Church Acoustics and Church Sound Systems

Better Rooms equal Better Sound Systems and Worship Experience


  • JdB Sound Acoustics

    Ph # 519-582-4443

    email: jdb@jdbsound.com

    Delhi, Ontario, Canada

    Helping Churches around the World.

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  • March 2015
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Are Churches growing or shrinking?

Posted by jdbsound on March 23, 2015

Being in the church sound and acoustics business for over 33 years, you get around enough to see firsthand if the church community is growing or shrinking.  After all, when all of your income comes from providing a service exclusive to the church community, you would want to know if your services will become obsolete or not.

The question stands, is the church community growing or shrinking?  The short answer is – – – – the church community is growing and church attendance is growing.  Churches for the last 100 years have been growing on average about 10 to 14% every year.  That is the good news.  Unfortunately, that 10% growth annually is not the same as 10% of the population.

It seems that sometime around the mid 1970s the population started to grow in North America (and the rest of the world for that matter,) at a fast rate than what the church was growing.  In order for the church to grow at the same rate as the rest of the world, the church would have had to grow up to 25% annually.  So while the number of Christians in relationship to the total population is declining, the church continues to keep growing.

What also makes it harder to keep track of church growth is the number of breakaway churches that leave the umbrella of the denominations where church growth is not often recorded to any national data base.  In my work, I get to see both denominational churches and independent churches.  At the end of the day, it seems that there isn’t much differences between them.

Many people who were part of denominational churches often leave to get away from the institutional, the bureaucracy, the rules, the regulations and static growth burdened by years of complacency.  The problems I am hearing from people who have been going to these larger “growing independent churches” is that after a while, they complain about the same institutional, bureaucracy, rules, regulations and push for more growth burdened by years of complacency.  The difference is that they are inside the same bureaucracy that they left years ago and often don’t realize that they are now the cause of why people are leaving the independent churches are starting unsupported breakaway churches.  Who is keeping track of those numbers?

Then there are the non-registered home churches that are out there. There are thousands of them that average about 12 people each.  Who knows how many of these groups are there but, at the end of the day, overall statistics pegs church growth at 10 to 14%.  That is good news.  Will the “church” ever be more that 10% of the population again?  Most likely not.

By Joseph De Buglio

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Church Aesthetics

Posted by jdbsound on March 19, 2015

Acoustics decides the Aesthetics of a church. If the acoustics are bad, the aesthetics looks one way. When the acoustics are good, the aesthetics looks another way. Did you know that the average person without training can virtually tell what the aesthetics looks like in a church by how it sounds? Did you also know that churches with good acoustics when first built often have better aesthetics that lasts the lifetime of the worship space?

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Church Acoustics Advertising :-)

Posted by jdbsound on March 19, 2015

Do you have an echo problem?  We have a fix for that!

Do you have a reverberation problem?  We have a fix for that too!

Are you struggling with your sound system?  We have a fix for that as well!

Having problems with your rectangle shaped church?  We have a solution for that!

Having problems with you round church?  We have a fix for that!

Having problems with you octagon church?  We know how to fix those too!

Having problems with your fan-shaped, oval-shaped or square church?  We have custom solutions just for you!

Are you not happy with your commercial warehouse, storefront or converted mall space church?  We know how to fix that!

Have you already fixed your acoustics 9 times before and your still not happy?

We can fix any church that is absent of any acoustical planning and treatment.

We can also diagnose and fix any church that has the wrong acoustical treatment to get it back on track.

We have never been to a church that we couldn’t fix but we have had churches that were not ready to make the needed changes to get what they desperately wanted.  Oh, did you know that acoustics has always been the deciding factor in the aesthetics in a house of worship whether the acoustics are good or bad.  God taught us that beginning with Solomon’s Temple. (1 kings 6:29 (NIV)On the walls all around the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers.  (Please read my article about Solomon’s Temple http://www.jdbsound.com/art/art570.html))

Churches are not temples but they are dedicated as worship centers and houses of learning.  For worship and learning, you need tools. One of those tools is acoustics. You need a system of managing the air between the teacher and listener for the best worship and learning experience.  While a sound system is also a tool it cannot manage the air. It relies on acoustics for it to work. The better the acoustics, the more effective a sound system is.  Without the right acoustics, what are you really hearing or understanding?

