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Hot Spots in Worship Spaces

Posted by jdbsound on May 25, 2020

Hotspots and Deadspots are sound effects most often created by unmanaged room reflections that are out of synchronization with direct sounds from a pulpit or preaching position, and made worse when the wrong sound system design is used.

To learn more of what you can do about it, read this article.

In case you don’t know this, sound systems cannot eliminate deadspots if it is created by the room in the first place. Adding more speakers will degrade the overall performance of the sound system, including making other areas of the worship space harder to hear clear sound.

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Church Sound. It’s all about cause and effect.

Posted by jdbsound on May 20, 2020

Sound system design has nothing to do with the equipment you use. It is about the location of speakers used to broadcast into a room and the interaction of the room onto the speaker system design.  It doesn’t matter if you are using line arrays or point and shoot speakers if the speakers are placing in the wrong position; both types of speakers will have the same limitations.  It is all about cause and effect.  A sound engineer needs detailed knowledge, understanding, experience, and wisdom in knowing room acoustics or know enough to ask help from an acoustician to understand when to use which system.  The room will tell you where the best places are to put speakers. 

The room will tell you when to use one of the following techniques. :

  • Distributed Sound System
  • Central Cluster or single speaker system
  • Left Center Right system or cluster
  • Left Right System
  • Live Stereo Hybrid System
  • Hybrid Distributed Sound System

The geometry, reverberation, surface materials, acoustical management system, and room volume all have to be accounted for before creating a sound system design profile.  After all of this is done, you can start to determine the size of the sound system needed. 

If you think you need to do some acoustic treatment or the church has already been treated, it should not be using the spot treatment method, which means placing a few panels on a wall or two.  Whenever you add something to one wall or any part of a wall, it affects the whole room.  This also includes the placement of screens, lighting, and other items related to multimedia.  Even room renovations change how a room sounds. It is all about cause and effect. The acoustics of a church must use a planned system that treats the whole room.

A spot fix is when enough panels are added to solve one problem.  In acoustics, when there is a problem, there are always other glitches than masked other difficulties that you can’t hear and often are not shown in acoustical measurements.  Here is an example: Placing sound absorbers on the front face of a balcony will get rid of an echo.  However, the added absorption often makes the mids and bass stronger, which usually makes speech and music sound muddier.   This then requires adding bass traps, which are expensive.  While you can use aggressive equalization to make the sound system better for speech, you will need a different equalization for music.  While these efforts can somewhat help with amplified sound as long as someone remembers to switch the EQ settings, the congregational singing is degraded until bass traps are added.  Add the bass traps.  It is all about cause and effect.

However, you may have noticed at after treating the front face of the balcony and adding the bass traps, there is now a softer echo off the back wall or the reflections off the side walls are much worse depending on the shape of the room.  Reflections off the side walls are detected when clapping from the front of the center stage.  Those reflections from the sides or back interfere with speech and music intelligibility.  It is all about cause and effect.  Change the EQ of the sound system.  Helps for speech, doesn’t help for music at all.  In spite of changes to the sound system, speech is worse in the back half of the room.  Add speakers to the back half of the room.  It helps people with good hearing and doesn’t help people with hearing aids.  Add a delay to the speakers.  People with hearing aids do better, but they are still no happy because someone is sitting in their spot where they know the sound is better. 

Should you apply something to the sidewalls, then the echo off the back wall becomes much more pronounced and interfering with hearing on stage.  Switch to in-ear monitors.  It’s all about cause and effect.

Now the drums are too loud. Add panels to the stage or get a drum shield that costs more than fixing all of the acoustical problems in one step.  With the drum shield in place, the drummer plays louder because they can’t hear themselves properly.  The insides of the drum enclosures are easily overloaded, making it harder for the drummer to hear all the different drums and cymbals.  After additional dampening to the drums, the drummer playing even louder, getting elbow and wrist injuries.  Sound is still bleeding through the shield, even after adding a roof to it.  Some churches have turned the drum shield into a self-contained room with air-conditioning as a permanent fixture on the stage.  It is all about cause and effect.

For the time being, congregational singing has become a chore for most, resulting in less than 20% of the audience singing.  To get people singing again, you pay singers and musician to lead the worship, and to keep the talent to stick with the music entertainment program.  This helps for a while, and before long, you are back to less than 20% of the audience singing.  Bring in larger screens, add lighting effects, and use lighting to help create a mode to encourage people to sing.  Again, this helps for a while, but participation drops back to 20% again.  These objects change the acoustics of the room, and everyone just puts up with the sound degradation.  It’s all about cause and effect.

In the meantime, the sound system has been replaced, church attendance is up, but fewer people come to prayer meetings or Bible studies.  Turn to home groups.  At first, home groups bring in more people, but as the church continues to grow, more people are slipping through the system and are not included in the home groups or any spiritual support.  Fewer people are growing as there is no alternative for mid-week meetings at the church.   The preaching is dynamic; the entertainment is awesome, fewer people are actively involved in the church, and more people become adherents with no real motivation to join, and become members, and learn more about their faith.  The church is full of Sunday worshipers unable to defend the Gospel, but they know and singing the choruses sung by the church all the time.  It is about being part of something that is free of guilt, responsibility, and not knowing what salvation really is about.  It’s all about cause and effect.

Wait a minute, what does any of this have to do with acoustics and sound system?  The sound system is just equipment and technology.  The room is just a set of walls, floor, and ceiling.  When empty, they do nothing.  When energized with sound, there is an immediate cause and effect that impacts on every part of the worship service.  Sound affects how people react to events in a church.  Consider how people respond to movies at a theatre.  When the sound is excellent, the audience will tell you how good the picture looks.  When the sound is poor, people don’t come back.  How much more does that impact a church?  Again, it’s all about cause and effect.

Next, check the acoustical condition of your church.  Have your church properly tested for all aspects of worship, not just the performance of the sound system and hardware.  Test for congregational singing.  Test for audience participation for prayer and testimonies from the seating area of your church.  Check for the signal to noise ratio on the stage and in the audience.  Check the frequency response of the room and ignore the reverberation time of there is more than a 20dB difference in the response of the worship space.  If your worship space passed, then you don’t need any help.  Your sound system is already working perfectly.  If you have any concerns or want better performance from your sound system, fix the room.  It’s all about cause and effect.

After the sound system and worship space has been upgraded, start mid-week Bible Studies at the church.  If people come to the church mid-week, the congregation will become stronger and healthier.  Congratulation, you have just successfully upgraded the sound of your church to meet all what a congregation needs.

The story you have just read happens in many churches.  It is based on the testimonies of hundreds of churches around the world.  If this doesn’t sound like your church, have your worship space tested anyway if it hasn’t ever been properly tested. The results can be a surprise or a blessing. 

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What happens when Technology, Science and Knowledge catches up with the Bible.

Posted by jdbsound on April 24, 2020

The Bible has a lot to say about how a modern church should be designed.  Solomon’s Temple was not just a house for God to dwell in, it was also meant to be a tool to help preach and spread the Gospel in the present.

After reading this article, please pass it on and make comments below.

***  Article: Gods Authority in Church Design ***

This article is the most comprehensive study of King Solomon’s Temple I have ever written.  If you believe John 1:3, then you know who really designed Solomon’s Temple.  King David only penned the details of the new temple.  King David told his son Solomon that it was the hand of God that guided his hand.  What was so important for God to design the temple rather than letting a man design in with whatever came into his thought?

This article gives a stronger case for what the “Inspired Word of God” means.

Winning people to Christ is not a game or something given to chance.  We need all the tools possible to have an impact on this world.  Jesus is Lord, and if your church is dedicated to God, Jesus is Lord over your church building too.

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Increasing the quality of Streaming Churches Messages from Home or office

Posted by jdbsound on April 22, 2020

With all of our churches closed, many have turned to YouTube or live-streaming of church messages. After listening to many of them, there is a sound quality issue I want to bring up. Many of the videos I have seen and heard, sound like there were recorded in a cave – a bad room. If you are limited in the quality of the room, perhaps you can use cardboard tubes to get the best sound quality out of your message. Adding carpet on the floor will quiet the room down, but often it makes the room bassy sounding. To balance that out, add the tubes on all the walls, as shown in the photo below.

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You don’t have to be as fancy as this, but getting the best clarity in your voice is important in communicating such an important message online.

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This is one of the cheapest ways to make the space you are working from to have a sound quality that most people are accustomed to hearing every day.  If you are like me, when the sound on my favorite shows is of poor quality, I switch to something else in the first 30 seconds.  Good sound is more important than a good picture.

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Acoustical Quiz

Posted by jdbsound on April 9, 2020

  1.  What is the difference between sound absorption and phase cancellation?
  2. How many decibels is equal to a coefficient value of 1 in decibels?
  3. How much does sound decay when you double the distance outdoors in decibels?
  4. How much does sound decay over distance when indoors in decibels?
  5. When you double the number of loudspeakers of the same power, how much does the sound increase in decibels?
  6. When you have two loudspeaker side by side and wire one speaker out of phase from the other, how much is the sound reduction in decibels?

When you know the answers, write them in the comment box below.

In the meantime – – – enjoy.

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Article Published in Church Sound Magazine

Posted by jdbsound on March 30, 2020

Late last year, Kevin Young, freelance music and tech writer, professional musician, and composer ask to write up a profile article on JdB Sound Acoustics.  After several interviews, he submitting the article to Church Sound Magazine which is part of Pro Sound Web.  Pro Sound Web has published a number of my projects over the years and they are a great resource for churches for all things about church sound, lighting, and AV.

Removing Barriers: The Motivations Of Long-Time Worship Acoustics & Systems Designer Joseph De Buglio

Post below any comments, questions about the article or about church sound in general.

Thank you.

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Protecting your worship team, pastor and congregation from Covid-19. Update on sharing Microphones

Posted by jdbsound on March 8, 2020

Covid 19 is a new version of the Coronavirus that has gone from animals to humans.  It is so new that scientists are still scrambling to figure out how it spreads.  The speed of how fast it is spreading and the fatality rate is still changing. How do you protect yourself from such an awful series of events?

When people who were isolated on a cruise ship were getting the virus, did they already have it, or was it being spread around by the ships’ ventilation system?  It makes you wonder.  The reason for raising the alarm is because, in churches, we share microphones, and microphones are a way to spread around harmful bacteria, common cold, and the flu.  Since Covid-19 can remain active for hours or days, depending on the type of surface it lands on, sharing a microphone can be as bad as sharing a toothbrush.

