Do you know where the main speakers are located in your sanctuary?

If you are on the AV team, or involved with audio in your church, it’s essential that you know this. The list of possibilities is short: they may be stacked on the side of the platform (stage), mounted on a wall or suspended from the ceiling. If your main (a.k.a. FOH or Front Of House) speakers are stacked on or below the platform, you can move and direct the speakers fairly easily until you have the best sound and coverage for your particular room. If your speakers need to be mounted on a wall (or walls) of your sanctuary, you need to decide on the best location before you install the mounting brackets. Moving them from one location to another is simply too much work, and does damage the walls.


It’s pretty much the same story if you decide to “fly” the speakers. Why “fly?” Because It sounds a lot better than “hang.” In reality, you are hanging the speakers from bolts that connect to specific locations on the speaker enclosures. These locations are known as “fly points” and if the speakers don’t have them PLEASE do not attempt to fly them—it could be quite hazardous.


If you need to cover a large area and planning to fly an array of speakers you will need professional help. Arrays need rigging and locations that are structurally capable of supporting that rigging. There are many things to consider and it takes somebody who can do the structural calculations for your particular worship space and system. Not to mention the liability involved with flying an array. Personally, whenever I design an array for a house of worship, I have another company come in an install the rigging.


For now, let’s assume you have just a pair of speakers—with fly points—and you want to fly them. Obviously, I don’t know your particular church so here’s my general, all-purpose, my common sense guide to flying your speakers.


First—to repeat—don’t attempt to fly speaker boxes if they are not designed for it. I once worked on the audio system in a small church located in Monrovia, CA. When I did my initial assessment of the system and sanctuary, the speakers had been flown over the left and right sides of the platform. The ceiling of the church was a little low and the speakers hung about three feet over the head of the bass player on one side of the stage and the guitar player on the other side. Normally, this set-up could work but the speakers were not designed to be flown. The previous installer had driven threaded eye bolts into the cabinets and hung them over the players with light-weight chain. Now, imagine if one of those eye bolts or chains failed during a service. At the very least there would be an injury and at the worst a fatality. Sure, the player would get a direct pass to heaven but I doubt the congregation would return the following week and the resulting lawsuit would probably close down the church


So, the first thing I did (after church service) was take down the speakers and mounted them on the left and right walls of the sanctuary. The speaker boxes had pole mounts so it was a piece of cake to put up some brackets with small built-in poles on the walls. (I used a pair of On Stage SS7914B mounting brackets. They are great for small to medium (up to 80lb) boxes).


When flying speakers, make certain they are just in front of the platform. That may seem like common sense but I have seen speakers flown behind the front of the stage and even behind the preacher and singers’ microphones—that is just inviting feedback into you mix.


Once you have the perfect location, and are ready to fly them, you’ll need the proper hardware for the job. Fly bolts are drop forged shoulder eye bolts that screw into the fly points on the speaker boxes. Most speaker manufacturers offer sets that will match their speakers. Then, you can mount the speakers in the appropriate spot using cable or chain. I prefer cable but either will do the job. Or, you can purchase a small single speaker rigging system which will make steering the speakers much easier. “Steering” is the process of turning and aiming the boxes. (NOTE: ONLY rated hardware should ever be used in rigging. Allen Products and ATM Fly-Ware both make high quality single speaker rigging systems.)


If you plan on aiming the speakers yourself, you’ll need a good laser that you can tape to the top of your speaker box in order to see where it’s pointing. There are several tablet (iPad) programs that you can download to test the frequency response in the different areas of your sanctuary but I like to use my ears. I know it’s a bit old school but being that the entire congregation will be using their ears to hear the service, I figure I can use mine to set-up the speakers.


As for pointing the speakers I like to aim them at the center rows of a sanctuary (generally speaking). At my church (and many others) the older members sit in the first few rows. I would rather direct the sound a little over their heads than directly at their faces. It just seems a bit more respectful.


That pretty much covers it. Remember, if you fly or mount the speakers use the right hardware. If you stack them, you shouldn’t need any hardware—just a good set of ears. Have fun…

Originally posted 2013-04-30 14:44:45.