DIY Church Sound System
by Ken McKibben, on Jun 4, 2020 4:52:57 PM
DIY Isn’t Always Good Stewardship For Church Audio-Video Technology
You’ve built a lot for your church, but installing your own church AV system is one thing you probably shouldn’t do on your own
There’s no denying that with a few YouTube videos, a subscription to Amazon Prime, some power tools and enough time, you can accomplish just about anything. But when it comes to worship technology, it’s better not to hang a complex system of loudspeakers, lighting and video projectors over your congregation’s heads without the proper training and experience.
These are not cabinets you bought from Ikea or a few planters that need to be hung from the ceiling. This is advanced technology. But that’s not the primary reason it should be installed by a professional. We’re talking first about the safety of your congregation, and the potential for accidents that could lead to serious injury, potential bankruptcy, or even loss of life.
We’ve all heard stories, and in some cases seen with our own eyes, some of the disasters, and yes, deaths, that have resulted from someone hoping to save money with homemade lighting rigs or creative speaker or video screen mounting techniques. Haphazardly installed equipment can fall from a ceiling or produce a fatal electric shock.
It doesn’t necessarily cost more to have technology installed correctly. In fact, it might even cost you less. Before you look to cut costs in a way that might cause more harm than good, consider these five ways DIY might not actually turn out to be a good stewardship decision:
1.) Your Insurance Policy Probably Doesn’t Cover Installation By Your Tech Director
There are lots of potentially disastrous problems that could occur if you try to hang heavy loudspeakers with some dog chain and a few unrated nuts and bolts. In addition to the laws of physics you’re trying to defy, and the negative effect you may have on the equipment’s performance, you’re more than likely invalidating any insurance coverage held by your church.
Policies written for churches typically cover those activities most common for a church: people congregating, conducting a service and playing music. But what they often don’t cover is volunteers wiring and rigging a sound or video system, which leaves the church fully exposed in instances of damage or injury caused by faulty installation by an unqualified person. In the worst-case scenario of a wrongful death lawsuit, damages can often skyrocket to two-million dollars or more, and if an insurance company denies a claim because the work in question was not covered in the scope of your policy, your church may be held responsible for those damages.
To protect yourself from potential disaster either causing physical harm or a lawsuit nightmare, look for a properly licensed and insured audiovisual systems integrator. They will have the certifications and training to install equipment properly and the insurance to back up their work, which will ensure the safety of your people and shield your church from unnecessary liability in the event of an accident.
2.) That Online “How-To” Video May Not Work For Your Facility
A million views does not an expert make. If what you’re looking for is better sound or enhanced video and lighting for your church, there is plenty of information available online. But there are often two missing critical factors: it’s not designed specifically to meet the needs and quirks of your specific facility and team, and it can’t provide you with the long view of maintenance and operability of a system. So you may expect to save some money by learning how to do it yourself, but you may lose out on your investment if the equipment doesn’t operate properly or suit your particular space.
Audio and acoustic design is quite nuanced, and trying to make a room “sound good,” is about more than buying the right speakers. The entire room needs to be considered in the design and placement of each component, ensuring the best results for the majority of your congregation. The same holds true for video and lighting. With so many resolutions, display types and technologies out there, it helps to have an expert navigate the design process and provide the best solution.
Even if you think your church is too small for a large-scale AV system, you truly will save money if you buy the best engineered system the first time. An expert will evaluate your space, explore your worship practices and operator needs, and develop a comprehensive system design and maintenance plan that will have your equipment delivering to the best of its capabilities now and for years to come.
3.) Things Don’t Always Work the Way They’re Supposed To
Some technologies work right out of the box. Audiovisual equipment built for large-scale use has added technical complexity, and more often than manufacturers want to admit, things don’t always work as advertised (I’m looking at you Blackmagic Design). When that happens to an average consumer, manufacturers don’t offer a lot of support.
If you work with an AV integrator, they not only have the know-how to evaluate and test equipment before its installed, but they also have a staff to research solutions and relationships with manufacturers to get a quick replacement if something does go awry. Integrators assume the risk and make it right if there’s a problem, and their experience helps them to see the technical pitfalls that you may miss across multiple projects.
You don’t want to be the church that installs inadequate infrastructure during new construction, seals up the walls, and then discovers that the system won’t work as planned. They call it “bleeding-edge technology” for a reason. Talk to an expert first.
4.) Sometimes It Takes an Outside Perspective to Really See the Problem
Worship leaders have valuable knowledge about the way things work best for their community and church. But their viewpoint is from inside the day-to-day operations and services, which may limit the scope of possible solutions for problems associated with their worship technology. Often, a church with “bad sound” doesn’t require a new digital console or the latest technology upgrade to improve the situation.You may just need design tweaks or improvements to specific pieces of technology in the system to optimize the way things work.
An AV integrator comes into a project free from the biases that come with working within a single church day-in and day-out, and additionally brings the outside perspective and understanding that comes from experience working with other churches. Their knowledge of the latest trends and technology is augmented by the ability to apply experience from hundreds of other churches toward improving your setup.
5.) Can You Really Afford to Be Distracted?
Ultimately, the best reason to work with an audiovisual integrator is to hand over the keys and let them figure out the best solution for you. Instead of spending time reading manuals and scouring the internet seeking information, turn to an expert who can bring all of that knowledge and make it simple for you to get the results you need.
Remember, good stewardship is not just a function of how much money you save, but how much value you get for every dollar you spend. There are ways to be economical without causing harm, or at a minimum, losing the value of your investment because it’s not performing correctly.
When it comes to upgrading the sound and video technology for your church, make sure you get the most out of your investment by having it professionally installed by a licensed and insured audiovisual company. The results will be better not only in terms of performance, but also in how you protect your worship community from harm.
Have Questions? Give MediaMerge a Call!
All of the DIY options we discussed above are important, but in particular, we want to make sure you’re safe and protected from harm. If you have a question about what licenses are required by integrators working on sound and video systems in your state or county, call us. We’ve been licensed in more than 20 states in our decades of working in churches nationwide, and are well versed in the requirements. Remember to ask your integrator for proof of insurance, too!