I’ve written in the past that worship leaders and pastors if they can afford it, they should own their own microphones and take personal responsibility for the cleaning and care of their microphones.  The reality, most churches can’t afford to buy microphones for every person who uses one.  With a virus that is spreading around so fast, it would be easy for a person to spray moisture onto a microphone, pass it on to another person and if that person inhales without moving the mic away, could they get the virus?  While the possibility seems remote, until we know everything about Covid-19, until there is a vaccine for it, we can still take precautions to prevent or slow down the spread.

Here is what we do know.  If you have gotten the annual flu shot, it may not protect you from Covid-19, but if you don’t have the flu or cold, if you get Covid-19, your chances of living through it is 100% unless you have other illnesses at the time you get it.  Getting the flu shot, even now, will most like you allow you to live through getting Covid-19 if you were to get it.  Cleaning hands often and not touching your face is always good advice.  Sprays or hand sanitizers with 70% alcohol will kill the virus.  Wearing a mask without goggles won’t help because the virus can enter through your eyes.

Cleaning a microphone can be an issue. How do you clean them?  One option is to do what hospitals do.  Hospitals use high levels of UV light to disinfect germs, bacteria, and viruses.  The UV light is used to kill everything contagious, including superbugs—specifically, ultraviolet light called UV-C.  There are several products available to use.  Ultraviolet can be harmful to humans if you are exposed to it too long.

The suggestion here is to make a wooden box large enough for all of the microphones and cables used during a worship service.  Line the inside of the box with tin foil, mirrors or reflective metal.  Install a UV-C light inside the box.  Generally, a 25 to 35watt lamp should do. You should also have a timer for the light.   At the end of the service, have the performers and pastor place all of their microphones and cables in the box.  Add the wireless microphones after removing the batteries as well.  If you have to handle them, wear gloves. If the pile is more than 3 cables deep, have more boxes, make a larger box or clean in batches.  Put the cables on the bottom and microphones on top. You can also put in any hearing-impaired headsets and earbuds in the box too. Anything that people share should be cleaned this way.

According to what hospitals do, they sterilize this way for 30 minutes.  The cost of making a clean box with the right type of UV lamp (UV-C) and a timer should be less than $150.00.  That is a small price to pay to keep people safe. Even if Covid-19 doesn’t come to your church, this is still a good practice to prevent colds, flues, and bacteria from giving other church members an unwanted present.

Here is a link to my original article about sharing toothbrushes in worship service in 2012. https://churchacousticsandsoundsystems.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/microphones-are-hazardous-to-your-health.pdf

*** UPDATE ***
I’ve mentioned on other posts about using plastic food wrap or balloons over microphone capsules and windscreens. This idea only works great if the plastic is removed between the uses of a microphone. Passing microphones around is not a good idea either. If you can get a second mic, the better.

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How to Improve/Fix Congregational Singing Permanently

Posted by jdbsound on March 6, 2020

Congregational singing is perhaps the third most important part of worship.  Prayer and preaching of the Gospel come first and second.  In many church publications and websites, there are many articles about how to improve congregational singing.  When you say improve congregational singing, what are you truly asking for?  In almost every case, they are asking how to get more people singing.  And the theory is, the more people sing, the more they will be engaged. 

Here are some of those titles. 

  • 7 Tips To Encourage Singing in Your Church – Gavin Adams
  • Nine Reasons People Aren’t Singing in Worship
  • 12 Things to Avoid for Better Congregational Singing
  • Fifty Ways to Guarantee Poor Congregational Singing
  • How to improve congregational singing: 4 suggestions to …
  • A Simple Way to Improve Congregational Singing: Get Rid of the Carpet

There are many more.

The ideas recommended are extraordinary, and most of the time, they are putting the bulk of the blame on the church leaders, including the pastors and song leaders, this is so wrong.  The truth is, all of the recommendations outlined are the result, such as trying to put a square peg into a round hole.  There is a simple solution to all of this.  When you read the articles, what church leaders are doing is a direct result of compensating for poor acoustical conditions.  Choosing the right keys to sing in, choosing a better selection of songs, hiring professional singers, and performers, in the end, it only helps things slightly.  The thing is, what the audience keeps telling me is that when they are singing, they feel like they are singing alone, it creates a sense of loneliness.  People feel as if no matter how loud they were singing, their efforts have no contribution to the overall volume of the congregation.  When you can’t even hear yourself, most people just give up and don’t bother singing.  Some may just mouth the words.

Sure, there are times when we see people at a concert singing a particular song, and it sounds impressive, but the reality is, those people will not sing the whole show at that volume.  It is more about having an emotional high and nothing more.  It is doing something to capture a moment for personal gratification and bragging rights.  That is not worshiping in any sense of the word.

My take on how to get the congregation to sing is by first identifying the source of why people don’t sing in your church.  In 90% of the churches that I have helped solve their congregational singing issue, it has always been around one reason – acoustics.  Here is some background you should know.

This is a new church with diffusers built into the walls. The quality of this room is such that when this photo was taken, the congregation drowned out the Pipe Organ. The organist said he pulled all the stops and he could not hear the organ for some of the songs they sang. At one point he stopped playing. With a sound meter recorder at the pulpit, the congregation hit 105dB several times and no one complained that it was too loud.

The struggles of congregational singing started long before the sound system was invented.  It is my belief that Choirs were formed originally, because when Christians first started to worship in existing pagan temples, (after the edict of tolerance,) most likely, those temples had such poor acoustics that the congregations back then had the same problem of not hearing themselves.  Then some talented singers found that if they stood in a particular part of a room, they could hear themselves and create an awesome sound of choral singing within the pagan temple.  That talent was later included as part of the worship.  When Christians started to build churches, when the buildings were finished, they asked the better singers to go to the part of the worship space where their voices were effective in creating this big sound where a few people would sound like many.

In the end, as more and more churches were built, the choir became the focus of congregational singing, and even though the congregation was encouraged to sing, the choir was the focus, not the congregation.  This continued throughout church history in one form or another.  Sure, some large cathedrals have these amazing sound effects. (Sound effects do not support congregational singing or speech.) Still, in the end, it is the choir and the organ that dominated worship, not authentic worship singing or hearing the Gospel.

Throughout the Reformation period to today, churches have been experimenting with worship space designs to discover the Rosetta stone of church acoustics.  Churches have been trying to create a worship space without any acoustical planning.  It hasn’t happened yet that we know of and if there is a church out there that works, where is it?  Why would it be kept as a secret?    When the room helps the singing of the congregation, the congregation will sing, and they will sing as loud as they are inspired to.  The same properties that makes congregational singing work, speech will be equally as good.  Around the world if there are such churches that have the proper balance of sound, for speech and congregational singing, why has no one documented these jewels or studied them to see what makes those churches better than others.  No one has made permanent records for future churches to follow. 

It seems that when a church gets known for its musical performance quality, it usually suffers from speech, and for years people have been brainwashed into believing that you can’t have a worship space that is good for both speech and music.  That comment is true, for a musical performance space or concert hall.  This is not what a church needs. A church needs a room to support congregational singing, not musical performances. 

When I get hired to fix a church, one comment that is repeated often is, we can’t afford or don’t want a concert hall.  That is the whole point.  You don’t want a concert hall, and it would be detrimental to a church to have such a space.  Concert halls do not support congregational singing, none of them do.  Concert halls are awful for speech.  If you look at most concert halls today, when it comes to speech, they close curtains, expose absorption panels, and they rely on costly sound systems to broadcast speech events.  Concert halls are either-or spaces.  They cannot support speech and music equally.  Furthermore, they don’t support audience singing at all.  How do I know that?   When I go to most of the churches that I have fixed in the past, when the attendance is around 90%, the congregation can drown out the pipe organ, the electronic organ, and the amplified worship team.  Yes, it is possible for the congregation to drown out a sound system with professional Christian performers leading the music.  That is what good acoustics can do in a worship space.  When people try to sing like that in a concert hall, it sounds like chanting in a sporting event.  It is not very musical and singing in four part harmony is out of the question.  In a worship space, a well-motivated congregation can sing over 105dB with the sound system off when the acoustics are managed for congregational singing.  If only the sound system could perform that loud without distortion and without the congregation complaining about the loudness.

Consider this, the invention of the sound system and its introduction into churches merely ushered in over time, the ability for contemporary worship, with the goal to get more people singing.  Yes, many churches tried amplifying the choir as a means to get the congregation to sing, it didn’t work.  When it came time for speaking, the sound system failed as well to amplify speech properly without feedback – This created a dilemma.  To make the sound system perform better for speech, churches add absorptive flat panels, and that usually means killing the room, which in turn, discourages singing.  The sound system was believed to be the solution to improving worship, but the truth is, the sound system can only amplify what the room allows.  In this struggle between the sound system and church worship, no one looks at the room as being the limiting factor.  Instead, observers and people asking whomever as to what can be done, the fingers point to the technology, the pastor, the song leader, and the soundmen who get all the blame.  All of the other recommendations are meaningless until the room is fixed.

The only complaint this church has is that congregational singing is much louder up front.

As I mentioned earlier, I fix the sound in churches all over the world.  Without changing the leadership, the pastor or song leaders, and without changing how worship is conducted, with the methods I use, most congregations go from 10 to 30% of the audience singing to 65 to 90% of the audience singing when the room is fixed.  That happens because there is a way to make the room very responsive to exactly what people need to hear and feel during the singing portion of worship.  At the same time, the same system improves the quality of speech, and as a bonus, the performance of the sound system increases substantially more.  Doing church acoustics correctly, is being able to have a room that does both speech and congregational singing equally well.  It also winds up being a good room for Christian concert and drama performances.  Is it really possible to have a worship space that does everything well?  Yes.  Should you think that this is about a compromise? Think again, it is not.

The method of sound management that I have been using in churches is not of my design.  I cannot take direct credit for these successes.  I learned from an expert in Church sound.  This sound management system that is now in over 450 churches, is the same method as originated by the hand that guided the fingers of King David, who designed King Solomon’s Temple.  The acoustical system that I use is the same system that was designed by God.  As I said, I can’t take credit for the success in the churches that have this system.  Here is condensed version of how I learned about it.

