How to Connect A Church Sound System

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How do you set up a sound system for a church? The exact setup depends on the equipment. However, the most basic setup includes microphones that are connected to a mixer. The mixer is then connected to the power amplifiers that deliver the sound and power to the speakers.

With multiple microphones, you may also need to connect a stage box, which goes between the mics and the mixer and provides easier cable management. Using a graphic equalizer is also recommended. This piece of equipment goes between the mixer and the power amplifier and helps deliver more accurate sound.

Deliver Sound from the Microphone to the Speaker

When setting up a sound system, sound travels from one piece of equipment to the next. While there are many items that you can add to your set up, a basic sound system only requires the following essential equipment:

  • Microphones
  • Mixer
  • Amplifiers
  • Speakers

The sound is simplify getting sent through these pieces of equipment in a specific order. The microphones pick up the sound, which is sent to the mixer or a pre-amplifier built into the mixer.

After mixing the microphone inputs into a single master mix, the sound is sent to the amplifiers. The amplifiers amplify the signal before sending the master mix to the speakers.

Some churches also choose to use monitors. Monitors are speakers that are positioned in front of the performers, which allow them to hear the sound.

Connecting these items is simple. The hard part is deciding how to position the microphone and how to adjust the sound on the mixer.

You should start with the microphones. They need to be positioned close to the performers or instruments. However, you also want to avoid placing the mics close enough that they pick up the same sound.

Estimate the best position for the microphones and connect them to your mixer. Connect the mixer to the power amplifier for the speakers and the amplifier to the speakers.

When these connections are set up, test the sound from each microphone individually. Have someone stand in front of one mic speak it into it. If you detect noise from the adjacent mics, they need to be repositioned.

Use Stage Boxes to Manage Cables for the Sound System

You may also need to purchase cables for connecting all of this equipment. Most professional audio equipment uses the standard XLR connector. This connector is easy to identify due to the three pins.

Instead of the XLR connector, some equipment uses the smaller TRS connector, which comes in 1/4-inch or 1/8-inch jacks. When purchasing a TRS cord, double check the input and output jack size to ensure that you purchase the right cord.

If your church sound system requires more than a few microphones, a stage box can help you manage the cables.

Stage boxes are also called snakes. They are constructed from metal and often include 16 to 32 XLR connectors. Instead of plugging the microphones into the mixer, you plug the mics into the stage box.

The stage box also includes a long multicore cable, which is a group of cables combined in one rubber jacket. At the end of this cable is a series of XLR connectors that plug into the mixer.

A standard stage box may have between four to eight male XLR connectors that connect to the mixer. The main purpose of this box is to simplify your cable management and allow you to position the mixer further away from the platform or stage.

Stage boxes rarely include the same number of male and female XLR connections. A stage box may contain 16 female XLR connectors for up to 16 microphones and just 4 male XLR connectors for connecting to your mixer.

When setting up the stage box, you need to group microphones together based on their sound, as four or more mics may get sent through one channel to the mixer.

For example, you may place all the microphones in front of the choir on a single channel and the church organ on a separate channel.

Connecting a Graphic Equalizer to Your Sound System

Along with microphones, a stage box, a mixer, a power amplifier, and speakers, you may want to add a graphic equalizer to your church sound system.

While a graphic equalizer is a standard feature found on mixers, the EQ settings are applied to individual channels. If you want to tweak the sound of the master mix, you need a separate graphics equalizer. Using this separate EQ can help reduce feedback and improve the overall sound.

The graphic equalizer is connected to the output on the mixer, instead of sending sound straight from the mixer to the power amplifiers. The equalizer then connects to the power amplifiers.

When you first connect the equalizer, you need to adjust the sound. With a digital equalizer, set all the EQ bands to zero. If the EQ has sliders, position the sliders in the middle. This allows the sound to travel through the EQ without any changes.

Listen to the audio coming through the speakers. If you want to increase or decrease the treble or bass, you can easily adjust the equalizer as needed. When you get the sound right, increase the master volume on the equalizer to the desired level.

Conclusion

The process for setting up a sound system for a church depends on the equipment that you use. With a basic sound system setup, you can connect a single microphone to a powered speaker. With multiple mics, a mixer is typically used, which may also require the use of a powered amplifier, an equalizer, and a stage box.

The microphones often have XLR connectors, which plug into the stage box. The stage box then delivers the sound from the mics to the mixer. The mixer connects to the graphic equalizer. This device helps flatten the frequency to deliver accurate sound from your master mix. The master is then sent to the power amplifiers to increase the signal before sending the sound to the speakers.

Sources

https://www.prosoundweb.com/channels/church/mixer_connections_38_operation/

https://www.mediacollege.com/audio/microphones/placement.html

https://www.crutchfield.com/ISEO-rgbtcspd/learn/pro-audio-live-sound-cable-shopping-guide.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stage_box

https://www.wikihow.com/Use-a-Graphic-Equalizer

Duke Taber has been a Senior Pastor of various churches since 1988. Prior to that, he was involved in the Christian rock scene opening for such notables as Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Rez Band, and once played briefly with Darrel Mansfield. Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.