Sound Outside of the Sanctuary
When most people think about church sound, they immediately think of speakers, microphones, and the mixing console in a sanctuary or worship center. And that makes sense.
However, quality sound reinforcement at church often involves more than just making sure your primary worship space sounds good. It’s important to consider other areas of your church or facility that may benefit from quality sound reinforcement and distributed audio.
The most common areas where audio is distributed include:
- Foyers, lobbies, and hallways
- Overflow rooms and seating areas
- Nurseries and cry rooms
There are a few ways to deliver audio to these areas.
Distributed Audio Options
The most popular (and professional) way to distribute audio throughout a facility is to use what is called a 70-volt speaker system. This type of system is different than standard speaker systems because the speakers and amplifiers use special audio transformers. This allows multiple speakers to be connected together on one audio circuit without overloading an amplifier. (As an example, you can only put 2-4 8Ω “low impedance” speakers on a standard amplifier. In a 70V system you can easily put 10, 20, or more 70V speakers on the appropriate amplifier.) This option can allow you to distribute many loudspeakers and individual volume controls throughout various rooms or areas of your church.
There are some creative options for adding audio to different rooms if you don’t have easy access to adding cable in your facility. Some churches have used wireless baby monitors so that nursery workers or teachers can monitor what is happening in the main sanctuary. You can also use various wireless transmitters and receivers designed to send audio across a facility.
Connecting To Your Mixing Console
There are several ways you can connect your speakers to the main sound system.
The best way is to have a dedicated output from the primary digital signal processor (or mixing console if you don’t have a central audio DSP). You can even use Aux, Matrix, or Mono outputs from a console to run your distributed audio system.
Just make sure that the audio feed coming off of the DSP or console is set for “post fader level”. This ensures that the mix in the distributed speakers receives the same mix as the main loudspeakers. (If you set up your distributed mix as a “pre” aux/monitor feed, then the distributed system will basically be like a stage monitor and your mix from the faders will not affect the sound for that distributed mix. This generally is not a good idea!)
Mixing for Distributed Audio
The mix for your distributed audio speakers really isn’t any different than what you have for the main speakers. However, it is important to realize that the EQ and dynamic range requirements for the distributed audio system will be different.Most distributed audio systems in church focus on delivering good speech reinforcement instead of being fine-tuned specifically for music.
You don’t want quiet singing and music to be hard to hear, and you certainly don’t want loud music to overpower the distributed speakers. A distributed audio compressor set at a ratio around 2:1 – 6:1 can help with this. EQ can also help shape the overall tone of the audio signal so that it is effective for the smaller distributed loudspeakers.
You don’t need to send a lot of bass to a 6″ or 8″ hallway ceiling speaker! Depending on your distributed speakers, you’ll likely want to roll off anything below 80-100 Hz, and then apply some EQ in the mid range (500 Hz to 4 kHz) to get a natural sound that isn’t too muddy.
Like a lot of sound system components, distributed audio systems can take some time to properly design and install, and this is really just a basic overview of some of the important things you need to consider.nJust remember that running sound at church means that you might be responsible for more than what happens in the worship center. There are many other worshipers in the halls, classrooms, and nursery that would love to experience great sound as well!