The way that acoustics work in modern church buildings has changed. One hundred years ago, churches were built with proven traditional shapes and designs. The ability to hear and understand the spoken word from any area of the hall was of primary importance. More recently, because of budget constraints, architects began to design non-traditional buildings, with the understanding that a sound system would be used to overcome inherent acoustic difficulties.
The sound system does aid in the reinforcement and distribution of sound, but it is still subject to the laws of physics, and has been found to be only as effective as the existing acoustics will allow. Church acoustics is very unique, and is recognized as one of the most complex acoustical sciences. The recent introduction of contemporary styles of music into worship services has placed more demands on both the acoustic qualities of the building and the sound system, and often reveals the shortcomings of both.
Modern music will sound poor in traditional reverberant sanctuaries, regardless of the quality of performance, simply because the acoustics of the building were designed for traditional music. The acoustic value of the space must be within the parameters of the music style. If you place a great pipe organ in a small, modern, low-ceilinged, heavy- carpeted sanctuary, it would sound very poor; likewise an upbeat praise and worship band with drums would be almost unintelligible in a cathedral.
So how do we address our acoustic problems? The first step is to obtain understanding. Your church’s acoustics are the major determining factors in the understanding of the spoken word, and in the performance and enjoyment of music. Find out what your church needs are now, and what they may be in the future. Solid research into church sound and acoustics will help your church succeed in communicating the greatest story ever told.
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