Proper planning prevents poor performance

Churches without properly trained techs, or carefully planned systems, end up in a downward spiral of technical problems. Virtually every time. They started out with a new systems once. They started out with properly motivated techs. Everything worked like it was supposed to. It sounded pretty good. Everything worked. It was pretty simple to operate. Life was good.

But.
Over time, it all quit doing all that.
Why?
They didn’t know how to plan or prepare.
Proper planning prevents poor performance.

When I met with pastors about their installations or upgrades, I heard the same stuff a lot. People planning a major purchase without really considering what they were about to do.

Noah and the ark was my favorite illustration.
If Noah had built his ark based on his current needs, he would have been in something the size of a pontoon boat. The bible only mentions his immediate and extended family. Traditionally accepted as only eight people.

He built the ark for what was coming, not what was already there.

When you install a system, plan ahead. Most don’t and suffer for it.
The systems were set up based on what they needed at the time. They were using 14-15 channels, well 16 should be plenty. Right?
They only have a piano player and a pastor up there. Two monitors will be plenty.
What’s the point of running a full snake to the stage? We only need four inputs and one monitor mix.

New construction is even more fascinating. When you have the opportunity to make life better, take it. New construction affords you the chance to plan for expansion without spending much.
If you are pouring a slab, install plenty of extra conduit. I generally suggested running two or more conduits, at least two inch, from the FOH position to the stage area. Figure out where you will install equipment and send it as close as possible.

Conduit is practically free compared to paying an installer to run new wire for every upgrade.
You may have to choke electricians if they use these. Make sure they understand that these are for the sound system only. Do not run electrical wires parallel to your snake. Ever. Too much opportunity for noise to trash your system.

What about that mixer? If you are already using 14 channels, do you really think 16 will be enough? And those stage monitors. If you need two now, wouldn’t four allow for better coverage of the stage?
What problems or limitations can you eliminate when you upgrade?

Here’s what I am trying to make you understand.

I have never seen a church commit to two major upgrades in a year. Honestly don’t remember any church going through two major upgrades in the same building. Ever.
My point?
You may never get the chance to spend this money again. If the church is on board with the upgrade or installation, do it right. You will not get this opportunity again. Seriously. Make it count.

Try to make a list of everything you hate about your system. Not just a list of wants. What kind of things keep your services from running smooth? What problems are there every week? What do you wish this system could do? What have you seen in other churches that would really help this one?

Don’t just assume it will be too expensive. Most experienced installers will help find solutions and compromises to make life better for you. If not, use someone else. The one you want is there to solve your problems, not just take your money.

Ask your tech crew about usage and problems.

Are you always short on inputs?
Do you occasionally have another band or group using your system?
Does the second group make life miserable for Sunday morning?
Do your monitors end up really loud, trying to cover the whole stage?
Is there always someone without a monitor?
Do they feedback? Are there EQs on them?
Do your mics sound distorted or have duct tape holding them together?
Is the pile of bad cables larger than the pile of good ones?
Is “Radio Shack” stamped on anything?
What do you think we need?

I always knew when a pastor made all these decisions without asking the people who operated it. They always ask for ridiculous stuff. Usually the cheapest stuff imaginable. They have taken advice from other people who don’t know any better than them or none at all.

Most pastors don’t understand that you get what you pay for in audio. If a mic cost a thousand dollars, it’s probably worth it to the one who needs it. If a mic cost $9.95, it’s probably worth it, too.

Here’s another tip. Train yourself to use this phrase.

“I don’t know.”

Admit when you don’t. Seriously. It’s usually obvious to everyone else anyway.
This goes for pastors and techs. If you don’t know, admit it. Then find the answer. Just go look or ask someone. Humility is a great asset. Systems work better when the tech has been trained not just figured it all out for themselves.

If you don’t know, bring in someone who does. Don’t be afraid to pay them. They proably aren’t out to rip you off. Most guys who know their stuff are worth whatever they charge. It’s still going to be cheaper that buying a pile of stuff that doesn’t work.
If your crew if they don’t seem to have it all under complete control. Plan to succeed. Plan to grow. Prepare for it.
Follow Noah’s example.

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