The church AV system

Building a Church AV System: Things You Should Know

A church needs to have an outstanding church AV system. An AV or audio-visual system enables churches to provide the churchgoers the best praise and worship experience. Since churches operate regularly, investing in a good AV system is necessary. Offering outstanding visuals and sound will encourage the people to go to church and participate in the ceremony. If you’re a church pastor or administrator, this article is made for you. We outline the important things that you should know when buying an AV system for your church.

The Church Sound System

Image showing a simple sound panel in the church AV system.
Simple Church Sound System

Of course, the first step is always knowing your needs. Every church is unique, and so are its audio-visual needs. What kind of sound system that needs to be installed in your place of worship? How many speakers do you need? What kind of visual technology do you need for your church? Do you need LED screens, panels or projectors? These are some of the surface level questions.

Below, we discuss different factors that you need to consider for your church sound system setup and visuals:

Size of the Place

When buying a church AV system, you first need to measure the place of worship. Larger areas need more speakers and screens, while smaller areas don’t. Moreover, the acoustics will significantly affect sound quality. Is your church a closed area, or is it an open space? When your church is a closed area, sound gets trapped inside. Hence, you don’t need very powerful sound systems. Moreover, closed areas don’t get a lot of sunlight from the outside. Indoor LED screens with lower nits will do great in this case.

Larger spaces with high ceilings may require more powerful speakers and multiple microphones to ensure even sound distribution. Another caveat with large spaces would be reverb or echo. The sound may reverberate, which might affect the quality of the sound you’ll hear. To avoid reverb and echo, here are some tips:

  1. Add acoustic panels on the walls so that it absorbs the sound.
  2. Use carpets and rugs on floors to reduce reverbs or echoes.
  3. Plan out where you want speakers to be placed. They should not be placed facing the wall.
  4. Choose less powerful speakers to avoid too much sound output.

Budget

Churches often struggle with finances since they don’t generate profit. The money of the church is primarily donations so that’s a challenge for buying a sound system. Before choosing a church sound system setup and LED screens, be clear about your budget constraints. High-quality sound systems and LED setups can be expensive, but options are available for different budget ranges.

Communicate with your parishioners and tell them that you’re planning to upgrade the church AV system and that you’ll be using a portion of the church’s coffers. If church finances are really tight, you might as well start raising funds as early as now. 

Main Uses

What activities in your church would benefit from a new church sound system setup and LED screens? Consider all the activities that take place in your church. From regular Sunday services to weddings, funerals, and community events, each event may have different audio-visual needs. 

For instance, regular mass or worship services require LED screens, cameras, lapel microphones, and instruments. The AV system that you’ll get must support all of your needs. Because if it won’t, you’re just wasting church money. 

Hardware

A church AV system will need a lot of new hardware. The bigger your church, the more hardware you’ll need. Most of the outlay will be purchasing new hardware such as speakers, amplifiers, cables, sound boards, and many more. Quality and price often don’t go together for AV systems. If you want good quality, you have to pay an extra premium for that. But if you’re satisfied with average quality, it won’t cost you a lot.

Here’s the hardware you need for your church AV system:

  • Amplifiers: Amplifiers boost the audio signal from the mixing console to the speakers. If you want crystal-clear sound, investing in amplifiers is a must. Singers and choirs need amplifiers because they enhance weak or faint sounds. A good set of amplifiers is needed for big choirs so that all voices (sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses) are heard. Moreover, the power of your amplifiers should match your speakers’ requirements.
  • Speakers: As mentioned previously, the speakers of your church AV system should work with the amplifiers. When choosing a speaker, you need experts to assess how many speakers are needed depending on the size of the area. You’ll need more speakers for large areas and less for small areas. Aside from speakers, you must buy reliable cables and connectors to minimize noise and interference. While some speakers have good bass frequencies, you might want to add subwoofers to enhance bass further. However, subwoofers aren’t required unless you prefer to have one.
  • Digital Signal Processors: Lastly, you need a DSP. The DSP will serve as your main board for adjusting the equalization of your sound. If you want crisp sounds for speech, you need to change it from the DSP. 

Style of praise and worship

There are different kinds of praise and worship, and the kind of worship that your church does will greatly affect the church’s sound system setup. Hence, you need to know beforehand so that you can pick AV systems that’ll work for your needs. 

Traditional services with spoken word and choir performances will not need advanced equipment compared to contemporary services with live bands and multimedia presentations. The latter will require more equipment because musical instruments need to be connected to the amplifier and speakers.

Hence, these are things you need to take note of as well:

  • Speaker Microphones: How many microphones do you need in your church? You should count the number of concurrent speakers in your praise and worship service to prevent people from using the same microphones. In a church, you may need different types of microphones, such as:
    • Lapels: Ideal for pastors and speakers who need to move around. The biggest disadvantage of lapels is that they are battery-powered. Some lapels connect to the DSP via a signal, and this signal may be interrupted, causing stuttering. Lapels are fine to use if your pastor loves to move around. However, a wireless microphone may be a better pick.
    • Handhelds: Versatile and can be used for singing or speaking. Handheld microphones deliver the best sound quality. You can choose either wired or wireless. We recommend wireless so that it’s portable. Wireless microphones have good battery life, and you won’t need to recharge constantly.
  • Choir Microphones ( or Boom Mics): Specifically designed to capture the sound of a group. Boom microphones are different from typical microphones. They are extra sensitive in capturing sound. That’s why boom mics are placed a few inches away from the choir; the voices of people near the microphone may overpower those at the back.
  • Instrument Microphones: Used for amplifying musical instruments. These are typically used for keyboards and guitars. You need to have extra instrument microphones as well. It’s also possible to connect these instruments to speakers directly.