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Message for Architects and New Church Buildings

Posted by jdbsound on February 19, 2015

It has been brought to my attention by a number of church members about who gets to decide the final aesthetics of worship space interiors.  Church members of some newly built churches which are less than one year old were pointing out to me that in the end, we acoustical designers get to ultimately decide the final aesthetics of a church – not the architect, no matter how much effort an Architect puts into the aesthetics of a worship space.   If this sounds familiar then check out my post in 2012 where I made a similar post.  This discussion comes up often.

It seems that when acoustics are included in the design stage of a worship space, the Architect has the last say on the rooms aesthetics – assuming the acoustical plans are not compromised later on.  When acoustics are left out of the design phase of planning a new church, it is people like me that get the final say in the room aesthetics. Whether it is while the building is being built or anytime later – even 200 years later, it is people such as myself that often make the final aesthetic changes that will last the life time of a church building. 

The good news is, is that when we are included in the design phase of a new church, often our acoustical designs blend into the architecture and it is often not seen or at least not seen as an acoustical add-on.  In fact, often our acoustical designs come off as the Architects design of the worship space and at times to the untrained person it looks like we had done nothing.   Where friction often comes up, is when after the design of the church has been completed and the church board has given the green light, that is when someone raises the issue of acoustics.  Often there are major acoustical issues as what is taught in Architectural schools is about concert hall acoustics, school auditorium acoustics and lecture room acoustics. 

Church acoustics is totally different and I don’t know of any place were “church acoustics” is taught.  This is often why bringing someone like me after a finished design is presented to a church where butting heads starts.  When there are glaring mistakes being made and we point them out, it often means major design changes which often cost money to change at this phase.  Once past the design phase, churches are rarely ready to pay for design changes that often means delaying the project which increases costs higher.  As a result acoustics is usually left until the church is finished.  But wait!  A church is not finished until the acoustics are done.

As stated before, it is people like me who get to decide the aesthetics of a church when acoustical design is left out.  This goes for new churches, storefront churches, churches moving into commercial buildings or are using commercial building designs and churches doing renovations.  If you are an architect, include us at the beginning of the design process and the aesthetics will be all about you.  Leave us out of the design process and no matter how beautiful a space you thought you designed, it will be people like me who get to decide it’s final finish and sometimes, what we do is not very flattering but when it sounds great, the less than pleasing acoustical treatment starts to look good. 

Joseph De Buglio  

PS: Don’t call us if you want someone to just rubber stamp your worship space designs.   

  

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First Acoustical Impressions

Posted by jdbsound on January 31, 2015

These are the most popular comment congregational members say after the first worship service with their new acoustics. “Love the way the new sound system works.  I can hear everything now!”  or “Did we get a new sound system?  I actually understood the music and the ministers message.” or “What did they do to the sound system?  The people are singing, the music sounds great and I can remember what the minister preached about.  Guess I’m going to have to come more often.”

The influence of the sound system in churches is so powerful that even when you do fix the room, people often judge the room by the sound system’s performance rather than how the room sings or how the room projects people’s voice or how the sound is getting off the stage rather than overloading the stage.  Acoustical changes is way more powerful than what any change a sound system can do but when a sound system falls short, it must be the technology and somewhere someone has a gadget to fix that if you can afford it.  Did you know that most acoustical fixes cost less than the speaker system most churches own?

Joseph De Buglio

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New Article on Sound Loudness in church

Posted by jdbsound on January 20, 2015

Just another article on the ever increasing sound levels in church.  Is it good or bad for the church community?  When a congregation can singing at 105dB, are they damaging their hearing even though they are singing acapella?  Click here and find out! 

Article written by Joseph De Buglio

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Acoustics extends the life of Church Restorations

Posted by jdbsound on December 16, 2014

Apparently it is true.  At a recent church meeting where a 160 year old Roman Catholic Church is being restored, the acoustical treatment that I designed will also help to preserve the walls behind it.  The acoustical panel will carry current and future artwork while the walls behind the acoustical system will be sealed.  With no paint going onto the walls, the existing brick and concrete will no longer be degraded by the chemicals in the paint.  This could be the first time where acoustics, Church Iconic Art and preservation are combined together.  According to the restoration company, this approach could double or even triple the cycle between major restorations. The church has already been partially treated for sound acoustics and the improvements have convinced church leaders that the rest of the room should be treated as well.  For this church, no absorption is being added.  Only diffusion is being added to create a phase coherent worship space.  The restoration company thinks that adding acoustical treatment system an affordable way to extend the cost of the restoration and it will give better results for hearing and the sound system performance.

