A simple Monday question…Why did you get into church audio? What inspired you to do it?
Please enter your answer below.
Learn Church Audio Artistry | Church Sound
Topics: Mixing Skills, Your Health By: Chris Huff
A simple Monday question…Why did you get into church audio? What inspired you to do it?
Please enter your answer below.
Galen saysJuly 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm
About two and a half years ago, our church transitioned from a port-a-church that met in a middle school gymnasium to a storefront church. I naively thought the sound would improve with a permanent space and less concrete, but it only went from bad to worse. My wife and I spoke with our pastor and his wife (worship leader) concerning the dreadful sound and I volunteered to help. I knew little about PA systems at that time, but I knew that the way it was being run was distorting the source input and made it obnoxious, excessively loud, unintelligible, unlistenable, painful, and embarrassing. Behind the Mixer articles have helped as have other sources. I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve learned from them and our sound is a measure of magnitude better now, but there are still many aspects of our sound that need improvement. However, I can only pray about it at this point as the input desperately needs to improve before we get any better.
I’d love to share what I know, but no one has stepped up with an interest and commitment to learn the system and its operation to anywhere near the depth I know (and I’m no where near as good as I think I should be, in His service) and using that to help facilitate worship.
The bad thing is that when I do get the opportunity to attend a service at a different church, I’m very attentive to and internally evaluate the tech: audio, video, equipment, etc. There is a great number of churches that could benefit from the knowledge they could gather here…
Shan saysApril 20, 2015 at 10:13 pm
Hello. I am an old rock n roll audio tech that thought I was done doing audio mixing 20+ years ago. I had moved away from my home state when I met my wife and was away from the church. Well needless to say my marriage was on the rocks. I was on the rocks as well when I heard my calling back to our father’s house. Not knowing the area that well even tho I lived in the area for 6 years I didn’t know what church to go to. Well I decided I would just go to the biggest church in the small town I live. Our church is one that holds 500 in the main. Let me remind you its in a small iowa town of about 150 ppl. Well start attending regularly and even got my wife and children to come. I was talking to our new pastor only after being there for 6 months and accidentally said something about being a old rock band audio tech and it opened all kinds of doors from there. This has only been two years ago and my marriage is rock solid now and I am the head audio tech! Praise the Lord
Chris Huff saysApril 21, 2015 at 9:23 am
Jason saysJanuary 26, 2014 at 8:41 am
Why do guys do silly things?…there’s usually a girl involved…lol
A girl I was dating was in the worship team and I was looking for ways for us to spend more time together so I went along to a worship team practice one night. Now I don’t sing and I can’t play any instrument, but I love gadgets and the sound desk had heaps of knobs and faders so I got to know what some of them did and eventually started learning to use the mixing desk. The relationship with that girl didn’t last long (18 months), but the relationship with the worship team continues to this day 15 years later.
During that time I’ve seen our humble little 16 channel Soundcraft analogue desk been upgraded several times into the current 112 channel iLive digital desk we have now. I’ve seen a new church building built. I’ve seen plenty of singers and musicians come and go, thankfully, most of them go on to bigger and better things in God. But the best thing is seeing members of the worship team, who when I was just starting out were little kids, grow into wonderful musicians and singers and a few have become very good worship leaders.
I love the relationship we as sound guys have with the rest of the worship team. There is never a “us V them” rivalry as we all know we are on the same team, working toward the same goal.
Not to put down any other church or worship team, but when I’m away on holidays and go to another church it makes me miss my worship team and glad to be home when I get back.
brian saysMay 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm
Was doing the media and lights when our “sound guy” transferred jobs. I moved up to fill the position.
I am amazed that they did not throw me out 5 years ago but I learn something new everytime i am behind the console. Still not that great but I enjoy it and will continue until they replace me with an A1.
Youth Worker saysMarch 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm
I actually kind of fell into church audio on accident. Brendan, our sound tech, got a job that transferred him out of state and I stepped up out of necessity. However, I started to realize that I could really contribute to the ministry if I learned how to master the craft. I love it!