The Church Visual System

Image showing a church worship service with LED screens.
Worship Service Using LED Screens

Now that we’ve discussed the sound system, it’s time to move on to the visual system. The church’s visual system comprises screens that aid singers, performers, and worship leaders in providing a meaningful worship experience. The kinds of screens depend on the size and needs of your church. The main purpose of having a visual system is to enhance the worship experience and encourage the faithful to participate during the service.

LED Display Hardware

For your church display, you need to decide which LED display hardware best suits your church. The kind of LED display will depend on the size of your church. If you have a small church, you might need fewer LED screens compared to a large church. In making this decision, let’s go over each type of display technology below.

  1. LED video wall: If your church is large and spacious, you may choose an LED video wall. Depending on how many cabinets you can stack up, you can create different sizes. We recommend choosing LED cabinets for flexibility. Since you’ll be stacking them up, these LED video walls can be conveniently removed and reinstalled in another place. The only con we see here is that LED video wall can be expensive.
  2. LED Projectors: Projectors are also great display hardware for churches. In our expert opinion, projectors are great for portability. You can bring them anywhere and easily reposition them. The only downside we see with LED projectors would be their brightness and image quality. If there is too much external light entering the church, it’s possible that the video quality from the projector may not appear bright and clear. Hence, we only recommend projectors for indoor use.
  3. LED TV Screen: Choosing an LED TV screen over projectors or LED video walls is the most cost-efficient. LED TV screens come at different prices and you can get bulk discounts if you buy several of them. Our opinion for LED TV screens would be around their cost, especially for small churches. LED TV screens can be a good starting point if you can’t afford projectors or LED Video walls.
  4. Curved LED display: It has the characteristics of soft, light, thin, high refresh, high grayscale, and so on. It is a beautiful scenery in the church. Arcs and various novel shapes can be customized around the shape of the wall to increase the interaction between the church and the LED screen.
  5. Transparent LED display: It is a new type of LED display that does not block light. The objects behind the LED screen can be seen from the front of the LED screen and can be customized into arcs, cylinders, waves, and other shapes. This creative feature can greatly attract the audience’s attention and increase participation.

Setting Up Your Church AV System

The church av sound system installation and LED screen setup will require a lot of work. Once you’ve selected your equipment, it’s time to install and set up your church sound system. We recommend letting experts do the actual installation. We believe that AV providers also offer installation services, and you should get them even if they come with a fee. Why? It’s because you get the assurance that everything will be set up properly if experts do it.

In setting up the church sound system and display hardware, you need to take note of the following:

Installation Service

After buying all the hardware from the supplier, you should ask if they offer installation services. If they do, we recommend that you grab it. It’ll save you a lot of time. Otherwise, you need to find experts who can install all the speakers, amplifiers, and screens. Besides that, this expert must also know how to connect them to the main DSP. That’s why we highly recommend getting the installation service from the supplier; it would be more convenient.

Close the Church for a While

During installation, don’t allow parishioners to visit the church and conduct activities. If they only came to pray, you may allow them to do so as long as they’re not interfering with the installation process. And while you’re at it, plan the layout of your equipment. 

Consider the placement of microphones, speakers, and lighting fixtures to ensure optimal sound and light distribution. The experts should know where to place these, but you may provide additional input, especially if the experts need to visit certain rooms within your church.

Cable management is another reason for restricting foot traffic in the church during installation. Cables and wires will be lying on the floor during the installation process, so it’s best not to let other people in so that there will be no accidents.

Test the Hardware After Installation

It’s best to conduct a test right after the installation while the experts are still in the area. In case there are problems, they can immediately fix it. Testing ensures that everything is working correctly. Check for noticeable issues with sound quality, lighting, or signal transmission. For the audio quality, it’s possible that the sound has not yet been equalized. That’s fine for now. Testing aims to determine if all components are working as they should.

Equalize Sound Output

The next thing to do is fix the sound output. You want the sound to be crystal clear and audible. Equalizing and fine-tuning may take some time. If you’re the church pastor or administrator, you may want to be present in this process to provide additional input to the sound quality. It’s advisable to let the experts tweak the mixer while you judge the sound quality.

Check LED Screen Output

Setting up the LED screens is much easier than the sound system. All you need to do is check the picture quality and screen output. If the screens are a bit dim, you may need to tweak the screen brightness. Otherwise, you might need to cover the windows or add curtains to block external light.

Training

Part of setting up the church sound system is training the people operating it. You may ask the parishioners to volunteer, or you can ask the church staff to operate the equipment during service. The training should equip the audio-visual team with the necessary skills to use the new equipment. This will also help prevent technical issues during services and events.

How church AV Systems Improve Worship Experience

A high-quality church AV system can enhance your church’s worship services, encourage participation, and attract more parishioners. Clear sound ensures that churchgoers can hear worship leaders. And more importantly, the choir’s beautiful voices are amplified during the service. With the help of LED screens, churchgoers can sing with the choir and respond to the worship leaders just by looking at the lyrics on the screen.

If you add cameras for close-up shots, you can further bring up the ambiance and experience of the service. However, that would mean additional investment. 

Conclusion

A church AV system may require significant investment, depending on the kind of equipment used. The AV system will not be too costly if the church is small. However, big churches require a large investment in AV systems. Aside from size, the kind of equipment you’ll buy will also dictate the price. So it’s best to choose brands that are within your budget. 

By understanding your church’s unique needs, you can ensure your system delivers high-quality sound and stunning visuals. We hope this article gave you an idea of how to set up an AV system for your church. If you have tips or advice, let us know in the comments below.

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