Church Acoustics & Church Sound Systems

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Archive for the ‘Church Acoustics’ Category

All discussion, Articles, Educational info and comments are added here.

Maranatha Church, Hamilton, Ontario Canada

Posted by jdbsound on October 24, 2014

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

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

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

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Speech! Speech!

Posted by jdbsound on October 9, 2014

How to recognize speech?

or

How to wreck a nice beach?

—————————————

How does your church sound system perform?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Joseph De Buglio

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

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Methods of Church Acoustics

Posted by jdbsound on September 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings

Joseph De Buglio

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Test Room Results

Posted by jdbsound on September 4, 2014

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

jdbsound test room

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

 

 

Joseph De Buglio

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The Testing Room Part 1

Posted by jdbsound on July 13, 2014

test room 002

The test room is well underway in becoming reality. Here is a photo of the crew transforming one of the rooms in my new home into a test lab.

test room 001

This room will allow us to measure and test an unlimited number of configurations of equalizing and matching the acoustical fixed for churches.  Since computer simulations don’t work with this technique of acoustical sound management for churches this is the next best thing.  In earlier testing in other room years ago, the tests done translated very will into larger spaces.  In the past, this testing was only to find the most common acoustical problems churches have.  Since then, churches have been demanding even better room control and this test room will allow us to customize the acoustics of any worship space.

It is our hope that the ability for room testing will be ready in the next two weeks.

Blessings

Joseph De Buglio

 

 

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Worship Spaces are like Musical Instruments

Posted by jdbsound on June 12, 2014

Churches and Worship spaces are like musical instruments. Look at a violin.

A lot of detail goes into designing and building a violin. Many violin builders know that if you leave parts out or don’t design the same details into every violin, then you wind up with something that isn’t playable or you have something that cannot be used in an orchestra. Violins are built to a certain standard of performance and to get to that performance, you have to build them almost all the same.

If we built violins the way we build churches, it would be the end of orchestras because all the violins would sound too different to play together. Is this what is happening to churches and worship centers? Are our churches sounding so different that when people visit for the first time they can’t understand what is being said or the sound quality is so different that hearing “church talk”, it is too confusing?

If a church is a musical instrument and it doesn’t sound right, adding the sound system will not fix. Think about it. Does adding an electronic pickup or microphone make a bad sounding guitar sound better? No. All that a microphone or pickup does is amplify what you have. You know – Garbage in – Garbage out… Yet everyday, churches are upgrading and changing their sound systems with a complete disregard to the acoustics of the worship space. All they do is exchange one set of problems for another set of problems. Unit the room is fixed, spending money on sound equipment is not an investment. All it does is make the sound companies and manufacturers rich.

When a church has acoustical problems, spending more money on sound equipment certainly isn’t helping to get more people to stay in church.

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JdB Sound Acoustics is Moving

Posted by jdbsound on April 16, 2014

JdB Sound Acoustics is moving between May 1st to May 10th. Anyone needing help can call after May 10th for help.

In the new facility, a lab is being built for testing and designing tube radiators patterns to target specific frequency will go on-line in July. The lab will allow us to create better passive equalization curves for better sound system performances.

For churches this means if the room is really reflective at 500 hertz or 300 hertz, we can create a tube radiator pattern that can attenuate or absorb up to 60dB or 2.5 sabines at those specific frequencies. Sort of creating a passive notch filter that is immune to humidity and temperature changes. No other acoustical system is able to give such control.

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Peace Mennonite and Gateway Community Church

Posted by jdbsound on February 24, 2014

Just completed inspecting two churches.  Peace Mennonite in Richmond BC and Gateway Community Church in Abbotsford BC.  The results are amazing.  While Gateway’s acoustics are not finished yet, what has been completed so far sounds great.  meanwhile, at Peace Mennonite the performance of the square room with corner stage turned out exactly as predicted.  Photos of these two churches have been posted here.

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

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Acoustics 102

Posted by jdbsound on February 10, 2014

Fixing the acoustics of a church requires a system. Evidence shows that single purpose acoustical fixes may solve the original problem but the fix can, and often creates 2 or 3 other problems. Since all churches with acoustical problems come in layers, you need a system to treat all the layers in one step. Since proper acoustical fixes are a system, you have to complete the system to realize the full benefit of the acoustical repair.

Acoustics 103

A church without acoustics is a church that has never been finished.  (This message will be repeated often.)

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Room Shape Facts

Posted by jdbsound on November 2, 2013

The rectangle -shaped room for a church is the best when it is in the right ratio. All other room shapes are rooms that people spend millions on with sound equipment and acoustical panels to make them sound like a rectangle room.

