Usually, when a screen or projector is installed it will come with a remote in the box that can be used to turn the projector on or put the screen up and down, but these can be easily misplaced, leaving you with no way to easily control those devices. Therefore, we usually recommend a wall-mounted control panel, meaning that you can leave the remote controls locked away safely.
One particular product we use a lot is a small wall-mounted panel that takes away the need for remote controls, by becoming a central controller for the visual system. These controllers come in a range of sizes to suit the size of the system and some have additional features such as volume controls which can be programmed to control background music volume, for example. Ultimately, you still need to keep the remote controls handy as a backup - better to have them and not need them, as the saying goes.
There are not many people who feel that way, but we want to be inclusive, so if you do love lots of remote controls, here are some reasons why you might want to stick with them over a control panel.
In conclusion, wall-mounted AV controllers are user-friendly, simplify control of equipment and will bring all system control to one central location. While you still need to keep the remotes safe, you will not need to juggle them to turn your system on, but instead walk over to one point and within 2 buttons, the projector or screens will be on and the input source selected.
When installing microphones on lecterns or pulpits, we typically opt for a type of microphone known as a gooseneck microphone. These microphones are characterised by their elongated design and adjustable tops, allowing them to be pointed in any direction. This feature enables the speaker to position themselves freely in front of the microphone, eliminating the need to stand in a specific spot.
The gooseneck is plugged in on the lectern or pulpit via an XLR connection point that is discreetly wired and secured to the top of the lectern. The benefit of this is that it can be unplugged and packed away.
Here are some pros and cons of using a gooseneck microphone:
Gooseneck microphones are perfect for use on a lectern or in the pulpit, they allow for any speaker to position the adjustable head in any way they need so they do not have to stand in a specific spot, goosenecks can be unplugged for storage and security and plugged back into their XLR mount with ease. They are perfectly designed for capturing speech. They can also perform well in capturing acoustic, especially orchestral instruments.
When it comes to audio systems in houses of worship, choosing the right microphone is crucial for delivering clear and impactful sound. Two popular options are headset and lapel microphones. In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision for your church's audio needs.
Headsets are worn around the head, with a small capsule positioned near the mouth. Here are some pros and cons of using headset microphones in a house of worship setting:
Lapel or lavaliers are small, clip-on microphones that are typically attached to the collar or lapel of the speaker's clothing. Let's explore the pros and cons of using lapel microphones in a house of worship:
Choosing between headset and lapel microphones for your house of worship depends on several factors, including the specific needs of your speakers, the type of performances or sermons, and personal preferences. Headset microphones offer stability and hands-free operation, while lapel microphones provide discreteness and versatility.
Consider the pros and cons outlined in this blog post, and test different options to find the microphone solution that best suits your church's audio requirements. By investing in the right microphone, you can enhance the worship experience and ensure clear and impactful sound for your congregation.
You may have heard someone say when discussing a new heating system, or moving a piece of ecclesiastical furniture in your church, “You’re going to need a faculty for that!”. A faculty is the equivalent of getting planning consent in the Church of England.
Churches are subject to planning law as much as any other building, however in the church of England this planning control has been seeded from the local council to the diocese.
This system also covers the additional demands of listed building or conservation area consent. Because of this, the system is quite involved and no less stringent than conventional planning consent.
However don’t feel too daunted, there is plenty of help available throughout the process.
For most things yes, for example, objects in the church as well as the building fabric and trees and monuments in the churchyard. Each diocese has a ‘De minimis’ (small matters) list of things exempt from faculty, although you still may need approval from the archdeacon for these.
List A just a log, no formal permissions are required, e.g. the gutters were cleared of leaves.
List B matters can be signed off by your archdeacon, often following consultation with the relevant DAC advisor. Not requiring a formal meeting of the whole committee.
For example, a new or replacement sound system requires only list B consent whereas a projection or streaming system requires a full faculty.
If you have a whole audio-visual project in mind, it is worth getting advice on whether to mention the sound system in the full faculty or just apply for list B for that separately.
This can allow you to go ahead with the sound system much quicker, rather than having it held up waiting for the full faculty permissions only required for projection and streaming.
As previously mentioned if you are thinking of a visual system typically comprising a projector and screen plus some flat screens for blind spots, or a camera system for streaming, you will have to go through the full faculty process.
This does involve some work explained in the next section and it helps considerably if your supplier is used to working in churches as they will generally come up with a scheme or options that they know through experience will have a good chance of being approved.
