Non Solum: Electronic Amplification

A reader writes in:

From the esteemed Bob Batastini in a recent edition of the GIA Quarterly: “Musically, we commonly hear the amplified voice of the cantor more than any other voice in the room, including the combined voice of the assembly. If there is an expanded music ministry present—choir, ensemble—and if this music ministry is equipped with sound amplification, it often comes closer to performance than at any time since the days when the choir did all the singing by design. Some of this performance unabashedly seeks to entertain. This has been going on for so long in some places that the response ‘we’ve always done it that way’ is beginning to be applied.”

Remember the days of GIA’s button campaigns, “Carpet bedrooms, not churches!” and “Let the people sing!”? Or the architectural acoustics reviews in the GIA Quarterly? Is the notion of choral singing (everyone finding AND losing their voices in consensus of the corporate voice) as the principal and sacramental modality of liturgical prayer alive and well? Or is it a lost cause? Is electronic mediation so pervasive that only a few dinosaurs care about it anymore?

When I was at Saint John’s and chair of the School of Theology’s liturgy committee, it would never fail that at the start of each semester we would receive requests asking us to install a sound system in the chapel. I would put the request on the committee agenda, and the standard arguments for and against electronic amplification would be made in the committee meeting. Due in part to the cost of such a system, but also the fervent outcry of the majority of the committee, we decided each time to forgo electronic amplification. However, in many places it is not feasible to forgo a sound system.

The reader who wrote in provided several important questions in regards to electronic amplification and choral singing. In addition to those I would like to add the following questions: Does your community use a sound system? And if so, has your community wrestled with the concerns of our reader? And what norms govern the use of your community’s sound system?

Please comment below.

32 comments

  1. Yes, and yes … The problem in most churches is that they want turn-key, one-size-fits-all system. Show me a single professional performance where there is no one tweaking, adjusting and tapering the sound to the performer … who is also trained in using the microphone,

    I prefer to try to forget the numerous times the reader or homilist disappeared into the abyss of the beautiful acoustics because they were not trained to project … not trained to work with the delay and echo … stubbornly would not use the microphone … the presider totally inaudible in the drone of the fans behind the altar.

    Take a dB meter into most churches and you will be surprised the level of background noise already present. The noise levels of people moving at Communion might surprise you.

    My sister’s church has a team of at least five running the audio and video at every service. That is a commitment few parishes are prepared to even imagine let alone implement.

    There is no set-it-and-forget-it when it comes to professional sound … and that means even more money spent. The bottom line is, a proper sound system, professionally setup, maintained and well-engineered during the service will be largely unnoticed … until it is not there, then something is clearly not as good as it was.

    Until then … expect constant problems and complaints.

  2. What Don said. Especially about set it and forget it. I asked about changing a setting once and was told the pastor said not to change – he needed it where it was for his voice, which is probably true.

    There are other variables that complicate the situation. I act as cantor at a Mass on occasion and there are three others that share the duties at this Mass and while two of us could probably do it fine without a mike the other two would have a hard time being heard without one. The church is in town and only 30 feet from a fairly busy street which on Saturday evening includes noise from ambulances, fire trucks, and occasionally a band in the restaurant across the street. [We’re working on moving, but it’s a year or two away] The church was built over a hundred years ago and probably had decent acoustics originally, but it’s been expanded, remodeled and carpeted and that’s played havoc. So there are reasons to need amplification, and I am willing to tolerate a lot because of the competing considerations (not that I get to decide), but I do have a pet peeve: please don’t hold the mike like a lounge singer would. Just put it in a stand, keep an appropriate distance for your voice, and do the best you can.

  3. In my observation in attending various parishes, the most blatant examples of “musicians” doing their thing at the expense of the assembly were in dead rooms, heavily amplified, usually with a guitar fed directly into the house sound system, playing harmony in rhythmic patterns that confuse the assembly. My wife and I once attended a Saturday evening Mass at one parish, when there was no musician, but we still sang some things a capella at the celebrant’s instigation, and the dialogues. It was fantastic. So the next week we went back. It turned out that the musician had just failed to show up the previous week, and this time there was a guy blasting through a microphone with a guitar singing in a way that nobody could possibly follow. We felt assaulted, and never went back. There was another nearby parish that had a small space, fairly live and very intimate. Yet somehow they felt compelled to install a big sound system with speakers all over the place, which just bounced off walls and created more problems. All the lectors and celebrant really had to do was speak up a little.

