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New speaker system

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I am a volunteer sound engineer at my church.  I have been involved in live sound for about 10 years now.  I have done a couple of installs over the years.  I got word from a staff member Sun. that we are going to try and budget in a new speaker system this year.  I wanted to get some opinions on what is working in your sanctuaries.

We are a small to mid-sized chruch with seating capacity for about 400 people.  We now have a blend of music styles.  Early service consists of about 80 people with a contemporary worship style with a full band.  Bass, 2 guitars, electric drums, keyboards, and a couple of back-up singers.  Second service is traditional with choir, piano, and organ.  We also use track music in both services.

The building is a fan shape with about a 150 degrees or so of fan from center stage.  Ceilings are about 30'.  Sanctuary depth is about 80'.  We currently have a center cluster of older EV's that were just thrown in by someone who did not care what they sold or how they installed it.  Our delay times are at about 3.5 seconds.  It is easy to spill from the choir monitors to the FOH.

I would think that something with well controlled patterns would be in order.  I am also wondering if a LCR configuration might work well for FOH and use several smaller speakers for choir coverage.

Any thoughts are welcome.  

I would recommend SLS loudspeakers.  They use a ribbon driver instead of a compression driver which results in far less distortion, greater intelligibility, and consequently less listener fatigue.  What is of equal importance is their dispersion characteristics.  The dispersion of the ribbon driver expands horizontally but very little vertically.  

Obviously I can't comment on how to set up your system without knowing more specifics. There are many ways to control stage volume from absorbtion to in-ear monitors to putting all music amps in a different room. Which one is right for you is (as LCR is), again dependent on several things that I don't know.

Where are you located?

If you wish to e-mail me, feel free to do so.

I am in North Alabama.

Side note:
What is the theory behind having the amps in a different room?

The idea is to mic (or DI) all the music amps offstage where they are enclosed so that the sound engineer can control the stage volume better.  This prevents a bunch of bleed into other mics and it helps where musicians have too much pride and not enough common sense to turn their amps down so that you can give what they need through the monitor mix. This also helps with people on the front row who would otherwise have (inevitably) an amp pointing right at them.  

I'm in Indiana.  

The idea with amps in a differnt room is interesting to me, but it hardly seems practical.

To get a handle on the stage sound you need to work with the musicians. For some, it's a matter of breaking bad habbits; for others, it may be they need some gentle education. I've worked with musicians who didn't think their amp was suposed to go through the PA. After some demonstration and explaining of why I wanted to bring them through the PA and that the PA can handle it, they changed their mindset. I'd try to work with the musicians and be diplomatic. I'm not sure the electric guitar player is going to want his/her amp in a seperate room.

Another thing is maybe you can work with the stage volume. Unless the instrument is forcing you to mix louder than you feel necessary, then work to blend the other instruments with it.

I don't think this is the issue you were alluding to though. It seems to me you were saying the choir can't hear the instruments they are trying to sing along with. There are lots of angles to attack such a problem from. You would need to look at a lot of different things, speaker placement, mic placement (if the monitors feed into the mics and make the sound muddy), instrumentalist placement, etc.

Some people have this goal of a completely silent stage, but I'm not so sure I'm a big fan of that, to me it seems it would sort of detract from the liveness of the music. (Now that's something that sounds different to everyone.) Lowering stage volumes can help the mix, but some take this to the extreme and I'm not too sure that's a good idea.



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