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Cutting edge

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Eric Chancey:
Let me explain a little bit...
Do you think the church should, or needs to compete with other productions,ie, concerts etc. In terms of quality and skill.
Are the congregants expectations higher now and are they disappointed if we(the church) don't meet their expectations. Or is it all marketing?
Essentially what I'm getting at is, how obligated are we to "compete" so that we are not seen as second rate?

Also, what I consider cutting edge, would be new proven technology. Bleeding edge for me would be new unproven technology. An example would be, yamaha's pm1D to me is proven technology(cutting edge), on the other hand, Digidesign's new live console will be bleeding edge when it comes out. make sense?
Just an opinion. (I need to quit posting late at night).

Karl P(eterson):
It depends on what you (the part of the body in your location) are trying to do, who your trying to reach and how you want and plan to get there. A subset of that would be the skill level possessed by your team and operators, and if there vision correlates to that of the leaderships.

As to the expectation, it really does come back to who you are trying to minister to.

The expectation of a person in there mid to late 70's is quite a lot different than that of a person in there mid to late teens.

The catch I have found, and come to believe relates to those in the middle..... they closer they are to one of those two age groups, they tend to err on that side... through the 20's and 30's they err closer on the side of the teens, whereas from 50s and 60s they err closer on the side of the elderly..... that being said though, every day people who are used to this level of quality are growing older, and still expecting it..... so while this statement holds true in some cases, its slowly starting to fade out as well.

To try and give some tangible examples, let me try and relate this to real world situations.

I know a church who have a mostly elderly demographic, and all they have is an organ, a voice reinforcement only system, and house lighting controlled by single pole switches. For there needs, for there demographic, anything more would be overkill.

On the other hand, I know a church which is youth centered, and doing there best to be relevant to this generation, which means they have upwards of (I believe) 300~350 thousand in there youth center (not talking about there main center) and includes full video, sound and lighting facilities. While these aren't grossly overspeced systems, they are all of a high enough quality that they support there need and leave room for the rest of there vision as well as support an upgrade path for them should they need it.

In the middle is a third church which falls somewhere in the middle, not needing the latest and greatest technology and systems to support there vision and needs, but also using quality lasting equipment for there needs and use.

And there are churches that fall in-between all the other fields and go past them in one way or another.

A church I work with a lot is just about ready to complete the last major phase of there project, and for a building with a 300 person capacity will have over 110k$ equipment...... Is this wrong? Some may think so, but then some may not. In the end it comes down to where God is leading your particular section of his body, and to whom you are instructed to reach out to.

To sum it up:

Build to accommodate what God would lead you to do.

If your trying to reach out and be relevant to people of this day and age. A day and age where we are living in the generation of MTV, surround sound systems in base car packages, multi million dollar advertising campaigns on every street corner and where 90 to 120 minutes of sit down entertainment can cost upwards of a hundred mil to make. Then be prepared to break out the checkbook (and dig deep, at that), pray for good volunteer talent, and (possibly) be prepared to hire the rest.

From there, scale down to fit your needs.... But never try to save money to such an extent that you cut corners. Rounding them off is ok in circumstances where money just isn't there, but the only thing you get by cutting corners is bloody hands. Every Sunday.

Karl "Don't mind any errors, its late" P

Tom Roche:
Echancey wrote on Mon, 10 May 2004 03:29
Let me explain a little bit...
Do you think the church should, or needs to compete with other productions,ie, concerts etc. In terms of quality and skill.
Are the congregants expectations higher now and are they disappointed if we(the church) don't meet their expectations. Or is it all marketing?
Essentially what I'm getting at is, how obligated are we to "compete" so that we are not seen as second rate?

To me it's not a matter of competition, but of sharing the same goal.  And in my experience I have discovered that congregations are fairly forgiving people.  I'm not convinced they expect a top-notch production with heavenly sound and professional musos.  I don't think the idea even crosses their minds, at least for 99% of them.  Maybe the mega-church congregations do, I don't know, but not the small ones.

Our congregation is appreciative of the musos and the people who run sound regardless of their skill.  They appreciate that these people volunteer their time to partake in those ministries.