    I think that the development of sophisticated audio equipment has made everything too “easy” for the lectors and celebrants. Even in big spaces, they can talk conversationally, which leads to awfully boring presiding styles. What we ought to do is adjust the audio levels to a more projected energetic level of speaking.

    Here’s an idea. If you are a diocesan liturgy director, bring in one of the country’s best acousticians (Kirkegaard/Threshold/Bob Mahoney, I would recommend). Don’t trust the local “experts” – they are more accustomed to deadening office spaces, rather than being knowledgeable about the intricacies of church acoustics. Get them to consult and make proposals for any parishes in the diocese that want to cooperate. They can do the sound systems in addition to natural acoustics that favor congregational singing. Whether the parishes would follow through or not is up to them, but at least they could get some expert…

  4. First, do no harm: don’t design and build new churches where the natural acoustics require amplification for liturgical music. Consider that on an equal footing to all visual considerations combined.

    1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #4:

      Agree 100%. The guiding principle of all good acousticians is: build churches that are good resonant spaces for unamplified music, and then provide the electronic support and clarification needed for the spoken voice. In other words, get the musical needs right first. However, most architects design churches to be good for speech, with dead acoustics, with the result that both music and the spoken word cannot exist without amplification.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #5:
        Agree 100% in return. I suspect a cognitive bias at work. Visual consideraitons are well captured in the plans. Acoustical considerations are not. When clients work with designers, the plans are the fodder of discussion, so acoustical considerations can readily become an afterthought. Hence my strong suggestion to keep acoustical considerations on a par with all visual consideraetions combined.

  5. I presently work for two linked parishes. One is an easy situation – a very small old country church. There is carpet on the floor, but it is thin and over concrete, so, although it could be better, it’s pretty good as it is. We have a trained singer as a cantor, who does not use a microphone. There is a mic on the ambo, and even that isn’t really necessary. The priest presides unamplified. The cumulative effect is a lovely simple liturgy, and the ease of congregational singing contributes to the sense of the unity of the community. Contrast that with the larger church. It was built in the 50’s, is carpeted throughout, and has absorbent acoustic tile on the ceiling. The sound system is a relic of the 50’s, and blasts sound out in all directions. It’s awfully challenging to make music in there. When I came, I had the ideal that our girls’ choir could project without mics; I quickly abandoned that idea. The mic levels were too high for the cantors, so that the cantors’ singing overpowered the people, and had apparently become a show. I turned down the levels. Some cantors complained that they could no longer hear themselves (which was true – the speakers were far away over the congregation, so the people could hear the cantors better than they could hear themselves). I tried to communicate in a sensitive way that they would just have to get used to it and be brave. I did lose a couple cantors in the process, but I have also gained one, and now all of them seem to be on board with the philosophy that they are there to help the people. There were also some complaints from the parishioners – they were used to not having to step up, because the cantors did everything for them. The congregational singing, therefore, was pretty low for a while, but has rebounded as they gain confidence. I now rehearse the cantors and the two choirs in a separate space that is much more encouraging, so they experience the difference for themselves. Now there seems to be some developing support for doing something about the church…

  6. I hate sound systems in churches. I have varied experiences in parishes I have worked. When I was a teenager, I was co-cantor at a church in the round (actually 3/4 round). We had a large youth choir every Sunday (it was the 60’s) and a sound delay from the left side of the church (where the musicians were) to the right side of the church. It seemed as though every song was being sung as a round. So I went to the opposite side, watched the choir director, and kept the assembly on beat visually.
    That church’s sound system has changed almost with every pastor.
    As an adult… I was director at a church to be built so I thought, “Great, we can get this one right.” There was no carpet, no padding, and originally no acoustical tile. Then we got a sound expert who had only done evangelical churches with praise bands. He didn’t like the natural bounce in the room. He didn’t understand Catholic liturgy and frankly, he didn’t want to. So now they have an very expensive sound system, one guy running it, and ugly tile on the walls.
    I then went to an established parish (half round) with a very large sound system and a team of sound people. There is one person designated for each mass. If that person is sick, they have a ‘set it and forget it’ backup setting. Everyone and everything is too loud. I had the kid’s choir and taught them to project their voices so as to not rely on the mics. It was lovely and gentle every time they sang. And the kids understood the difference.
    I am now at a church that won a design award when it was built. Great acoustics, perfectly sized pipe organ for the space, grand piano, and a dedicated space for the music ministry in an appropriate spot. What’s not to love? The sound system. Again… different pastors, different sound systems. The one we now have is basically for speaking. Smallish Boze speakers all around the assembly. They had to add monitors to the choir area so they could hear the scripture, prayers, and the homily. The cantor’s mic is so hot that I stand about 24 inches from it.

