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How to set up a sound booth

Setting up a sound system for your church can be a challenging task. There are several elements that you will need to get right. Photo by Memento Media courtesy of Unsplash.
Setting up a sound system for your church can be a challenging task. There are several elements that you will need to get right. Photo by Memento Media courtesy of Unsplash.

Setting up a sound system can be a complicated endeavor. Here are a few basic steps to help you build a church sound booth.

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Find an expert

Ask someone who is familiar with sound technology to help. Canvas your congregation for volunteers. Some people may use similar equipment in their work places. Others may use it for hobbies. If no one in your church has experience, reach out to a larger congregation nearby for a recommendation. Audio equipment vendors are also available for hire.

Assess your needs

Sound booths are not one-size-fits all. All churches do not need or want complicated, state-of-the-art equipment. Before purchasing any equipment, consider:

  • The size of your sanctuary.
  • The number of people in your congregation.
  • The atmosphere you generally want to create.
  • Any special events you want to host.

Understand your sanctuary’s acoustics to determine particular challenges and to brainstorm potential solutions.

Set a budget and make a list

Audio equipment can be expensive, and the options are limitless. Set a budget, and consider the various types of equipment that are available. Prioritize which items are absolutely necessary.

Here is a list of general equipment and the job that each performs.

A mixing console: A mixing console is the central control unit that manages audio signals. It allows you to adjust the volume, tone and effects of various audio sources, such as the microphones, instruments and playback devices.

Microphones: Dynamic microphones are used for vocals, condenser microphones for instruments or choir, lavalier or lapel microphones for speakers and boundary microphones for capturing ambient sound.

Amplifiers: Amplifiers power the speakers. They boost the audio signal from the mixing console and distribute it to the speakers.  

Speakers: Speakers are responsible for projecting the sound. Main speakers deliver the primary sound. Monitor speakers provide audio to speakers/performers. Subwoofers enhance low-frequency response).

Signal processors: Signal processors include equalizers, compressors and reverberation units. Equalizers adjust the frequency response of the audio signals. Compressors control dynamic range. Reverberation units add artificial room ambiance if required.

Playback devices and headphones: Playback devices, such as CD players, digital audio players or media servers enable the playback of pre-recorded audio such as music tracks or background sound effects. Headphones allow the sound technicians to accurately assess and identify issues affecting the sound quality.

Power sequencer: A power sequencer is a power strip that turns things on and off in a predesignated sequence. This is important with sound technology because equipment can be damaged if it is not powered on and off in the correct order.

Miscellaneous equipment: Cables, connectors and adapters are required for various audio components. A power conditioner protects the equipment from power surges, voltage fluctuations and electromagnetic interference. Rack mounts, stands, storage units and accessories enhance function, organize and secure the equipment. Batteries and flashlights are essential items that are often overlooked. 

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Purchase the equipment

Research various pieces of equipment and consult with vendors. Ask lots of questions and get quotes from several companies.

To save money, consider used equipment. Larger churches often upgrade and sell usable older materials. Search online marketplaces, social media groups (such as Facebook’s House of Worship AVL for Sale), the for-sale section of your local newspaper and platforms specifically designed to sell used church audio equipment.

Always consider the quality, durability and compatibility of the materials. If you are planning to hire an installation company, make sure that they will install used equipment before making any purchases.

Plan the layout

There will be two primary locations for your equipment: the stage and the booth. Plan the layout by using masking tape to mark the spots where each microphone and speaker will be placed.

Your booth can be a folding table or an actual booth. It’s generally in the back of the sanctuary or in a balcony. The sound technicians must have good visibility and be able to hear everything that is taking place on the stage.

Install the equipment

If you do not have someone with experience, hire professional audio technicians or an installation company to install your equipment. During installation, make sure that everything is set up correctly and perform the necessary sound checks.

Perform a thorough test and calibration of the sound system and adjust the settings and equalization. Professional technicians may also recommend other acoustic treatments that will enhance the sound quality in your sanctuary. For instance, acoustic panels may be needed to minimize echo, reverberation or other unwanted sound reflections.

Proper audio equipment empowers the audience to fully engage with the message. The task may seem daunting, but the results are worth the effort. 

Tricia Brown

Tricia K. Brown is a Christian author and inspirational speaker. She shares stories of life, loss and laughter to encourage women to grow in their relationships with the Lord and each other. Her recent fiction release, “Seen, Heard, Beloved,” can be purchased on Amazon. For more information about her ministry and books, visit The Girls Get Together.

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