Anonymous saysFebruary 13, 2012 at 11:40 pm
In our older church building we just had a table with all the sound equipment and i for whatever reason got really interested in how everything worked… i was maybe 12 or 13 and over time people taught me how to do different things. I am now 19 and one of the “veterans” of the sound team
Chris saysFebruary 14, 2012 at 10:11 am
Thanks for your years of service, especially in your “early years.” Sounds like you got bit by the audio bug.
Danielng saysJuly 27, 2011 at 9:03 am
I’m serving in sound booth when i was 17 years, i’m myself wanted go into this ministry bcoz i love sound when i was teenage.. last time i dint know anything about sound until my leader teach me and send me for sound training workshop… i have been serving in this ministry for almost 7 years… i really thank god i still committed in this ministry!!! really bless!!! :-D God is great & god is good all the time!!!
Ginny saysJuly 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm
I was asked to take on the leadership of our AV ministry and I really like learning about the equipment and making things sound better. The new culture of churches unfortunately is not quality but quanityity. i appreciate hearing the choir . Now they just want everything loud and unfortunately it chases older members away.
anonymous saysMay 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm
haha! Definitely! My husband probably needs a lot of prayer also. It’s easier for the sound person to gripe about the band members when said sound person is married to the worship leader. :-)
Chris saysMay 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm
Should we all start praying for you?
Anonymous saysMay 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm
I was drafted into it when I married a guitarist 30 years ago. He’s now the worship leader at our church and I’m the sound person.
Chris saysMay 11, 2011 at 8:29 am
Christie, love reading your story! Great to know you have wonderful working relationships with everyone.
Christie saysMay 9, 2011 at 10:11 pm
I got into it by wanting to serve a friend. Her husband did sound at our 7:30 service which consists of 1 face mic, a pulpet mic and 2 choir mics. He was having some serious surgery so he trained me on it. I was 56 and mostly listened to talk radio. I got pretty proficient with that setup. I became friends with our worship team sound engineer. She was going to have surgery and was suppose to be out just a week or two. It ended up being longer. The worship team and pastors were very patient with me. I am definitely not an A-1, but no one screams at how bad the sound is the one time a month I mix. We have a great relationship between sound and musicians. I also ended up becoming the Media person and now do Media for two different services each week. One is a traditional, liturgical service without a lot of changes and the other is our contemporary worship. The Worship team leader again has been great in working with me to give me road maps, as we don’t have any way for them to see what is being projected. It took a little longer for the choir director to realize what was needed.
Aizan saysMay 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm
About when i was 13, my pastor put me in the sound booth. I didnt know nothing, looking back im amazed what God has helped me accomplish.. Later on i move to texas where im part of the sound team,the congragation doesnt realize how much work it takes, but in the end i pays off.. but all honor and glory be to the almighty God!!
Jonathan Holt saysMay 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm
It’s working well. I’m teaching more in a relational way. One church I’ve been too a few times, and I’ve noticed how one of the guys there was willing but pretty much a volume controller. It’s a pity cause that particular church is known as having musically excellent spirit filled worship, but no real sound ops! Been teach the person about EQs, gain structures, and layering mixing. When he’s on sound there’s a noticeable improvement.
I’m currently putting in changes into my current team having got a new FOH rig a weeks ago. We’re a flyaway church and bought 2 x Yahama DSR-112 and 2x Yamaha DSR118W. Got to say they sound fantastic! Compared to the comparable QSC, JBL and Mackie active speakers they sound fuller, more rounded. The downside to the system is the subs. They do require a bit of EQ around 125Hz. Both tops and subs could be a bit lighter, but that’s my only real complaint! Would happily buy them again. If you get chance to demo some for an active rig I’d encourage anyone reading this to compare them to the QSC K / KW range as well as Mackies HD, JBL EONs.
Chris saysMay 3, 2011 at 11:45 am
Way more than 2 cents. Great advice.
