Church sound can feel pretty complicated and overwhelming at times. There is so much to keep track of, especially for a beginner.
And when you add mixing effects (like EQ and reverb), live streaming, and finding help on the tech team, it can seem like an impossible job to get perfect.
I know what that feels like. It’s exciting to serve and “make things work” every week. But it’s also challenging to get it right all the time.
My biggest problem used to be figuring out how to control feedback. Then it was learning to EQ and training my ear. And finally it was the dreaded team building and management. Ahhhhh!
If you’ve served on the tech team for any length of time, I’m sure you can relate to one or more of those feelings – and probably a few more.
Why does church sound seem so hard? Can it be easier?
Honestly, I think church sound can be simpler than we often make it. I think it can and should be easier for new volunteers to learn the basics and start getting great sounding mixes.
Here are a couple big tips that have helped me simplify church sound over the years.
It’s super easy to do too much when we step behind the mixing console for the first time. We think that all those buttons, knobs, and features have to be used… on everything! (News Flash: they don’t.)
You can actually start a great mix without any reverb, compression, or EQ. That stuff can be helpful later in the mix, but you don’t have to start there. In fact, you shouldn’t.
Even old audio pros practice starting a mix from scratch and avoid the urge to reach for that EQ knob, crank the reverb, or fiddle with compression.
Try to get your mix sounding great by using the faders to layer the instruments and vocals so they are balanced. Your soundscape should generally sound the way you like it before you start tweaking all of those other settings.
When you’ve got things sounding pretty good using just the faders, try Tip #2.
EQ is a powerful tool for church sound. It can clean up a mix in no time. It can also destroy one if you don’t know what you’re doing. (Great power requires great responsibility!)
The human ear can hear about 20,000 frequencies. That’s a lot!
How are you supposed to know which one of those frequencies to control in your mix?
Good question. I’ve been paralyzed at the EQ controls trying to figure that out myself!
Fortunately, you don’t have to know what frequency to select and adjust (unless you want to achieve “golden ear status” and perform sound geek party tricks). You just need to use this one simple church sound trick.
Some call this EQ trick the boost-sweep-cut method. Others call it the search and destroy method. There are probably a bunch of other fun names for it too… Here’s what you do:
This one EQ trick will not only solve your biggest EQ problems in the shortest amount of time, it will also help you train your ear and better identify frequencies in the mix.
Honestly, this tip was a game-changer for me when I first learned it. And now, I use it every time I EQ something.
It’s effective. It’s powerful. It’s simple. Just like church sound should be!
If you’ve been looking for practical advice like the two tips I just shared, and you don’t want to waste a bunch of time searching for it, then I’d recommend checking out Church Sound Made Simple from Kade Young.
I’ve teamed up with Kade before (we teach an EQ course together), and you may already receive his regular updates or listen to the Collaborate Worship podcast. He’s brilliant.
I really enjoy his teaching style and way of making complex concepts easier to understand and apply. And what he’s done with Church Sound Made Simple is nothing short of amazing for the average church sound tech or team leader.
Church Sound Made Simple isn’t so much of a course as it is a full curriculum for the church that really wants great sound without a bunch of complicated methods or gear.
Anyway, I could go on all day about it, but it’s probably best if you listen to Kade tell you what it’s all about here:
Here's to your great (and simple) sound!
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