Years ago, I had read or heard this verse in 1 Kings 6:29, which says that on all of the walls within and without, there were carvings of Cherubs, Palm Trees, and open flowers.  Then one day and as the pastor was reading this passage from the pulpit, it dawned on me that the palm trees seemed out of place.  They have no aesthetic value.  There is no spiritual, nor ritual reason for having palm tree carvings on the wall.  Then the acoustical knowledge I was learning at the time kicked in.  If there was no acoustical treatment within the temple, the Levite Priests would have not been able to understand each other.  That room would have been ringing well over 5 seconds.  Under those conditions, even at 24 inches, the reverberation would have made it difficult to impossible to understand speech.  It says that in the large room of the temple called the Holy Place, that the priests taught, they read the laws, they played musical instruments, they sang and prayed.  They also did rituals that would have involved speaking.  What was in the room that allowed them to do all of those activities, which are also the same actions we do in churches today?

After doing a lot of testing and experimenting, I discovered that the shape of the palm tree could be mimicked with cheap cardboard tubes. This changes the performance of any existing church into a high-quality worship space that supports both congregational singing and speech.  Before installing any churches with cardboard tubes, we tested a number of churches.  For the first church tested with cardboard tubes, we used 10 and 12 foot long tubes, leaned them against the walls of a church and left them there for three weeks.  At the end of three weeks, not only was speech so much better, but the number of people participating in congregational singing doubled.  This was a huge surprise, and it was unexpected. We repeated this test in a dozen churches, and all of them had similar results. With those outcomes, I started recommending churches to use half-round tubes around their worship spaces, and every time as a new installation was completed, the results were almost all the same. (Let’s face it, some room shapes are better than others.)  Speech improved, and congregational singing always was much better.

In most cases, at the 6th month follow up to an installation, the contact person would tell me two things.  The first was an attendance increase.  The second was that 65 to 90% of the congregations were singing every song.  In most cases, there was no change in leadership, or order of worship or how singing was conducted.  All of the deadspots in the room were gone.  Now you could sit anywhere and sing out and feel like you are part of something big.  Sometimes I also got glowing reviews of how the sound system was fixed when nothing was done to the system except for some equalization. 

Since around 1994, over 450 churches have applied this method of managing the sound in their worship spaces.  All of them have reported similar results.  The interesting thing was, most of these churches didn’t hire me to fix their congregational singing.  They hired me to improve the performance of their sound systems.  They wanted better speech intelligibility.  The half rounds tubes are the most cost-effective solution to improving the performance of any sound system.  This method fixes the sound system much better than using any absorptive panel. 

There is also a unique feature that half-round tubes have that no other acoustical system can do.  The half-round tubes, when laid out in a specific pattern, can equalize a room.  By adjusting the spacing, the sizes, and when using prime number sequences, if there is enough wall space, you can cut up to 40dB of excess sound energy from 50 to 1200 Hertz.  If your worship space has excess energy, for example, at 400 Hertz and it feeds back there all the time, you can space the diffusers to cut out that frequency range.  No other acoustical system in the world can do that.  The most powerful acoustical system in the world comes from the Bible, and it is designed by God.  Many people say that the Bible is sufficient in all things, and this is another example of that Biblical truth.

We have to stop blaming worship leaders, song leaders, and pastors for the lack of congregational singing.  Saying things like changing the key to sing in or changing the order of music is blaming the worship leaders, and because of acoustics, all of their efforts cannot get any significant results because the room will cancel their efforts.  Song leaders are always searching high and low for answers, and if you watch them carefully, they are constantly trying new things to get the congregation to engage more.  Sure, for the short term, they might get an additional number of people singing, but after a few weeks, it goes back down to where it was before.  It’s not that people don’t want to engage; it is because the room will not allow them to participate in group singing.  This is the real reason why so many churches with contemporary worship styles have sanctuaries that are as good or better that performance clubs in Las Vegas.  So many churches have turned to an entertainment style of worship.  How un-Biblical is that!

On the internet, there are plenty of videos of young people in churches with hands up in the air and swaying to the music, but if you look closely, most of them are just mouthing the words, they are not singing.  That is not worship.  When what goes on in a sanctuary looks more like a rock concert, it is not church or worship.  It is just clean, mostly unspiritual entertainment. 

If there is any blame to go around, here is an uncomfortable truth.  When I am hired to help a church, congregation members always tell me how, for years, they have been complaining to the church elders.  Since churches are so reluctant to share their experiences with sound to other congregations, most church elders feel helpless because there are no standards for church sound and acoustics for them to turn to.  When they ask consultants for help, they say, ask 10 sound guys what to do, and you get 10 different answers.  This madness has to stop.  The Bible has the solution, and it is a solution that just about any church can afford to do. 

The best way to improve congregational singing is by fixing the worship space to the same standards as outlined in the Bible.  In the end, this is the only option.  If your church already has more than 65% of the audience singing, you are most likely not having an issue of the congregation being engaged in worship.  For the rest of the churches out there, seek out what God can do for you.  You don’t need an expert or acoustical consultant or sound system engineer to have a successful transformation.  Churches can do this on their own.  All you have to do is look at the examples on my website and copy whatever layout you see.  If you need more help and can afford the cost of a consultant, hire one who understands the Biblical way to solve church sound problems and congregational singing.  There is no mystery or formula or program when solving the congregational singing issue God’s way.  Congregational singing is also a spiritual issue.  It is what binds up together as believers.  Stop solving spiritual problems using mans’ ways.  God’s way always works.  Don’t take my word for it.  Trust God.

(c) By Joseph De Buglio March 2020.

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What are your Church Priorities about sound when it comes to preaching the Gospel?

Posted by jdbsound on February 25, 2020

Is the performance of your worship space a priority?  Is the message always crystal clear in every seating position, and over 60% of the congregation is singing all the time?  If you say no to either or both questions, and you want your church to sound right for speech and music, the biggest obstacle is often the acoustics.  The second is money.  The third is aesthetics.

Fix the room!  How?  Follow what the Bible says, and you will not be disappointed.  After all, it is God’s plan, not man’s idea.  Do you think that the results will be less than perfect if you follow His plan completely? Isn’t the Bible the Living Bible?  Since when did the Bible stop teaching us new things about science?  Check out Solomon’s Temple, and the answers are there.  They always have been. It’s just taken a while to join the dots.

But it costs too much!  Oh, you mean the cost of a few floor monitors or a couple of wireless microphones considered too much?  That is often the cost of the Bible’s way of fixing the acoustics or about $3.50USD per seat for a 300 seat church. (Not including the price for the knowledge of knowing what to do.)  Replacing a mixer costs about $15.00-21.00 per seat.  Replacing pews for chairs cost about $75.00 per seat.  Buying 10 Shure SM58 mics with cables and mic stands – costs about $1,500.00.  Fixing the acoustics of a church is cheaper than you think.

If the look of any acoustical treatment is a concern, ask yourself this.  Are you there to worship God or the building?  Fixing the acoustics is like saying you are more interested in hearing what God has to say through your minister.  Putting up with acoustical problems, poor quality congregational singing, and accepting a sound system with limited performance is like saying the building is more important than the message and having fellowship with other believers.

It all comes down to priorities.  The primary purpose of any building that is a dedicated House of God is the preaching of the Gospel.  A place where the Gospel message can be spoken without distortion or interface.  That includes making the room behave as God would want us to have it.  The second priority is the breaking of bread and drinking of wine in remembrance of what Jesus did for all of us.  The worship space has to support this event as often as each church chooses to remember.  The next priority is congregational singing.  There isn’t any other experience that can replace the joy and excitement of a room where more than 75% of the audience is singing.  Songs that tell stories of Jesus, his atonement of our sins, and of people who follow Jesus are powerful in bringing people together.  It takes the same quality of acoustics to hear clear speech as well as great congregational singing.  These are the things that matter when you are a part of the Kingdom of God.

While I do have a business about church acoustics and sound, there is no possible way for one person or one company to fix all of the churches out there that need help.  By making this public, it means that no one can patent it and force churches to pay a license fee. It means that no one can control it and inflate the cost of fixing existing and new churches.  Churches should use the Bible’s methods with confidence, to apply in faith what God teaches, even without expert help.  When churches take such a leap of faith, in most cases, the results are outstanding.

This information is being shared because I care more about winning people for Christ through better sound than creating a business empire.  By revealing what the Bible teaches, by showing that science backs it up, that it is affordable for every church to have excellent acoustics, this is all part of the Great Commission.  If more people with a passion and skills like mine, were to apply what the Bible teaches about sound, we could make a difference.  Mat-7:15.  Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (KJV)  If you have the chance, read the rest of what Jesus said in Mathews 7:15-20. Don’t trust me.  Trust the Bible.

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Is your minister preaching a distorted message unintentionally?

Posted by jdbsound on February 17, 2020

When sharing the Gospel, so many times, someone has said that they didn’t like what the minister said during a worship service, so they left the church.  They thought the minister was preaching a false message.  Some people have told me that they walked out of a worship service upon hearing the distorted message.  I would ask them if other people left the service at the same time.  In every case, they said no.  That is when I try to retrieve the audio record of that specific service.   As it turned out, on the recording, the minister said the right things, but why was it heard in the sanctuary as something else? 

The next step was to play the recording over the sound system and sit in the same spot the person complained about what he heard.  Sure enough, the same gibberish that got the person upset was heard in that spot.  When you moved several feet over in any direction, the sound was clearer, yet in other places, different words were being twisted.  With the recording on a loop, we found dozens of other places where the minister’s words were warped into something else.  Doing this exercise did get one person to try church again, but in most cases, when something like this happens, most people will not return to a church where the Gospel is preached.

Sound quality matters.  What good is excellent speech intelligibility in one spot and a failure in another?  Sound quality can save people and their souls.  I have never met a person who was saved by a song, but I had met many people who were saved when they heard the clear and undistorted message of Jesus Christ and become followers of the Messiah because the message was clearly understood. 

I often wonder how many other people have experienced hearing something different than what the minister said in a sanctuary. For many ministers and church leaders, it would never occur to them that the sound system was the cause of some people not returning to church.  The unfortunate truth is, many churches have questionable acoustics, and when a person sits in a spot where words, syllables, or the sound volume is too low, what was said and what is heard were not the same.