  7. That said… I have to hold the mic in my hand and speak louder that I like for the assembly to understand what I am saying. So yeah, I hate sound systems in churches. They are a problem that needs to be fixed.
    I’ve tried something new for Lent. I composed a set of Psalms to be sung a cappella by cantor and congregation. It’s been an eye opening experience. I can hear them… they can hear me… it’s simple and prayerful.

  8. Well, since it actually happened at tonight’s Mass, here’s another example of the potential pitfalls of amplification: wireless mikes. We have one for our priest, largely so he can be heard during the prayers. Not sure how it happened, but tonight we got signals from someone nearby setting up for an unrelated gig. “Check, check, check”[saxophone riffs], pause repeat.

    This started during the first reading, lasted a few seconds and stopped. We went on hoping it was an anomaly but then it came up again during the homily, lasted a few seconds, and stopped. The third time we just shut the system down and went all acoustic. It was tough on the priest. Microphones–can’t live with them, can’t live without them, I guess.

  9. I wonder how the following statement made it into the architecture document Built of Living Stones: “Another aspect of an effective audio environment is the electronic amplification system, which can augment the natural acoustics and can help to remedy problems that cannot be solved in other ways.”

    Say what? Even attempting to provide an audio system that would try to support the singers throughout the church would be enormously expensive. And it would still do nothing to help congregational singing.

  10. This morning, our newest cantor sang. She is in high school and has some issues with self-esteem. We rehearsed before Mass in the church, and she was getting flustered, making some mistakes. Because our people have the tradition of praying the Rosary before Mass, we went into the rehearsal room to continue working. After singing just a little, she said that it was amazing that she sounded much better there. Yep. Pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? We worked some, and she was fine. Then we did Mass in the church, and she got scared with all the people there, didn’t have much breath support, and after making a mistake lost her confidence and made more. People in the pews notice it, but tend to blame other factors – I didn’t prepare her enough/it’s hard to hear the organ/the sound system wasn’t loud enough. It’s hard to blame them, because they are making up reasons for something they don’t really understand. This kind of thing makes me angry. When we talk a good game about supporting the people’s song, how everybody should lift up their voices, regardless of their ability; but build churches that tell people they sound terrible and shouldn’t open their mouths, we are being hypocrites.

  11. Presuming that your church has excellent acoustics, that you exclusively use highly-trained and practiced presiders/lectors/musicians, and your congregation is able to remain silent while listening attentively, than there’s no need for a sound system. Otherwise…

    Investing in an excellent sound system, one with significant acoustical analysis in its design, is the most important capital investment a parish can make. “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?”

    1. It’s not as much of an either/or situation like it used to be. It’s possible to have excellent church acoustics and a well-designed sound system to communicate the word. Churches should invest in both natural acoustic improvement (which is usually a higher investment than a sound system) and a well-designed sound system, and the best acousticians can provide both services.

      Also, should we not always strive for good training and practice of presiders/lectors/musicians and attentive listening?

  12. At my Episcopal Church we have a sound system that we use to amplify the spoken portions of the services. I’m blessed to play in a church with a fairly good acoustic. The amplification of the sermon is particularly helpful, since it would be hard to project effectively in this room for a long period of time.

    We never amplify any music. My room is well designed, and if a singing voice is properly projected (naturally) it can be heard throughout the room. The pipe organ and piano also sound wonderful in the room, and both fill it nicely.

    At one service the congregation just sings the hymns, and at a second service the choir sings. No one sings into a microphone…EVER! It is so nice to just be able to do music without someone having to sing into a microphone. My experience with Catholic worship is the overuse of the cantor on the microphone. Why does the cantor need to lead all of the music on a microphone? Is it not possible to just lead the singing from the organ or piano?