The truth is, the most you can do with other room shapes is make them as usable as possible. You can make any room perform almost as good as a rectangle but they will never “sound” like a rectangle. Every other room shape will have its own unique sound.

Consider this, if room shapes were compared to the musical instruments of an orchestra, the premium instrument d would be the violin.  You could say that the rectangle room shape in the right ratio can have the performance of a great violin.  Unfortunately, people rarely get to experience such a high performing room in a church because when a church is absent of proper acoustical management of sound, you could say that the room is broken.  The good news is that most rectangle-shaped rooms can be upgraded and repaired or in most cases, have their church completed.  That is a comment often shared with me when churches use the right kind of acoustical upgrade.  It doesn’t seem to matter if the church is 5 years old or 300 years old, getting the acoustics done properly is like saying that the church is finally finished.

When it comes to other room shapes, such as square, fan, octagon, oval, round, or any other room shape, most rooms are absent of the proper acoustical treatment.  I often think of a square room as a trumpet or a fan-shaped room as a clarinet.  The problem is, most people never really know the full potential of how these rooms can sound.  Most churches just put up with their broken worship spaces, never knowing the full performance their worship spaces can offer.

The truth is,  every church member and adherent has the solution to fixing their church in the palm of their hands.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or an acoustical engineer to know how to fix your church.  All you need to do is follow what the Bible says.  This is not a miracle or a trick.  It is science at it’s best, transforming broken worship spaces into the sanctuary most churches deserve to have.  The Bible details a specific recipe that if followed, can make the worst sounding churches be the best sounding churches.  To learn more about this, read this article.  Biblical Secrets in Plain Sight.

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Estevan Church of God is Transformed

Posted by jdbsound on October 13, 2013

Estevan Church of God is in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Before the acoustical changes.

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After Acoustical Changes.

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Bogota Columbia Church gets great Acoustics

Posted by jdbsound on October 13, 2013

CameraZOOM-20130306095819680

CameraZOOM-20130317113033294

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Acoustical Facts

Posted by jdbsound on March 21, 2013

Did you know that if you use hard shell half round shapes in a sequential pattern, you will not need bass traps in the corners of your room!

It’s true.

Did you know this if you use hard shell half round shapes in a sequential pattern you can reduce excess bass in some frequencies over 40dB?

It’s True.

Did you know that in larger churches, the half round shapes can increase the bandwidth of a sound system, increase the gain before feedback and increase the bass output of sub woofer up to 6dB!

It’s True.

Did you know that if you use hard shell half round shapes in a sequential pattern around your whole worship space, you can double or triple the number of people singing during worship without having to tell them to participate more or to sing louder!

It’s True.

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Windermere United Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Posted by jdbsound on March 18, 2013

windermere 3_edited-1

Completed their Sound System and Acoustical upgrade in Summer of 2012.

In the last year, all of the complaint about sound have been exchange for a growing church.

Click on the photo to see the full size image.
To see other images of this church please use this link – http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdbsound/sets/72157632984258138/

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Free Hearing Test with an Apple App

Posted by jdbsound on February 21, 2013

Get your hearing tested for free.  If you have an iPad, iPod or iPhone, you can test your hearing with a free App.  It is good enough to confirm whether if you have a hearing problem and whether you should be getting professional help.

The software is from Unitron and they make hearing aids. So while some people think that this is just a sales marketing tool, and it very well may be, but it matches a hearing test of mine done in a proper lab hours apart. That is good enough to decide who should be behind a mixer and making adjustments during worship.

What I have also done is use this test for people who persistently ask me to turn things up – even when they have sat in different places. When everything is working properly and I know the sound system is passing the STI speech intelligibility test, I will ask the person to take the test.  Be gentle and kind when asking people to take the test.  When people discover that they need help, setting them off in getting their hearing back often gives them back their life too.  The App is called “U-Hear”

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Quote of the Day

Posted by jdbsound on January 10, 2013

If experiencing poor sound in church could be measured as pain and people are not complaining about it, it could be because they don’t consider taking 10 extra strength pain killers per worship service as overdosing.

by Joseph De Buglio Jan 2013

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Pastor Guide To Acoustics

Posted by jdbsound on December 20, 2012

Here is an article I recommend reading.  It sings the same story share at this website.  Don’t know about the results but if it is similar, it would be amazing.

Pastor’s Guide to Acoustics
link: http://www.worshipfacilities.com/go.php/editorial/19635

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All Sound Systems are like magnifying glasses of the room acoustics

Posted by jdbsound on December 10, 2012

Is your sound system making the right impression?  Are the acoustics of your church allowing your sound system to make that great first, second and third impression at your church?

