How Does Your Service Rate?
By: Chris Huff
Iíve visited different churches this year and found myself analyzing the audio aspects the minute I walk in the door. Iím not talking just the mix. Here, Iím listing out the 15 points I check. Review your last service against this list.
1. Does the tech booth look chaotic five minutes before the service? Is anyone in the booth five minutes before the service? Last minute stuff comes up but it shouldnít come up before every service.
2. Right before the service, is anyone doing production work on the stage? When people start filling the sanctuary, they should feel the church is ready for them.
3. Could the stage be cleaner? A messy stage can be a distraction for some people.
4. Is the pastor fumbling with the wireless pack before the service? The pastor should be comfortable handling their own microphone. If they arenít, they need a short training or someone to help them with it.
5. Are the speakers in a good location? Bad installation locations result in a bad sound. Iíve seen speakers placed with one side right up to the wall.
6. Is the sound booth in a good location so the tech is in-line with the main loud speakers? Poor booth location puts the tech in a spot where they must mix for the location. This mean it has to sound wrong for it to sound right for most of the congregation
7. Did the service start with a missed mic cue? This sort of problem gets the congregation distracted from the beginning. They worry it might be a sign of bad things to come.
8. Can the pastor or other speaker be clearly heard and understood? This means theyíre at the right volume but also the EQ work ensures they can be understood. Thereís a difference.
9. Is the worship band mixed in layers with instruments supporting each other, clearly separated, and with the vocals sitting on top? Thatís self-explanatory,
10. Does any part of the band wash out too far into the sanctuary? For example, guitar amp sound, drum sound, or floor wedge sound. Stage volume can destroy a great house mix.
11. How does the congregation react to the music? Do they worship in their own way or does the majority look annoyed or disconnected? The congregation has an expectation of how the band should sound because itís what enables them to worship.
12. If video is shown, does the audio sound good? Just because youíre playing a video doesnít mean the video has great sounding audio.
13. Did anyone on stage trip or appear nervous when walking on stage? The stage must be a safe place to work. Iíve seen a pastor trip on a microphone cable.
14. How many problems occurred during the service? How many were likely quickly forgotten versus completely distracting? Stuff happens, but how much was preventable?
15. Looking at the problems in the service, from audio quality to stage safety to mistakes, which category do they fall into; training issue, equipment issue, or room acoustics? Assign each problem to one of the three areas and then do something about it.
The Take Away
Chris Huff is the owner of Behind the Mixer, a resource for churches and their research into sound systems, www.BehindtheMixer.com.