By Reggie Ramos
As the pastor of worship and communications at Wellspring, an exciting development that I’d like to share with you is that within the next several weeks, we will be upgrading the sound system in the Wheaton sanctuary. This has been a need that I had discerned since the beginning of the merge, but due to other financial priorities and budget constraints, we were not able to immediately address it until now. And because this is not an inexpensive endeavor, I wanted to take a little time to explain:
1. why we need a sound system upgrade,
2. what has been and will be done to address the issues,
3. how a new sound system impacts our overall mission
WHY WE NEED A NEW SOUND SYSTEM
AGE. The first and most obvious reason is that the original Blanchard sound system is 20-30 years old. More and more of the equipment is performing inconsistently and has slowly been failing.
ARCHITECTURE VS. STYLE OF WORSHIP. Another reason is that the architecture and acoustics of our worship space don’t match up with the nature of our music. The sanctuary is more of a reverberant (or “live”) space that is suited for a more acoustic or traditional style of worship (e.g., choirs, strings, and brass). Now, although we occasionally involve such components in our worship music, the predominant direction of our worship music involves amplified instruments, which thrive in a less reverberant environment. The incompatibility between our sanctuary architecture and the nature of our music necessitates a sound system that is custom fit to our worship direction AND space.
IMBALANCED SOUND/UNEVEN DISTRIBUTION. At present, we get unevenly distributed AND imbalanced sound throughout the sanctuary. In other words, if you stand in one place, you’ll hear something quite different from someone standing in another place. This makes it very difficult to produce a consistent and pleasing experience for all who are in attendance. Although there is obviously room for user error for those running the sound board, the existing sound system itself makes it very difficult to produce sound that is balanced, clear/intelligible, and evenly distributed to all parts of the sanctuary. This leads to consistent stress for the sound team, and potential frustration for the congregation and worship team on a regular basis. Now, if you’ve been part of our congregation for a while, you have probably gotten used to hearing the sound as it is. But if the clarity isn’t always there, especially for the spoken word, newcomers may find it difficult to understand some of what is said. That is especially true for visitors who aren’t familiar with scripture.
WHAT HAS BEEN AND WILL BE DONE TO ADDRESS OUR NEEDS
Solving our problems is not as simple as replacing our equipment with newer, bigger, and better technology. That would at best trade current problems for similar or new problems. We needed someone with expertise who could design a system that fits who we are (ie., the style of our worship music), the space in which we meet, AND our budget realities. We’ve been working with a consultant for the last several months and he has come up with a design that will improve the clarity and consistency of the audio throughout the room. The design involves the installation of acoustic treatment panels on the back wall of the sanctuary to control some of the reverberation in the room. It also involves physically larger speakers—not to make things louder, but to improve control of the sound patterns. We will also have a level of implementation of in-ear-monitors for some of our worship team, which will help to bring clarity to the sound in the room. Finally, we will be updating our sound board, amplifiers, and other equipment to ensure that we will have a system that serves us well for many years to come.
HOW A NEW SOUND SYSTEM IMPACTS OUR OVERALL MISSION
We are a church that loves God’s word and values the bold proclamation of His truth. Also, we are undeniably a church that loves to worship through song! Yet the sound quality in our sanctuary can be dramatically improved. Given the major improvements in technology, our church sound system is long overdue for an upgrade. Upgrading to a sound system that is custom fit to the direction of our worship style and our space will enhance the experience of all gatherings in the Wheaton sanctuary, especially our regular Sunday Services, by bringing clarity and consistency to the communication of God’s truth through spoken word and through song.
ONE LAST THOUGHT
One thing I want to stress: Though the new sound system is bigger and better, we are not looking to blow you away with louder speakers. Volume is not the goal; we want clarity and consistency. Hearing the congregation sing was a priority that we agreed upon as a leadership team and that we brought to the consultant. So, don’t worry! You’ll still be able to hear one another’s beautiful voices as we sing praise to our God!