Every Seat Counts – Having Adequate Sound and Video Coverage

August 9, 2018 by Art Vivas

There is much talk today about the guest experience, especially when it relates to technology. Experiences in showrooms, stadiums, travel, leisure destinations and so on. Anywhere technology may be located owners and companies are trying to draw your attention and provide a memorable experience all while seeking to gain your loyalty to their brand or business.

In House of Worship (HOW), the concept should be the same. Use technology to deliver a message for all to hear.

But… is it?

The Issues You Face

Let’s focus on sound for a bit. Here are a few questions for you.

Does every seat get adequate sound? Is the sound intelligible? In other words, does it sound good or is it muffled? Or how about this, does the presenter’s lips move but the audio trails behind?

I’m pretty sure you all have an idea why this is happening and have heard the reasons many times over.

Bad mic positions.
Acoustics are no good.
Sound levels just not right.
EQ is way off.
Speakers are not positioned correctly.
Stage is too loud.
Sound system was not installed correctly.
Just not getting a good mix from the sound team.

So what do you do about it? Where do you start?

There will be an overwhelming amount of advice you will be given to take care of your system issues. Thus, for the sake of brevity, let’s just review two potential issues. System Performance and Mixing.

Speaker System Performance

The audio system speakers may just not be good enough. There could be several reasons for this.
Blown drivers or speaker specifications don’t meet the room’s needs. This means the pattern from the speaker(s) is not going to give you the coverage you really need for your seating area, let alone the desired sound level or SPL.

Another speaker issue to consider could be poor amplifiers driving the speakers. The amps could be just bad, or it could be the wrong amplifier was specified to drive the specific speaker that was installed.

Let us not forget about cabling. There could be poor terminations that, over time and much handling, are no longer making good contact with the amps and speakers.

Sound Mixing

Let’s face it. You’re going to have a couple scenarios here.
You may either have the experienced audio engineer or the novice who’s doing all they can to help out.

The experienced engineer brings you good gain structure, understands effects processing, manages the SPL and balances the sound of music and voice really well. Also, this experience can work well with your musicians and actually guide them to a better sound out of their vocals and instruments.

The balancing act of having monitors on your stage, unless you have in-ear monitors, can also be a bit tricky. Many requests for different balances and mixes out of the monitors on the stage can be challenging. Singers want one mix while band members want a different mix entirely. And let us not forget the occasional special musical group or speaker who also uses the floor monitors. They want a unique mix too. Now, add the loudness from the floor monitors in your auditorium along with the main house speakers. If not balanced carefully, you have a very boomy and muffled sound.

The Next Steps

Don’t delay, get help. In doing so, look for at least a few specific characteristics when you go to select a company or individual for guidance.

Seek out someone who is after your best interest.
This should be someone or a company that is willing to spend time with you and learn what you do throughout your service(s). An immediate desire to upgrade everything without knowing your technical crews’ ability let alone your church’s goals is a red flag.

Start with one of two things. System check and analysis and training.

A reputable company or individual will need to run a complete system check of your audio system. This system check will identify if the audio system components are functioning per specifications. The complete systems check can be time consuming but will cover the basics including all cables, consoles, amplifiers and speakers.

Once the system is determined to run at optimal operation, balancing and equalizing the room should be the next step.

Now you are ready for some training on your console. The first level of training should start off with an introduction on how to operate your console. The next level of training should focus on effects processing.

Lastly, ask questions. Based on the analysis what kind of reporting are you going to get? Do you keep the reports? What are the individual’s engineering credentials to run an analysis? How much experience? Etc., etc.

Final Thoughts

You’ve contacted a company or individual you’re comfortable with. This may have been through referrals, a Google search or a direct phone call. You have a budget for services and a time frame to complete such services.

Now let’s get every seat to count. Let them hear clarity and speech intelligibility and let your audience be in tune with every sound that comes from the stage and the message that is being delivered.