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The_K-Man

Faith-Based Sound Issue..

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I have been attending a small AG church for about four years now.  We are members and really appreciate how our Pastor delivers God's word.

 

But our concern is primarily with how our worship leader delivers worship music - I feel waaaay too loud!

 

My trusty Radio Shack sound level meter sometimes registers 90-95dB average levels - and that's from the back rows of a  40' wide by about 70' deep sanctuary with ceiling vault up to 25'.  The opening worship is normally 25-30min long, and about 20min of it can easily reach that 95db level.

 

We recently installed a Behringer digital mixer plus IP-based monitoring and the ability to control the house/monitor mix from tablet, so even if I adjust things down a little on the Berrie I know the worship leader can just turn them back up on his iPad Mini.  

 

'Harry' is an accomplished leader with published CDs and also ministers on occasion back in his birth land.  Unfortunately he is also rather young, born early 1980s, so I consider him part of that 'loudness generation' as far as music producers and music listeners go.

 

What is a diplomatic solution to this issue?

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I would have thought the object is to listen to the Pastor so you could hear words above the traffic, and clutter and shuffling of shoes without requiring ear muffs. What's that a 65db SPL normal conversation?

Perhaps that level is still possible from the furthest row, and make a test and it won't be so loud at the front or alternatively rear speakers to reinforce, lowering the level even further.

95db is far too high, you could use occupational legislation as a reinforcement of the rules.


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15 minutes ago, One and a half said:

I would have thought the object is to listen to the Pastor so you could hear words above the traffic, and clutter and shuffling of shoes without requiring ear muffs. What's that a 65db SPL normal conversation?

Perhaps that level is still possible from the furthest row, and make a test and it won't be so loud at the front or alternatively rear speakers to reinforce, lowering the level even further.

95db is far too high, you could use occupational legislation as a reinforcement of the rules.

 

The Pastor's level is fine.  He is a trained orator and regulates his spoken word well.

 

My concern is the level of the worship music and vocals.

 

Our team consists of our leader(keyboard and pads), backing vocalist, and drummer(inside drum booth).   

 

I examined some of the settings on our digital mixer and it is being run actually relatively conservatively, with PFL gains for mics and instruments peaking(remember it's digital!) betweem -18 to -12dB full scale.

 

Mackie 12" powered mains speakers are set to default 12 o'clock volume detents.

 

So even with everything at or just below 'unity' gain, he is still blowing out the house on two or three of the five songs we sing every Sunday prior to offering and the 40 or so minute long sermon.

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1 minute ago, The_K-Man said:

 

The Pastor's level is fine.  He is a trained orator and regulates his spoken word well.

 

My concern is the level of the worship music and vocals.

 

Our team consists of our leader(keyboard and pads), backing vocalist, and drummer(inside drum booth).   

 

I examined some of the settings on our digital mixer and it is being run actually relatively conservatively, with PFL gains for mics and instruments peaking(remember it's digital!) betweem -18 to -12dB full scale.

 

Mackie 12" powered mains speakers are set to default 12 o'clock volume detents.

 

So even with everything at or just below 'unity' gain, he is still blowing out the house on two or three of the five songs we sing every Sunday prior to offering and sermon.

And you wonder why modern music sounds mangled, compressed and far too loud and distorted..! Following the fashion.


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6 minutes ago, One and a half said:

And you wonder why modern music sounds mangled, compressed and far too loud and distorted..! Following the fashion.

Sad, but true.

 

Could it possibly be that our system is just overpowering our size sanctuary, as described in my O.P.?  Kind of a 'V8 in a Yaris' situation? lol

 
Our worship leader mentioned the IP monitor boxes are cranked at his and the drummer's location - they each now wear IEMs since earlier this year with the upgrade I mentioned.  He said if he ran the overall system any lower volume then their monitor mix would be too soft.

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Loudness war in the name of God.? ;)


The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils. The motions of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.

                                                                          ―  William Shakespeare.

 

 

 

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IME many PA systems  have distortion product irritation from the speaker and amp combination when played louder. So it may not be the volume but rather the distortion

products. Is it possible your amp is under powered for the volumes your pastor prefers?


