Ah, who doesn’t love a good Christmas song? It’s that time of the year where we smile and laugh as the kids butcher lines in the play, and forget words. Oh, how cute they are, dressed up in their costumes or their Sunday best to express to us the reason for the season.

What is it, you say? They didn’t forget their words? The PA system went out while they were talking?

And that constant ringing isn’t part of the program? That’s high frequency feedback that the audio person doesn’t even realize is happening.

How important is sound when it comes to your service, program, play, meeting, or any other event that requires amplification of either voice or instrument?

Can we agree that the quality of sound will be the difference in people saying they enjoyed the program, or them forgetting about the program, but talking about the horrible experience they had in the venue for the next month?

Good visuals and poor sound gets your videos passed up. Bad audio gets your livestream skipped and never to be returned to again.

There is a passage from the Bible that says, “Faith comes by hearing…” But how can they hear, and why would they want to hear when the sound is so bad?

So, two schools of thought need to be addressed going into the holiday season as concerts and plays abound.

  1. Do we have the right PA system to properly relay (both for music and for speech) the message we want to display?
  2. Do we have the right person running the PA system that will give us the greatest chance of getting our message across?

The days of running down to the local electronic shop, picking up some speakers and an amp; throwing them on the back wall, and making people live with the terrible outcome is over. Your PA system should fit in with the purpose of your mission and vision. If you know you want rock concert levels of sound, then buying the appropriate console, speakers, amps, mics, instruments, and accessories to accomplish that should be priority.

So many make the mistake of Frankenstein-ing their system together. They buy a piece of gear here and pick up this piece there from the pawn shop. They listen to their buddy say that they need this piece of equipment to fix this problem, but doesn’t work in their situation.

And I get it. Most churches, schools, small businesses have no one to consort with to help make these technical decisions. The good thing is that it’s the 2020’s. The amount of help that exists, now, is astronomical from when I started. But the main point is to have a plan. A real, written, laid out plan that fits with the other parts of the ministry, school, business, and/or organization.

But, next, and what I deem, vitally more important than the equipment, is a quality, competent person that can deal with not just audio engineering side of sound, but the people interaction as well. Operating an audio system wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the people! However, an audio engineer has to be both technically capable, and able to handle people with a soft touch.

What happens more times than not is the one person that could work a DVD player is also considered capable of being a sound engineer, though, they have no training and no experience. This is a false concept.

Working in IT doesn’t make you a sound engineer. Working on computers doesn’t make you a sound engineer. Because you can unlock an iPhone doesn’t make you a sound engineer; just like microwaving a pre-frozen dinner doesn’t make you a 5-star chef.

Untrained or ill-trained audio personnel will only cause for both the audio person and the people they serve to eventually get to a point where neither wants to deal with the other. It’s happening today…right now…somewhere.

You have to love people and audio to do this job, and therefore it’s incumbent on the person in charge to make sure they have the right person to work with staff, kids, other members, etc. else there will be more “The Grinch that stole Christmas” than “Have a Holly-Jolly Christmas” going on this year.

In the end, it’s a call to planning and consideration on the part of the administration of any organization to assure that the results desired can be obtained through the path taken.

A digital audio console with all the bells and whistles, along with cheap microphones and cheap speakers are going to make for a bad experience.

An old console with good microphones along with poorly amplified speakers is going to make for a bad experience.

A good console and good mics with speakers that are insufficient for the task is going to make for a bad experience.

Every and any combination of setting up your PA system that doesn’t require you to look at every component in the change to make sure that it’s right for your situation is going to result into a bad experience for both you and the listener.

It doesn’t take much to do things right.

But you’ll pay for wrong over and over and over again.

Yes. Yes, I do hear what you hear.