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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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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Methods of Church Acoustics

Posted by jdbsound on September 17, 2014

The following is an overly generalized statement but bear with me.

If I had followed the secular methods of doing larger room acoustics for churches over the last 25 years, I would be still looking for my third acoustical project.  Instead I ditched the methods taught at school and followed the scriptures method of doing church acoustics. Now over 450 churches have very good to great to excellent acoustics.  The science is all there, it’s just used in a different manner and it gives churches what they really want.  It gives a church a space they often hear about but never thought possible in their acoustical nightmare.

Doing church acoustics the biblical way always get the results a church wants regardless of the style worship you practice.  Hey, I used to do churches using secular methods and while it changed the room, often it limited or stifled the worship.  Church acoustics should enhance the worship and bring people together.

What should be louder?  A 37 rank pipe organ or 450 people singing?  How exciting is it when the congregation can out sing a pipe organ without effort!

What should be louder? A 40,000 watt sound system in a 600 seat church or the 500 people singing?  The people should be louder. Such acoustical marvels are already in churches that use the biblical method of church acoustics.

Whether your have a store front worships space, a warehouse worship space or a purpose built church for a worship space, they all can have excellent acoustics right from the first day you worship in it.  Hey, I didn’t make the rules or the laws of physics, God did, and following God is what we are to do as Christians.

Blessings

Joseph De Buglio

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Tell Marketers latest scam looking for INF files

Posted by jdbsound on September 4, 2014

Just got a phone call for someone who said they represented Microsoft.  They said they were getting coded messages from my internet address saying that there was a problem with my computer.  They knew my name, my home address and the type of computer that I was using.  That is sort of creepy that they knew such details.

Anyway, I played along with them.  They asked me to search for INF files on my computer.  They said this was code for infections.  Well, fortunately I know enough about computer to know that INF files are text files that tells a windows program how to install new or updated software and drivers.  At that moment, there were trying to take over my computer.  So I turn off the internet to see what they would do next.  That is when they asked me to look for certain files and email the files to them.  When I told them my internet was down, they hung up on me.

* * WARNING * * If anyone calls on the phone and says they are from Microsoft or Windows, they are scammers.  They want your identity and banking information and destroy you life.

This is a cautionary warning for anyone getting calls from Tell Marketer’s. 

This kind of call has happened 4 time in the last 2 day and all of them spoke with an indian accents. 

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Test Room Results

Posted by jdbsound on September 4, 2014

The test room has been a great success.   We are getting meaningful results down to 100 hertz which is the limitation of the test speaker.  Hope to get a subwoofer for lower frequency testing.  In the meantime,  had a worship space with a problem at 230 hertz.  Found a pattern that will add an extra 30dB dip at 230 hertz on top of a general 20dB dip from 100 to 600 hertz.

 

At another church, there was a peak of 25dB between 800 to 1200 hertz.  Hope to have a pattern to solve this problem soon.  It shouldn’t take more than a week to figure out such a pattern.  I will keep you posted.

 

Joseph De Buglio

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