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Get The Controls Out of the Closet!

A brain surgeon can't operate on his patient from home,
and you can't properly adjust the sound in the church sanctuary
from the church office or back closet!

Blake Engel, All Church Sound

"But if the sound system is seen, God will surely strike us dead!" Yep, I've heard it all. From "but it's so ugly" to "we're not that big of a church to need the controls in the sanctuary." This is similar to having your television in the living room and the channel control in the basement. You walk down to the basement to change the channel (to see what's on), and then walk to the living room only to find it's not a program you want to watch. So you walk down to the basement again, change the channel, and walk back up to the living room--this channel has a bad picture. So you walk down to the basement again… You get the picture (no pun intended).

Just as the TV is a whole lot more easy to operate when the channel controls are in the same room, a church sound reinforcement system is a whole lot more easy to operate when the controls are in the same room. Not only does it make it easier, but more useful and in most cases, the sound system is actually less noticeable! Yes, you read correctly--less noticeable! How can this be? Simple; if the controls are in the same room as the microphones and speakers, changes can be made and the results of the changes can be heard by the "operator" in real time (right away), thus he or she knows how much to make the change in question. For example, say someone is reading the scripture for the day but you can't hear what's being said because they're talking too softly. If the controls are in another room, I'm sure no one will go and turn up the volume on that microphone. If the controls are in the sanctuary, an "operator" can quickly and easily make the needed change without anyone even realizing there was a problem! Now, I know for a fact that every church with a sound system struggles with this problem (too loud / too soft) regardless if there are many different people who speak or if there's only one person that speaks every single week. Yes, even if the same person speaks week after week, the volume of their voice will change based on how tired they may be or if they're sick or excited about what they're talking about.

If you plan on playing tapes or CD's or recording the service on tape you'll have even a more difficult time! How can you make adjustments to the sound if you can't hear what you're changing? You can't! Oh, and I don't care if there's a small speaker/monitor by the sound controls--you still can't judge volume.

So where should the controls be located in the sanctuary? From the location of the controls, the "operator" should be able to both see and hear exactly what everyone else in the sanctuary sees and hears. With that said, the sound controls should not be in a closed off box at the rear of the sanctuary, they shouldn't be in the balcony if the speaker system doesn't cover the balcony the same way it covers the main floor. The controls should be housed in a desk which matches the pews and interior of the sanctuary. It should blend in like a piece of fine furniture.

Only when the controls are in the same room as the microphones and speaker system will you have the ability to properly control the sound system.

Oh--the "operator" can be anyone that's capable of making the proper adjustments (a trained sound tech or even an usher)!