How To Setup A Sound System For Church
How do you set up a professional sound system and what equipment do you need?
The equipment and setup depend on the location and the type of production. For example, live sound for a church service or a rock concert has different requirements. However, almost any quality sound system includes microphones, audio mixers, and monitors along with other essential items.
Select the Right Microphones for Your Church
Whether you are setting up a sound system for a concert in a park or a small public-speaking engagement in a bookshop, or even for a church, you need at least one microphone.
For music performances, you will likely want a dynamic microphone, which offers high sound pressure levels. A high SPL helps to reduce transient sounds and pops from movement on stage.
Between the mic cables and the speaker cables, you are going to have a lot of cabling running across the stage. To help eliminate this clutter, most sound engineers choose to use stage snakes. Stage snakes or stage boxes are compact boxes with a series of cables for connecting mics to the mixer. The microphones are connected to the stage box while the stage box is connected to the mic input on the audio mixer.
If you have a limited setup, you may not need a stage box. For those with just a few mics, you may simply connect the mics directly to the mixer.
You also have the option of connecting amplifier mics from instruments directly to speakers. For a solo artist with a single instrument, this option allows you to quickly set up your sound system in a small venue without the need for extra gear. However, you will not have the option of adjusting the sound through a mixer before sending it to the speaker.
Find a Suitable Mixer for Your Sound System
The microphones are connected to an audio mixer that includes multiple inputs. Most of the inputs typically feature microphone pre-amplifiers. These pre-amps help increase the signal from the mics.
When choosing an audio mixer for your PA system, the most important consideration is the number of inputs and channels that it offers. You will want at least one channel for each instrument and performer and one input for each microphone.
For example, you may need eight to twelve microphones for a typical drum kit. However, these mics do not need twelve different channels. You should also consider the use of stage boxes. With a stage box, you can connect multiple microphones before sending them to a single input on the mixer.
Along with the number of inputs and channels, you should consider the number of outputs, EQ settings, and effects. Most mixers include outputs for your main speakers. You will need at least two outputs unless you plan on connecting additional speakers and monitors.
The EQ settings and effects may be needed to adjust the overall sound delivered to the speakers. Depending on the venue, you may need to tweak settings to control the reverb or to create a specific sound.
Digital mixers tend to have more equalizer and effects settings, including the option to recall your settings for later use, which can save time setting up your sound system for different performances or worship teams and leaders.
Connect Your Speakers and Monitors
The audio mixer needs to send sound somewhere. In a studio, the mixer may be connected to recording equipment. However, for a live sound system, the mixer is typically connected to front-of-house (FOH) speakers and monitors.
The speakers may also require power amplifiers. However, the best audio mixers use power amplifiers to help reduce the amount of gear on stage. You may also avoid the need for power amplifiers by choosing active speakers.
The speakers that you choose are either active or passive. The passive speakers require amplification and additional cables to connect everything. Active speakers have amplifiers built in so you simply need to connect the mixer directly to the speaker.
Connecting the speakers is a straightforward process. You run the cables from the outputs on the mixer to the inputs on the speaker. If you have a separate power amplifier, the cables go from the mixer to the amp to the speaker. However, you may also need to adjust the levels and consider the placement of the cables.
Besides the loudspeakers, you may also have monitors on the stage for the performers to hear themselves. These monitors are typically connected via the auxiliary outputs on the mixer.
After connecting your speakers, your sound system is almost complete. The mics should be connected to a stage box or directly to the mixer. The mixer is then connected to a power amplifier, to an equalizer, or directly to the speakers and monitors. However, you still need to test the sound and adjust your settings.
Setting up a Sound System Requires Planning
In the end, setting up a professional sound system is not always easy. There are a lot of factors that you need to consider, including the size of the church, the number of performers, and the type of performance. For each event, you need to evaluate your needs.
The first details to consider include the selection of microphones. For a musical performance, each member of a band likely needs his or her own microphone. Some instruments may even require multiple mics. For church services, theatre, and public speaking, lapel mics may be more convenient.
The microphones need to connect to a mixer. The audio mixer allows you to tweak the sound coming from each mic to edit the overall sound delivered to the speakers and monitors. You may also need stage boxes for connecting the various equipment without cluttering the stage.
The mixer may connect directly to the speakers if you use active speakers. If you choose passive speakers, an amplifier may be added between the mixer and the speakers.
With these pieces of equipment connected, you are ready to begin to sound checks. Keep in mind that setting up this equipment may take several hours, especially for beginners. Before each event, ensure that you give yourself enough time to test your connections.