Architectural Acoustics & Sound Systems for Churches

Teaching the Bible's way for Church Sound excellence, every time.

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Posts Tagged ‘room acoustics’

Churches are not concert halls.

Posted by jdbsound on October 23, 2022


They are Supposed to be better!

What! Are Churches supposed to be better than concert halls?
That’s a joke, isn’t it? No, this is not a joke.

The world is at war with the church and followers of Christ. Like the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9, where the people scattered when they were given different languages, the same thing happens when attending a church where the acoustics and sound get in the way of hearing clear and unaltered speech and music. In studying an abundance of existing churches, it becomes clear that there is a direct correlation between acoustics, sound quality, congregational health, and attendance. It would be fair to say that this correlation is throughout church history.

Just as the serpent deceived Eve, the serpent has been using houses of worship as a battlefield in waging that war ever since. Throughout the Bible, there are hundreds of warnings of deception, liars, false teachers, gods, Baal, and other worship idols. Satan, the great deceiver, will do anything to keep people out of heaven and build up his own kingdom. Any person tricked or deceived out of choosing Jesus and the salvation message is being added to Satan’s domain. With Satan and all his forces against us, we need every tool possible to properly preach the full Gospel message.

Throughout the New Testament, there are many warnings and declarations of the importance of everyone understanding the full Gospel message. Here are some examples.
1 Corinthians 1:10-11, Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.
1 Corinthians 11:17-19, Now in giving this next instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better, but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there also have to be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.
2 Peter 2:1-2, But false prophets also appeared among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their indecent behavior, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;

In the past, churches have split because of issues such as the color of the pew Bibles, Hymnals, and whether to have wine or grape juice for communion. Likewise, a misunderstood word or phrase caused by sub-quality sound, regardless of being acoustical or amplified, can set people off as well, which has led to church splits. Just as words can bring people together, they can also set people against each other.
To that end, a church building is supposed to be a tool that doesn’t get in the way of hearing clear and unaltered speech. It is meant to be a safe place for the followers of Christ. It must have the right characteristics for the engagement of His people, to be participants in the whole worship, and for the preaching of the Gospel. For this reason, a church must outperform any secular concert and recital hall and all entertainment facilities at every level, period. However, it is not in the way most church people think.

The following is a walk-through explaining the differences between concert halls and entertainment facilities and how worship spaces are supposed to be unique in how they are to perform. It also includes a church sound standard lifted directly from the Bible. A standard about church acoustics, building design, and function, with a splash of the science that supports the scriptures. In studying and working with hundreds of churches over the last 40 years, the impact of upgrading a church Biblically has been a consistent result of increasing church attendance. These attendance increases have been consistent at every upgraded church from 5 to 25%, years later. Who knew that the Bible has so much to say about science, acoustics, human anatomy, and how it all works together.

Link to Full PDF Article https://www.jdbsound.com/art/churches%20are%20not%20concert%20halls%20final.pdf

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Can Science Explain Everything?

Posted by jdbsound on April 28, 2022


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A Bible Story Parody

Posted by jdbsound on January 24, 2022


This is an updated version of this parody story originally published in 1990.

Enjoy.

A Bible Story Parody

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Flow Chart of the House of Worship God Designed for the best Sound and Acoustics

Posted by jdbsound on November 4, 2021


The path to the best sound and acoustics for a church can be found in the Bible. Who knew! Here is a printable version of the House of Worship flowchart. There are a number of updates, improvements, and, a bonus, the secret sauce recipe for church acoustics. All of it is based on the scriptures.

The flow chart is in two parts. The first part details the temple in terms of how every part of the building points to Jesus and Christians and how the Holy Place was a template for the modern church. This section can also be used as a Bible study or study guide for anyone interested in Solomon’s Temple.

The second part does a deep dive into the sound and acoustics side of the temple and how that translates into meeting the needs of modern churches.

The house of Worship that God designed solves the one problem most churches have – poor congregational singing. Studying this method of sound management for churches solves the congregational singing issue, and it removes most of the limiting factors that affect all sound systems. It seems that there is a symbiotic relationship between good congregational singing and amplified sound that was unknown until a Biblical solution to church sound management was applied.

