Setting up a full blown PA system for a church or house of worship can be tricky and time-consuming, especially if you are working with a budget made up of donations and contributions from your congregation. You know those funds need to be allocated in the most efficient and sensible way possible.
With such an overwhelming amount of options these days for sound equipment, shopping online or going into a music store can be a daunting task. It can be hard to know where to begin.
Always begin with good sound quality and a proper sound system setup. In doing so, you eliminate the problems of fuzzy mics, feedback loops, and low volume that can hurt the experience of the congregation.
To pick out the right sound system, consider the size of your space, how many congregation members you typically have, and what kind of microphones you’ll need for your services. This will help you to make the best decision possible for your house of worship.
Size and Acoustics
All rooms are different and it’s not enough to simply prop up a speaker and call it a day. It’s all about coverage and making sure your audience hears you clearly with the right amount of volume and articulation.
Sound clarity often comes down to the acoustic qualities of a room or space. Many houses of worship are built with good acoustics in mind, with the right conditions for natural reverb and amplification. Some sound systems come with built in effects like digital reverb. Adding digital reverb to your choir or cantor via sound processing equipment can give the audience the illusion that the room is in fact larger than it is.
How many people need to hear you?
Consider how many congregation members typically turn up. PA systems are rated by Wattage (power) and a general rule is to have one Watt per person for an indoor space and three Watts per person for an outdoor space.
It’s better to have more wattage than not enough. This allows for accommodation of additional turnout or if you need to move your system outdoors.
No matter how good a sound system is, it cannot fix a room with bad acoustics. It may be necessary to hire an outside consultant to evaluate the acoustic space of your room if you are struggling to get a good sound.
Plenty of all-in-one PA system solutions are reasonably priced and great for quick and easy setup. These systems generally come with two speakers, a mixer, a microphone, and all the necessary wires. They can range from 150 to 1000 Watts with everything you need to get the sound for your house of worship up and running quickly and easily.
All-in-one systems are great for portability as well. They are designed to be quick to setup and break down, as well as for moving between different locations.
Sometimes all you need is something to amplify the voice of a couple of people or connect a phone or iPod to play music through. Thankfully these systems offer a variety of connection types to accommodate for multiple microphones, wired instruments like keyboards and guitars, and an input for MP3 players. Newer systems also come with Bluetooth connectivity.
The microphone determines how accurate and rich the voice of your prayer leader or musical instrument will be.
Different types of microphones work for different applications. Think about who is going to be on stage: will people be playing instruments? Will singers or those leading prayer need to share microphones?
Make sure to have the right amount of inputs on your sound system’s mixer so that you can properly plan for different scenarios. You may want multiple handheld microphones for congregation members, or a lapel mic for the pastor, or even a more sensitive condenser mic for the choir.
Things like pickup pattern, frequency response, sensitivity, and physical design all change how a microphone will reproduce an acoustic sound.
A good wired microphone runs between $40 and $100, sometimes including a cable, mic clip, stand, and carrying bag.
What about wireless? Wireless microphones allow for more freedom of movement as well as allowing a cleaner aesthetic for your speaker or performer.
A good wireless system starts around $200. There are also multiple options for microphone types including lavalier, handheld, headband, and ear set.
Remember that wireless microphones operate on radio frequencies, meaning they can be vulnerable to interference from cell phones, tablets, and other electronic devices. UHF (ultra-high frequency) wireless systems operate on a higher frequency band as opposed to VHF (very high frequency) systems: both have their usefulness. UHF can be better for a room with a lot other electronics while VHF is better for those on a tighter budget.
Accessories like cables, clips, and microphone stands should be chosen with care, just like your microphones and speakers. With cables, it’s not just about the length — it’s about the quality of the connectors on each end.
You’ll want to have multiple sizes of mic stand, as well as multiple length wires so that you can properly adapt to a variety of needs and situations.
Listen to What People Say
It all comes down to knowing what you need and making an informed decision. When shopping for a sound system, trust your ear and trust what other people say. Reading other people’s experiences is a great way to learn about a piece of equipment and whether or not it is going to be dependable and do what you need it to do.
Contact us at 1 (800) 263-0112 to get more information on PA systems for houses of worship.