Church Sound System Is Saved – What Would JDRS Do?

February 29, 2020
A Work In Progress

An interesting project came my way early this year. I was asked to comb out the ongoing issues for a local church’s sound system. They reported that there were difficulties in getting the system to work reliably during their regular services. They thought that the entire sound system needed a full replacement. I am familiar with their setup as I regularly do a bit of tech’ing for a choir that uses the church as its home base for rehearsal and performance. Over the years it has been operated by various volunteers with varied levels of understanding and so it had fallen into a state of disorganization, and in some cases, disrepair. So when the project came up, I was familiar with many of the issues that they faced on a weekly basis. But I was confident that I could rehabilitate the system and fix many of its problems.

Some broken wiring that needed some soldering.

I started with testing of lines that were installed in various locations at the front of the sanctuary. I found that there were some broken connections and an a couple of cases, a bit of mis-wiring. This was all corrected before I moved to the booth containing the mixer.

Starting to untangle the problems.

A major problem was the tangle of wire that was below the desk holding the mixing console. It was quite intertwined and there was an excess of it. Each run of cable had about 3-4 feet of excess leading to a metal terminal box and none of these was labelled. I had be very careful to pull these apart and follow each one from the console to the terminal box and give each a number label. When I had triple and quadruple checked to make sure that each cable was labelled correctly, I cut off the excess length to tidy it all up and reconnected it in the terminal box. It was slow, methodical work. Bit by bit, I combed it all out and, being a bit of a neat freak, it felt great to finish that part.

The mixing console also received some love. As much as there was too much excess cable below the desk, there was also too much above. Each run of cable was trimmed to the required length and labelled.

Organized and labelled.

The mixing console had accumulated quite a few sticky labels over the years and many of them did not reflect the current state that it was in. I decided to remove the old labels and re-label it with so that it would make sense to anyone who needed to be using it. In the process, I discovered some of their equipment to be not working, such as the CD player. All of the these details were documented and I reported them to the church committee so that they could decide on how they wanted to proceed.

Old labels

Once the system was given a final test to make sure that everything was working properly, my next task was to design a mini course for the church’s sound operators. I had to keep in mind that the volunteers were non-technical and so my focus was to give them a fundamental understanding of how to operate the sound console and also how to set up for a service in a systematic way that would ensure that they got good sound at comfortable levels for the congregation without subjecting them to any feedback blasts. I have gotten reports that their services have had a marked improvement in the quality of sound delivery and, I believe, a much less stressed group of sound volunteers. I do love a success story.

In taking this project, I was struck by how familiar the problems were. I have seen such issues at other houses of worship. It’s a combination of lack of funds, a bit of neglect, and a group of untrained, but well-meaning, technical volunteers. If in reading this story, you find that your own house of worship could do with a sound system make-over, drop me a line and let’s discuss what could possibly done to solve your problems. Often, it’s less expensive than you are imagining.

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