There are many churches that have very high quality, and expensive sound systems that are performing well below their full potential, and most church owners don’t have a clue of either how much better their sound system should be performing or are unaware of how much unmanaged acoustic or the wrong kind of acoustical treatment is limiting what their sound systems could really do.

The other thing that must be made clear, no sound system or electronic technology can affect congregational singing. The only effective method of bringing good congregational signing into existing churches is by using the method found in the Bible. This method of managing church sound can be universally applied to all existing building shapes and designs, denominations, and all worship styles. Many pastors and church apologists often say that the scripture is sufficient in all things. Applying the Bible’s method to managing the acoustic of a church once again proves that such thinking is also applicable to the modern churches Christians around the worship own and use to worship God.

The file is large and can be printed into a 23-page document to be shared with others.

Flow Chart of Solomon’s Temple

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Passive verses Active Worship. Is there a difference?

Posted by jdbsound on October 8, 2021


Many people ask how the panels will look before hearing how they perform when it comes to managing the acoustic of a sanctuary for worship. Here is a short video comparing two acoustic treatments. One system comes from a non-Biblical solution that partially works and is very expensive. The other system comes from the Bible. It provides the proper acoustical conditions for worship every time and at a fraction of the cost. Our experience shows that most church members change their opinions on aesthetics when the acoustical fix does a great job of 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 all parts of worship, especially congregational singing, concerns about how the panels look melt away. The aesthetic issues disappear.

The half-round diffuser systems are also passive noise cancellers. If you have a noisy HVAC system, they can reduce noise up to 20dB at no extra cost without over-dampening or compromising the worship space acoustics.

If you have any questions or comments or want other subjects discussed, please post them below.

Phase Gradient Diffusers vs. Tube Radiators. Which gets better results. Church Acoustics

Passive worship is when people feel alone during congregational singing. Feeling alone prepares people for hearing a feel-good message, whether it is prosperity or a self-help gospel.

Active worship is when more than 60% of the congregation is actively singing all the time, and for some, sing the harmonies in the hymns. When there is active singing, it helps to unite people to hear the full Gospel message regardless of how strong that message is preached. Active worship often leads to a stronger church and people making long-term relationships.

The acoustical condition of a worship space is a very accurate measuring tool to determine the type of worship any church practices. A good-sounding worship space supports congregational singing and does a better job at supporting amplified speech with less sound equipment.

An under-performing worship space not only makes a room full of people feel like they are all alone, but it takes 3 to 4 times the audio equipment to get decent speech quality, and since less than 60 to 75% of the congregation is not singing, the excessive sound system is also used to entertain the congregation with worship teams and performance singers. What better way to end a long session of feel-good music to cap it off with a feel-good message. Here is an article that explains this more.

By Joseph De Buglio

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Church Acoustics is really simple.

Posted by jdbsound on September 24, 2021


At least according to the Bible.

Church sound is in a mess.  Many Christians are being denied true Biblical worship and they don’t even know it. There is an easy way to fix it, and the solution comes from the Bible. The following article covers many details on how the Church community has gotten itself into this mess and a proven solution from the Bible that works 100% of the time is shared in detail.

The article is 15 pages and is about a 30 minute read. If you want to just get to the recipe for the Bible’s solutions to ideal church acoustics, where you can upgrade any existing worship space, go to page 11. However, if you want to know what direction your church is going, and to understand how acoustics is changing church worship into church entertainment, there is an opportunity to reverse the decline, and to restore the kind of worship the bible describes from cover to cover.

PDF Article Link – Church Acoustics is really simple

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The Average Church Buys Ten Sound Systems

Posted by jdbsound on July 15, 2021


Do churches really buy that many sound systems?

The first sound system

The first sound system is the cheapest system the church can afford and is installed without much knowledge or research about system design, by someone with good intentions. 