Anonymous saysMay 3, 2011 at 11:39 am
Just like to stick my 2 cents in here. First off, when approaching a sound technician, use wisdom and diplomacy. My time proven technique is to first wait until after the gig/show/service. Don’t do it when they are still working. Introduce yourself as a fellow sound person and compliment them on their equipment and ask them how they like mixing, etc. This might sound like empty flattery, but it’s all about building relationships. My pastor always says that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Sound technicians don’t like being told what they did wrong, they already know! A mix is almost like a child to us just as a song is like a child to a musician. If you find fault, you’re in essence criticizing their child. IT’S ALL ABOUT BEING RELATIONAL!!!!!! Without fail you will have established a new friendship and this person will open up to you. Let’s face it. We’re all proud of our equipment and love to show it to interested people.
Chris saysMay 3, 2011 at 11:03 am
Steve, have you always had an ear for music? If not, how did you develop it?
Chris saysMay 3, 2011 at 11:02 am
Bobby, thansks for serving the church! You said "I talked to the sound tech after church and he did not know anything about it and asked for help." Glad he did! Some can be very territorial.
Chris saysMay 3, 2011 at 11:00 am
Nikki, I love your story, a reminder of how God works, and your last line…"Funny. I'm a lady. And I always end up doing guy tasks (wiring, etc) wearing dress on special church occasions." The first time I read it, I read it as "doing guy tasks (wiring, wearing a dress…) LOL.
Chris saysMay 3, 2011 at 10:59 am
Blane, "I figured that if I couldn't stand the mix anymore, that I wouldn't bother going to church anymore, or I would try giving it (the audio) a shot to see if it was really that hard to get a decent mix." I've thought the same way before. Seems quite a few of us started that way.
Blinky lights – funny.
Chris saysMay 3, 2011 at 10:57 am
Mark, thanks for your devotion to the craft and your church.
Chris saysMay 3, 2011 at 10:56 am
Robert, it's like when you find out you are talking to a doctor or plumber and want to ask them how to fix something. "Oh, you have audio experience? Could you help…"
Chris saysMay 3, 2011 at 10:55 am
Kenan, you highlight the most important thing we can do…continue learning.
Chris saysMay 3, 2011 at 10:54 am
Recruiting…great idea. I'll work on it!
Chris saysMay 3, 2011 at 10:54 am
"It's great cause it's also freeing me up to teach PA to other churches, ranging from the basics through to the theology of worship leading when you're a worship band engineer."
That's terrific! Would love to hear about how that's working out.
Izzy saysMay 3, 2011 at 12:10 am
Thanks Chris! Sadly, me and my teammate, Jeff L, have been past the point of burnout for a very long time. Our entire team consists of us and one other guy who seldom meets his commitments. Any posts on recruiting?
Steve saysMay 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm
I used to play in a small band with the goal of playing clubs. Reached goal but really was never good at it. Never learned to read music so I learned to play by ear. One day church sound guy asked if I wanted to volunteer. Said no at first but 1 or 2 years later changed my mind. I have have to say this is the best ministry I have ever done. I love it. Having an ear for music helps and learning from sites like yours made a big difference.I like to gauge my success on the response of the congregation and the smiles on the musicians faces.Praise God
Bobby M. saysMay 2, 2011 at 11:33 am
I was a mobile dj/sound tech. I was starting to get back into church, and I was visiting the church my parents attend. I noticed alot of feed back, barely able to hear the singers, and the music was extremely low and unbalanced. I talked to the sound tech after church and he did not know anything about it and asked for help. We added a amp to the mains, then ran the monitors out of the powered mixer. This allowed us to have enough power and not be forced to trim the mics as high resulting in lower feedback. During this time I showed him a few things on the mixer. A few months later another church was in a recovery process and had no one for sound. I asked if they would want help and they said yes. I went there and got back into church full time again, was able to serve Christ, and do one of my favorite things, run sound.
Nikki saysMay 2, 2011 at 1:58 am
I started when I went back to church after 6 years of leaving and being worldly. I learned tech indirectly through my school orgmates – I trained as a lights designer (for tech) and actor (for stage) and never knew I would end up being an audio spinner with God’s purpose weighing on me now. Being the only person closest to having the most knowledge in sound system, when the church bought new equipment last year, I was assigned to operate it. And now, I head the tech ministry. God is good because He never failed to guide me whenever I need guidance.