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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29 minutes ago, davide256 said:

IME many PA systems  have distortion product irritation from the speaker and amp combination when played louder. So it may not be the volume but rather the distortion

products. Is it possible your amp is under powered for the volumes your pastor prefers?

 

It is the volume.  In my orig. post I did mention using my SPL meter to measure it on several Sundays.  Again, the digital board is actually slightly under-gain-staged, meaning there is decent headroom from input-pres all the way through the powered mains.

 

And yes, the Pastor does like it loud, just not sure if as loud as our worship leader is driving it.  In a sanctuary not much bigger than a typical suburban three bedroom split-level.

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5 hours ago, One and a half said:

I think @gmgraves needs to reply on this one.

Which one? I haven't been following this thread, so I'm not sure what issue you would like for me to chime-in on?


George

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2 hours ago, sphinxsix said:

I don't think so, in my experience it doesn't work in audio world. Been praying for Magico Q7 for quite a long time now, every time I see a DHL delivery van around my hope for fulfilment of the prayer comes back for a second but no result yet.

 

@The_K-Man For God's sake, can't you just talk politely to the Pastor about the issue..?

 

 

I did about a year ago, back when I flew sound on our old manual analog board.  They wanted it louder than I was giving them, so one Sunday I came in and found two sets of ear muffs to try.  I told him that ear muff or plugs are not the solution.

 

My first question is, for 30-40 minutes  of worship music every Sunday, what would be an acceptable dB level as indicated on my meter? 

 

Secondly with the above answered, how would I present such info and suggestion to the pastor?  I'm 48, yet at 66 years old the pastor likes it louder than me! smh

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It's possible this falls under the same regulations as sound levels in public venues such as nightclubs. Even if not, those rules could be used as guidance here.

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I would poll some of the elderly members of the church to see if they have an issue. While they may not hear as well as the younger members of your church, I've found they tend to be more sensitive to volume.

 

You could also talk to the members of the church who bring their children to the services. Out of concern for their kids, they might have a similar response to the volume.

 

Point being, if enough people would prefer the volume lower, it wouldn't just be you but others whom you'd be speaking for or who could approach the pastor themselves.

 

Hope that helps and good for you for asking for people's advice on CA.

 

Joel

 

 

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16 hours ago, The_K-Man said:

He said if he ran the overall system any lower volume then their monitor mix would be too soft.

this is bs.  I serve as front of house engineer for my church and can assert that the mains level has nothing to do with 'in ear' mixes.  On some less robust systems, the channel input gains CAN but don't necessarily affect their 'ears' levels.  So, provided the input is set right on all the instruments coming into the mixer, all should be well.  If not, he's got something jerry rigged and should invest in a proper stage ears system.

 

There's no reason to play any louder than 92db A weighted - we're a contemporary church on the move (well over a thousand weekly attendees across multiple services) and attract the younger crowd, but even then, this is loud enough for people to sing along and still have the music well above their own voice.  92 absolutely gives you the 'concert' feel.  Because you're using A weighting, there's a big difference between a "comfortable" 92 and a "poor mix" 92.  Backing off the presence/sibilance regions by a few DB and letting the bass play more a role in the db weighting really helps make it more comfortable.  

 

Now the news you don't want to hear.  Even 96db for 30 minutes is allowable exposure according to some regulatory publications.  But, many people just don't realize how much louder those extra 4 db are when you're playing that loud - you know, the whole logarithmic thing?  And to me, 96 is just too darn loud period.  Especially as an audiophile who wants to enjoy the music but not hurt their ears!

 

I shoot for 90db at the REAR of the house, but we do have line arrays that distribute the sound better so it's only 2-3 db louder at the front.  

 

hope this helps

 

 

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6 hours ago, buonassi said:

this is bs.  I serve as front of house engineer for my church and can assert that the mains level has nothing to do with 'in ear' mixes.  On some less robust systems, the channel input gains CAN but don't necessarily affect their 'ears' levels.  So, provided the input is set right on all the instruments coming into the mixer, all should be well.  If not, he's got something jerry rigged and should invest in a proper stage ears system.