It does amplify sound, and everyone adjusts their hearing and puts up with it.  Every time the system is turned on, it sounds different.  This sound system lasts only until the minister threatens to leave, when church members do leave, or enough people complain about it.

The second sound system

The second sound system is by a church member, or a friend of a church member, or a person, who does church sound on the side or as an extension of their secular business.  The new sound system is better behaved but, in the end, the overall performance is only slightly better that the previous system.  The minister is annoyed by people asking him to repeat or explain parts of the sermon almost every week.  The person or company installing this sound system are under the notion that at the end of the project, they will have a modest profit. Did anyone see a Profit! Oh! What a novel idea! 

The third sound system

The third sound system is a sound system designed and installed by a professional, meeting most of the goals promised in a verbal agreement.  While some parts of the sound system are performing well, other issues become more noticeable.  Yes, there is less audio feedback heard, but speech clarity for people over 40 has not improved.  Amplified music sounds mushy.  The minister’s confidence takes a hit every time people talk to him after the service or through the week, asking questions as if he is not preaching the Gospel properly, when it was the sound in the room that changed the words that left his mouth and arrived to the listeners as being something else.  Some people returned because the sound was more stable, not because it is much better, and for others, it is more likely they miss their friends.

A written agreement is never offered or requested because we all know the myth and lie, that the outcome is too unpredictable and rarely lives up to expectations.  Often this sound system is in whole or in part paid for from a single donation or is bequeathed from a persons will.  The professional thanks the churches he helps for upgrading his car every few months.

The fourth sound system

The fourth sound system is designed and installed by another professional promising to do better.  In making some parts of the sound system better, it came at a compromise of something else regardless of the cost.  The church buys additional hardware for the system from someone else and it does provide some marginal improvements, but not enough to satisfy most of the church members.  The designer had suggested for acoustical improvements but downplays it so that the acoustics would not impact the sound system profits.  People with hearing aids that have the “T” switch like the loop system but even in the hearing aids, real sound clarity is not there, even with the high quality digital technology used to make a loop system work so much better.  While these people are not straining to hear because of loudness, understanding the message does come into question.

Another mythical illusion that is often perpetuated, is that there is more profit in audio hardware than in supplying acoustical treatments and proper acoustics fixes are too expensive for the average church to afford.  The professional thanks the church for the new motor home. 

The fifth sound system

The fifth sound system is installed by a well-known professional who also expresses a warning that the acoustics must be fixed too.  After the installation is completed and after the honeymoon phase of the upgrade has passed, you realize that things that have improved did get better, but other problems showed up, limiting the sound system’s overall performance as being no better.  You call him to come back, he offers you more gear, but you cannot afford it. 

Many people say they like hearing the MP3 playback of the message in their car, on their computer, or Bluetooth, and most of them quietly wish they could have understood the message while at church, so as to being able to ask the minister meaningful questions at the end of the service to expand their understanding of the Gospel.  Church elders notice a high turnover in church attendance. They attribute the turnover to social and economic reasons, certainly not because of sound.

Inside of all the fancy professional paperwork, there was supposed to be a professionally written performance agreement, which was never included, so the church has no recourse.  The cycle of stepping two steps forward is met with surprise when everyone finally realizes that they also took an equal two steps back.  The professional keeps your money regardless of your choices and swims victory laps in his new family swimming pool.

The sixth sound system

The sixth sound system is installed with great promise by a high-end professional with the same warning that the acoustics should be addressed.  The proposal included an acoustical design that came from a person who is a professional at noise management, and has never designed a successful performing acoustical space in any of those type of projects.  The church ignores doing the acoustics, banking on the new “state-of-the-art” devises that are filled with promises of improvements to make the sound problems go away. 

In silence, the church leaders accept another expensive system upgrade that shows just a minor change that hardly justifies the cost.  There was hope that the congregation would be more involved with singing, but they are just as passive as before.

The high-end professional takes your money without hesitation so he can have bragging rights to sell to other churches.  These professionals know that the majority of churches do not talk to each other or check references.  They also know that most churches are too stubborn to get their acoustics fixed first.  The professional upgrades his home theatre to schmooze and impress his secular clients who are harder to sell products and services to, because they have specific performance goals written into their contracts that they will not compromise on. 