Funny. I’m a lady. And I always end up doing guy tasks (wiring, etc) wearing dress on special church occasions.
Jonathan Holt saysApril 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm
“Oh, by the way, I still like all the blinky lights and multiple twisty knobs and sliders.”
Don’t we all… Something about nicely illuminated LEDs showing that the gear is doing it’s job right that all sound ops like.
Blane saysApril 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm
Little late in the game here but I’ll put in my 2 cents. I got into church audio for two reasons. The first one was that at the tender age of 16-17, I was told by the high school youth choir director that I wasn’t able to sing and do choreography at the same time, and that cut me out of a lot of youth group activities. Secondly, the sound guy at the time was having trouble with a lot of feedback issues. I figured that if I couldn’t stand the mix anymore, that I wouldn’t bother going to church anymore, or I would try giving it (the audio) a shot to see if it was really that hard to get a decent mix. That was 30+ years ago and three churches later, I’m still striving for excellence in my mix. Oh, by the way, I still like all the blinky lights and multiple twisty knobs and sliders.
Mark saysApril 30, 2011 at 9:58 am
I got into it because they got new equipment and there was no one else to do it. I learnt mostly by trail and improvement, yes it was rather em dodgy at the start but I picked it up quick enough and then spoke with a friend about certain bits and bobs. I am still learning loads and enjoy new challenges. It is something that I really do enjoy and love doing in my church.
Robert saysApril 30, 2011 at 7:37 am
Twenty some years ago I started attending a new church one of the elders discovered I had audio training and asked me to help out. I did and found I had some skill at making a decent mix, that was my downfall. I had no idea they were having issues with the sound man they had and as soon as they knew I could mix they asked me to take over. At first things went great until “You want me to EQ what with what compression and how many jellybeans?” So began a 20 year crash course of learning things the hard way. I’ve enjoyed 90% of it with the 10% mostly coming from other sound men who think the speakers rises and sets on their own personal audio world. Last year I felt like I was starting all over again when I moved from a 15 year old analog board to a 32 channel Yamaha LS9. Here’s to 20 more years.
Kenan Scott saysApril 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm
I started when I was about 13-14 doing the slides for lyrics and learned from the current sound guy. After he left, I took over even though I didn’t know too much. I learned from that position a lot and have been learning ever since.
Jonathan Holt saysApril 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm
Got involved as a 13 year old because always been interested in how things worked. When I was a a 6 year old kid I disassembled a Thunderbirds alarm clock because I wanted to know how something worked. It still mostly worked after I put it back together again.
After that my parent’s saw I had an interest in things with knobs, faders and tech. I started out in a church with a 6 volume knob mixer. I moved church from there because there were no other young people my age I sort of feel into it. I was mentored by a guy I owe a lot to taking me under his wing. Learnt a lot, and made a lot of mistakes.
Now in late twenties I’ve been involved in large conference, large gigs, and many other forms of sound production. Still learning all the time, and love getting challenged on all areas of production, tech skills, physics understanding, electronic repair.
I came on board at my current church because the team had a few willing volunteers but no one with training, or knowledge, or the kit for that matter. 3 years after I now lead the tech side of things at my church, we’ve got a whole new rig, a team of 3 experienced sound engineers who understand the place of sound in worship, the technical aspect and a need to seek out training themselves. We’re are in a place where we’re ironing out small kinks/expanding our equipment rather than worrying if things are going to work at all. It’s great cause it’s also freeing me up to teach PA to other churches, ranging from the basics through to the theology of worship leading when you’re a worship band engineer.
Chris saysApril 29, 2011 at 10:57 am
I think MacGyver started the same way! A ball point pen, a pound of rice, a car battery and you got a working amplifier!
Jeremy M saysApril 29, 2011 at 10:43 am
I got my start at a church camp that ran 3 weeks per summer, back when I was 16. Attendance was roughly 350-380, and it was the school of hard knocks! No audio supply store of any kind for 60 miles, so if you needed spare parts, they basically were not available. That will teach you how to be innovative for sure. Not to mention working with outdated equipment! I feel like I learned so much during those years, because of the conditions.