Sound systems cannot fix the acoustical problems of a church.  Adding more speakers or applying the latest state of the art technology tricks are no match to Architectural failures in room design and unmanaged sound sequencing around a room.  Absorptive panels are often the first weapon used to tame a room.  Cutting down on the noise and reflections with absorption cannot fix deadspots or hotspots.  Absorptive panels cannot change the path of sound reflections that causes uneven sound distribution. Absorptive panels have been known to make the sound harder to understand in those poor locations throughout the room, not better.  What is needed is a different weapon to defeat poor sound.

To eliminate hotspots and deadspots, you need to be able to distribute sound more evenly.  Scattering the sound is the most effective way to create a unified sound field throughout the whole sanctuary.  When sound is managed in this way, not only does it eliminate deadspots and hotspots of any speech problems, but it makes congregational singing, praise and worship bands clearer, the stage sound is corrected, and for many churches, they bring back choral music because it sounds better than what a worship team could do before the room was fixed.  In most cases, scattering the sound costs less to do than absorbing sound. 

Acoustical solutions for churches that work should be common knowledge as these concepts have been around for years. Fixing a church can often be restricted by how a solution may look. It is high time that the aesthetic police take a back seat from preventing the Gospel message to be preached clearly.  If aesthetics are a big deal, alternatives are always possible.  In the end, it is all about priorities. You have to choose between hearing the Gospel or have a Church that looks good.  What will your church do?

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Is Solomon’s Temple a Myth?

Posted by jdbsound on February 6, 2020

A myth can’t fix a church. The Word of God Can!
Both Physically – including the acoustics of a church, and Spiritually.
Share this if you believe that it is true.

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The Father of Modern Day Acoustics, Wallace Sabine and Solomon’s Temple

Posted by jdbsound on February 5, 2020

Introduction

In the field of acoustics and sound, many have said that Wallace Clement Sabine is considered the father of modern-day architectural acoustics. His scientific work was not only the foundation for concert hall acoustics, but few are aware of how his work has impacted the church community around the world. According to several sources, he was raised in a protestant home, but as an adult belonged to no church and professed no religious faith, yet his work has impacted churches in ways even Wallace could not have imagined. Wallace’s work included figuring out a prediction model of how to apply absorption to tame a room. He also proved that the reverberation time alone is not enough in helping performance spaces with their sound needs. He laid down a foundation, showing that you need much more detailing and care to create suitable sounding spaces, not just for concert halls, but for full Christian worship too.

Shortly after his discoveries and successes, most acoustical experts, Architects, engineers, and audio experts have focused on one thing, the reverberation time of a room – ignoring much of his actual contributions to modern acoustics. When Wallace created the first equation to calculate how much absorption is needed, most people thought that this equation was something magical. It was almost as if a single number could solve all sound problems for concert halls and performance spaces. While such a numeric value is essential, it was a small part of a much larger picture. Sure, Wallace did devote a lot of his time to such studies. Unfortunately, the absorption calculation moved from being a small tool as part of a broader view of performance acoustics to becoming the only thing that mattered. This equation gained mythological-importance to the point that for many laypeople….

To read the rest of this article, download the PDF file with this link. https://www.jdbsound.com/art/father%20acoustics.pdf

Once again we see science and the Bible in almost perfect harmony. Within science, there are many tools. For acoustics, there are specific tools. With the help of the Bible, it requires a set of tools that are unique to churches. For concert halls, recording studio’s and other entertainment venues, there are a set of tools for each one. Most of those tools do not apply to churches. When the tools of an acoustical consultant don’t use the Biblical tools exclusively, you will always get the acoustical performance of what those tools were based on. If you have only concert hall or studio or entertainment tools, then the results will not meet all of the needs of the church. If you use Biblical tools, you wind up with a House of Worship as the Christian community should have, but most churches don’t have a clue of what they are missing out.

Solomon’s Temple was very detailed in how it sounded. If you believe in the Trinity as I do, because of John 1:3 you know that Jesus design the temple that Solomon built. Without the acoustical planning in Solomon’s temple, the Levites would of had to have super natural powers to hear each other within the walls of the temple. There is no record of the Levites having such powers. What did they do to the temple to make it possible for people to hear in such are large space?

Here is something to consider. If Solomon’s temple is a myth, then the details of how the temple walls were completed should not have survived over history. After all, there is no record of the interior of Herod’s Temple other than some carving on the ceiling that Herod ordered which is not in the Bible. If someone says the Scriptures are not the inspired word of God, then the details of Solomon’s temple wouldn’t matter. But what happens when you apply the details of Solomon’s temple to an existing church? If it is a myth, nothing should happen. If it fixes a church, doesn’t that prove God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? What does that mean if over 400 churches have applied such a system in faith, using the same methods from the Bible to make the acoustics of their churches as best as they can be?

The details of Solomon’s temple matters. Nothing in the Bible is about trivial nonsense. Everything in the Bible has a purposes and the details of Solomon’s Temple is a roadmap to fixing existing churches and it should be a template for new churches today now that we understand why such details were persevered for us in the scriptures today. How many more churches need to be convinced before it becomes a normal way to complete our houses of worship?

If anyone with normal hearing in a church has trouble understanding what is being said in God’s House of Worship, the Bible has the solution for that. And that solution is very affordable. Please enjoy the rest of the article.

The Father of modern acoustics

By Joseph De Buglio (c) 2020

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Is Church Acoustics Easy?

Posted by jdbsound on December 23, 2019

There are two answers to this question. When you follow just the science, the correct answer is no. When you follow what the Bible teaches, the answer is yes.  Church acoustics is simple, but many will tell you otherwise. While it is easy to change how a room sounds, it is another thing to change the sanctuary to perform appropriately for a complete Christian Worship experience regardless of the denomination or congregation you belong. Christian Church worship is unique and the acoustical requirement of any church cannot be found, practiced or learned outside of any church community adequately.

Concert halls, recital halls, recording studios or any room where non-Christian people revere as great places for music or live stage performances and entertainment, these places have clouded, (Mat 7:15) the judgment of churches communities all over the world for years of what Christian worshipers need in a large room. When we turn to the Bible for the kind of worship space we are supposed to have, the answers most Christians are looking for are right there.

Science has not caught up with what is required for church acoustics. It is not able to predict the perfect acoustics a church needs. In each generation of computer modeling, it is getting much better. The good news is that we don’t have to wait for science to catch up to modeling proper worship space acoustics. The Bible has always had the solution as a tool to solve or plan church acoustics, even in the 2100 century. When such planning is applied the outcome is still what a congregation wants and needs. Here is a prime example of Biblical Scientific Foreknowledge at work. When we look past the Golden walls and floors and peel back the details of how Solomon’s Temple was designed and finished, we discover a worship space that every Christian congregation should have today.

The Bible has always had the proper teaching or formula for large room “Worship” acoustics. Did you know that without God’s design for acoustics, the Levites would not have been able to do any ceremonies or teaching in the temple? In Solomon’s Temple, there was an acoustical system given to Solomon that was applied. When employed in modern churches today, it solves almost all of the acoustical problems we can often hear and it makes the worship space better for congregational singing every time. Hundreds of churches have already been fixed or planned in this way. How many more before we can trust the Bible for modern church sound needs?

For church worship, whether in a classical or modern church structure, a commercial space, or converted space, there are many performance requirements to obtain the full worship experience which includes hearing the Gospel unfiltered by the poor acoustical performance of a sanctuary. (Poor acoustics acts like a changing filter that pollutes the Gospel. It can make similar words sound different which changes the meaning of what was said. For people familiar with the Bible, this may not be that big of an issue but for a person who has never been to church or is unfamiliar with church speak/language, when the room changes the pronunciation of a word, it can change the meaning of what they thought they heard. A church with the proper acoustics will prevent most of these mistakes regardless of what a sound system can do.) There is preaching, prayer, congregational singing, testimonies, choirs, worship teams and worship concerts. All of these parts of worship have to perform equally.

Church acoustics is not straightforward without the Bible. It is very complicated and any person designing an acoustical change should be including all aspects of worship, not just making a quick fix because of an irritation. As more churches recognize this truth, many are fixing existing past acoustical treatments that were done with good intentions and without help from the Bible. For example: Many people working in live sound don’t know that most hotspots and deadspots are acoustical problems and made worse when the wrong sound system design is installed. If your church has the right sound system design and there are still places where the sound levels and speech intelligibility is a problem, the sound system is telling you or screaming that it is a room problem -even if there is not feedback noise.

Church acoustics can be confusing, even with Biblical help. Experience has shown that there can be three churches that can have the same shape, dimensions, and age, and all three worship spaces different acoustical fixes. On the other hand, you can have three churches of different shapes, different dimensions, the same seating capacity and from three different ages and yet the acoustical solutions look almost the same to get the best performance for speech, prayer, congregational singing, choral singing and worship team performances. These differences in acoustical treatments are not easy to figure out regardless of the sound system design, equipment, and operating skills.

If the reverberation time is too long, don’t just fix the reverberation time. There are always at least two to five other problems that are being masked by the long reverberation or long time of noise. Correcting only the long reverb time, in most cases, exposes or creates bass problems that weren’t audible before, but the acoustical measurements said that such a predicament would happen. When the subs don’t sound good, you put a cage around the drums and you can’t mic the choir. When the floor monitors are too loud or as loud as the FOH speaker system and you are forced to get in-ear monitors. Then you have to get the worship team members to sign a waiver to not sue the church for premature hearing loss. Fix the room properly to meet all aspects of worship and you can avoid all of these issues.

Church acoustics is complicated and people who do Recording Studio, Concert Hall, Recital Hall, and noise control acoustics all have good intentions in wanting to help out a church. If their solutions are not based on what the Bible teaching, sure, they can change how a room sounds, but will their fixes be what a congregation needs? The choice is yours.
What is rarely taught or shared except on this website, is that a sound system is a magnifier of how a room performs. If the acoustics and shape of a worship space work, the sound system will tell you by how well it performs. If the acoustics are wrong, the sound system will be limited in what it can do. If after changing the sound system twice in the last eight to ten years, didn’t make that much of an improvement, do you really think a third sound system will be any better?

