Basic Components of a Church Sound System
What equipment do you need for a church sound system? If you have a single person speaking in a small church, you may only need a powered speaker and a microphone. If you also want to pick up sound from the choir, church organ, or other instruments, you will need additional mics and a mixer to combine the sound into a master mix.
You may also want to purchase monitors so that the performers or speaker can hear themselves. Additional equipment is also available to help improve the sound. These items include graphic equalizers, feedback reducers, and compressors. With all this equipment, you are likely to have a lot of cables, which can be organized using a stage box.
Microphones and Speakers Are Essential for Any Sound System
Microphones and speakers are the two items that are needed for any sound system. You need to pick up the sound and then deliver it to the room.
There are many types of microphones. However, dynamic mics are typically recommended for live sound, which makes them suitable for church PA systems. They are versatile and built to withstand damage sustained from getting dropped.
When choosing mics, you also need to choose between lapel mics, headsets, and handheld mics. For individual speakers, the lapel mics and headsets are recommended. The speaker does not need to hold the mic or stand in front of a microphone stand. If you have a backing band or choir, a handheld mic is a preferred choice.
Speakers are also needed. For a basic setup and a limited budget, consider getting a powered speaker that includes inputs for microphones. No other equipment is needed, as the sound goes directly from the mic to the speaker.
Some speakers also include built-in mixers with limited features. These systems may include a few basic effects or a graphic equalizer. However, they do not compare to the full-fledged soundboards for tweaking the sound.
If you do not want the basic setup of a mic and a speaker, you still need speakers. Speakers are either passive or active. Active speakers have built-in amplifiers while passive speakers require connection to an amplifier.
When purchasing passive speakers and amplifiers, you need to ensure that the speaker can handle the power provided by your amplifiers. Luckily, the power ratings are listed in the product descriptions.
Soundboards Are the Core of Your Church Sound System
After the mics and speakers, the mixer is the most essential part of your sound system. While you can find powered speakers that accept one to four XLR inputs from microphones, these basic PA systems lack the features found on a full-fledged soundboard.
Soundboards are either analog or digital. Analog mixers are less expensive, but they are missing some of the features found on digital mixers. With a digital soundboard, you can save settings and enjoy a wide range of effects and equalizer settings.
Some of the main details to look at when choosing a soundboard include the number of channels, the number of inputs, and the types of outputs.
Keep in mind that some of these mixers can be incredibly complicated for novices to master. If the person responsible for managing your church sound system does not have a lot of experience, they may be better off with an analog mixer.
You May Need Additional Equipment for Your Sound System
Besides the mics, speakers, and mixer, there are other items that you may need. While the equipment that you choose depends on your specific needs, many church sound systems include monitors, feedback reducers, graphic equalizers, compressors, and stage boxes to manage all the cables.
Most of the equipment that you purchase will use XLR connectors. These are the standard cables used for connecting microphones to speakers or mixers. Some of the equipment will include the required cables, while others will require you to purchase them separately.
If you find that the mass of cables is creating a tripping hazard, you can use a stage box to simplify the setup. These stage boxes are also called snakes.
They include numerous inputs for connecting your microphones and then one long multicore cable that runs to your mixer. The multicore cable may include multiple outputs on the end.
Monitors are useful for large setups where the performers need to hear themselves properly. Typically, your main speakers are pointed at the audience. The performers do not quite hear the same sound when standing behind the speakers.
Monitors solve this issue. They are basically small speakers that can be pointed at the performers. Like your main speakers, they connect to your mixer or an amplifier. However, they connect to a separate output on the mixer that is included specifically for connecting monitors.
While most mixers have graphic equalizers, some people prefer to add a separate graphic equalizer. This device is positioned between the mixer and the amplifiers. The EQ bands on the mixer are used to adjust the gain on individual channels, while the standalone equalizer allows you to adjust the overall sound.
Feedback reducers are also useful devices. While they are not essential, they help to reduce feedback by monitoring the sound levels from all inputs. The compressor may also help reduce feedback by compressing the loudest sounds.
Along with these items, you may also require microphone stands. Speaker stands are also helpful for positioning the speakers correctly.
Audio playback devices are also sometimes used with church sound systems. These devices include MP3 players, iPods, and laptops. You can connect the device to the sound system to play audio files, CDs, and other audio stored on the computer or audio device.
Conclusion to Basic Components of a Church Sound System
Sound systems for houses of worship can range from all-in-one PA systems to detailed setups that consist of dozens of items. The most basic equipment that you need for a sound system includes microphones and speakers.
If you want more control over the sound, a mixer is also recommended. You may also need microphone and speaker stands, stage boxes, amplifiers, monitors, and other equipment to deliver superior sound. However, you do not need all these items for your initial setup. You can start with the basics and then slowly add to your setup.