Once again the subject of getting more performance out of the next sound system upgrade keeps coming up. When a church is constantly seeking to get more performance out of a sound system at every upgrade and not be  enjoying the best sound possible then it’s time to fix the room instead of putting it off and investing into more equipment. This is the message your sound system is broadcasting.  Are you listening or are you waiting for the next technology breakthrough for that sliver of improvement?

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Calvary Worship Centre, Surrey, BC. Canada

Posted by jdbsound on November 9, 2012

Image

The acoustical system at Calvary Worship Centre is now about 95% complete.  The church hired me back to confirm the acoustical results and to finalize the sound system setup.  The Midas Pro2c Mixer and Danley Speaker system are a great match.

This is not the largest church to use this acoustical and sound system combination, but it is the largest church to change their acoustics in less than 30 days.  The fastest church repair was done in 7 days in Brentwood, England.  The largest Church I have worked on was 6500 seating.

A member of Living Hope Church in Surrey BC where they have been using the same acoustical system for over a year commented with saying Calvary has the same balance of sound as does Living Hope which is a modest 270 seat church.  Calvary Worship Centre can seat up to 2000.  That is remarkable considering that one place is built as a “proper” church and the other is a converted warehouse and both spaces perform the same.  (I was reminded that Living Hope Church thought they already had good acoustics but tried the Solomon system as a short term experiment.  The experiment turned it a permanent installation and the congregational singing and worship has never been more exciting.)

A Member of Calvary Worship Centre said, “The sound is far better than I dared hope for this 20,000 sq ft space given my previous church experience in a very similar venue.  Also, the total price was less than I expected it might be including your fees and the acoustic treatment.”

As one person mentioned at another church fixed with half round diffusers in Little Rock, Arkansas USA, he said, “you can tell if you have a good room by the number of people singing.  Before only about 20% of the audience was singing most of the time and for familiar hymns about 25% were singing.  Now it’s about 85% of the audience is singing all the time and you can hear the excitement and power of all those voices ring out.”  Imagine that – worship and excitement in the same sentence.

Click on the Photo to see the full size version.

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Social Media

Posted by jdbsound on November 5, 2012

Is Social Media and Sermons on YouTube or Web Streaming replacing the need for good sounding worship spaces?

Posted in Church Acoustics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Question of the Day

Posted by jdbsound on October 7, 2012

How can anyone expect a church to grow if people can’t understand the message?  Did you know that the quality of sound or the rate of speech intelligibility is directly related to church’s attendance!  I have seen some churches grow up to 25% and some say it is up to 50% when they properly manage the performance of their acoustics and sound system.  What do you think and what can you do about it?

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St Margaret Mary Church Update

Posted by jdbsound on September 21, 2012

The first part of the acoustical change at St Margaret Mary’s Church is complete.  This is what they are saying about the project.

Here is a PDF version with additional Photos

http://www.jdbsound.com/art/smmccfa.pdf

Thank you for visiting and reading.

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The question of…

Posted by jdbsound on August 20, 2012

The question of the day is, What was the purpose of the Palm Trees in Solomon’s Temple?  Was it practical, spiritual or something else?

Perhaps If I rephrase the question.  Were the carvings of the palms trees in the holy of holies added for symbolism or where they added to solve a problem related to hearing inside the two main rooms of the temple?

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Projects on the Go for July 2012

Posted by jdbsound on August 3, 2012

JdB Sound Acoustics has been award long term contracts with two church.  They will assist in the design of two Sanctuaries.  One church is in Wasilla, Alaska and the other church is in Dubbo, Australia.  These are long term projects that will be completed sometime in the next year.  The project included the design of the worship space, the design of the acoustics and sound system plus the design of the HVAC Systems.

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Congregational Singing makes you feel better

Posted by jdbsound on July 14, 2012

All over the place your hearing that church giving is down.  What about church attendance?  It is up slightly.  If you want to get more people to come to church to make up for the lower giving’s, you can do it with better sound and better acoustics.  Why better acoustics?  One of the main events of worship is congregational singing and singing fosters unity and friendship.  The better the singing experience for the congregants, the more rejuvenated and refreshed they become.  The more people enjoy their singing experience, the better chances for them to be involved in mid week church programs and more tithes.

“But we have a great worship and praise team!  They do an excellent job!”  While this is true, there is nothing like belting out a great hymn at the top of your lungs.  People want to participate in a church, not just be entertained.  For some congregants, this all out singing is like a spiritual high that gives you a warm and pleasant feeling.  Singing usually makes you feel better.  Even belting out a depressing song can end up you feeling better.  When people are like this, they tend to be friendlier and more willing to be involved in other church events.  A worship space should encourage this type of singing.  You can have the best leadership standing up front trying to get the people to singing but if the room is fighting you, it isn’t going to happen.

