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Sound for a church: Please help suggest equipment, New to Audio equipment. need advice
zurri
post Dec 4 2005, 08:50
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Hi,

I have been asked to help a very small church ( 100 members) in establishing a sound system. The budget they have is $1500 but they can go up to $2000 max. I have read from many websites that list church systems are very expensive (due to the mixers etc).

The church doesn;t want nor cannot afford such a system.

Requirements

The room where the church meets seats 100 - 125 people. The room has high ceilings and generally has good acoustic qualities (they have not used any mics, the speaks just had to talk very loud)

So they need:
1.) 2 or 3 mics (1 for the speaker), (another 1 for the keyboard), 1 additional incase they need it for something else upfront
2.) a speaker system with i would guess 4 speakers in the main room
3.) a speaker in a hallway outside the room
4.) a speaker in a room in the basement (where kids practice)

Questions

What equipment should i get?
some people say i just need to buy a reciever
some say a mixer and amplifier.
I really am so confused i do not know which to buy

Also, the room they use is rented so they are not really allowed to drill or make anykind of drastic changes to the room -- so i had suggested (stupidly maybe) that wireless speakers would be a good idea-- but do you think 6 wireless speakers will be possible. I mean i dont even know if i should buy a reciever or a mixer.

Please any advice is greatly appreciated.
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pepoluan
post Dec 6 2005, 12:53
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Well, although I can't claim I'm an expert, I did have some experience setting up church sound system.

A mixer is very essential. With one, you can handle songleaders shouting too loud into the mics. Or when a guest guitarist bring along his electric or amped-acoustic guitar, to balance it properly with the keyboard.

Obviously you don't need a 64-track mixer with all bells & whistles. An 8-track mixer may be enough.

Then you will need amplifiers. And good cables. For church use, moderate speakers will do.

My experience with wireless... um not good. I like wired better. So buy long cables too... these plugs into the mic (using balanced connector... I forgot what they're called), and from the mic into the mixer (using balanced connector also). Also plug into the keyboard and mixer (using unbalanced connector... phono connector? I forgot...)

Hope this helps...


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Alex B
post Dec 6 2005, 13:18
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It would be easier for the forum members to give advice if you could provide a floor plan (or plans if separate), exact room dimensions (incl. the distances between the three spaces) and perhaps a few interior photos.

This post has been edited by Alex B: Dec 6 2005, 13:26


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RevivalofHonor
post Dec 6 2005, 14:04
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I feel and know your pain. I run a church sound system (self-taught; didn't even know what a mixer was), and I have had a part (albeit small) in designing the last two systems we use (one is portable, the other is installed).

You definitely want a mixer; in fact, given your budget, I suggest a powered mixer. It combines the mixer and the amplifier, so you can control multiple channels (microphones, keyboards, tape and CD players) and power the speakers with one item. With the powered mixer, you don't need powered speakers (unless you want to stray from the normal connections). The speakers will use either 1/4" TS phono plugs (buy speaker grade wire!!) or Neutrik Speakton plugs. Your microphones will more than likely use XLR plugs. If the keyboard has one or two 1/4" TS phono plugs, you only need to use one (the left) to connect it to the mixer.

You may want to look into prepackaged systems. Places like All Pro Sound, Long's Electronics, and Kingdom Tapes, CDs and Electronics generally sell and help design low budget systems. Also look into combos systems like the Fender Passport. They include mixer, amplifier, speakers, and cables, and they connect together to make it easy to move. Even if you don't like their systems, they are models for how a system should look and act.

The problem you're going to have (and you would have had it regardless) is getting speakers in the hallway and in that basement. You might have gone a bit overboard with suggesting wireless speakers before researching it. I do not have much experience with wireless speakers, but it generally will not work as well (for the time being; thing may and probably will change with time) as wired solutions, especially when traveling through certain walls and floors. In fact, they may not have it in their budget to rout sound into that basement right now(but I wouldn't know without seeing the building layout).

I think, though, that the best pieces of advice I can give you are to 1) check out systems in other churches and 2) start small. You may have to go to 15 or 20 churches to find out how they set up their systems (and if they like their system; most will not be afraid to let you know) before you get a real idea of what you want or what you're looking for, but having a system you (and they) won't regret is infinitely better than letting the weight of the budget force you into buying crap. After all, it is your reputation now on the line. Also, they don't have to buy it all at once. Get the main room set up and give them a schedule to buy the other equipment necessary for the hallway and basement.

