Confessions of a Sound Engineer

Featuring Branon Dempsey Posted on March 25, 2008

Here is a short survey I conducted this past winter. Below represents a few questions and answers complied by various audio and technical directors. In this article we will hear different perspectives from audio engineers and techs as related to their top needs in Worship and A/V Ministry.

Will you list for me your top 5 priorities for audio technologies for worship, from a congregation stand point? This would include items that
would be conducive for music that engage rather than disengage congregations.

-  A quality sound system that can cover evenly an entire congregation so the music/speaker can be understood clearly.
-  Quality wireless microphones that does not cut out or have signal drop/interference.
-  Good subs that are clear, punchy, and not distracting. They should add the intensity to the music, not distract.
-  A sound level that is tolerable and not overpowering in certain areas. (even levels across the room)  Microphones should be as discreet    -    as p
ossible, not something people get distracted by.

List 5 wishes from an engineer's stand point in working with the band & singers.

-  Everyone is there on time!
-  Provide, in advance, specific band instrument locations, monitor needs, etc. (including mic stand type, power needs, etc)
-  Everyone's equipment is where it needs to be and ready to be hooked up or mic'd by the engineer.
-  Some sort of flowsheet or order or service so there are no surprises.
-  Quality sound check well in advance with plenty of time to fix problems if they arise.
-  When sound checking, only one person playing at a one doodling around on their instrument.
-  Never call sound engineer’s name during the performance, when dealing with a problem

-  Do mention a/v techs when dealing with positive—especially when thanking others who have helped.

What not-to-do's in band working with an engineer.

-  Don't be late for a load in or sound check.
-  Make sure all equipment is ready to go and be sound checked.
-  Don't change levels on an amp or move microphones without informing the engineer.
-  Don't go back and try to run sound for the engineer...usually doesn't go well!
-  Don't be rude or frustrated when asking for a change in monitor settings.
-  Don't forget to clean up after yourself!!!

What not-not-to do's as a music leader – in working with A/V.

-  Should act as the voice of the band in communicating with the engineer.
-  Should not change order of the service without informing the engineer.
-  Shouldn't do anything distracting to the worship experience, i.e. random guitar solo
-  Make sure all the music is ready to go and to the right people for CG.
-  Don't snap or act frustrated with the engineer if something isn't going well. Everyone should be courteous.

Lastly, 5 things churches should avoid in introducing and/or implementing technologies in their local house of worship.


-   Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  

-   Don't jump into something without easing it in. Don't buy a huge array sound system and slap it in and have your service go  from 85db to 115db.
-  Make sure the equipment you buy is going to last and has a warranty.
-  You get what you pay for.
-  Make sure you have everything properly secured and put up after a service so you are not looking for it the next week.
-  Make sure the audio system is appropriate for the venue. Don't overpower or overkill something because it could be distracting to the    
  worship experience.
-  Should make sure the people in charge of the systems are competent and have the skill needed to run the equipment. Some people have great hearts, but
if the mix is horrible, it can be distracting to the congregation and we are there to support it, not distract from it.