What is also not taught is that it is cheaper to bring a sanctuary up to worship space requirements that support all aspects of worship than to upgrade a typical church speaker system that can only make an incremental improvement for amplified sound. Fixing a room that meets worship space requirements often makes the current sound system perform profoundly better (unless the sound system is so poorly fabricated that it needs to be redesigned and reinstalled if the hardware is up to the task.)

Church acoustics can be easy when you follow the scriptures. Jesus never spoke of this because he already has given us the plans. Jesus said in Mat 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” The Bible also says that all things were made through Him from the beginning. Jesus could not abolish the laws He created with His Father and the Holy Spirit (John 1:1-4.) There are many churches out there with poor sound, poor acoustics and have members who want to experience the full Christian life including the complete worship experience we all should be having. When you look past the gold and wealth surrounding Solomon’s temple, you will discover a blueprint from Jesus of how all worship spaces should sound. If that means duplicating Solomon’s Temple, that is what we should be doing. How is that so different in the fact the every church practices communion in one form or another. Every church has prayer, singing, reading of the scriptures, sermons and fellowship of its followers. Every part of a person’s life is in the Bible, whether any person can follow it 100% of the time or not. The same should apply to the houses we call churches that are dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Joseph De Buglio
A Servant of Jesus Christ.

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Tillsonburg Alliance Church

Posted by jdbsound on December 3, 2019

Tillsonburg Alliance Church has completed an acoustical upgrade. Improvements include better congregational singing, less feedback in the sound system, easier to get a high quality mix for praise and worship, and when there was a power failure on a Sunday morning, as the pastor preached, everyone was able to hear just fine.

The layout of the acoustical treatment was created by church members who wanted to make the stage area unique. Designing such patterns are possible without giving up on performance. If you look at the longer diffusers, in this case, they are closer together to make up for the smaller diffusers that create a unique visual experience. The results says it all.

To see other photos of the room, follow this link. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdbsound/albums/72157709612498396

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God is Not an Option in Church

Posted by jdbsound on August 14, 2019

God gave us the Laws of Physics.
They have to be obeyed if what you are building will work properly.
Ignoring such laws damages the results or it can lead to a disaster.
These same laws have to be obeyed when it comes to church acoustics and church sound systems.

God laid out the Laws of Physics in the Bible for the best acoustics a temple/church/synagogue can have.
These laws have been given to us for the best worship experience possible for singing, hearing speech and for music.
These Laws have been with us for over 3000 years.
When are churches going to start following them?

If you believe that the Bible is sufficient in all things, then all churches have everything to gain when they apply God’s way to manage sound in houses of worship dedicated to God.

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Does Your Church Need help with Sound?

Posted by jdbsound on August 1, 2019

Here is a collection of 445 photos of 46 churches that completed most or all of their sound system and acoustical plan.  My job is to design a solution that will solve all or almost all sound problems in one step.  For most churches, this means getting the most accomplished in one step as most churches can’t afford to keep chasing sound problems without truthful help.  The road back to great sound in the church is in the Bible, and that is what these churches did. 

All of the installations of the acoustical systems and the sound systems were completed by church members or local contractors when those churches were able to afford professional installers.  The final appearances are what those churches selected.  I work closely with all churches for alternative aesthetics regardless of any budget limitations.  When a church has to choose between aesthetics vs. performance of the 400 plus churches that have just simple painted cardboard tubes on the walls, those churches spoke with what they installed. 

These churches demonstrated that they care more about hearing the Gospel than having a sanctuary that looks good.  There is a high spiritual cost for poor acoustics and sound system designs.  Poor sound does get in the way of people hearing the Word, and for some, it can deny people from understanding the Gospel message of salvation, and that is a cost no church can afford.

For professional, no compromise help, we can provide the highest level of expert assistance that will fulfill the Great Commission as Jesus taught. Having the skills of the world helps but God’s plan for churches demands His way of doing Church Sound. Without that knowledge, the worlds way of doing church sound always comes up short in meeting the standard that God demands of us.

Click the photo above or the link below to see what other churches have done to have great sound for speech, congregational singing and total worship in general.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdbsound/collections/72157627021000982/

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The Scientific Foreknowledge the Bible Teaches about Church Sound?

Posted by jdbsound on July 26, 2019

Here is a fresh look at Solomon’s Temple and how it relates to Modern Churches today. Here is link to a 13 page article about church acoustics from the Bible’s point of view.
The Scientific Foreknowledge the Bible Teaches about Sound and Acoustics?

Introduction

The quality of church worship is critical to the health of a church.  The better the excellence of worship is, the stronger the church will be.  Quality of worship is not about packing the church full of people for the sake of filling a worship space so much that it becomes necessary to keep building bigger buildings.  We worship God, not buildings or pastors or knowledge.  It is the Gospel, the Bible that leads us to God.  It is God’s words that keep us in a relationship with Him.  The strength of a church is not measured in numbers in the seats or money.  Jesus taught us to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and shelter the homeless.  The Bible teaches over and over again that we are to live by example (Psalms 1:1-6), to be a light in the world (Matt 5:16), when they see that we are different (James 2:14-26), it will be that difference that will attract people to God.

The strength of a church is measured by how people support each other, and by how much a congregation supports each other as a family first, as brothers and sisters, and then the local community.  Is the church feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, and sheltering the homeless?  The modern version of Jesus teaching for us in countries with a democracy and wealth should look like this.  Is the church cutting lawns, clearing driveways, cleaning people’s homes, fixing up members and non-members homes?  How often are church members spending time with the widows, the singles who have never had a partner, or the elderly?  Are these not the things included in what Jesus told us to do?  Are not these the same teachings in the Old Testament?  This is just a small sample of how Christianity should look like to the secular world.

___________________________________________________________________
After reading the full article, please comment on it. We want to get this right as the church community needs this knowledge. If you have any questions, want to learn more or see a presentation about Solomon’s Temple and the Modern Church, contact me here – jdb@jdbsound.com

You church may be one of those that has great sound for all parts of the worship service. If it is, you should let everyone know as it will help to bring more people in. You should let us know so we can tell others. If you find this article helpful, please pass it on. Pass it on to your pastor, your friends and family. Give them the chance to learn what God can do for them today!

Thank you.

All modern churches can benefit from Biblical Acoustics
All older churches can benefit from Biblical Acoustics

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Seeking the Truth

Posted by jdbsound on July 18, 2019

As an expert in Church Acoustics and in the pursuit of the truth, I have also been passionate about finding ways for all churches to afford an acoustical solution that will solve just about every sound problem most churches run into. What can be more exciting than knowing that the cheapest and best acoustical solution in the world for all churches comes from the book that all Christians follow and obey – the Bible. When a church uses the Bible’s method for acoustical management, sound problems almost all go away and in most cases, a sustained higher church attendance happens after around 18 months. God is the author of Church Acoustics and it is time for churches to seek God first for answers and God will reveal His way to solve sound problems in His Houses of Worship. Whenever a church is dedicated to God, doesn’t it become His House?

Joh_14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If we take that a step further, Jesus was present in the design of Solomon’s Temple. While Millions have already been saved in the past, present and hopefully the future, how many more can be added if all Houses of Worship were built or brought up to the same acoustical standards as in Solomon’s Temple? Since most churches don’t have that quality of room acoustics, I guess we may never know!

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Watering Down the Gospel

Posted by jdbsound on July 8, 2019

Years ago, someone wrote these two sentences to make a point about the quality of sound.

How to wreck a nice beach?

How to recognize speech?

In many churches, when these one of these two lines are spoken over the sound system quickly, regardless if they are using a headset mic, lapel or lectern mic, most people guess wrong when these two line are projected onto a screen.  You can have the best pastor around but if the acoustics are not up to Solomon’s Temple quality, the room could be watering down the message more than what many may believe.  The priority for sound in a house of God should always be quality of sound over quantity of sound.

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1 + 1 = 3 or When is Doubling the Power, not +3dB?

Posted by jdbsound on June 17, 2019

Here is a simple test anyone can do to determine the acoustical condition of a church.  Physics says that when the power* is doubled or when doubling the number of speakers, the sound level will increase 3dB.  This result is real when outdoors.  This outcome can be false indoors.  When it is false indoors, it is because there are acoustical problems.  Please notice that it is problems, not a problem.  When adding a second speaker failing to increase the sound 3dB, this test shows that it is never a single acoustical issue.  It is not a sound system problem.  The sound system is exposing the root problem. (If the second speaker is wired out of phase, the sound will decrease in level.)

Outdoors, sound follows the basic rules of physics.

When outdoors, if there are two loudspeaker playing with the same volume of pink noise side by side or up to 6 feet apart, and set up a test microphone or SPL meter 30 feet away. (An iPad or phone with testing software can be used if it is calibrated.) When the second speaker is turned on or off,  the sound level will change 3dB.  This result is constant in physics.  The reason this is always true is that there are no barriers around to limit the sounds from spreading out or returning from a reflection that can interfere with the direct sound.

When indoors, depending on the size of the room, often this is not true.  This failure is noticed the most with Subs and sound energy below 500 Hertz.  Doing the same test at 30 feet inside of a church, the sound level change is often 1, 1.5, or 2dB.  If the result is 3dB, there are either a lot of open windows, lots of doors that are open, the church has more than 3000 seating or the church has great acoustics. 

Indoors, sound is confronted with many other rules of physics which changes how the first rule works.

Here are the most common reasons for the sound failing to increase 3dB when doubling the power or speakers.

  • Standing waves
  • Dimensions of the room
  • Too much-stored energy in the corners
  • Too much high-frequency absorption

Standing Waves

Standing waves are excessive amounts of energy between parallel walls within a confined space.  It can often hear it.  To listen to it in a rectangle room, go between the parallels walls that are the closest together. Often it is the side walls.  Stand about 4 feet from one of the side walls.  Make a loud, sharp noise like a hand clap once.  If a person hears any rapid pinging sounds, this is a sign of standing waves.  The sound heard is often a higher range of frequencies, and they usually called flutter echoes.  Flutter echoes are a symptom of standing waves.  Bass sounds, which have longer wavelengths can’t produce the same volume of sound to hear as a flutter between parallel walls.  Whenever a person hears flutter echoes, excess bass energy present too.  This result is also true for all other room shapes when flutter echoes or flutters from a simple hand clap occur.