I wish and pray for your success; churches can be the devil to work with.
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flat_top
post Dec 10 2005, 07:10
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Hello zurri:

I'm a member of a small church (100 to 125 attendance on a typical Sunday morning). We don't own a building, so we rent space in a local public school, which means that we have to setup and teardown our equipment every week. We purchased and put together a portable sound system about 5 years ago, here is a list of what we use. The prices are approximate, I don't remember the exact dollar figures....

Mackie cfx12 mixer ($500)
Mackie m1400i amplifier ($500)
(2) Yamaha s115-IV speaker cabinets ($600)
(3) Shure axs3 wired microphones ($300)
(1) Shure wireless handheld/lapel microphone ($500)
Tascam cd-a500 combination cassette/CD player ($300)
Alesis QS8.1 synth/keyboard ($1500)
(3) mic stands, (2) speaker stands, misc. cables
Raxxess rack box on wheels

We bought most of this stuff at a Guitar Center in the Chicago area. The Mackie amp and two Yamaha speakers are more than adequate to cover our size congregation. We've never needed more than the 12 channels that the Mackie mixer provides.

After using this system for a few weeks, we discovered that we needed a monitor system for the keyboard player and any soloists/ensembles. So we bought a spot monitor system from Carvin that includes a small stereo amp and two speakers ($300).

I'm not an expert, just a worship leader with a passing interest in sound reinforcement. I hope this gives you some ideas. If you have any questions, let me know, I'll try to answer them.

(added some more details to the list)

This post has been edited by flat_top: Dec 12 2005, 00:09
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 7 2010, 14:51
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QUOTE (zurri @ Dec 4 2005, 03:50) *
I have been asked to help a very small church ( 100 members) in establishing a sound system.


Actually, that's an average-sized church. Average church in the US is about 125.

QUOTE
The budget they have is $1500 but they can go up to $2000 max. I have read from many websites that list church systems are very expensive (due to the mixers etc).


Basic system:

With only 2 mics, you don't need an expensive mixer. The best cheap simple mixers that are readily available are Behringers. I recommend a Behringer 1222 which is way overkill but runs only about $200. You don't need the FX version but if you can get one for the same price as the non-FX then go for it.

You don't need a huge amp for doing voice and small instruments. A Behringer A500 for another $200 will do the job. Add shielded cables with XLR Male-female connectors "Mic cables") of a suitable length - usually 50-100 feet.

Now we come down the parts that make a big difference - mics and speakers.

I would recommend a pair of Electrovoice ZX1 speakers - about $500 a pair. Robust, easy to move around, sound good but may need a little bass boost which you can easily add with the eq on your Behringer mixer. Also get a pair of speaker stands and a pair of speaker cables for about $60-100 for each. The ZX-1s have sockets in the bottom like a lot of other professional speakers, that the speaker stand pole sticks into. You'll need cables with Speakon connecters on one end for the ZX-1s and banana plugs on the other for the A500. Choose the cable length to suit. Ideally you want to mix from the middle of the seating area, but you can mix from the back if mid-seating can't e arranged.

You need 2-3 microphones with stands. You no doubt want vocal mics that have built-in pop filters. Like speakers, money spent here will pay off in sound quality and freedom from feedback. I would recommend a pair of Audix OM5s for about $150 each. Add 2 more mic cables of an appropriate length. Get some spare cables if you can. A simple pole type mic stand with a weighted base can work (about $25) or you can add a mini-boom head for micing musical instruments (about $25 more). Figure $25 or more for XLR cables depending on length. I favor Hosa CXP cables as they are very good and robust, but even the cheapies will work in the short term.

Other useful things to add are monitor speakers and wireless mics. All you need is another amp and more ZX-1s for monitors, or in a pinch run 2 main speakers off one side of your existing amp, and the monitor(s) off the other.

As far as wireless mics go, I would recommend a Countryman E6 headset mic and a Shure SLX-series or Audio Technica 300 series transmitter/receiver with their headset mic. Be sure to order the E6 with the right connector for your wireless transmitter.

For $2K you might be able to add a wireless mic and a monitor speaker and amp.

As far as physical setup goes, it is important to put the speakers between the mics and the audience. Deploy the speakers L & R of the platform for best coverage of the seating eara. Play a CD and aim the speakers and adjust the equalizer for the best sonic balance consistent with low feedback. and fine tune during the service. You can use the cut side of the console's graphic eq to minimize feedback. Also adjust mic and speaker position for good coverage and to minimize feedback.