    This is one of my biggest gripes about modern Catholic music: the over use of the cantor on the microphone. In many RC Churches, the cantor will sing the hymns, service music, and psalms on the microphone. I’ve also encountered many Catholic Churches, that even at a mass with a full choir, have someone on the microphone singing along on the songs. I’m sorry to rant, but why does musical leadership in the Catholic Church (in most cases) come from the omnipresent Cantor on a microphone and not from the Organ and Choir without amplification?

  13. I’m 100% with you, Doug. Before investing in more and more ephemeral equipment, every effort should be made to optimize the natural acoustics. That’s a hard sell, I know, because people are quick to focus on the delivery of sound to their ears from the “message-carrying” sound sources (all but presumed to require electronic mediation these days). But the congregation will NEVER be a part of that equation, nor can any authentic, human-scale ritual relationships be enacted on different acoustical planes. I’m not saying a compromise may not be necessary, but that shouldn’t be the first recourse, nor should that be the first thing out of any serious music ministers mouth. There are plenty of others who will advocate for the sale and procurement of electronic mediation equipment.

  14. But we also need to acknowledge that the way people receive sound has changed radically as well. The parishioners drive to church with expensive sound systems right in their ears or ear buds. They walk into a worship space that sounds tin canned and it is difficult. Very little communication these days is UN amplified. Transmitting sound is a high priority for worship. It does cost.

    1. @Ed Nash – comment #17:
      Ed, that’s partially true. There are also parishioners who shun that kind of assaulting audio experience. In my current parish, I have had people complain that the sound is not loud enough. Then there are other parishioners who intentionally flee that kind of experience to attend the early Sunday Mass with no music. There are small poor churches who are convinced to spend beaucoup bucks on something that is not necessary, when there is a much simpler, free solution: project your voice! Besides, the Church should be “in the world, but not of it.” We don’t need to pretend to be like those loud concerts or ear buds blasting straight into brains (which can actually cause hearing loss, by the way; surely, we don’t uphold that as a good example). Nobody here is arguing that audio systems aren’t necessary in many situations; it’s the way they are designed and used that is a problem. And audio systems tend to receive a much higher priority than the natural acoustics that can actually encourage congregational singing and the sense of unifying a large body. That is an enormous mistake. Again, audio systems can aid transmission of sound from the clergy and other ministers to the people, but they do nothing to help the song of the parishioners. Then it becomes a “concert” experience that is antithetical to the model of the post-Vatican II Church.

  15. Hi! In my parish we have a decent sound system set at lowish levels. It “sweetens” the singers just a bit; and it does clarify consonants. It aint perfect, but it gives the impression of unamplified sound. A little harmless cheat. The best thing I ever did, however, was rid the space of every scrap of carpeting. It brightened up the sound considerably, and owing to the nature of the building, it did not turn the place into an echo chamber. Speech and song are intelligible and yet have some ‘air’ around them. Yay!

  16. Acoustical properties of a room are not always constant. Sound projects differently in a dry, colder room than in a warm, humid room. A room full of people wearing winter clothing will absorb more sound than when they’re wearing their summer wardrobe. This is one of the reasons why the “set it and forget it” systems are not a good solution. We recently upgraded our mixer to a digital system that allows us to pre-set the system for each mass (we have 9 masses in 4 different languages) that is customized for each group of musicians. The 3 priests each have a microphone dedicated to them specifically that is optimized for their voice characteristics. It also allows me to mute any microphone when needed (specifically when a priest thinks he’s also the cantor/choir). I can also “tweak” it on the fly to accommodate the various lectors as they read. We also discovered that when people would complain they couldn’t hear too well that it wasn’t a matter of volume but rather intelligibility. We have a large German gothic style Cathedral built in 1890 with about 5 seconds of reverberation. With the upgrade we made we can now understand what is being said/sung without overpowering the people in the pews.

  17. Ed Nash : But we also need to acknowledge that the way people receive sound has changed radically as well. The parishioners drive to church with expensive sound systems right in their ears or ear buds. They walk into a worship space that sounds tin canned and it is difficult. Very little communication these days is UN amplified. Transmitting sound is a high priority for worship. It does cost.