Anonymous saysApril 28, 2011 at 10:14 pm
Thanks to you too, Chris, by the way. Your site has really helped me on my steep learning curve! Patient teachers and excellent resources can really work wonders!!
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm
Izzy, kudo's for you running sound AND video. In fact, this past Easter service I had to do the same thing halfway through the service when the video tech fell ill. Hopefully you can get a couple of people on a team and work up a schedule so no one burns out.
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:22 pm
Jeff, your are a tech director's dream. I love it that you were motivated to go "all in" and were studying all you could on sound reinforcement. I still study as much as I can.
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm
William, I'm guessing you meant "road," but I like "the toad of soundman." I'm guessing sound in the classroom was anything but ideal.
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm
Pete, that's a lot of work. I checked out your site..that's hard work and thanks for blessing churches with what you do.
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:16 pm
Andi, that's a great story. It's wonderful when we can share with another such memories during a funeral.
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm
Luke, I checked out the link and the youtube videos – great stuff! Honestly, I'm trying not to envy you…not going well…[envy envy]…ok, I'm done. :)
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm
Fuzzylint, thanks for serving as a sound tech. I'm guessing you have a good ear for the job.
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm
Another story I love reading! Would love to sit in the sound booth with you and take it all in.
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:08 pm
Scott, your post reminds me of one of the things I like about running sound. At our church, when I sit at the sound booth, I'm at eye-level to the pastor. Helps me think he's only talking to me during the sermon.
Thanks for taking that step four years ago.
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm
Jeremy, your blog is a great chronical of the intricacies of church sound. I encourage people to check it out. Great point about "when did God call someone to do something easy?"
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm
therobhicks…if you ever write an autobiography, you've got a perfect title "With Pink Floyd and Jesus." I confess, I've listened to "The Dark Side of the Moon" while watching "The Wizard of Oz."
I definitely say you had a calling.
Chris saysApril 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm
Jon, "Behind the Light Produtions" – I love the name. Love your story, too.
Izzy saysApril 27, 2011 at 2:56 am
I actually had the honor of sound technician bestowed upon me when i was involuntarily volunteered for the position by my mother. I actually had no interest in running sound or participating “behind the scenes”, but once i started learning and getting into it, I felt more comfortable and found i could start to resolve ongoing issues and troubleshoot problems. After our main sound guy moved to a different state, the only one left was me. So i continued to run sound and video (sometimes simultaneously) for about 2-3 years before our church merged. Then I finally got a small break due to the addition of new team members.
Jeff White saysApril 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm
My daughters started participating in Christian Youth Theater about 10 years ago. As parents, we had to volunteer for some part of support for each production. After suffering through several productions that I couldn’t understand a word of, I pushed my way onto the “technical” committee. (Which was more fun than costumes, publicity, concessions, and props)
I began studying everything I could find regarding sound reinforcement. I had a good ear for speech inteligibility, and worked that into some decent mixing skills as well, transitioning to Sunday worship mixing after about 4 years. There, I found that mixing worship was a “worship experience” in itself for me. 6 years later, I can’t wait for “my turn”, which is about 30-40 Sundays/year (plus rehearsals, system maintenance, and team meetings)
William Au Yeang saysApril 26, 2011 at 8:22 am
My church moved the contemporary worship from a classroom to the main hall 2 years ago and I was assigned to upgrade the media booth. That brought me to the toad of soundman.
Pete Mitrovic saysApril 26, 2011 at 6:20 am
Some one said we need help. So from the ground up literally from the foundation up. Built a new sanctuary so Gary and I did electrical to lighting sound computer and on and on.
Andi Moore saysApril 26, 2011 at 4:36 am
Back in the 80’s our church had a home built PA & the guy who built it asked me to help out one day. He passed over to me the day to day running a few years later & we very slowly upgaded. I have him to thank for introducing me to such a big part of my life. He recently passed away but his wife was very pleased to hear he had such an influence on my life that I am so grateful for.