The seventh sound system

The seventh sound system looks impressive, and it also includes a different acoustical design.  The professional suggests that the bigger and “better” new sound system would be a great sales gimmick to attract more people from the church across the street.  More people do come, but because the Church board, did not implement the acoustic plan, congregational singing languishes, and more hardware is purchased to do entertainment style worship, leading most of the people into getting engaged in the show.  The rock concert quality sound system, the video walls, motorized lights, smoke machines, are all adding to the entertainment elements that distract people from the subpar sound quality.  The professional now travels first class.

The eighth sound system

The eighth-sound system the professional designs is used as a gimmick along with multi-media to compete with other online ministries.  Additional digital technology is used to mask the real sound of the church from the online service and to broadcast publicly. The equipment does an excellent job in preventing people from hearing echoes and the poor-quality reverberation of those who have attended church, have learned to put up with.  For those who attend regularly, they like the weekly show.  The right acoustical treatment would have been cheaper, but the enslavement of technology blinds everyone from seeing the bigger picture.  The church continues down the path of substituting worship with entertainment – but still calling it worship because they include words like Jesus, Holy Spirit and God in some of the songs.  After all, it is all about Him.  We can get saved later.  Right!

After getting a contract and deposit, the professional, who used an expensive rental car during earlier visits, shows up in a new luxury car, demonstrating that high end sound systems are needed in every church, regardless of whether they make any meaningful improvements.

The ninth sound system

The ninth sound system the professional designs is to keep the church growth momentum moving forward to attract more people from the other side of town.  Again, acoustics is ignored.  Since most of the other churches have subpar acoustics, most people attend the church with the best music show, the best motivational preacher, the best coffee, the best free food, the shortest sermons, or all the above. Such churches get people addicted to the drug like effect when dopamine and endorphins are released after following a specific ritualistic, high energy program.  Who can pass up that kind of drug and alcohol free high every week? 

Scientists call dopamine and endorphins the Happy Drugs the body naturally releases when stimulated.  A galvanizing, well planned choreographed series of songs, music, visuals, and storytelling events trigger the natural drugs in the brain.  Many people are hooked to this type of worship.  Whenever the show becomes too routine and it does not have enough stimulation, many will look for other churches to get the same buzz.  When that stimulation isn’t enough, then they go back to the first church and start over again.  Biblical teaching becomes secondary or nonexistent and any teaching from a Bible is focus on ways to keep people stimulated by focusing most of their attention on themselves. 

Who knew that sanctuary acoustics could lead to secularizing the church worship into worship entertainment?  Many churches, look and sound like a business rather than a place where Christians come to show their love of God through a holy time of gathering of the faithful – and not the addicted?  Some churches have bought different versions of the ninth sound system purely to attract those who thrive on that kind of stimulation which is a cheap way to get rich in a religious business.  Oh, didn’t you know!  Most people with a higher income greatly support churches that make them feel good.  Being saved or born again, is assumed or skipped over if you give a lot and the message makes you feel better.  That is no different than those high priced motivational speakers living very wealthy lives entertaining people with their secular version of the health, wealth and the prosperity gospel.

The professional tells his neighbor how another church paid for another addition to his house.  If you want to soar with eagles you have to be an eagle.  In case you didn’t know, eagles are classed as scavenger birds.

The tenth sound system

The tenth sound system is designed by an expert.  This is the final new sound system most of us never hear about.  It is a sound system that will never have to be redesigned again.  All that is required in the future is that as equipment ages, you only need to replace what is broken or upgrade the technology as more capabilities become available. 

This sound system is designed the same as the 3rd sound system following the upgraded acoustics designed by someone who does church acoustics and sound systems exclusively and gives a written description of how the worship space will perform after the upgrade.  Even though his professionalism is lacking, everyone is thrilled that congregational singing was finally fixed since the church opened at no added cost.  The acoustic upgrade, which costs a fraction of any of the other sound systems allows this older sound system design to outperform all the other six previous sound systems by 400 to 2500%. (Audio improvements follow a logarithmic scale.)  If your church is past its third sound system design or upgrade, stop, save your money, and fix the room.  The room is essentially screaming that it needs to be fixed and the sound system is always amplifying the problems.

