Church Acoustics & Sound Systems

Learn how the Bible teaches about sound to the modern church.

  • Supported by

    Ph # 519-582-4443
    email: jdb@jdbsound.com

    The Bible is the de facto standard for all church worship needs including sound and acoustics.

    2 Timothy 2:15

    YouTube Channel: JdB Sound Acoustics Video’s

  • Archives

  • For additional contact information scan the QR code below

    link to jdbsound.com

Does sound quality in a Worship Space –

Posted by jdbsound on June 22, 2021


  • Affect church attendance?
  • Affects church finances?
  • Affects church health?
  • Affects a church’s reputation within a local community?
  • Affects how people respond to the Gospel message?
  • Affects what a minister preaches the Gospel?
  • Affects how a minister preaches?
  • Affects people emotionally?

Myths vs Facts: 

According to various hearing organizations such as the American or Canadian Hearing Societies and other health organizations, 8 to 25% of people will have hearing loss or impairment within any community. For some people, the hearing loss is in one ear or both ears. For other people, using a hearing aid does make up the difference so those people can interact socially with others without needing to use sign language. The bottom line is, if a person can have a normal conversation in a living room but has trouble hearing and being engaged in conversations in larger rooms, these people are less likely to attend a church with less-than-ideal acoustics and amplified sound. Hearing loss, the invisible disability, does make social gatherings awkward for many. Numerous people with hearing loss resort to the practice of self-isolation from social events, including weekly worship services. Sound does have an impact on church attendance for those who have any kind of loss or impairment.

Good acoustics and sound system design in a church make the worship space much more accessible and appealing for those with hearing loss within any community. That is why churches that follow the Bible, when it comes to worship space acoustics, experienced a consistent and sustained 10% attendance increase on average 6 to 18 months after upgrading, while churches that just upgrade their sound system and not the acoustics realize a short-term increase of 5% and 2% over long-term follow-ups. Churches that upgraded both the acoustics and sound system saw no significant attendance changes when compared to churches that just upgraded the acoustics. (However, some churches did reinstalling the existing speaker system to take advantage of the better acoustical conditions and expand the performance of the sound system.)

These facts have been consistent with churches where the pastor, church leadership, and local economies had not changed from 3 years before to 5 years after upgrading the acoustics. The conclusion is, no matter how good or popular your pastor is as a preacher and leader, if the acoustics and sound system are not up to Biblical standards, there are many people who are being excluded. Depending on your point of view, some people see this as a denial of service.

Another thing to consider is that an attendance change of 10% also adds up to a 10 – 15% annual increase in tithes and offerings. For a typical 400 seat church, that could represent an income difference of $208,000.00 over ten years or enough money to replace a church roof.

(Fact: Most churches will sell parts of their property, including their parking lot, to pay for building repairs such as roof replacement.)

Church Size400 seating
Before average weekly church attendance230 people
People returning to attending because of hearing improvements10% or 23 people
Average giving per person (Health Research Funding Org. May 2020)$17.00
Weekly giving increases$390.00
Monthly increases$1,564.00
Annual increases$20,280.00
Over 10 years$208,200.00
Stats are provided from client follow-ups of 5, 10, and 20 years which followed the Biblical method of managing church sound.  The sample size is from 130 of the 400 churches that upgraded their acoustics between 1994-2019.


Not knowing if the acoustics of your church are up to Biblical standards could mean that your church is denying people from attending your church more frequently or from ever returning.

While there are many personal and spiritual reasons for people not attending a particular church, our records show that good acoustics combined with a quality designed and adjusted amplifying sound system constantly translates into higher attendance and tithing. For some churches, the better-quality sound translated into higher giving from people who did not have a hearing issue which was unexpected in our research. These were people who responded to a questionnaire where one of the questions asked, if they noticed the higher quality of sound and whether it affected their tithing. The most consistent response was that when the church board invested in its members by making the worship experience better with quality acoustics, then they felt it was worth investing in a church that took care of its own first, and out of the excess, they could better support others including missions. Church sound is not just an emotional experience; it is a physical experience that directly impacts church attendance and finances.