Luke saysApril 25, 2011 at 9:17 pm
We didn’t have a sound tech in our church, but the drummer knew a little bit about it. We had a youth alive event in our auditorium and they ripped out our whole sound system to put theirs in. So I offered my help to get the sound system up and running for the church services the following day. I learnt a lot in that 8 hour session and they needed someone to sit behind the console to make sure no frequencies spiked out etc, so I sat there and mixed for them and they loved it! So I kept doing it and here I am only 4 years later, working for the biggest sound company in my state, leading the technical department in my church, studying cert IV in sound production (doing diploma in sound production next year too!) and have bought myself a recording studio! Not a day goes by now where I’m not thinking about sound, or doing sound for that matter!
My church releases a live album every year, and I had the privilege to see the process up at the Grove Studios in Sydney for a week, (http://www,thegrovestudios.com – they are currently updating their site though so it might be down! In case you haven’t heard of them, it’s Darlene Zschech’s studio! They have worked with people like Eskimo Joe, Brooke Fraser, Silver Chair, Hillsong etc. Anyway I had an incredible time working with them up there, and about a year later, the church sent me up again on my own just as a work experience trip, I worked WITH Darlene Zschech for the week! Definitely a memorable experience.
http://www.youtube.com/user/zionshillchurch is my church youtube channel if you’re interested in seeing what I’m working with!
fuzzylint saysApril 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm
in 1966 the CMA built a church across the street from my home. my parents let me help them and when completed they let me attend the church. I have always had a good ear for music but not coordinated well enough to play. the church needed a sound person so I took on the job. I love a good sound mix and it is my way to contribute into a worship service
Anonymous saysApril 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm
I answered a request for volunteers to help run video. A year later, Women’s Ministry needed someone to run tech for their retreat (I am one of the few females on the team) and THAT involved sound. So, our wonderful sound guy began training me. 3 spectacular years later I’m still serving, learning and LOVING it!!
Scott Blair saysApril 25, 2011 at 5:38 pm
I don’t think I had a choice…..after leaving my relationship with “organized religion” for many years, my wife told me they needed help in the sound booth at her church. I strongly disliked contemporary praise music having been raised in a traditional church. However, I have a good ear for music in general and thought as long as I’m “needed” to do a job, I could come and go without an emotional attatchment. It’s been almost 4 years now, and I haven’t missed a Sunday that I have been in town. God has used the mixing board to rekindle my relationship with Him..Praise the Lord.
Jeremy Blasongame saysApril 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm
I was in middle school at youth group setting up chairs. The worship leader told me that the normal sound guy couldn’t make it and asked if I would help them out by working the board. It was years before looking in hindsight that I realized that God called me to do this. It’s definitely not easy, but then again when did God call someone to do something easy?
therobhicks saysApril 25, 2011 at 3:27 pm
As a kid listening to my favorite bands (Pink Floyd, Rush, Kiss, etc…) I was always fascinated by the production aspect of their concerts. I never wanted to me the lead guitar player, drummer or front man vocals, but the guy pressing the buttons behind the scene.
Education and career in electrical engineering and accepting Christ as my Savior, I was then asked to fix the church sound system. That led to learning the newly installed church lighting system then video. Took some sound classes at our local sound equipment rental company and wha-la…16 years later on staff as the media pastor and running the Sunday sound.
I love to train others in the art of sound mixing and go to area churches fixing their equipment and training their volunteers. But it all started with Pink Floyd…and Jesus.
Jon saysApril 25, 2011 at 2:08 pm
wow, what a loaded question… hmm, well I was 14 years old and overheard a conversation that the high school group I was attending needed someone who was trustworthy and able to be there for long hours. I turned around and without knowing what they were talking about said “I’ll do it.” 15 years later I am a FOH engineer/Associate Tech Director, I have been the Tech Director, the Media Director, High School volunteer, and over all “kid that won’t go away.”
At the end of the day though I got into it, because I love, and can’t really see myself doing anything else.
Thought? Questions? Comments?