actually runs the system, but that's a whole 'nother blog post!).  A new set of speakers was temporarily installed.  They are on the ground floor, stationed underneath the overhead ledge.  The sound booth is in the balcony. There are people, such as myself, who choose to sit in the balcony.  The main speakers are on the lower level of the sanctuary.  Does anyone else see a problem here?

They have wires and gizmo's and gadgets running everywhere in the sound booth.  And a chair that squeaks each time you move.  When the person at the pulpit mic speaks, the whole system needs to be turned up to the point where feedback is possible at any second.  It gets especially tricky when the person at the pulpit mic is praying.  Because they gradually get softer to the point where the sound person has to turn the mic way up and still they may not be heard.  Of course the microphone for the worship leader works really well and he starts right after the prayer whisperer which means if his mic volume is up at the level it needs to be for while he is singing, well...I'll just say there are some sound operator gymnastics that take place in order for that not to happen.

Let us not forget there are many in the church who need hearing assistance devices and the fun continues.  Argh.

The irony of having sound problems in a church where the main thing that is done is TALKING does not go unnoticed.  Of course the person who notices this is the person who sits in the sound booth coaxing sound out of the board, turning up the volume on prayer whisperers and usually cursing under their breath.  No wonder it is so difficult to find people to run the sound system on Sunday mornings...we put them through hell.

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