The Biblical standard for church sound comes from the Bible and specifically in the Story of Solomon’s Temple. In following the story literally, we find that what God designed through the hand of King David is a house of worship that makes it possible for modern sound systems to perform at their highest levels. This makes the room compatible for people with all ranges of hearing loss, and it provides ideal sightlines for people who start to learn lip-reading as their hearing declines with age. Solomon’s Temple is also compatible with ADA (access for Disabilities Act) and other similar laws around the world as the Temple had no steps in the sanctuary, making the worship space wheelchair friendly, even before wheelchairs were invented. Solomon’s Temple doesn’t just set the standard for church sound; it sets the standard for all aspects of church worship and building planning.

You should get your worship space assessed and know it’s acoustical score. If there is room for improvement, have a plan in place when your church can afford to upgrade. On the other hand, some churches have upgraded their acoustics as a last-ditch effort to remain relevant in a local community. All of the churches that made such a desperate move are still open, healthy and have expanded their status in their local community. The knowledge we now know about Solomon’s Temple can benefit your church today.

Then there is the issue of quality versus quantity or loudness. Do people want their sound louder or of better quality? Research suggests that most people choose quality over quantity, hands down. This is especially true for people with hearing problems. While those with hearing loss and using aids to help them hear, a loud sound with distortion renders their hearing aid less capable of help than a clean sound at a lower volume.

Sound systems that have too much distortion at any level are a turn-off because distortion can become painful as the sound levels increase at certain frequencies. Many expensive high-end sound systems are distorting long before reaching their maximum loudness levels. Young people who hear distortion tolerate it better than people over 25 years of age. They often have the mindset that if you turn up the sound system loud enough, the distortion goes away. What they are really doing is desensitizing their ears while damaging their equipment at the same time. Ears have a limited natural way to protect themselves by tightening muscles around the ear canal and drum for short-term excessive noises. For older people, these muscles are not as effective, and distortion becomes intolerable, assaulting the ears at lower volume levels as people age. On the other hand, when the sound quality is high and free of distortion, people of all ages enjoy the louder amplified music, considering that an unamplified congregation can sing over 100dB in a good room without complaints.

The quality of the acoustics, combined with a professionally designed sound system, does impact a church in many ways other than just attendance, tithes and offerings. That impact of sound quality can affect church attendance as little as 8% and some churches up to 18%, and that is just by attending to the physical needs of people. Unfortunately, we have no way of measuring how sound affects people emotionally and spiritually and whether that influences attendance. On the other hand, many movie theatres have upgraded their seating, installed higher-quality speaker systems, add substantial amounts of sound-deadening materials, and other details to enhance the movie viewing experience. Judging from the higher ticket prices people are willing to pay, there is little doubt of an emotional experience tied directly to sound quality.

The secular community has tested how sound affects people numerous times. By simply changing the quality of the sound, it affected how people judge the quality of the picture they saw on the screen. In one well-known test, two identical theaters were made to look the same in every detail. The projectors were the same as well as the popcorn and other items people do when watching a movie. While both theaters had carpeted floors and padded seating, one theatre had very visible acoustical panels and hardware on the walls and ceiling, the other theatre had fake panels that had no acoustical properties but looked identical. After having two groups of people listened to the same three movies over three days in both theatres, the majority of the listeners judged the theatre with the proper acoustical treatment to have a better picture and they remember much more details of the movies. Additionally, some thought the seating was more comfortable, the popcorn and drinks tasted better. Some also asked to see some of the movies again in the theatre where they found the seating more comfortable. As a caveat, the sound in the theatre without the acoustical treatment could not perform as loud, even though both sound systems were properly equalized, so the sound levels were set to a lower volume. The acoustically treated room with bass traps was able to perform to lower frequencies without any distortion which augmented the sound quality. This is a clear example of how sound quality affects people emotionally in a big way.