QUOTE
Requirements

The room where the church meets seats 100 - 125 people. The room has high ceilings and generally has good acoustic qualities (they have not used any mics, the speaks just had to talk very loud)

So they need:
1.) 2 or 3 mics (1 for the speaker), (another 1 for the keyboard), 1 additional incase they need it for something else upfront


YOu don't need a mic for the keyboard, but if the keyboard player sings, then you need a boom mic. Most keyboards have outputs for plugging directly into the mixer. On a bad day you add a direct box - about $25 for Behringer's basic passive direct box which works well.

QUOTE
2.) a speaker system with i would guess 4 speakers in the main room


2 good speakers are far better than 4 cheapeis. If the room tends towards being echoey, then minimizing the speakers helps greatly. Mount the speakers are high and possible pointed somehwat downward just over the heads of the crowd.

QUOTE
3.) a speaker in a hallway outside the room


A good home-type speaker or 2 will do the job - I use Infinty monitor series with 6.5" woofers. Looking at the system above, you might want to have 2 power amps and use the second one for stage monitor one channel, and the hallway for the other channel. The speakers I mention can easily be hooked 2 in parallel per power amp channel. Don't worry about stereo - run everything as mono as you can.

QUOTE
4.) a speaker in a room in the basement (where kids practice)


See above.

QUOTE
Questions

What equipment should i get?


Asked and answered.

QUOTE
some people say i just need to buy a reciever


No mic inputs and the wrong output terminals for the speakers. Not much cost savings as the Behringer amps are good and about the price of a receiver.

QUOTE
some say a mixer and amplifier.


Listen to them, they know something!

QUOTE
Also, the room they use is rented so they are not really allowed to drill or make anykind of drastic changes to the room -- so i had suggested (stupidly maybe) that wireless speakers would be a good idea-- but do you think 6 wireless speakers will be possible. I mean i dont even know if i should buy a reciever or a mixer.


Run the speaker cables out of main walkways as much as possible, and tape down with gaffer's tape where people walk over it. There is even a special gaffer's tape with bright safety stripes and a warning on it. Gaffers tape is basically a really high quality duct tape with an adhesive that is less likely to leave a residue.

Read the Yamaha and Shure books about live sound for churches ("houses of worship)". The Shure book PDF can be downloaded from their web site, and the Yamaha book can be bought from Amazon for less than $20.

There are church sound conferencing web sites [ one of the best is PSW (Pro Sound Web). They will be happy to second-guess my recommendations! ;-)
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Cavaille
post May 7 2010, 15:15
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blink.gif Isnīt this thread a bit old? I mean, the guy who made the original post has probably already installed the stuff - 5 years is a lot of time. wink.gif

This post has been edited by Cavaille: May 7 2010, 15:15


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 7 2010, 15:41
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QUOTE (Cavaille @ May 7 2010, 10:15) *
blink.gif Isnīt this thread a bit old? I mean, the guy who made the original post has probably already installed the stuff - 5 years is a lot of time. wink.gif



Good quesiton. It showed up as being recently changed, and I didn't look at the OP date.
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Cavaille
post May 7 2010, 15:43
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 7 2010, 16:41) *
Good quesiton. It showed up as being recently changed, and I didn't look at the OP date.
laugh.gif Happens to me too. Itīs sad that this person didnīt reply what he finally did... would be an end to the story.


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Robertina
post May 7 2010, 16:00
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 7 2010, 03:41) *
Good quesiton.

Arnold, a spammer posted his message in this thread today. The SPAM was deleted but the thread appeared as a today's active topic why you might have thought you would reply to an actual question.
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Alex B
post May 7 2010, 16:16
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I was surprised to see my post in this thread because I didn't immediately remember posting it. Then I noticed the date and guessed that a spam reply was deleted.

However, Arnold's advice is good and applicable to similar situations.


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flat_top
post May 8 2010, 13:36
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QUOTE (Alex B @ May 7 2010, 09:16) *
I was surprised to see my post in this thread because I didn't immediately remember posting it.


Same here, I didn't remember my old post either and was surprised to see my Chief avatar as I scrolled down the thread!

As for our church's sound system (from 4.5 years ago!), we are still using all of the equipment that I listed above. No repairs needed except for the Mackie amp which has been in the shop 2 or 3 times to replace bad ribbon cables.

The church no longer meets in the school, we started renting an old church building last summer (with a "rent to buy" contract), so we are able to leave the sound system set up all the time. No more need to setup and teardown weekly. We are currently working on plans to install a permanent audio snake ... we have way too many cables running across the floor to be stepped on, tripped over, etc.

I too would be interested to hear from zurri to find out what his church ended up doing for their system.
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