    I agree that this is reality. An overwhelming majority of people do not receive music (or even information) via any medium that does not involve electronic mediation. In just a few decades, churches of almost every denomination have bought into this version of reality. I don’t think it is even driven by an agenda to use electronic media for the sake of evangelizing those living in a culture in which such media is pervasive. We’re now in an era where worship leaders (clergy and musicians alike) have been so formed themselves by individualized sound delivery and privatized music consumption, that we can barely imagine another way. But what is lost when reality perceived with our ears is virtual and dependent on the power grid? Is there a difference between music that is delivered to worshippers on an electronically-mediated acoustical plane and music that is MADE by the whole or part of the liturgical assembly in which the various “actors” in the holy play of the liturgy are communicating among themselves and with God on the same acoustical plane? Just because acoustic music- and ritual-making is rare doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a worthy and attainable ideal. Our sacramental system suggests it, and may even demand it.

  18. I work for a church with VERY dry acoustics. Drywall, carpet, and upholstery as far as the eye can see. Needless to say, an acoustician was not consulted during the building. Needless further to say, we have an expensive sound system. Sad to say, the only control we day-to-day people have over is is the on-off switch. Not only are all the fine adjustments out of reach, they’re all in *software* controlled by the sound design company. When we have problems, which is invariable after every visit to adjust something, the only solution is to turn off the system and do without until we can get the engineer back for a visit.

    *Sigh.*

  19. Bob Batastini in GIA Quarterly, as quoted in the original post:

    “If there is an expanded music ministry present—choir, ensemble—and if this music ministry is equipped with sound amplification, it often comes closer to performance than at any time since the days when the choir did all the singing by design. Some of this performance unabashedly seeks to entertain. ”

    I respond: what’s wrong with unabashed entertainment? Really: why is it a problem? If we construe “unabashed entertainment” to include the sensation of being spiritually moved by beautiful music, then a good percentage of our assemblies already find unabashed entertainment in Christian pop music. So it has moved into our worship services: why is that a bad thing? Aren’t there elements of praise and sanctification to be found in this unabashed entertainment?

    1. @Jim Pauwels – comment #24:
      By definition, praise and entertainment are oxymorons. Praise goes outwardly from us to God; entertainment gratifies us. Yes, there is a place for inward spiritual growth, but that is not the same as entertainment. I may be equally moved by listening to the Beatles’ “Yesterday,” but that doesn’t make it a spiritual experience (for some, I suppose, it is, but not in a Christian sense). Augustine struggled with all this. I shy away from language in terms of “pleasing” people, or that some people may “like” something. That is irrelevant. I may like something, but that does not mean it edifies me in any way. The two-way road is that we give praise to God, and the liturgy edifies us. Entertainment is not part of the equation. Edification may please us, but it also may displease us. Many do find spiritual fulfillment in Christian pop music. Good for them – nothing wrong with that. That doesn’t mean it’s worthy of the liturgy, though. It IS a bad thing that it has moved into our worship. That’s nothing new; pietistic devotional songs have crept into the liturgy for a long time. Worship and private devotion should be separate.

      1. @Doug O’Neill – comment #25:

        “By definition, praise and entertainment are oxymorons. Praise goes outwardly from us to God; entertainment gratifies us. … I shy away from language in terms of “pleasing” people, or that some people may “like” something. That is irrelevant.”

        I’d suggest that the preacher who dares to entertain his listeners has a better chance to “hook” them – to reel them in to his homily so that they will listen, really attend to, the nutritious spiritual food s/he has to offer them. Similarly, the music ministry that is willing to meet people where they are – as people conditioned by popular music to seek emotional stimulation or fulfillment – has a better chance to lead them to authentic praise in music.

        To be sure, not just any form of entertainment will do. Knowing what works and what doesn’t may be an art more than a science.

        If we’re to be an evangelizing church, then our worship needs to start from an approach that not everybody in our assemblies is already fully initiated, and/or is not already completely plugged in.

        Just my opinion.

      2. @Jim Pauwels – comment #26:
        I don’t disagree that it is often necessary to meet people “where they are,” although I caution that, as Marva Dawn says, too often “meeting people where they are” becomes “staying where they are.” If carried to the extreme, too, you are really insulting their intelligence and humanity if you give the impression that they are incapable of appreciating true beauty, just because they have never been exposed to it before. I am speaking in ideal terms – entertainment should never be part of worship. I think you are perhaps expanding the definition of entertainment in a way that I am not willing to accept. To get this back to the theme of the post, the great danger in over-amplification is that it puts the ministers and people on two different planes; it’s a liturgy that is proclaimed to us, rather than us being a full part of the liturgy. I often see comments criticizing the choral/organ tradition on these grounds (usually spuriously, in my opinion, but I digress), but completely disregard the fact that their supposedly “Vatican II” liturgical practice is not at all in line with Vatican II.