“But we have the best sound system with the latest State Of The Art Technology.  That will get people to sing!”  Wrong!  That makes the people more passive.  Sure people love being entertained but that also means they are less likely to be involved in other church events.  When people are entertained, they are less likely to give extra or give a full tithe.  The Sound system can only bring the sound to the people.  Acoustics put people into the sound which gives you a fuller worship experience.

I have fixed the acoustics of hundreds of churches and I have also kept track of the health and response of how people react to good acoustics.  Every time a church has completed their entire acoustical plan, the results have been remarkable in existing churches.  It really is a day and night experience.

Here is a simple test you can do to see what your acoustics are like.  Have the congregation sing a familiar song without the sound system on and no instruments.  This size of your church doesn’t matter whether your church seats 100 people or 8,000.  With an attendance of 65% or more, measure at the front of the church how loud the singing is.  Don’t tell the people it is a test.  Look at the Sound Pressure Levels (SPL) (Even a Radio Shack SPL meter will do.) which should be placing about half way between the first row of seating and the front wall of the church.  If the levels are over 90dB most of the time, you most likely have a good room.  If they are singing over 95dB most of the time, you have a great room.

If your congregational singing is producing 85dB or less when singing a familiar song, then you need acoustical management.  Believe it or not, when you fix the acoustics for better congregational singing, you will also be improving the performance of the sound system no matter how good your sound system already is.  You will find more gain before feedback, better intelligibility, better floor monitor control for churches that use them and better bass response from the piano, organ and choir.  Don’t be surprised if this also gets rid of the drum shield but that is for another article.

Posted in Church Acoustics | 1 Comment »

Acoustician vs Architects

Posted by jdbsound on June 11, 2012

Who gets the final say in Church Aesthetics?  The Architect or the Acoustician?

My opinion suggests that if the Architect is able to provide a space with the right acoustical performance, then they get the final say.  If they fail to design a complete worship space that meets the churches needs acoustical for the life time of the church building, people like me get the final say in how a church looks. (I don’t think many Architects like this and this is why they don’t like hiring me.)  Instead some churches are hiring me instead of Architects for their worship space and HVAC designs.  My services cost less and hiring the Architect for just the engineering and exterior finish of the church (which the community sees every day) costs way less too.

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Fun Room to Fix

Posted by jdbsound on May 29, 2012

Here is a typical room that needs help.  This is what I am working on this week.  Click on the photo to see the full size image.  Enjoy.

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Kingston Road United Church

Posted by jdbsound on May 25, 2012

Kingston Road United Church.

Location: Kingston Road, Toronto, Ontario Canada

Consulting Date March 2008
Completion Date by Church members – October 2008
Sound System installed by Westbury Sound – December 2008

  1. Seating capacity 500+
  2. Ceiling over 40 ft high
  3. Over 120 Cardboard Tubes custom made order and placed around the room in 8″ 12″ and 16″ half rounds.
  4. Between 120 to 800 hertz removed 18 to 22dB of excess energy.
  5. This change allowed a single speaker system to cover a whole room 134 ft long.
  6. Throw distances from speakers to back wall, 98 ft.
  7. Contractor who installed the system was surprised at how well this sound system worked and how much the room changed.
  8. Contractor suggested delayed speakers before the acoustical treatment was done.

If you wish to see additional photos of this project, visit my Flickr Photo Library.   Use this link to see them.   https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdbsound/sets/72157607243842820/

 

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Acoustical Windows

Posted by jdbsound on May 25, 2012

Windows inside of a worship area can be an acoustical hazard.  Standing waves, echoes and bass problems are just a few of the ways large windows in a worship area create problems.  Turning plain ordinary expensive windows into high performance acoustical windows is brilliant and they cost less.  It does require more advance planning.

In this example the windows provide and added benefit.  Now there is fixed seating in the foyer – a minor detail many churches leave out – considering the amount of time some people like to fellowship in a church foyer.

Photo from Blake Engel (All Church Sound)

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Trip to Thunder Bay Ontario

Posted by jdbsound on May 24, 2012

I’m away next week to Thunder Bay.  If anyone want’s to meet up with me while there, send me an email, I will tell you where I am working and you can join me or visit.  The church I am working on has some unique features that will require a very different solution than what you would normally see me do.

To contact me, send you email to jdb@jdbsound.com and I will fill you in on the details.

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