PA sounds awful IMHO...


Gold Member
This may be the "same old same old", so forgive me if this thread is redundant.

I'll try to be short. I usually play every week in my church's p and w band, either on the kit or congas/djembe. Yesterday I took a break from it all (per arrangement with the director) and was just a member sitting in the congregation with the family. I did this for two reasons 1) primarily to give myself a break from an early rehearsal call of 7:30 am and sleep in a bit, and 2) to hear for myself the quality of the sound coming thru the PA system. I had heard previous rumblings from some people about the sound, so I wanted to check it out for myself.

Big mistake. Or good idea depending....

So I'm sitting there listening to my buddies up on stage playing. Holy %$#*&^(^% !!!

It sounded bloody AWEFUL!!! Not the quality of musicanship, mind you, but the overall sound mixed and coming thru the PA system. Man it was horrible!!

1) the drums are in a plexiglass cage. They sounded muted to the max, like coming from a room down the hall,
2) I couldn't hear the choir at all (usually average 15 - 20 members every week.)
3) the lead guitar player who is a veteran from the LA bar band scene and very good, could barely be heard on his solos,
4) never heard the piano,
5) never heard any ryhthm guitar.
6) only person clearly audible was the director - she plays rhythm and sings.

These are all part-time volunteer postions, including the audio techs, who are friends of mine. The only paid position is the director, she's full time staff. Now that we are all comfortable working with each other and playing together, this now becomes sort of a delicate matter.

Something clearly has to be done to "fix" the mix. I'm not sure if this is the way the powers that be want it to sound, but man, I certainly hope not.

How would you guys go about approaching this problem? So as not to hurt anyone's feelings or "be another person offering up his opinion", so to speak. I don't want to come off as a "know it all", but if you guys (and gals) could hear this PA and mix, y'all would understand my concerns.

Any ideas?


Platinum Member
Re: PA sounds aweful IMHO...

Print your post and give it to the director. She probably wants to know. I also play drums at church, and we have a top-notch PA. However, I have no idea how it sounds. Good luck.


Senior Member
Re: PA sounds aweful IMHO...

I would tell the director the whole story and then take some time during a morning rehearsal to do a full sound check. As long as your equipment is decent you should be getting a usable mix. Get your levels solid then EQ as necessary to get rid of the mud. If you come with constructive criticism there should be no problems with egos and if there are that person needs to grow up.


Platinum Member
Re: PA sounds aweful IMHO...

How big is the room? How many people? What style of worship?

I run sound for a church and play for another on a regular basis. Here are some POVs of the audio technician at a worship service:

1. Often times, you have to keep the volume WAY down to appease the congregation/pastor, but you also have to make everything audible. It doesn't take very much for the levels to reach 80db (which seems to be the "cutoff" for most churches I've played at and run sound for...).

2. With such a low volume requirement, you have to pick and choose what to make crystal clear. Obviously, the person leading should be heard, and takes precedence over all of the other musicians/singers on stage. In the aural landscape, the "chunka chunka" of the electric guitar isn't a priority in worship, where melody and chords need to be obvious for the congregation to follow. Everything plays "backup" to the focus, which should not be obstructed or distracted from. If your audio tech is good, they will ride the faders and bring up special "features" of each song, but this isn't a concert in a dive bar, where the soundguy just needs to make sure everything is heard, and can turn the levels up and walk away from the board.

3. The soundguy is mixing from his/her position at the board. Did you go back to the sound desk and listen from there? It might sound perfect from the mixer's standpoint. Obviously, that's also the sign of a less-than-ideal sound guy if they don't mix to the room, but it might be a factor to consider before judging his mix as "awful".

4. It could be a matter of your perspective. From where you were, in relation to the stage, the instruments, and the speakers, you could have been in a bad listening spot. Someone sitting right in front of where the drummer and bass are might complain that they couldn't hear the piano and the choir, whereas somebody sitting in front of the guitarist might wonder why there's a plexiglass shield around the drum set because it can't be heard at all anyways.

I dunno...I could go on and on. LOTS of factors could be attributed to the bad sound (to your ears).


Platinum Member
Re: PA sounds aweful IMHO...

My experience with church music and musicians has always been....someone has to be the star of the show.....the person in charge...the person who is loudest and gets more solos than anybody else.

I haven't seen any exceptions to this rule.That person usually needs their ego to be massaged liberally and often.

That person will almost always rally the troops when challenged,and then take their ball and go home if not catered to.Good luck with your situation.

Steve B


Silver Member
Re: PA sounds aweful IMHO...

Without saying anything self-incriminating: I've been in this situation. When you have a volunteer band/crew, they are volunteer caliber. People in that environment tend to have less experience and ability than they think. Their attitude and performance will reflect that. If you find it's more trouble than its worth, do what I did: don't bother!


Silver Member
Re: PA sounds aweful IMHO...

My experience with church music and musicians has always been....someone has to be the star of the show.....the person in charge...the person who is loudest and gets more solos than anybody else.
Oddly enough, I have noticed this too. One would not expect that in a church setting, but it seems to be the case more often than not.


Junior Member
Re: PA sounds aweful IMHO...

If possible have someone record the service (in a few different spots)on a portable device like the zoom h2 or h4 then play it back for everyone.