 

There's no reason to play any louder than 92db A weighted - we're a contemporary church on the move (well over a thousand weekly attendees across multiple services) and attract the younger crowd, but even then, this is loud enough for people to sing along and still have the music well above their own voice.  92 absolutely gives you the 'concert' feel.  Because you're using A weighting, there's a big difference between a "comfortable" 92 and a "poor mix" 92.  Backing off the presence/sibilance regions by a few DB and letting the bass play more a role in the db weighting really helps make it more comfortable.  

 

Now the news you don't want to hear.  Even 96db for 30 minutes is allowable exposure according to some regulatory publications.  But, many people just don't realize how much louder those extra 4 db are when you're playing that loud - you know, the whole logarithmic thing?  And to me, 96 is just too darn loud period.  Especially as an audiophile who wants to enjoy the music but not hurt their ears!

 

I shoot for 90db at the REAR of the house, but we do have line arrays that distribute the sound better so it's only 2-3 db louder at the front.  

 

hope this helps

 

 

 

RE: bs.

 

Yes!  As I said before the input trims are relatively low set on this board.  If that PFL affects what is sent to the IEM boxes, as it would on most analog board sends, then we can just boost those PFLS up a little to give the worship IEMS the volume they need, and just run the house faders a bit lower.  We are currently running the faders for vocals, piano, pads and drums between -5 to -10 dBu(zero is not at top of scale on them) and master fader at -5.  So I guess we just need to re gainstage that board and just keep the faders between -10 to -20.  Again, the two big powered Mackie houses have their volumes set at 12:00 detent, so they're right in the middle of their operating range.  Only the green signal lights flash on, never the clipping ones.

 

I just think our rig is way over-powered for our little 40x70' deep church! lol

 

Finally, perhaps if I show the Pastor the meter and what 90dB SPL sounds like vs 95 or higher, he might get it.

 

Another issue: the Mackie house Mains are about 8-9' above the sanctuary floor, so their full volume might not be realized until one is at least eight rows back in the pews, as opposed to in the front row, which is relatively 'beneath' those speakers' plane of projection.   I should see what kind of reading I get up front: It might actually be lower than what I get halfway or more to the back(95dB). 

 

Thanks for your technical insights!  I will go over them with our worship leader. I just need to convince both he and our Pastor that I am recommending only a small adjustment down of the overall volume, and things would be far more tolerable.

 

How I WORD those wishes is just as important as the technical aspects, so some insight there would he appreciated.

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45 minutes ago, The_K-Man said:

 

RE: bs.

 

Yes!  As I said before the input trims are relatively low set on this board.  If that PFL affects what is sent to the IEM boxes, as it would on most analog board sends, then we can just boost those PFLS up a little to give the worship IEMS the volume they need, and just run the house faders a bit lower.  We are currently running the faders for vocals, piano, pads and drums between -5 to -10 dBu(zero is not at top of scale on them) and master fader at -5.  So I guess we just need to re gainstage that board and just keep the faders between -10 to -20.  Again, the two big powered Mackie houses have their volumes set at 12:00 detent, so they're right in the middle of their operating range.  Only the green signal lights flash on, never the clipping ones.

 

I just think our rig is way over-powered for our little 40x70' deep church! lol

 

Finally, perhaps if I show the Pastor the meter and what 90dB SPL sounds like vs 95 or higher, he might get it.  He has in the past told me that "if you think we're loud you should hear our Spanish tenants afternoon service!"  He said their volumes "rattle the whole house"(the pastor residence and Church are attached). 

 

Another issue: the Mackie house Mains are about 8-9' above the sanctuary floor, so their full volume might not be realized until one is at least eight rows back in the pews, as opposed to in the front row, which is relatively 'beneath' those speakers' plane of projection.   I should see what kind of reading I get up front: It might actually be lower than what I get halfway or more to the back(95dB). 

 

Thanks for your technical insights!  I will go over them with our worship leader. I just need to convince both he and our Pastor that I am recommending only a small adjustment down of the overall volume, and things would be far more tolerable.

