Jordan Audio Consultants
A WORD OF CAUTION TO SOUND COMMITTEES
Just as a wise farmer would not leave a fox guarding the chickens, or a prestigious college allow a third grader to teach algebra, so also a church's sound committee should not allow an equipment dealer to design a sound reinforcement system.
It is not that an equipment dealer is not qualified to do his job. But his job is not sound reinforcement system engineering. In the same way, the staff at the local music store will generally know a great deal about pianos, organs, drums, guitars, keyboards, harmonicas etc. But this is not the type of knowledge necessary to design an engineered sound system for a specific situation.
A regional sound contractor will generally know a great deal about microphones, mixers, amplifiers and speakers. They may even promote themselves as system engineers with test gear and computer assistance design programs. This is all very good, but they are also registered dealers of various equipment manufacturers with sales quotas. Neither is an ideal arrangement.
Consider this situation. Many churches have suffered, and will suffer through 2 or even 3 inadequate sound systems before finally taking the right approach. Generally the first system is assembled by some well intentioned member of the congregation who is active with CB radios or computers. They get
lots of parts at the local electronics store, shopping catalogs and the
internet, and build a system. It is a nice system with lots of switches and wires and meters and lights, and only one person can seem to operate it successfully. Some times these systems sound good when you play a tape and sit in a certain spot, but turn on a live microphone and things are very different.
Often the second system comes after several embarrassing moments at funerals or weddings. A committee is formed. They visit the local music store and hear a system with big speakers that makes the hairs on the back of their necks stand up. The clerk throws in a bunch of microphones and cables really cheap and even visits the church to make sure the system has been "setup correctly."
At first everyone is pleased because now the sound is loud everywhere in the auditorium, but when the children get up to sing, the microphones always seem to feedback. The committee goes back to the music store and the clerk sells them some different microphones for when the children sing. Then people start complaining because they can't understand the preacher too well. More and more visits are made to the music store and more and more purchases are made just to make minor improvements. (Sometimes there is no improvement at all. What happens is that money is spent and an improvement is felt rather than known.) Finally, the straw that breaks the camels back is at the Christmas eve service when the amplifier overheats and begins popping every few minutes.
A new committee is formed. The search now begins for a "professional" sound system. A big ad in the yellow pages under Sound tells of a company who sells, services, designs, and installs not only sound systems but also video projectors,
lighting systems, projection screens, recording studios, telephones, nurse call
stations, and closed circuit video security systems. The investigation process is followed and a glossy, colorful sales proposal arrives with everything that is needed. The system will cost a lot of money, and there are several devices no one really understands, but the salesman assured the committee that everything was the best
that their budget could possibly afford.
The deposit is quickly made. The installation is eventually completed. The final payment is made. The service begins; and the first time a soloist needs to hear more monitors, all the microphones begin to feedback. No one is really disturbed by this because they are more concerned about the annoying echo off the rear wall and the constant 60 cycle hum.
The root for all three of these problems is that the proper engineering was never performed to determine the acoustical needs of the room, the features necessary for the congregation, and the
appropriately sized electronics. Along with all the problems in the system, the operators were never trained how to properly use the equipment and trouble shoot even minor problems. The solution is not found throwing money at equipment, but rather in proper engineering.
A trained audio consultant can do all the necessary engineering to guarantee that every seat in the house is the best seat in the house. This includes confirming the highest possible levels of intelligibility, properly matched components, more than adequate gain throughout the system for every situation and training for the users so that operation of the system is a simple part of any church assembly.
There is also a psychological aspect in matching the various aspects of the
system to the abilities of the ministry team.
Because an independent consultant does not sell equipment and is paid by you (not those who sell or manufacture equipment,) he is free to design a system that is right for you. Most people would not build a house without blueprints drawn by a certified architect. Neither would anyone allow the clerk at a drug store to prescribe medicine. In the same way a professional sound reinforcement system should always be engineered and designed by a reputable and unbiased audio consultant. The results will speak for themselves.
© 1992, 2005 Jordan Audio Consultants