When Things Go Wrong: Correcting For Flaws in Your PA

How do you respond, though, when the trusted advice of an expert causes more trouble than it solves? Or when some small changes have unexpected consequences?

When Things Go Wrong: Correcting For Flaws in Your PA
This photo is an example of a project that was completed as originally planned, which included a line array install at Sugar Creek Baptist Church earlier this year in Sugar Land, Texas. But as spelled out in this piece, sometimes original plans for installs can unfortunately end up requiring major changes, based on a single factor.
When Things Go Wrong: Correcting For Flaws in Your PA
This photo is an example of a project that was completed as originally planned, which included a line array install at Sugar Creek Baptist Church earlier this year in Sugar Land, Texas. But as spelled out in this piece, sometimes original plans for installs can unfortunately end up requiring major changes, based on a single factor.

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Technology Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, November-December 2017
The November-December 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers a review of the 49 New Product Award entries this year, as well as those entries up for Solomon Awards in 2017.
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Find the Problems

To discover how the improvised design performed, each engineer listened to their favorite albums through the PA as we sat in different seats in the room. We all choose music we listened too since high school. We heard this music though every stereo system, pair of headphones, and car speakers for years. We know how these songs are supposed to sound intimately and can tell when something isn’t right. (If you’re more of an expert than a volunteer, you might employ white noise or pink noise instead.)

During rehearsal, we did a similar thing with the band performing. We moved around and learned what each section sounded like. Then we’d adjust the vocals and go back through the hall making notes on the differences.

And as we found things we didn’t like, we made changes along the way. We learned most of the room had a muddy quality, due to a combination of acoustics and speaker placement that wasn’t obvious at the mixer. Then we tuned the system around the audience experience and worked around the issue.

Learn Your Options

But more than how to work around it, what we needed were real long-term solutions. Ultimately for us, that included altering our speakers again. Before I spell out what was done, here’s a few concepts that might help you:

Line Arrays: In a nutshell, this style of main speaker aligns several of the same type of speaker in a column. They can be flown, but as they can be quite heavy, they can also be ground stacked. They also have great potential to provide the audience an even frequency response. When arrayed vertically, they provide great coverage for deep auditoriums.

Point Source Speakers: This other popular style of system mains works better for venues that are significantly wider than deep. While they are smaller and less powerful than a line array, that helps create more options for placement.

You can also combine point source speakers with line arrays to compensate for sections of the audience outside of the array. For example:

Delays: This point source speaker application delivers sound to distant or obstructed parts of the hall too far out of the range of your mains. As the name implies, processing is added to delay the audio signal by milliseconds. If a sound system is not delayed, the result might sound like speakers at an old bus station: The echoes of each speaker all reach you at different times, resulting in a muddy smear of echoes. In addition to helping the back of the hall hear more direct sound, properly delayed speakers also clean up and organize a lot of messy ambient noise.


More About Adrian Gates
Adrian Gates is the Media Director for Crossroads Community Church in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. In his 16 years as a media professional, Adrian has served many different roles, including music producer, web master, videographer, consultant, social media “expert,” sound guy, lighting guy, stage hand, and roadie. His clients have included some of the largest tech companies in the world, New England churches looking to modernize, and dedicated weekend warriors. Adrian is a graduate of the New England Institute of Art and Communications.
Get in Touch: mediaservices@crossroadsconnects.com    More by Adrian Gates

Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, November-December 2017
The November-December 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers a review of the 49 New Product Award entries this year, as well as those entries up for Solomon Awards in 2017.


Article Topics

Technology · Audio · Team Management · Budgeting · Team Development · Coverage · Designer · Equipment · Installation · Sound Reinforcement Systems · Speaker Placement · All Topics

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