Architectural Acoustics & Sound Systems for Churches

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Posts Tagged ‘Passive acoustics’

Does sound quality in a Worship Space –

Posted by jdbsound on June 22, 2021


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

Myths vs Facts: 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Half Round Diffusers vs. Phase Gradient Diffusers

Posted by jdbsound on May 20, 2021


Many people ask how the panels will look before looking at how they perform when it comes to acoustic solutions.  Here is a short video compare two acoustic treatments that can get similar results and the cost differences without looking at the aesthetics issue. Our experience shows that most church members change their opinions on aesthetics when the acoustical fix does a great job at fixing the room. Congregation members of most churches do agree with one idea. It seems that if the acoustic system fails at improving congregational singing, the panels on the wall have to look good as wall furniture. If the acoustic treatment improves congregational singing, how the panels look doesn’t matter. The aesthetic issues disappear. If you have any questions or comments, please post them below, and we will respond to them right away.

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What Would Jesus Build?

Posted by jdbsound on December 2, 2020


Jesus would build exactly what he has already designed for us. Christian don’t follow what Jesus designed because most view anything from the Old Testament as something that is irrelevant today. That is from the old covenant. Oh!

In the New Testament, Jesus did not hint or suggest how houses of worship or churches should be designed, or did he? In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Next we have to look at John 1:3  “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” When you read the first 5 verses of the Gospel of John, he is talking about Jesus. Jesus was there for creation, and all things were created through Jesus. Then when you skip to 1 Chronicles 28:19, King David told his son, Solomon, that it was the hand of God that guided him in the design of the temple. God also made him to understand what was being designed. When you put the other parts together, beginning with all things were created through Jesus, and nothing was created without Him, then that means it was Jesus who guided the hand of King David.

As a relic from the past, I can understand why people are so fascinated about Solomon’s Temple. The Ark of the Covenant, the gold on all of the walls and floor, and the gold covering the two giant sized Cherubs over the Ark of the Covenant. It all seems too good to be true, or is it? Since the temple was built and destroyed, many scholars, scientists and historians have been either, trying to validate its existence, seeking something spiritual, or think that there is something supernatural about the building. There are also people waiting in the sidelines for the chance to rebuild another temple. They all have their reasons, but most of them believe that there will be some kind of restoration, and building a third temple will move revelations forward. When man decides to build the third temple in Jerusalem, will not change God’s timing for future events. God will decide that and the unsaved people of the world will have one more chance to change where they will spend eternity.

When you think about it, the second temple, which was built with the best of intentions, was turned into an atrocity and few hundred years later. The temple was symbolizing all of the corruption and enslavement of the Israelites who were beaten into submission by the heavy burden of legalism enforced by the Priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes, long before the Roman Empire ruled Israel. When the Romans arrived, the religious leaders simply added some more rules to keep the peace with their new roman masters.

When you put it all together, Jesus designed the temple Solomon built. When you look at the temple from the perspective that Jesus designed it, then you should be asking the questions Why, and does it have relevancy today?

The knowledge of Solomon’s Temple that I am exposing has nothing to do with anything mysterious, supernatural or any mysticism. When Jesus cast the money changers out of the temple, he said “My House” in Matthew and Mark and said My Father’s House in John. Jesus said that the temple was His and His Father’s house. This was a copy, and a poor quality version compared to the first temple. Did Jesus claim this house because it was dedicated as God’s house or did He claim ownership because of where it was located?

For those who have come to realize this truth, Jesus didn’t have to give us a new church design in the New Testament. He already gave us that in the Old Testament, and when Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, I think he was also saying that anything that was designed in the past is a gift for us today. This may seem like a stretch, until you start applying modern science to Solomon’s Temple. You know – the temple Jesus designed.

Wait a second, are you saying that modern churches should be designed like Solomon’s Temple? Are you out of your mind? Who can afford such a building – consider this. When you remove the gold, you have the most compatible worship space to modern Christian Worship. They building method of the temple in modern times is a very affordable building that includes all the space a typical church these days needs. Ok then, are all churches going to look the same? The Holy Place or sanctuary portion of the temple is a roadmap that should not be compromised. How you design the rest of the building is up to you. Why would we want to design such a space? Perhaps it is because it is the ideal space to have the best worship experience possible on earth before going to heaven. It could be the closest thing to heaven we can experience here on earth, but we don’t know for sure because there is no building around that is completely designed that way.

Consider this, most church buildings cannot physically support all of the worship, detailed in the Bible in both the Old and New Testament, however, Solomon’s Temple, without the gold can. (There are already hundreds of churches that are using sound management from the Bible that suggests that Solomon’s design would perform even better.) Jesus had to have designed Solomon’s Temple. Why? So it can lay in a pile of dirt under a Mosque? Why else would Jesus guide the hand of David? What was so important in the design of the temple for the only man in History, David, to be touched by God? Many in the Bible have seen or been touched by Angels, but is was different for King David. The reason why it was Jesus that touched David, is because Jesus had touched people later on in the New Testament. Not even Moses or anyone else had such an experience until Jesus came to us in the flesh years later. Jesus said He came to fulfill the law. He had to, because He wrote them. It is possible that Solomon’s Temple was meant to be a gift for us to use today? Isn’t it time that we study God’s Word from a different perspective and embrace that gift and start experiencing church worship as God wants for us, or have we been too prideful and sinful to recognize His teachings, even when it comes from the Old Testament?

For those of you who think that Solomon’s Temple was a myth, how does a myth fix the performance of sound systems and acoustics in over 400 modern churches today? How many churches have to be fixed before using the methods from the Bible are considered standard practice in the Christian Church Community?

To learn of these secrets, have a look at this PDF file and let me know what you think.

Joseph De Buglio – in HIS service

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How to fix Congregational Singing Acoustically in any Church

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 to sing.  And the theory is, that the more people are singing, the more they will be engaged.  The means of how they attempt this is with a high power sound system and strong leadership of the lead singer in a praise band. You never hear them suggesting to fix the room.

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 load on the church leaders, including the pastors and song leaders. This is so wrong.  The truth is, all of the recommendations outlined are the results of 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 cardboard, wood or plaster tubes which come in a range of costs, depending on how important aesthetics are and the budget your church can afford. 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 about 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 answers to church sound, and it is a solution that is superior to any other system at any cost. 

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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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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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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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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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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