A second clue to standing waves is when standing at a pulpit or where a minister preaches from. With a hand clap, if the reflected sounds are coming from the side walls or behind standing waves are the cause of it.  The standing waves are preventing a large portion of the sound from reaching the other side of the room, and what is reflected back is being canceled out by the standing waves a second time which in turn prevents people from hearing the clapping returning from the back of the room. Standing waves have the effect of isolating everyone from each other in the room.  This result is also why the drummer seems to sound so loud and why most drummers strike the drums harder than they have too. It is because they can’t hear their drums at a lower level.  This outcome is also why many people comment that they can’t hear themselves when singing, and it makes them feel alone in a room full of people.

Any church with parallel walls will have standing waves if there is nothing to manage them

The reason the sound doesn’t increase 3dB when adding a second loudspeaker is because of the excess bass energy created by the standing waves in the worship space.  The excess air pressure is like putting a finger lightly on the woofer.  The excess air pressure acts as an acoustical load on the woofer, and that dampens the amount of sound coming from the loudspeaker.

Standing waves can only be removed with diffusion or some form of sound scattering. 

If people try to use absorption to fix this problem, while it will remove the flutter or in some cases, shift the flutters to a lower frequency, the untreated bass energy will make the standing wave problem more pronounced.  It will increase the feeling loneliness and discourage the congregation from singing even more.

The dimensions of the room

In churches with low ceilings or seating less than 200 people, the room is too small to be free from surface related sound inference reflections.  In a larger church space with a flat ceiling less than 16 feet high, the room will have standing waves floor to ceiling which limits the ability to increase sound 3dB with just doubling the speakers.

The reason the sound doesn’t increase 3dB when adding a second loudspeaker is that the room is limiting how much the space can support.  The excess air pressure from the extra speaker is like putting a finger lightly on the woofer.  The excess air pressure acts as an acoustical load on the woofer, and that dampens the amount of sound coming from the loudspeaker.

The only option is to diffuse all of the room if a small church.  If a low ceiling, diffusers will have to be added to the ceiling.  Acoustical tiles and drop ceilings cannot correct this issue.

Too much-stored energy in the corners

Another principal of physic is how sound is affected by boundaries.  A loudspeaker on a 10-foot pole measures 60dB.  We call that free space.  When we put the speaker on the ground, the speaker will be 6dB louder.  That is referred to as “half space.”  When we add a wall and the floor, we call that “1/4er space” and the sound increases 12dB or doubles in loudness.  When we add a second wall to the floor and create a corner, that is “1/8th space,” and the sound rises 18dB. 

Corners collect the air pressure that is created by longer wavelength sounds that accumulate on the flat surface of the wall.  With nothing to direct the sound, the sound pressure moves in all directions.  Eventually, the excess bass energy makes its way to the corners.  Depending on a lot of variables, the amount of energy that builds up is often too much.  Churches will low ceilings, large flat walls, or flat ceilings tend to have too much excess bass in the corners.  All other church shapes, except for domes have varying levels of corner issues if not managed.  Excess corn energy has a similar effect as standing waves.  When there is too much bass, it masks the highs.  This, in turn, creates hotspots and coldspots throughout the room. Hotspots and Coldspots are frequency dependent. If the sound level changes are of a narrow range of frequencies, it was most likely found them with instruments.  When a person notices them with their ears,  it means anyone with a hearing problem will miss out on some of what is being said, or what they heard and what was said was different. 

When the front of a church is in the corner, everything is either 18dB louder or 18dB quieter when compared with churches that have the front on an end wall.

The reason the sound doesn’t increase 3dB when adding a second loudspeaker is because of the excess bass energy created by the bare walls in the worship space.  The excess air pressure is like putting a finger lightly on the woofer.  The excess air pressure acts as an acoustical load on the woofer, and that dampens the amount of sound coming from the loudspeaker.

Keeping excess sound out of the corners is best done with diffusion.  It cannot be done with absorption unless the absorbers are as thick as the wavelength of the sound waves.

Too much high-frequency absorption

Sound arrives at our ears as air pressure vibrating at a rapid rate.  The faster the air vibrates, the higher the sound pitch.  The slower the sound vibrates, the lower the pitch. The vibrations are referred to as Hertz.  Sound travel at 1130 feet per second.  At 100 Hertz, a bass sound has the wavelength of just over 11.3 feet.  At 1,000 Hertz the sound waves are 1.13 feet, and at 10,000 Hertz the sound waves are 0.11 feet or 1.3 inches.  

When there is too much absorption in the room, what is left is too much bass. The excess bass masks the highs. 

For most churches, carpeted floors and padded seating is all the absorption needed. When this much absorption is add, the congregational singing is very dull and people have to be super motivated to see more that 20% of the audience singing.

The reason the sound doesn’t increase 3dB when adding a second loudspeaker is because of the excess bass energy created by too much absorption.  The excess air pressure is like putting a finger lightly on the woofer.  The excess air pressure acts as an acoustical load on the woofer, and that dampens the amount of sound coming from the loudspeaker.

The fix for such a problem is by removing the right amount of absorption panels and replace them with diffusers.  Then complete the room by adding more diffusion throughout the sanctuary to correct the frequency response of the room.

These four issues are never a singular issue.  They are often in combinations or can include all four.  Along with these problems, there are often reverberation issues, echoes, excess late reflections, the poor frequency response of the room, and other room problems that have little to do with this simple 3dB test, but they are usually there as well.  These problems can be heard when a person learns what to listen for.  Looking at how sound system is equalized is another clue of room problems.  The issues have the result of the high numbers of the congregation not singing. (In a church with good acoustics, they will often have more than 80% of the congregation singing every they are familiar with.)

Getting two loudspeakers and doing this test is simple and easy to do.  If the sound doesn’t increase 3dB, this means that adding more subs or more speakers into a worship space will not get the expected outcome. For example.  If the goal is to increase the bass in a worship space 3dB, and sound system has only one subwoofer, do this test, If the bass increased only 1.5dB with the second box, then it will take two more speakers just to get a 3dB increase for a total of 4 boxes. Think of the cost of adding three speaker boxes and all of the related hardware required to support that.  An alternative would be to fix the room with diffusion, the gain will be 6 to 10dB of performance without doing anything to the sound system.  It would be equal to adding 8 or 16 subwoofers depending on other acoustical or architectural considerations.  

Science is amazing when appropriately used to provide real solutions. Pseudo-Science or fake data is often used under the disguise of science and can be used to lead churches to false conclusions.  Many experts in audio and acoustics who see the same data, know these problems are present.  If they are not being addressed, it is because they lack the experience in knowing how to solves such issues.  If a person has done this test and the sound system provider or acoustical expert is not addressing these issue, they are not qualified for correcting sound problems in a church.  It’s like asking a Doctor who specializes in kidney problems to do Brain Surgery. What is needed a Brain Surgeon who knows how to fix both the acoustics and to design a proper sound system.

Get the church correctly evaluated before investing in that next sound system.  It can save those responsible a lot of disappointments down the road.  Fixing a room can cost less than replacing a sound system, or it could mean reducing the size of the suggested new sound system.

* Doubling the power required calibrated volume controls or switches to set up correctly as a viable test.

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Ten years later Kingston Rd United Church

Posted by jdbsound on May 29, 2019

Kingston Road United Church had sound issues. They tried several sound system designs with no real success. Someone suggested JdB Sound Acoustics.  When I arrived, an elderly lady came to me and said, “If you can’t fix this room, then this church will not be around much longer.” Somehow, several people on the sound committee believed that if the church sounded better, they stood a better chance at keeping the doors open.

In 2008, I was hired to fix the room. I designed for them an acoustical and sound system solution. The sound system was completely replaced. The acoustics plan was using half-round tubes on all of the walls. The results were as several people put it – Amazing. Before, you could not understand anyone talking more than 15 feet away. After, you could talk end to end of the 120 ft — long worship space. The church seats 550 people.

Today in 2019, the church is thriving. It has become a place for concerts, drama and singing events. The church is growing in a location where there is only one parking spot. Church attendance may still be low, however it is higher than in 2009 and with all of the other activities, it has been more than enough to keep the doors open. Acoustics alone didn’t keep the church from closing, but it became a tool to attract new members and other forms of income for an inner city church. Good acoustics seemed to inspire the church leadership to have confidence in knowing that if people could have a good hearing experience, the greetings they would receive from the members would be that much better.  There is also proof that good sound means a greater chance for people to return.

A few years back. Cinemacoustic Solutions Int’l, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, did an experiment with two theatre test rooms. Both rooms were identical the same visually with one room properly treated acoustically, and the other was not. Room “A” was treated properly; however, Room “B” was not treated at all.

Here is a summary of the results.

“Funny enough, while many of the students made comments about the sound, stating they thought the speakers in room “A” sounded a little better than those in “B”, nearly all of them said, “the picture in Room “A” was far better than that of Room “B”. The properly treated room allowed them to see & hear content at a caliber they may not have ever experienced before, to which they naturally attributed to better equipment, as opposed to the acoustical treatment of any sort. The properly treated space relaxed their senses allowing them to enjoy the environment and what they were doing as opposed to subconsciously concentrating on what they needed to do to better enjoy their surroundings.

The same subconscious energy applies to an orator speaking in an untreated room vs. a treated room. Even a boardroom with executives around tabling important and perhaps complex company matters, they can concentrate better when not “fighting” bad room acoustics while conversing or passionately presenting their opinions, vying for votes. They would never attribute the lack of ability to concentrate on poor acoustics because they simply wouldn’t know to do so, however it can very well be a culprit.”

Good church acoustics matters. Kingston Road United Church is a fine example of how acoustics made their worship space a place where people want to do activities with speech and music. A place where people want to be and where hearing the Gospel is better understood. At Kingston, you spend more time understanding what was being said rather than spending all of your time deciding what words were being said or just trying to hear.

If you would like to see more photos of this church, use this link. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdbsound/sets/72157607243842820/

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Acoustics and the Gospel

Posted by jdbsound on May 21, 2019

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Saving Souls – Priceless

Posted by jdbsound on May 16, 2019

What are your church priorities? Fixing the acoustics of any church is affordable.  A person will spend over a thousand dollars to help with their hearing.  Sound equipment tools for worship are affordable and do a lot of work.  Few people fuss over how an audio system looks after it is installed.  When it works, it looks great.  The same is true with acoustics.  If it works, it looks and sounds good.  If it doesn’t work, it has to look amazing because acoustics that doesn’t fix all of your churches needs is nothing more than wall furniture. What’s on your church walls that helps preach the Gospel?

