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Contemplating Speaker Placement

Having always been part of a smaller worship group, I find it most satisfying when I can help a smaller congregation find the best way (or, at least, a better way) to set up their sound system. As many smaller church facilities were built long before the advent of contemporary music with electronic instruments and sound reinforcement, so I’ve yet to encounter the exact same set of circumstances at any two churches.

Where to put the speakers?

Often times, the best place to put the speakers is not an available solution, for a variety of reasons. When possible, the best place to hang loudspeakers in a smaller sanctuary is up over the stage, angled down on the congregation. This way, the sound from the speakers comes from the same direction as its source reaches all the ears in the room with consistent intensity. But this assumes that the ceiling is high enough and strong enough to support hanging speakers and that the speakers will not obstruct the projector screen or detract from the look of the sanctuary. In the church I attend, for example, there is a cross mounted up over the stage, and a projector screen under it. There is simply no place to hang the speakers. After an exhaustive amount of trial and error, we found that wall-mounting the speakers to the left and right sides of the stage, and then angling them down and in slightly, produced a fairly consistent sound. It’s not perfect, but until such a time when the projector screen and cross are moved, it will do suffice. Fortunately, our pastor stays between the two speakers and projects strong enough that he really doesn’t need a ton of sound reinforcement.

Another church I worked with had low ceilings and a sanctuary that is basically a square. The speakers were placed on stands in the corners, shooting diagonally across the congregation. By running the system in mono with the speakers properly aimed (by experimentation) and phased, we found the “sweet spot” were the sound was clear and the volume even through out the room.

Once you have your main speakers properly placed, then comes the task of the monitors. Making sure the performers can properly hear themselves over the congregation of singers will our subject for another a time.

Thanks for listening. — Robert

About the author

Waldo Watts

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