 

How I WORD those wishes is just as important as the technical aspects, so some insight there would he appreciated.

 

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18 hours ago, The_K-Man said:

How I WORD those wishes is just as important as the technical aspects, so some insight there would he appreciated.

indeed.  The only thing that keeps coming to my mind is talking about the 'comfort' of the mix and that it can seem just as loud and impacting if all of this is done well:  input gain, compression, EQ, effects

 

Or maybe just ask to try it out one service.  I'm sure they'd agree to 'try' it. But could quickly revert having felt like they've appeased you. 

 

Here's another angle you may try:  bring up that the levels are such that they actually impede the actual worship?  Of course that should be true before you make the assertion. :)  This was the case for my church.  We wanted people to feel disarmed and comfortable, and prepare them for the message.  We also felt that we didn't want there to be TOO much a focus on the music, that while it is part of the worship experience, it can easily become 'entertainment' like a concert and undermine the reason for being there. (but then we still have choreographed lights/smoke, etc. go figure) 

 

And if all that falls short, you may have to get more strategic in your approach.  It could take months of gentle guiding to get it there.

 

If that still fails, do what my church used to do before we finally decided to turn it down:  offer earplugs free of charge at the entrance.  

 

 

 

another thing to know from a tech side is that the "unity gain" on post-faders is a non-issue (as long as those banks aren't being sent to drive other effects).  With 24 bit boards that really doesn't matter, the noise floor is so low quality is preserved.  Not sure what board you were using?

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, buonassi said:

indeed.  The only thing that keeps coming to my mind is talking about the 'comfort' of the mix and that it can seem just as loud and impacting if all of this is done well:  input gain, compression, EQ, effects

 

Or maybe just ask to try it out one service.  I'm sure they'd agree to 'try' it. But could quickly revert having felt like they've appeased you. 

 

Here's another angle you may try:  bring up that the levels are such that they actually impede the actual worship?  Of course that should be true before you make the assertion. :)  This was the case for my church.  We wanted people to feel disarmed and comfortable, and prepare them for the message.  We also felt that we didn't want there to be TOO much a focus on the music, that while it is part of the worship experience, it can easily become 'entertainment' like a concert and undermine the reason for being there. (but then we still have choreographed lights/smoke, etc. go figure) 

 

And if all that falls short, you may have to get more strategic in your approach.  It could take months of gentle guiding to get it there.

 

If that still fails, do what my church used to do before we finally decided to turn it down:  offer earplugs free of charge at the entrance.  

 

 

 

another thing to know from a tech side is that the "unity gain" on post-faders is a non-issue (as long as those banks aren't being sent to drive other effects).  With 24 bit boards that really doesn't matter, the noise floor is so low quality is preserved.  Not sure what board you were using?

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry to hear that your church also incorporates 'Station Nightclub'-style visuals - nothing 'Christian' about those!  smh

 

As far as earplugs go, I don't want to go down that route.  This is not a Nascar track or Monster Trucks - it's church.  

 

Our board is X32 Compact.  Fairly intuitive, easy to make changes and save them to 'scenes', etc.  Our worship leader even has his own scene, his initials, hidden way down where you have to scroll to find it!  I loaded it while the church was still empty, and the walk-in music was almost as loud as actual worship levels!   So our leader really is one of the LOUDIES.  :(

 

The one for our church is ok, but I think he's changing something during actual worship.  The voice he selects on the keyboard has no attack or fade tail when you strike the piano keys(like a real piano does).  It's just all loud and gritty sounding.

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5 hours ago, The_K-Man said:

As far as earplugs go, I don't want to go down that route.  This is not a Nascar track or Monster Trucks - it's church.

 

You're praying for the full seat even if you'll only need the edge.  

 

Thank you for the unexpected laugh.

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13 hours ago, rando said:

 

You're praying for the full seat even if you'll only need the edge.  

 

Thank you for the unexpected laugh.

 

You sound like you're saying that needing ear protection at concerts - and during some worship sessions -  is just accepted way of life in the 21st century.

 

Not if I have anything to do with it.

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