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We've been meeting in a gym for 20+ yrs. We've owned 7 acres of "prime real estate" for a while, and are about to sell part of that to finance a building in the near future. The Worship Ministry has been asked to submit a "wish list" re: a stage set-up. I'd love to hear from other WL's about their favorite/un-favorite/necessary/un-necessary....considerations for a stage for a church. I'm assuming new sound equipment is a "given" for us in a new building, so I'm mostly interested in just stage "set-up's" alone......sizes?....different levels?......permanent acoustic drum set with plexi-glass shielding vs. electric drums?.........baffling?.......humungous pp screen?...........floor plugs?.........

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Hi Kevin, it sounds like you already have a good idea of what you need. We recently increased the size of our stage and I can tell you that it's big for the size of the building. But, it could be even bigger to better accomodate dramas, skits and things without these people having to worry about tripping on cables, monitors or stage greenery. The stage could almost never be too big. Make sure there's plenty of floor plugs for amps, keyboards, floor pedals, etc.
Our stage was built into the long side of a rectangular building, not good for sound. It was done this way so that the preachers message would be "more in your face" than if built in the end of a rectangular building. It might be better for the message but we feel stifled with volume because the back wall is so close. Electric drums would help with this but the drummer and I both have played electric drums in the past and they just don't have the same feel or sound as acoustic. The drummer is wrapped in a five piece plexiglass shield, a full enclosure with ceiling would be better.
We have two large wall spaces on either side of the stage for the power point, these work great.
Our baptistry is directly behind the stage so this creates even more problems, it would be nice if were another place. I'm not trying to diminish the importance of baptism at all but it would be nice if it were located elsewhere in the sanctuary.
I hope all of this helps. God Bless!!
Talk to your musicians. Let them tell you what they want. It's awesome to know your wishes and wants matter. Then you can scale back from there, if your guys are like my guys! :)

A few bullet point thoughts: BOSE tower rocks (I want that for my system right now), real drums over electronic, but you'll need to do what it takes to control the volume (without killing the quality), don't skimp on board channels, you'll regret it quickly.

And if you have a freind i a nearby church who could look at your situation and give advice, that would be good. Better yet, maybe you have a gear geek somewhere in your own church.

worshiping Him always,
Lee Gunter
Kenmore Community Church

Kenmore, WA
Wow... first off... what an opportunity to participate at ground level... that's awesome.
The first thing I would do is meet with your team(s) - music, drama, dance, etc. to find out the stage sizing requirements. Multi-tiered staging definitely has its viewing benefits, but can sometimes cause other hazards - i.e. - tripping or crowding at other times. One approach is to come up with a design, flat out the stage for the total square footage, then come up with some well built, temporary platforms. This will give you future flexibility for stage design and configuration.
In terms of sound equipment - that's a whole other discussion in and of itself. You want to pick the appropriate speaker/amp configurations (both main and stage) based on room size, design, music style, main focus of service (music, preaching, creative ministries, combo...), plus a hand full of other small factors. Your best bet is to either bring in a trusted consultant or if you do have some “in church” experience, hook up with a major reseller (Guitar Center, Sam’s, etc.). Most of the larger resellers will work with you to setup a demo area for your team to go in and listen to different configurations within your budget. Bring a CD of the music you typically perform and play it back on the different configs… it’s a great way to get a team approach to picking you speaker package. The other consideration as part of audio is hand held wireless mics for your worship team or non-musician singers. The costs go up but you save all those pesky wires on stage. Again – mics is really a whole other discussion…
One huge recommendation is the wall design and treatment around the areas of the stage. Use some of the acoustics 703B paneling, any heavy fabric panels (also can be decorative), corner traps, etc. This is a great way to resolve a ton of eq'ing and feedback on the stage. Again, I would work with a trusted consultant as you can get into some major costs if you’re simply relying on post treatment. The fact that you have an opportunity to build this in to the construction will save you some good money. The other benefit of this is handling the live drum kit. If the wall design and treatments are done correctly you don’t have to necessarily completely trap your drummer in an enclosure. A few drummers have been rescued from isolation by simply designing their area appropriately.
Power – more so then power outlet placement on the stage (that’s all personal preference) – is the power configuration. I would strongly recommend that your audio and stage have their own subpanel. Also, make sure that the subpanel is on the opposite leg of your lighting. In other words, whoever your electrical engineer is, have them design the building lighting to be on one leg of the main panel and feed your audio/staging sub panel from the other leg. This will prevent a ton of headaches in ground lifting, 60hz humming, etc. In terms of getting that clean sound from your audio we’re always looking for – this is probably the most important factor.
I can go on (I love this stuff), but hopefully, this gives you some things to consider. I can’t stress enough to dedicate as much time as you can to planning, discussing and thinking this out before spending your church’s money.
We have a fairly new multi-purpose room (about 2 years) that (unfortunately) I was not around during the build. We, too, have the stage set along the long wall of the room, so sound is a big issue. I believe the speaker angle is incorrect, which is causing "hot spots" in the room. Make sure whoever you're working with does they calculations correct. I know that sounds like a no brainer, but you'd be surprised.