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Was Solomon’s Temple for real? If it was, how would it sound?

Posted by jdbsound on May 7, 2019


Was Solomon’s Temple a fairy tale? I don’t think so. I think Solomon’s Temple was as real as touching your own skin. Why? Solomon’s Temple was designed over 3,000 years ago. When you study the sound quality of the two rooms, it describes spaces that were purpose built for specific functions. The room that reflects modern day acoustics is the Holy Place or Sanctuary as we like to call it today. How can the design of a room from 3000 years ago be so good if it was never built or a fairy tale or myth? Do you think that King David or Solomon knew anything about acoustics back then? Did God tell King David and Solomon’s how to design rooms where hearing would be easy or difficult? Could the acoustics of the Holy Room reflect todays demanding needs of sound for worship? Yes. Absolutely!

The only difference between what a traditional worship space and a contemporary worship space would be the need for is adding carpeted floors and padded seating for worship team lead services. Churches with similar dimensions and shape as Solomon’s Temple have a way better worship experience over churches that have other room shapes. That is not to say you can’t have a good worship experience in other room shapes, but if you can remember your best worship experience in other rooms with good acoustical sound management, it is way better when the room is a rectangle. This only happens when the room is twice as long as it is wide, and with a very high ceiling that is 75% of the rooms length. With those dimensions and with the same type of acoustical treatment system as used in Solomon’s temple, regardless of your worship style, the only experience better than that would be in Heaven. And yes, the carvings of Cherub, Palm Trees and open flowers was actually an acoustical system designed by God. The updated version of it work great in modern churches today.

The modified version use half round shapes like the Palm tree. An affordable way to fix any church is with cardboard tubes. Such tubes using a water based glue meets fire codes in almost any place around the world, and does as good of a job as the carvings in Solomon’s Temple. For churches that have little to no money to spare, this is the cheapest way to breath life into all of those existing churches out there regardless of their room shapes. This is the only acoustical system that improves congregational singing (even is dead rooms), and doubles the loudness of the sound systems performance without distortion and without buying more equipment. (assuming that the equipment you already have is up to the task of performing at these levels in the first place.)

Now when I say doubles loudness of the sound system, it means that if you total the components of your speaker system, amplifiers and processors, and multiply the equipment 10 times, that is doubling the loudness. Remember that doubling the equipment or doubling the power only gives you a 3dB increase, but it take 10 times the power to double the loudness without distortion which is equal to 10dB. In most churches, an acoustical fix such as this has a one time costs of about $5.00 per seat. A typical speaker system for a church cost around $30.00 per seat and up. To get the same performance through sound equipment as a room treated with Cardboard Tubes, the speaker system goes up to $300.00 per seat or ten times the cost. If you do a reality check, you would actually have to spend more because you are still fighting the room to keep the sound distortion free. Even at $500.00 per seat, you may not be able to get double the loudness without distortion. To apply this kind of acoustical system as in a church as in Solomon’s temple, it lowers the cost of a sound system while increasing it’s performance. There is no other acoustical system that can do that.

Now Solomon’s Temple was built over 3000 years ago. How did they know how to do acoustical treatment that works in churches today? How is it that something designed 3000 years ago is so sound system friendly? The reality is, God inspired it’s design. Many Christians believe that the Bible is sufficient in all things and that should including church design and acoustics. Shouldn’t we be following what the Bible says and teaches, even in worship space design? (Ecclesiastes 1:9)  The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. If there is nothing new under the sun, then why do churches keep trying to design something original or different when there is nothing better out there? Worse yet, why don’t churches know that for preaching the Gospel there is no better room than a room with the dimension ratio’s as in Solomon’s Temple? Furthermore, why are so many churches determine to solve acoustical problems with electronics when they don’t have to?

Solomon’s temple was small. It could only seat around 150 people if used as a church today. Apparently, you can scale the room up to any size and have the same performance results. Why hasn’t the church community figured this out? (Why aren’t Synagogues built this way either?) From my own experience, if you use these dimensions, such a room will sound amazing as long is the walls have the right shapes added on them. At the same time this room will awful if you don’t include the same type of acoustical system as used in Solomon’s Temple. Please notice that I use the term “System”, and not “Treatment.” When you call it a system it is about a planned acoustical space or a system that treats the whole room. When you call it a treatment, it is as if the acoustical products are used as an after-thought. Such acoustical products are used only do spot treatments and they provide minor room fixes, and cost so much more expensive.

The most important roll of a House of Worship is to preach the Gospel. No other room shape, dimensions and wall finishing’s does it better. Why would any church design the most important room with a lesser goal? The foyer, fellowship halls, classrooms, office and the shell of the building can be any shape you want but the worship space should be designed for the sole purposes of teaching the Gospel and for a full worship experience. All other room shapes and treatments, regardless of the sound system design and equipment fall short in meeting the standard found in Solomon’s temple.

If you believe as I do that the Bible is sufficient, then it should be sufficient in the design on your next church sanctuary. Oh, didn’t anyone tell you? A room built to Solomon’s dimensions costs less to build, heat and cool and maintain. Solomon’s Temple is a fine example of “Nothing new under the sun.”

For the 400 plus churches that already have such an acoustical system, what further proof do you need that Solomon’s temple was real? If you want to take it a step further, since science cannot predict how this acoustical system works, a system that you have to apply in faith, does that constitute a miracle?

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How to use Tube Radiators to Fix any Church

Posted by jdbsound on April 1, 2019

Do you need help with the acoustics of your church? Want a system that your church can afford? Are you willing to save your church thousands of dollars by donating some of your time to cut, paint and installed the perfect acoustical solution for your church? Acoustics – complicated to figure out, simple to implement. First of all, this is a system, not a spot treatment.  Therefore, all of the walls of a worship space require treatment. This is not an option. Most readymade products are not able to solve multiple room problems in one step.  As a result, most churches wind up getting only a spot repair treatment of which they learn later was nothing more than trading one problem for another.

To begin, you need a detailed analysis of the worship space.  Some of the critical measurements are impulse responses,  series of ETC’s and the Frequency response of the room.  These tests combined with others help to map out the room.  With these details, you will be shown how to identify the standing waves, the signal to noise ratio’s, early and late reflections, echoes, slap echoes, and flutter echoes, and what frequencies are coming out of corners.  What surfaces are diaphragmatic and where the room focal points are. Finally, you have to account for the room measurements to see if any of the dimensions are causing patterns in specific frequencies and any hotspots or deadspots.   

With this information at hand, you can then create a profile to identify what kind of treatment the room needs.  For standing waves, any diffuser can get rid of that as long there are at least 4 inches of deflection and no surface of diffusion greater than 6 square feet. If you go larger than 6 square foot diffusers, then you have to make the deflection more than 5 inches deep.  You learned that from trial and error testing.  There is no equation that I am aware of that will tell you that.

Once you have determined all of your standing waves and yes, all rooms that have no acoustical management, regardless of shape have standing waves at some frequency or range of sounds. You then look at the energy coming from any diaphragmatic surfaces (drywall, wood, windows, etc.) and corners. If the excess frequencies are above 500 hertz, in most rooms, you can just use 8 inch half rounds. If there is excess energy between 300 to 500 hertz, then you need to use 12 inch half rounds.    When there is excess energy below 300 Hertz, then you will need 16 inch half rounds.  

With this knowledge, you then need to see how much reduction is needed.  If you only need 10 to 15dB of reduction, you can just put in the half round tubes in 11-inch edge to edge spacing between tubes regardless of size.  If you need more than 15dB of reduction, then you need to use patterns.  These patterns can be a combination of sizes and variable spacing distances between the tubes. These variables cannot always be used depending on how much wall space you have.  If you have the wall space and you need more than 30dB of reduction, then you need to use a Prime Number sequence and enough wall space for a minimum of two cycles. 

These patterns were researched by myself by doing a series of trial and error testing in churches where the church allowed me to use their worship space to do experiments.  With enough tubes of various sizes, these tests were done over several days at a time, to learn what patterns are needed for the most common acoustical problems most churches have.  Essentially, I created a Data Base of frequency models to affect the best change for worship spaces of all sizes.  For new acoustical problems, JdB Sound Acoustics owns a private test room where research can be done to discover the best pattern to effect the best solution for such a worship space.

In summary, there is no shortcut to doing church acoustics correctly.  That said, many churches can’t afford to hire an expert, but they also need help.  For those churches, several basic rules always assure a huge room improvement. The length of the tubes has to be a minimum of 2/3rds the wall height.  Sidewalls need the diffusers to be 4 feet off the floor or head height of people sitting in the pews.  Tube spacing is always 11 inches between edges. End caps are needed at the bottom to comply for fire code if you are using hollow tubes.  Follow these rules, and you will always get better results than any flat absorbent panel can offer. Another rule is, always have padded seating and carpeted floor.  In most cases, that gives the room the behavior that it is 50% full when it empty.  If you don’t have carpet on the floor, then you need to add absorption panels that equal the square feet of the floor space to the walls along with the diffusers.  If your wall space is limited, you can add the diffuser on top of the absorbing panels.

Every room has the same or similar problems when it comes to church acoustics.  The solutions and tools are always the same but how they are implemented needs to be customized to accommodate the architectural features of each worship space.  I have come across a few churches that followed these rules without my help, and they were delighted with the results. Yes, there was room for additional improvement in those DIY projects, but the results they got were way better and cheaper than any other solution out there.  Imagine going to Home Depot or some other place, buy around $1,500.00 worth of cardboard tubes, paint, tools, and hardware to mount the diffusers and fix the acoustics of a 500 seat church for under $2,000.00.  A project like this can be completed in 4 working days with four volunteers.  If you make absorbing panels of sufficient quantity, you will spend twice as much if you care for the aesthetics and have a fraction of the room performance improvement compared to what half-round tube diffusers or Tube Radiators can provide. 

In the end, a 15dB reduction in the mid-range, getting rid of standing waves, and because the tubes break up energy traveling down a wall, there is no bass build up in corners, so you don’t need bass traps, the room improvement will be very dramatic.  My skill comes into play for churches with strong music programs for contemporary worship services or large choirs.  Churches that want their pipe organ to have a better balance during congregational singing or for Choral performance.  Churches that want  congregational singing to be loud enough to drown out the sound system.  Then there are churches that have a lot of windows, artwork or limited wall space, for them, there are many other ways to achieve similar results using other diffusive materials and techniques that require a more substantial investment.  In many ways, most church problems are the same, but they all have unique variables that need different ways to implement the same solution. 