There are a lot of sound contractors who will keep designing, selling, and installing you a newer sound system so they can buy a newer cottage, a bigger home or take another cruise ship vacation this month. The expert looks into the full church and prays that another soul hears the Gospel message and starts living a life with Christ, than seeking religion.

The facts

The fact is, not many churches will really buy 10 sound systems.  Few churches will start with the tenth sound system.  The majority of churches skip steps, but the outcomes are no different.  Many churches start with the first sound system while many newer and wealthier churches start with the 3rd or 4th system.  Other churches go from the 4th, to 7th, or 8th system.  Some churches are on the 3rd or 4th version or the 9th system.  The shortfall of these worship spaces are all predictable by the mere fact that any room that doesn’t have any acoustical treatment or the right method of managing church acoustics, means  the results are always the same.

Equipment

Churches that are on system 3 through 9, often have individuals who are gadget and technology driven.  To some of them, fixing the acoustics is like putting the brakes on technology.  If anything, visit any church out there that has upgraded their sound system in the last 5 years and you will find lots of perfectly good hardware that was deemed useless because it didn’t live up to its promised performance.  The truth is, all of that hardware that is still working or repairable would have never been bought in the first place had the acoustics been ideal.  With good acoustics, the tendency is to buy higher quality technology less often because you know it is going to work the first time and every day after that as the manufacturer designed it.  Every piece of audio hardware is limited by the acoustics of the room it is used in.  That is a hidden secret every equipment manufacturer knows about and intentionally leaves out of their manuals.

If you ask any audio manufacturer these days, many will admit that 50 to 60% of their equipment ends up in churches.  Yet after 70 years of churches with sound systems, in all of that time, the quality of worship hasn’t really improved.  The only change is that in more and more churches the worship is switching from active participation in the pews and seating, to passive worship.  That really isn’t worship – that is being entertained.  That is like being addicted to feel good messages and a focus on what you get out of worship rather than worshiping because you have a true love for God.

What should worship look like, Matthew 22:37-39 He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like unto it, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

When you are at church, during worship, do people sing and pay attention to the sermon with the focused attention of someone loving God with all their heart, mind and soul, or does it look like people having a good time, swaying to the music, sipping coffee during the sermon, remembering the jokes and the story at the beginning that often has little to do with the short message? 

After working with churches for a long time, these are some of the stories some churches have shared on their journey to getting the performance from their worship space and sound system their congregation deserved.  The ongoing myth that eventually audio technology can replace or put off the need to complete or fix the acoustics of a church is one of the most expensive decisions a church can make.  For some churches, the repeated cycle of redesigning sound systems to reach that elusive goal of perfect sound every few years, costs more than replacing a parking lot, a roof,  more storage, employment for a second pastor or church staff, and so much more.  Technology improvements comes with the illusion that it has the power to defy the laws of physics when it comes to church sound systems. 

A sound system can only perform as well as the room allows it.  You do not have to take my word for it.  Look at any concert hall or performance space that is profitable and it will have acoustical planning, panels or features that help to turn any performance into a memorable event.  The same applies to recording studios.  The better the acoustics, the less time it takes to complete a project, the lower the cost to the customer.  The quick results and lower costs lead to a higher rate of returning customers for future projects.  Recording studios and concert halls depend on repeat business and the single most common elements they have are acoustics.  Why would this model for sound excellence be any different in a church?

What is the difference between an expert and a professional? 

The church sound professional is the knowledgeable salesman with business degrees and higher education, often in unrelated fields for his business or company.  While their company does a lot of churches, church work is not exclusive and is no better than anyone else’s results.  Everything that they do is profit driven.  The professional knows how to say what the customer wants to hear, manipulating the customer into believing they are the best.  The professional shows an extreme level of patience, well-rehearsed business etiquette, confidence, quick with the paperwork, and makes the promise that whatever you ask for, they have the talent to do it.  Professionals count on repeat customers who remember their professionalism that masks their recollection on the unimproved results. 