Tom Roche:
Tom Young wrote on Mon, 10 May 2004 01:22
I think a church needs, or is justified, to be adequately equipped.  

A small and poor church obviously cannot afford nor can they justfy having a SOTA (state-of-the-art, and in this context I mean "top dollar") sound system, assuming they must pay for it and it is not donated.  I also see no point in a large and prosperous church having a top dollar system while their natural acoustics are a mess and acoustic/mechanical noise is an issue.

I gotta say, though, that there is *far* more money wasted by those churches who spend foolishly low amounts of money on what appears (to them) to be acceptable bargains and with no consideration for what is really required to deliver adequate sound. Far too often the concept of 'good stewardship' is misapplied in this regard and the result is that the accumulative cost of equipment, once a useable system is finally achieved, is far in excess of what it would have cost if done right the first time.

As always, nicely said.

I tried to convey to our church leaders the importance of doing it right the first time before we transitioned into our new facility.  "We don't have the money," was the usual response.  At least I received a budget to work with; albeit, an inadequate one.  We are experiencing the acoustic mess you spoke of.  Yep, upgraded most of the sound system, but now we're dealing with obnoxious echo that makes the serman a bit unintelligible.    


Kevin Maxwell AKA TheMAXX:
I have always thought that we should be striving for excellence in the church. Not that we have to do anything is a wiz bang fashion. There are more examples in lighting and video of the possibility of show for show sake, then I can think of that kind of thing in sound. I think if the sound is done properly we become invisible. My father was an Engineer at NBC-TV in NYC (audio specialist). He used to say if you do your job right then no one notices, do your job wrong and everyone notices. He also believed that we should do our best in the church.  Now how far do you take that? Do we put Neumann KM150s or KM105s on all of the praise singers? That would probably be overkill. But it might be nice to have a couple for solos. How about a couple of KM 184s for the choir?

Now can the people hear the difference? I think a lot of people do not consciously know when it’s not as good as it could be. But as long as cues are hit and there is no feedback and they can hear and understand the preacher then everything is just fine for them. But then there are some who can tell that the tonality of the system isn’t quite what it should be. When the leadership wants it improved then you know it needs to be better. If everyone is happy except for me then it may be time for me to accept it as it is. And if I am the one steering the changes I need to be sensitive to is it good enough.

One of the problems is that cost of sound equipment almost seems to be logarithmic. To get a piece of equipment that is twice as good as another can cost 10 times as much. I now this is a little bit of an exaggeration but it’s sometimes not that far from the way it really is. So is it worth spending that much more money.

The Church that I am a member of is actually over 150 years old. The present building was originally built, around 1965. It seats about 550 with a balcony. The speakers were Bozak columns that were made to look like the lights that hung along the left and right aisle. The columns hung about 16-18 feet high and about 4 feet upstage from the edge of the stage. When you talked into a mic it was heard clearly throughout the room. A picture of the interior of the church showing the speakers was featured on the cover of a Bozak brochure of that time.

Now when they started doing music that was a little more modern (late 1970s) the speakers couldn’t take it. Then sometime in the 1980s they installed a new system. The speakers were mounted on the beams (left and right) about 9 feet off the ground and about 10 feet from the stage with no delay on them. So if you were sitting in the first 2 rows the speakers were behind you. They had a set of speakers over the balcony and a set under the balcony all on the same delay.

We did a bunch of technology upgrades at my church a few years ago. Included in that was a new EAW speaker system with XTA DSP and QSC amps. Just for that part of it we spent about $20,000. I have overseen about $70,000 in tech upgrades in the last few years there. The speakers were ordered as plain wood and we had them stained to match the interior wood and I covered the metal grill with grill cloth. I can go into more detail of the system some other time if anyone wants but this is probably way to long already.

Now we are going to be tearing the whole place down and building a whole new facility shortly. With a sanctuary that seats about 1200-1800. The number keeps changing. I hope we will still strive for the excellence in the new facility including the HVAC and the acoustics. I don’t think we will be getting a PM1D but maybe a PM5D or some other digital console.


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