  20. Jim, Doug,

    Might not ‘engage’ stand in here better than ‘entertain’? They’re not unrelated concepts, but they do carry different freight in this context, and I can’t imagine anyone objecting to music that engages people in their worship and praise, and well done music generally pleases.

    To the original questions, our parish does use a sound system. The space seats about 800 people and occasionally has folks in the narthex. The design of the space does not favor good acoustics, sadly, but it’s what we have and it won’t change substantially any time soon. Fortunately, our cantors are well trained to step back from the mic when the congregation should be singing/responding. The choir and piano are also on mic, but the mixer board is right next to us so that we can do adjustments on the fly if needed. That doesn’t happen often, because we take a few moments to check it before each mass and make sure everything works, and that it is well set for the group about to sing. It’s not perfect, but after some hiccups, and new speakers last year, it works quite well almost all the time.

  21. I was at Mass this Sunday in a Los Angeles suburb church which has a competent music director, who played the electric piano and also did some singing from the keyboard. There was also a female lead singer, who could cut through concrete at 1000 paces when she turned the power on, a full drumkit, and an electric bass player. Everything was amplified.

    As I walked into the church, the group were warming up. I almost walked out immediately. The keyboard and singers were a little over-amplified, as was the percussionist, but the major problem was the bass player.

    The electric bass was set to a level at least 40dB too high, which is a lot. It was impossible. The sound not only filled the whole spectrum so that hearing anything else was difficult, but you could feel the bass notes vibrating heavily in your chest. This is actually dangerous — the French discovered this when they investigated why people in certain office blocks kept feeling ill, and found that it was low frequencies from the air conditioning units. They then experimented with low-frequency sound-guns, but stopped when they found that certain low frequencies, when amplified, can turn your intestines to pulp (as a side-note, they think this is how Joshua made the walls come a-tumbling down at Jericho, with long shofars similar to alpenhorns, since in experiments they were actually able to demolish walls at a distance of five miles, making sure that no humans were within directional range).

    Part of the problem was that everything was routed through a soundboard in the center of the church, and of course no one could control what the sound guy did; but even so, the bass was set waaaay too high.

    Mostly the people did not sing. They could not even hear themselves. A few people were mouthing the words, but there was no point in actually singing. The only time they sang reasonably well was in one song where just the music director/keyboardist was singing and playing quietly. The rest of the time, they were drowned out by the bass, the female vocalist with her hard-edged pop-tart stylings, and the cymbals of the drummer (those high frequencies flooding the mics too).

    I have no doubt that amplification was necessary, given the size of the building, but not only was it overdone, there was an issue of control because everything was going through the central sound system. I found myself wondering if the soundboard operator had hearing damage or loss so that he couldn’t hear low frequencies and so kept boosting them.

    One basic principle for everyone: it is far better to have a separate, dedicated system just for music, with separate amplifier(s) and speaker(s).

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #29:
      Wow. Do you know if the church was built with that kind of worship in mind? Do other Masses have a different approach?

      Something to keep in mind for everybody – organs tend to work great in reverberant spaces, and are not so wonderful (although can still be effective) in dead rooms, because organs need help developing the harmonics in the room. Pianos sound terrible in reverberant spaces, but work well in a concert-hall kind of acoustic. And the more we amplify in reverberant spaces, with speakers placed throughout the room (unless they are on a sophisticated delay system), the more sound bounces around and becomes obnoxious. Sometimes I wish we could trade buildings with some of the beautiful old churches around here. We could do our high choral/organ stuff there, and they could have our dead place for their amplified piano/guitar music. But it doesn’t work that way…

  22. In discussions about this thread, one wise person said that the problem with church sound system operators is that they are often old roadies whose eardrums have been ruined by years of pounding, overamplified music…

  23. As a further exploration of some of the issues of acoustics that have been raised here, some might like to read Scott Riedel’s excellent article, “Acoustic Challenges in Worship Space Design.”

    http://ismreview.yale.edu/article/acoustic-challenges-in-worship-space-design-2/

    One of the issues he discusses is the challenge of providing a good acoustical environment when in the same worship space very different musical genres are employed, each demanding different things from the building. Oy.

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