Church video venues are popping up everywhere. For many churches, they have become the go-to solution for solving the growth “problem”, which of course is a good problem to have. Church video venues are great for a number of reasons: they can offer an alternative worship music experience, they can keep a church unified by offering the same video sermon (live or recorded) to multiple venues, they can be a terrific option for landlocked churches, and much more. But what about the acoustics? What are some of the most pressing acoustical challenges of church video venues?
Many churches buy up cheap real estate in the downtown district or an industrial park for their new video venue. Space is cheap and readily available. The problem is, many of these facilities are close to mass transit (flight paths, railroad tracks, freeways) and the noise can derail a church service (pun intended). When selecting a site, consider the other noise factors in the area. In addition, if you’re doing the whole rock-n-roll worship thing, check into the local noise ordinances to see if you will have trouble complying.
You never know what you’re getting into – until you’re into it. Churches that choose to renovate an existing space can find themselves stuck in a facility that wasn’t designed for live worship. But as they say, you dance with the girl you brought. Budget money will obviously be set aside for audio-visual equipment. But make sure to set aside a budget for improving the acoustics. No matter how great your AVL system is, if you’re fighting a bad room, it will still sound bad.
The reverberation problem happens when a space is too “dead” or too “live” sounding (in most cases too “live” and overly reverberant). It’s a problem because too little acoustical treatment can lead to poor speech intelligibility. You can turn up the band or the video-sermon, but if people can’t understand what’s being said or sung, the problem lies in the reverberation time and the acoustics of the space.
- HVAC Noise Control
The industrial look is in. It’s cool. Everybody loves the tall ceiling and exposed ductwork. But the acoustical problems are obvious: when you hear the HVAC system kick on and off during the touching moments at the end of a sermon, it’s a big distraction. Or worse, you get noise and vibration from a rooftop mechanical unit sending a droning sound into the worship space below.
- Noise Isolation
Lastly, consider what other church activities are going on concurrently with the worship space. My own church has a kid’s ministry that pumps high velocity praise music, and you can hear the thump of the bass throbbing into the sanctuary – often right during the sermon. Sometimes it feels like we’re trying to hold an altar call to the soundtrack of “Night at the Roxbury” – not great.
At Acoustics By Design, we work with churches to design acoustics for onsite video venues as well as offsite video venues. With good acoustical engineering, churches can optimize their video venues for a great worship experience.