Also, we have 6 different floor boxes with mic & power connections which are great except two of them are right in the center front, about 18" away from the edge. It's very convienient but we have to strategically place the pastor's podium to avoid stepping on the cables coming out. Since we use wireless mics, the only thing that goes in there are monitors, so it's not too bad, but I wish those boxes weren't there.

We use the Rolland TD-20 electronic drum kit. I agree, acoustic drums are ideal. Unfortunately, it isn't always feasible for the room. If you get the kit with the "real" skins & cymbals, they feel pretty good. Plus, it'll give you alot of flexibility in sounds and styles.

Finally, if the budget allows, go with in-ear monitoring. I've been using my Shure PSM400 system for about 3 years now and I will NEVER use a wedge again.

Hope this helps a bit. As it's been said, make sure you plan, plan, plan!!!

I respectfully disagree on buying anything from Bose. My friend (and sound engineer)'s church was totally ripped off by Bose factory engineers here in Hawaii. They demoed a system, then sold it to the church and the system sounded like total crap. As it turns out, the engineers "forgot" to tell them that they needed the $3000 EQ module. This is on top of the $5K already spent. Or course the church could not return the system. The church board flatly refused this form of blackmail. The church ended up tearing out the system.

In my 10 years of running sound at churches I've been part of, I have to say Bose stuff is plain crap: slow, tubby, rolled-off high end, fat midrange, and .. did I say slow?

I prefer faster speakers: JBL VRX or SRX. Don't care for the JRX, MRX, Eons, anything Mackie. Some QSC stuff if okay. The Yamaha 10" and 12" Club speakers are great (15" bad).
Hmm. Wow.

slow as in a big delay?

We recently looked into having CCI guys come look at our sanctuary before we spent a bunch of money renovating. turns out the "bunch of money" we will spend renovating is considerably less than the advice from the experts. so I sat in a class on acoustics at my recent Music Summit... did some research ,watched a couple vidoes.

I'll save thousands of dollars for doing a few hours of research.

you're the first bad report I've heard on Bose, Are you familiar with the tower system, specifically? We use a lot of Mackie. I have an ex Mackie soundtech guru on my board. go ahead, be jealous. :)
Drums with shield works real good. Floor plugs can be dangerous - better to feed all cords around the stage to the rear. Floor monitors better than ceiling hung, a raised stage of at least 18 inches, if you have a vocal chorus they could be raised additionally - hang their mics from the ceiling. All instrument amplifiers small and mic'd for volume management through the PA. Avoid goose necks on m ic stands - people tend to play with them making horrible noises. Booms are better. Hope this helps.

God Bless,

We are a small church, and I spent a lot of time comparing prices and expandability before we replaced our out-grown P.A. We went with Carvin stuff which I have been VERY happy with. As far as a want for our someday sancuary, I would like to have hidged grates in the floor of the platform where I can store monitors and mic cables. Plugged in and ready to go. All you have to do is lift the grate and pull it out. Monitors can be left in the storage place if you have a performance where they would be in the way.
Great points above.

I've seen some whopper mistakes.
- A local Lutheran church put in tile everywhere to "maximize the pastors voice". Echo echo echo echo
- Bad electrical grounding. Buzzzzzzz
- No provision to get the snake from the sound board to the front; cables everywhere. ...
- Hard walls, no place to "hide" equipment. Looks like a warehouse...
- No place to put Left, Right and Center (bass) speakers in sanctuary; "dead" zones...

Have fun!
I'm LOLing at this -- you must have been to our church! (except for the tile... i can't imagine the awfulness of that...) We do have a sound tech who has really dedicated himself to learning and improving things, and has spent a lot of time hiding cables in baseboard running from the front to the back of the church, and other such things. He is a real blessing.
A trapezoid shape is nice.
Make sure the stage is 25% larger than you need. That is because you will use every bit of it, and then some.
Recessed Floor outlets and XLR plugs are good. If they are not recessed don't do it.
Make sure the stage is 50% larger than you need. That is because you will use every bit of it, and then some.
Make sure the stage is 75% larger than you need. That is because you will use every bit of it, and then some.
Make sure the stage is 100% larger than you need. That is because you will use every bit of it, and then some.
"Slow" as in slow to respond to sound in the mix -- like kick drum. Bose sounds fine at low listening levels and jazz and orchestral stuff. But put in real music -- some CCM or "rock and roll" and Bose speakers fall apart -- they simply cannot handle real, live music. My good friend David actually talked to Dr. Bose a few years back and Dr. Bose privately admitted that his speaker drivers are cheap (crap) and actually rely heavily on active EQing to sound decent.

Some other advice I'd like to say: I like analog mixers -- easier to train part-time sound people and better sounding. Allen & Heath sound fantastic (own MixWizard3 16-2). Mackie's VLZ Pro/3 line are passable (own 1, used SR24). I dislike the Onyx (owning 2 myself). QSC's RMX 850 and 1450 sound great -- like it over the PLX series (own 1). Yes, I've learned the hard (and expensive) way.

The Yamaha Club V series are the best buy for mains as well as stage monitors -- CM 12V is the best. If you can find a pair of JBL MPro M412 or M415s you'll be really happy.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THE MIXER -- ANALOG and PLENTY (6+) OF PRE-FADER AUXES. Don't believe the digital is better crap.


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