Finally, can the number of people responding to altar calls, faith healings, being slain in the spirit, speaking in tongues, and experiencing holy laughter be attributed to sound quality? For churches seating less than 400 people, that depends. Churches this size or smaller should have good enough acoustics without a sound system if the worship space meets the Bible’s acoustical standard. When the room cannot support quality sound acoustically, the church will resort to using sound systems to make up for the room’s failure to perform. At best, a typical professionally designed and installed sound system can raise the performance by a mere 10 to 15% of the room’s potential performance. When the room is acoustically upgraded, the room performance often improves 50 to 60%. In a bad room, at best, 1 or 2% of the people will respond to a worship service event. In a good room, you can add another 2 to 3% response to such church activities. Sound quality, along with uniformed sound coverage, will impact more people. Whether this translates into adding more people to the church, that is up to the church leadership and how supportive they are in helping people in understanding what just happened.

For larger churches, the sound system is very much part of the worship service all the time, and without the sound system, large churches cannot have worship, let alone get the responses that they may have. The larger the room, the more critical the acoustical management of the space becomes. In larger churches, sound quality has a larger impact on people responding to church events. The responses double between good and bad rooms.

When people like Billy Graham evangelized in outdoor stadiums, the sound was often fairly good everywhere because there were no surrounding room surfaces creating interfering reflections. Nothing was getting in the way of the spoken words. Even the echoes heard were not a problem because those effects were often 15 to 20dB lower in volume than the direct sounds from the sound system speakers. Seeing thousands of people responding at outdoor events is rarely duplicated percentagewise indoors, where the acoustics do not meet Bible standards. That also explains the higher response levels to outdoor events when no tent is used versus using a tent. When Jesus spoke to the multitudes, it was always outdoors. Except for when Jesus confronted the Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, and scribes in the Temple and Synagogues, almost all of the teachings to the crowds were done outside. Teaching the disciples and close followers was whenever Jesus knew they were ready to listen and save that knowledge for later when the Holy Spirit gave them understanding.

Church sound does have a huge, long-term impact on churches affecting their growth, health, unity, and support by members and the local community. What a church does after they have upgraded their sanctuary, is up to the leadership whether to promote the improvements or fall back and take sound for granted. From our experience, there has been no downside to making existing, and new worship spaces meet the Bible’s standard. True, no acoustics or sound system can save a person’s soul, but the quality of church sound can make a difference in reaching that soul.

In the end, upgrading the acoustics that will automatically get the best performance possible from the sound equipment of a church to help people with hearing issues alone. This should be enough reason for making such improvements. Upgrading to solve the congregational singing issue is another good reason. That solution is in the Bible too. The number one reason to upgrade is to have a church where no matter who walks through the doors in your worship space, when the person hears the Gospel message, there will be no doubts in what they have heard and no excuses in saying I didn’t understand the message. That said, no sound system or acoustics can remove the veil over someone’s eyes. That is the work of the Holy Spirit and whether the person’s heart has been opened to understanding and receiving the truth.
When Jesus taught, people either fled away or were changed by His teaching. Those who were being changed stayed and kept following Him to learn more. Those who fled, Jesus knew that they would never change because they loved or believed in something they thought was better, believed in other false gods or a lie. When that Gospel message competes with unmanaged reflections of sound in a worship space, those bad reflections will interfere with the person’s ability to understand the Gospel message. That is something that no one can measure. The idea here is to remove any possibility of bad acoustics and sound from keeping someone from understanding the message as no one knows the battle that is going through a person’s heart and mind when they are hearing a sermon at church.

Many times, ministers had shared with me how their ministry changed before and after the acoustics were upgraded. Some ministers have said, knowing a certain person who was at a point in their lives that they needed a push to understand salvation, the minister would prepare a sermon to reach that person. Before the upgrade, such efforts often lead to some people going to other churches, where they became born again. Perhaps the sound was better over there, or the minister was better at preaching. Who knows? After the acoustics were upgraded, most of those efforts in tailoring the sermons not only reached the person the minister was praying and preaching for, but sometimes other people responded to the same message. Sound quality can impact the confidence in efforts of the minister and everything else that happens at the front of any church. Who would have ever thought that sound quality in a church could affect the confidence of a minister’s ability to teach?

Sound quality does impact every part of church worship more than what people realize. It affects people physically, emotionally and it impacts how they respond to the Gospel. It is time for churches to get their houses in order and follow what the Bible teaches in something that we should not take for granted. If your church is dedicated as houses of worship to God, shouldn’t it SOUND like it is dedicated to God?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: