If there is one thing you have to have right to get great sound at church it is this one thing:
Great sound from the pastor's microphone.
Unfortunately a lot of churches struggle every week to get the sound they want from their pastor and teacher.
What a travesty! If there is anything a church sound system is designed to do, it is to provide clear and accurate transmission of the spoken word. All other needs and priorities take a back seat to this one critical requirement.
We’ve probably all experienced this problem at some point.
First we need to discuss the simple yet important sound qualities we’re looking for when it comes to clear delivery of the spoken word.
Sound from the pastor or presenter’s microphone should be:
Does your pastor sound like that? If not, I’ve got some good news! You can start getting the sound you want with a few basic tips.
Let’s talk about feedback first. This is almost always a location or proximity issue. And sometimes it is an issue of microphone choice.
The best way to prevent feedback is to place the microphone close to the source (the pastor’s mouth), and behind any loudspeakers.
When it comes to the pastor’s mic, a common problem in many churches is the clip-on lavaliere microphone. It is often placed too low on the body or too far away from the pastor’s mouth (optimum location is 6-8” away from the chin). Not only can this cause feedback, it will also cause a weak, thin vocal sound through the system.
If feedback is a constant worry, no matter how you position the microphone, you may need to look into a more directional lavaliere microphone (cardioid instead of omni-directional). Or you may want to consider using a low-profile headset or earworn microphone like the Countryman E6, or Point Source Audio CR-8S, or DPI d:fine series.
Tone and other frequency characteristics are affected by proximity, but they are also affected by the particular microphone being used and the acoustic properties of the room. If you’ve already experimented with mic position and mic type, then it might be time to move on to some basic EQ.
There are no rock-solid rules for EQing. After all, every voice and mic combination will yield different results. Test out the quick tips here, but make sure you experiment and try different EQ settings.
Dynamic changes in speaking volume can also be a factor in overall sound quality. As we speak, we often change the volume of our voices, especially if we want to MAKE A POINT! While this can be engaging, it may also be disruptive if our sound system doesn’t have a certain amount of dynamic control in the way of a compressor.
Remember, there are no hard and fast rules for resolving all of the sonic issues you may have with the pastor’s mic. Experiment. Try different techniques. And listen.
Does it sound clear and natural?
You may find it helpful to have someone read aloud while you get familiar with various mic placement, EQ, and compression settings. Keep at it, and you’ll find the sweet spot.
Note: this originally appeared as a guest post on the ChurchTechToday blog.
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