Solomon’s Temple – The Bible is Sufficient

Finally, why do I use this system?  It is because of God.  God showed King David and Solomon how to make the acoustics of the temple ideal for the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place/main sanctuary.  I discovered that this does indeed work.  Since re-discovering this method of sound management, I have viewed this as a promise from God.  How many times does it say in the Bible follow these command, instructions or ways, and you will be blessed or things will be better? Since learning this method of managing sound, God has kept his promise every time.  Also, consider this. 

Science has yet to create a simulation model that can accurately predict the results.  God told Solomon what to do, and this method does work.  All of the 400 plus churches that are already using this method of sound treatment, they did it as an act of faith whether they realized it or not.  I have always been honest in sharing this with everyone.  God has kept his promise to all of those churches. For those who want proof, isn’t 400 plus churches of all shapes as sizes enough?  You don’t have to believe me, but you should believe God. Since this is proof of what God teaches in the Bible is true, what does that say about the rest of the Bible?

If you don’t trust the science, if you don’t believe me or this website, you can trust God in this.  God shows how to do church acoustics, and the answer has always been out in the open, in the Bible for everyone to read it.  The shape of the sanctuary and the acoustical treatment are all there for us to follow.  Furthermore, Jesus was also present when God told Solomon what to do.  In a way, Jesus told Solomon what to do also, as you can’t separate God and Jesus.  When God speaks, Jesus speaks. 

This method of doing church acoustics is not a secret or a mystery.  It is there for everyone to know how to have the best worship spaces that Christians need and is a joy to have.  So if someone says, “that is in the Old Testament, and it is not relevant today.” I say, Jesus said he came to fulfill the laws, the prophesies and promises that He made in the Old Testament before He became flesh.  We are supposed to follow His ways because we love Him.  Because we love God and Jesus, we follow the teachings of the Bible. For far too long, we have been using secular designs of worship spaces and acoustics at the expense of not knowing the full blessings of worship God wants you to have in your church today.  Worship space designs and acoustics should never be treated as an option or another failed experiment when it doesn’t have to be that way.  If you know the scriptures, you know that this is true.

Sure, for years people have been blessed in houses of worship in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and acoustical problems because of their faith.  Fixing the acoustics of existing churches in this method has huge benefits right away and for the future.  However, only a few of them are experiencing all of the blessings God promises us when we follow His ways, including worship space designs and acoustics.  You could also say that a House of Worship is also another tool used to do a better job at fulfilling the great commission when designed according to His way. God will never stop loving us or blessing us when we make mistakes, but he did say we reap what we sow.


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The Best Worship Experiences

Posted by jdbsound on March 25, 2019

What would you prefer? A church were you can have the best worship experience or a church that looks amazing?

The organist of this church pulled every stop, pushed the peddles all the way down and the he had trouble hearing the organ just 20 feet away. At the back of the church at the sound booth, the organ was barely audible. I used a SPL meter, put it about 3 feet over my head at the back of the church and the congregational singing peaked at 105dB several time during a familiar hymn. There was no one behind us. There have been other times at other church where I designed or upgraded their acoustics were the congregation is singing acapella and they were peaking at 106dB. The good news is, singing like that doesn’t hurt your hearing.

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Acoustics are like an Onion

Posted by jdbsound on March 2, 2019

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Churches are Tools

Posted by jdbsound on February 18, 2019

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Church Sound and the Gospel

Posted by jdbsound on January 28, 2019

The goal of any worship space and the church sound system is not about loudness, gain before feedback, intelligibility, special sound effects for the organ or choir, having the most talented performers in the worship team, how many wireless mics, number of channels the mixer has or the name brand of equipment you have. The goal of a church worship space and the sound system is to be a safe place where the Gospel can be presented clearly and with little to no blemishes. Where every person within the worship space can hear and understand the Gospel as clearly as when having a conversation with someone only 4 feet away and sharing the Gospel. Anything less than that goal means that the spoken word can be corrupted in the journey between the minister’s mouth and ears of all those who are listening. The Gospel needs to be broadcasted and understood as clearly as reading God’s written words.

If your church has hot spots, dead spots, good sound in these seats and poor sound in those seats, then the Gospel is not being presented equally to everyone. If your sound system has technical problems during worship often, then it is a distraction, and it can make the difference of understanding something important.

The chart below shows tangible results when your worship and sound system are tested. There should be three tests.

The first is with a test speaker. It is a point source speaker that is small enough to mimic a person’s voice.

The next test is feeding a signal directly into the sound system and test those results. This test is just about the playback quality of your sound system.

The third test is to use the test speaker 30 inches from an open microphone such as a pulpit or any microphone on a stand and test the combined results of the worship space’s acoustics direct interaction of the sound system and open mics. You can also do a second version of this test and place the test speaker 4 inches from a microphone where the microphone is 45 degrees off axis.

If all three tests are not in the Yellow section, the results will let you know if it is your sound system, the acoustics or all of the above.  This is also a better indication predicting if upgrading your sound system will improve the results you are looking for. This is also a strong indicator that your worship space needs some kind of an acoustical management system

sti alcons chart conversion

You can get your church tested. It doesn’t cost much, and the results can save a life or many lives, depending on your point of view. As an independent consulting company, we offer church testing and results with no obligation to use our services in the future.

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Church Ceiling Height Chart

Posted by jdbsound on December 26, 2018

There are three key parts to what happens in church worship.  There is the spoken word, there is collaborative/congregational singing, and there is performance singing.  For a worship space to support these three events where speech is first, then congregational singing and performance singing, you need a specific design and dimensions to support these functions well.  High-quality speech should not come at the expense of the music.  Music should not come at the cost of speech.  There is a balance, and part of that balance is to have enough ceiling height to support both speech and music in a contained space.

Unfortunately, churches these days are building lower and lower ceilings in their worship spaces.  A person can assume that when so many churches have experienced only poor quality acoustics, many wonder what is the point of building a taller worship space.

When a church builds a low ceiling, it limits congregational singing and it makes you more dependent on technology, but guess what!  The same things that limit congregational singing are what also limits the performance of the technology we affectionately call the sound systems.  So, instead of getting 100% out of your high quality, expensive sound system, you’re getting only 40 to 60% of the sound systems’ true performance abilities.  It is actually cheaper to build higher than the added cost of un-needed audio technology to make up the difference.   The chart below should clear the air as to the minimum height your next church should be. If you can afford to build higher, do it.  Also, a taller worship space does not mean being stuck with longer reverb times. A higher ceiling means natural room reverberation can be adjustable and is tune-able.  With a taller ceiling, you can change the frequency response of the whole room without needing a sound system or equalizer.

Minimum Church Ceiling height Chart.JPG

Church height is important for a worship space.  One of the biggest parts of worship is singing.  Congregational singing to be specific.  When singing as a group, several elements are required for a good and healthy worship experience.  There is chorusing, harmony, sound volume,or loudness of the singing and being able to hear yourself as well as the people around you.  When all of these elements are in balance, the worship experience is like no other.  The majority of people get a lot of satisfaction from the singing experience during worshiping in rooms that have ceiling heights that match the size of the seating capacity of the worship space. The above chart is the minimum of interior ceiling heights.  If you want to build higher, you can as the singing experience gets even better.

High ceilings allow for better sound system performance with less expensive sound equipment. (A lot of pro audio contractors, installers and equipment manufacturers don’t like hearing this.)  Higher ceiling permits better gain before feedback and it becomes easier to isolate drums and floor monitors. The performance of the sound system is much better too when that is coupled with a good quality acoustical management system.

There are economic advantages too.  The higher the ceiling, the cheaper it is to heat and cool when using a vertical displacement HVAC type system which is specifically designed for large gathering spaces for people.  Such systems cost less to install, they use smaller HVAC components and cost about 30 to 40% less to operate annually.  In addition, the cooling systems last 2 to 3 times longer before needing to be replaced. In a way, building higher cost less both in cost and in operation over time.

Another thing to consider. If building new, don’t build a flat ceiling that is parallel to the floor. (and it doesn’t count of you put in a sloping floor.)  Many churches that are moving into commercial buildings are learning the hard way that flat ceilings limit the quality of live musical performances and congregational singing.  Sure, there are acoustical panels that can slightly improve the room for amplified sound, but the cost doesn’t justify the returns.  There is little that can help congregational singing even if you have the height. Vertical standing waves are harder to manage than a horizontal standing wave. If you know what you are doing, horizontal standing waves can be controlled to create an outstanding room.  It is part of the formula for that perfect worship space.  Funny though, most concert musicians that perform in a church that I have fixed, they often make comments like, “I wish our concert hall sounded and performed as well.”  That is almost like saying, “concert halls make for lousy worship space but worship spaces can perform better than a concert hall.”

Finally, there is the Biblical standard for church sound.  For a 160 seat church as detailed in the Bible, the Biblical standard is the width of the room is to be 50% of the length and the height of the room should be 75% of the length.  However, we now know that anything over 45 feet high and less than 2000 seating, the extra height is not needed.  It is the length to width ratio of 2:1 is key and a constant height of 45 feet or 13.7 meters.  For those who don’t want long rooms, because of sound systems, we can use a length of width ratio of 2:1.7 or a room that is 100 x 70, and you must always use the room lengthways or you destroy congregational singing and speech.

God gave us the laws of physics for a reason.  When we obey God, we reap the benefits.  When we ignore God’s teaching, you will have your reward here on earth.  The sanctuary of a church is a battlefield where the hearts, minds, and souls of people can be adding or subtracting people from the Kingdom of God.  The acoustics of a church plays an important part in either adding or subtracting people.  The change is slow and often not noticed, but when you visit hundreds of churches that have their worship spaces upgraded to the standards of the Bible as best as possible, there have always been an increase years later, ( unless there have been leadership or church split issues.)

If you can, to get a better picture of planning a new church, read this article on the Authority of God in Modern Church design.

*Note* In most countries that have freedom of religion laws, the worship space portion of a church building has no roof heights limits regardless of local city building height restrictions. 

**Note** The data is based on 1200 churches from around the world. 

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