The church sound expert is the person who works exclusively on churches.  He knows how to accurately diagnose the problems, and is compelled to tell you the truth, whether you like to hear it or not.  He believes that the more informed the church leaders are, the more likely the church will make the right decisions that will save the church thousands of dollars in the future.  He can precisely predict the results before anything is done and rarely makes mistakes.  He can back up the results from past experiences.  The expert will be honest and care more about getting you the right solution that will work the first time, at the expense of any illusion of being a fancy, smooth talking professional.  The expert is often not profit oriented, he cares more about your reputation within the church community, by getting results that count.  He often gets referrals or is asked to fix other rooms in the same church, and never gets a repeat customer.  If the expert must go back and fix the room again, he is not an expert. He is a “professional expert,” you know, the jack of all trades, passing himself off as an expert.

Who is fixing your church today?

A PDF Version of this post is here. the average church buys 10 sound systems photos_s.pdf (jdbsound.com)

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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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Bible Flow Chart from Solomon’s Temple to Modern Church Design

Posted by jdbsound on June 4, 2021


Here is an updated flow chart from Old Testament to New Testament, to help lift churches out of limiting themselves to entertainment styles of worship.

I think many people would agree that there is no experience better than singing in a church, with a congregation, and where everyone wants to sing.  Can you imagine singing in a church where 70% or more of the congregation sings all the time!  What a concept to be singing in a room where you know that your voice is contributing along with everyone else’s. Singing in unison or in harmony sounds just as heavenly and exciting—singing in a church where it sounds just as good with or without musical instruments contributing or leading the worship.  Many people dream of such a church sanctuary that performs like this.  Do such worship spaces exist?  Can a church be transformed into having such qualities?  

When only 20 to 30% of a congregation is singing, and the rest are passively swaying to the music, some with hands in the air and others almost dancing on the spot, is that the kind of worship the Bible describes?  Why don’t more people sing?  Is it because of the music, the hymns, the sound system, or could it be because the room is not able to support the kind of congregational singing described in the Bible?  If the room can’t support good congregational singing, that becomes an acoustics issue, and when most churches try to fix their worship spaces, they often kill the room to make the sound system perform better which makes the congregational singing worse – never better.

Evidence shows that it is easier for a church to resort to an entertainment style of worship because the secular community has not demonstrated any method of fixing the congregational singing issue in existing churches, and new churches opening these days are void of such performance qualities.  That then begs the question, is the entertainment style of worship honoring God?

In the Bible, there are no examples of musical instruments leading the singing, rather, the instruments followed the singing of the people.  When there is a worship team performing in most churches, the worship leader prompts the congregation to sing, and the performers who play instruments, follow the lead singers, not the congregation.  Often it is because they can’t hear the congregation singing at all, and they use floor or IEM monitors to follow the lead singers.  The reason the musicians and singings can’t hear the congregation is because of a room problem.  This creates a room full of people passively worshiping rather than actively worshiping.  That is not much different from going to a music concert.  Is worship in music as long or longer than the sermon? 

What does the Bible say about any of this?  God designed a house of worship in the Old Testament.  Why?  Why didn’t God leave it up to David or Solomon to design something that they wanted?  Why was God so heavy-handed and specific to its design.  Was this house of worship to be a relic of the past, something for the future – and something for the present? 

If the temple was to be a relic, then why are there so many specific details?  Why were those details preserved for over 3500 years?  What if in those details are solutions to many of the problems many churches have today – not just with sound problems, but other issues churches struggle with today? 

Study the flow chart. See what happens when 3500 years of history collide with science.  If there are any errors, let me know.  This work is a result of 27 years of fixing and documenting over 300 churches with another 100 plus churches that copied from the 50 church examples posted who informed me of their successes and from studying over1400 churches since 1983.  Visit my blog if you want to know more about the results in following God’s way to design churches and manage sound.

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