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Phase Coherent Diffusion – Tube Radiators

Posted by jdbsound on November 9, 2014

Here is a You Tube Video by Acoustic Geometry that explain another aspect of our system of sound management in churches. John Calder is very good at explaining things in front of a camera.  Sure, what he explains is about studio and home theatre but the same benefits apply to churches in a big way. Acoustic Geometry has no association to JdB Sound Acoustics. Joseph De Buglio

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Maranatha Church, Hamilton, Ontario Canada

Posted by jdbsound on October 24, 2014

There are over 400 churches that have very good to great acoustics.  There are another handful of churches that have great acoustics that were not planned as high quality worship space.  Sometimes it just happens.  Churches with good to great acoustics makes up less than 5% of the church community.  Why?  Just recently, Maranatha Church in Hamilton, Ontario has joined the ranks of one of the best sounding traditional style church in and around Hamilton.  Look them up and have a visit.  You will not be disappointed.

The congregation can down out the organ.  When does that happen?

maranatha 02The congregation can drown out the organ. When does that happen?

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Speech! Speech!

Posted by jdbsound on October 9, 2014

How to recognize speech?

or

How to wreck a nice beach?

—————————————

How does your church sound system perform?

When you’re listening to your church sound system what are you hearing?

If you are listening to your minister and you can’t tell the difference between these two phrases, don’t be too quick to blame the sound system.  The acoustics in your worship space could be limiting the performance of your sound system.  Chances are, if this is happening, congregational singing and praise and worship could be affected too.

Did you know that 90% of churches with poor acoustics can be fixed? So how much does it cost to fix the acoustics of a church?  A typical turn-key installed church sound system runs from $55 to $140.00 per seat or higher. High performing acoustical fixes in existing building run from $12.00 to $35.00 per seat and for new churches before they are built the acoustics can be a low as $23.00 per seat.  A fraction of the cost of a church sound system.

Well, you will need a sound system anyway so why do acoustics?  If you include the acoustics, you can have the acoustics and sound system combined for the same $55.00 to $140.00 per seat and have even better sounding sound system with less sound equipment or even with budget equipment.   That’s right!  A lot of current mid to high-end church sound systems are over designed because most of the designers of them think that more equipment will somehow side step physics and correct the room acoustics.  Well, that will never happen.  Oh!

Did you know that when many of these touring companies go from venue to venue, not all of what you see is turned on?  In many cases the same rig that needed everything turned on in one 10,000 seat venue only had 1/3rd of the same sound system turned on in another 10,000 seat venue.  For most outdoor systems, everything is used but for indoor venues the room decides what gets turned on and what is kept off but for convenience, the whole rig is set up every time.  What you see is not always what you hear.  Many times only a third of the twin line arrays are turned on. Every professional sound engineer  who mixes live sound for a living who knows and gets great sound consistently will tell you that less is better.

So what does this mean for churches?  When the acoustics are great and it meet all of the needs for worship including congregational singing, you can have great sound with up to a third less sound equipment.  That then give you two other options.  You can add more to the multi media budget or have higher quality equipment to get that extra sonic quality you wanted for the pastor or the praise team.

By getting your church acoustics managed properly, the church win in many ways.  First off, churches that have better acoustics and matching sound systems have an average higher attendance of 10 to 25%. With higher attendance you have a larger financial base for missions and other church programs.  Churches with better acoustics also have a much more stable memberships and have better successes at planting new churches.  Church staffing is easier to support and when building maintenance is required, the funds are easier to raise.  Along with that and something that is rarely mentioned, a church with higher attendance should also mean church pastors being better supported.

Finally something that I have repeated often, church acoustics usually pays for itself in 12 to 24 month.  What other item can a church invest in that pays for itself?  What investment is there that pays out a 100% return in two years or less?

by Joseph De Buglio

PS:  The opening lines are from an audio magazine news article in the 1980’s.  Couldn’t find the author.  However, the origins of the phrases many have dated back to Bell Lab around 1928.

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