Mastering Your Church Sound System Without Breaking The Budget


Several years ago, a pastor called me to come fix his sound system. The church was two hours away and the problem was simple. I did my best to try and walk him though the process to fix it and save the church from the service call fee for that trip.

“No, no. I have tried everything! It’s dead. Just come fix it. I don’t care what it costs.” His actual words.

So. I made the trip.

The call involved a Mackie CFX mixer with that “special” button. His choir and podium mics had quit working the week before. Now, nothing was working.

For those familiar with those mixers, you know what the problem was already. Thanks to a helpful volunteer, the phantom power was switched off. They also hit a button called a break switch. Something designed to mute every channel except the input for background music.

I tried to tell him that. He wouldn’t listen.

Two hours later, I pushed two buttons and handed him an invoice. He was so frustrated over the whole thing that he didn’t even want to talk about it.

Recently, it happened again.

This pastor was just as aggravated, but the system works now. It has rekindled the passion that provoked me to write my book, Basic Training for the Church Audio Technician.

Too many pastors and volunteers don’t have the foundational training to manage those systems week after week. Some of them research the problems and find solutions. Some just hide in the shadows and pray nothing else goes wrong.

Based on literally hundreds of systems I have setup, designed, installed and maintained… I saw these same type issues over and over.

Those same skills and experiences led me to begin this blog and write other books. It also landed me the position of Senior Editor of Live Sound International magazine and where I continue to write and teach.

Another situation that got to me involved a small urban church that was desperate.

The pastor called me to give him a competing bid against another company that had quoted him over ten thousand dollars to fix his system.

When I checked it, there were several problems. Nothing sounded right. It had become incredibly painful for this pastor to get through each service. The problems had been there for years because nobody knew how to fix them and they didn’t have the budget to bring in a professional or buy new gear.

I asked him for about half an hour to go through everything and see where the main problems were. He left for lunch and I went to work.

It turned out that one side of his crossover was fried and someone had moved some cables around to the wrong places. I rewired the system, bypassed the bad side of the crossover and got it going in mono until we could pick up a new one. Nothing else was wrong.

When the pastor returned, I fired off a CD and he started crying. I turned that ten thousand dollar estimate into about $250.

Now, the only reason I was able to do stuff like that was because I understood the systems and had spent about twenty years working with them. However, based on hundreds of conversations and training sessions with church techs, I began to figure out common issues that continued to trip them up.

I am normally not the guy to push a sales pitch, but the basic training book was written for exactly those folks. The ones who struggle and don’t know what to do.

The same way I was able to turn an overwhelming financial burden into a cheap service call, I wanted to turn those wasted budgets and pointless expenses into a book that can be read cover to cover in a day or two.

My online bookstore doesn’t offer user reviews, and most of my readers tend to pass when asked, so I grabbed a few that were emailed directly to me…

“Thank you. I definitely know that I wouldn’t be here making a living with music without your influence and leadership in my life.” Jonathan.

“Thank you for the good work you are doing its really educative and inspirational to a tech like me in a world where no one understands what it takes to do stuff I do with out any teacher around.” Timothy.

“Thank you for this book. We haven’t found anyone better or more qualified yet!” Phil.

Since I was always focused on getting everyone the best deal possible and staying budget conscious, installation and service work for churches was never very profitable for me. Having spent seven years on church staff, and over fifteen years as a church tech, I completely understand what you are up against.

Honestly, I considered setting the book up as a training course. Two issues stopped me.

One. Most churches who need this information don’t have the budget to spend thousands of dollars on a course like that.

Two. Most church techs are volunteers with families and jobs. They can’t really spare several hours over a week or more to work through something like this.

No. I wanted to put out a simple reference guide with real stories and examples that covered all the foundational aspects of running sound at church. I know I didn’t have the time or money when I was in your shoes.

I am trying to make this as simple and cheap as possible to get you to the point where you can manage that system with confidence.

We also struggled with the price.

Through my online store, I have added every discount that I can justify to get this out cheap. However, most folks still want a tangible book to hold and read. For that, we had to go through Amazon.

It’s still cheaper than anything similar that I have found, but written by someone who has been where you are. Budget and time restrictions included. We had to set the price where it is, to cover manufacturing. After printing costs, we only clear a few dollars on each book.

I am still not trying to get rich at your expense.

Please don’t struggle through another service, just waiting for the next problem to arise and send you into a panic. Make a decision to learn this trade and offer excellence in your position.

Get the book.

In print… Basic Training for the Church Audio Technician.

Or digital copies in my online store.

Live Sound International


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