This can save a good deal of time and to and fro with the DAC and lead to a project that keeps everyone on board with the best balance of performance and aesthetics.
Go to https://facultyonline.churchofengland.org/home this is the home page of the Church of England online faculty system.
The first thing to do is create your own online account and link it to your church building. There is an extensive help section with guides on how to create the necessary documentation to support your application.
The most important of these is the User Manual for the system for parishes.
There are also some useful video resources from Lincoln and Carlisle dioceses, search for ‘church faculty system’ on YouTube.
Before you start wading through the online system, a good idea is to prepare a brief summary of what you would like to do and how photos help and send it to the DAC secretary.
Then arrange a follow-up phone call to discuss this information.
This will give you useful pointers as to how to frame your faculty submissions and potential pitfalls that can be avoided at this early stage, saving time later.
DAC secretaries positively encourage this approach.
If you are looking to apply for a faculty, then you will need to complete an amount of formal paperwork and submit plans, specifications and photographs to explain the works proposed.
You will usually need to consult your church architect for advice and have a resolution from the PCC in place.
After following all of the online steps and asking your DAC for final advice your chancellor will look at your application and decide whether to grant a faculty or not.
If your project has attracted opposition, then the chancellor may ask to hold a consistory court hearing before making a decision.
Before starting any work in the church it is always worth asking your DAC as they will be able to advise you on the best course of action going forward.
The speed of your application being processed also depends on what you would like to do, but the DAC will advise you all the way.
There are a very small number of listed churches which are not subject to Faculty Jurisdiction and therefore need to apply for Listed Building Consent via their Local Planning Authority for works to their buildings.
But if you have any concerns about whether you need a faculty or not, contact the DAC for advice.
Faculty-free systems or temporary systems are audio or video systems that don't need to be fixed to anything e.g. speakers on speaker stands, a portable rack on wheels or a projector on a stand.
The main benefit to these systems is that they are ‘’faculty-free’’, you can set one of these systems up without a faculty. This being said though, for any events or events like this it is always best to notify the DAC beforehand, you can do this on their online portal (More on faculty application below).
It depends on what you are looking for, if you are having a one-time event then a faculty-free temporary system will probably be best for you, but if you know that there are going to be a lot of events or you want to use the system for services every week then you will most likely need a more permanent solution. It is always worth talking to a specialist who deals with audio-visual systems in churches.
To read more about pertinent installations see our article here.
Scheduling videos can seem like a terrifying task, so luckily for you, we have created a short guide to walk you through scheduling a live-stream video on Facebook.
So there you have it, our short guide to scheduling a video.
Live streaming has become very popular since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to find new ways to 'meet' without being in the same physical location. The same applied to church services, which, even when lockdown restrictions were lifted, had a cap on the number of people who were allowed to attend.
Now that COVID is behind us, churches are still finding immense value in continuing to live stream their services so that people who are not able to make it in person are able to attend and be part of the congregation and stay connected to people. The same goes for events such as weddings and funerals, where family members may not be in the same country even, so the facility of live streaming the event online from the church is invaluable to them.
This short guide talks you through the different levels of equipment that you can use to live stream in any context, whether that be at church or from home.
A smartphone actually contains all of these elements in a single device, so many people when making personal live videos will simply use their phone rather than any additional hardware.
Entry Level - Smartphone, ideally with external microphone -remember the audio is the most important carrier of information so this should be a lapel type ideally to reduce the amount of room noise and reverberation picked up.
Level 2 - Laptop with integrated or separate webcam and microphone.
Level 3 - Laptop with video capture device. One or more remote cameras with a means of switching between them, plus a feed from an existing sound system, wired or radio microphone.
Level 4 - Laptop with installed remote cameras, a production switcher and a feed from a sound system.
OR as above but with a dedicated streaming unit instead of a laptop (this provides a simple-to-operate and very reliable system removing the need for a dedicated laptop).
Within level 3 and 4 the cameras may be fixed or temporary and may be purpose-built units or a camcorder or digital SLR camera with HDMI output.
This needs to be somewhere quiet, background noise can be distracting and reduce intelligibility, particularly for those who are hard of hearing. Make a test recording and listen back through headphones - how much of the ‘room’ do you hear? If you are recording in church then speaking softly rather than projecting your voice may produce a lower level of reverberation which will be less noticeable. If recording at home try hanging a spare duvet up out of sight of the camera this can reduce the ‘boxy’ sound from small spaces.
It might seem like a silly question, but there is no shame in wondering why you would spend money on having a fixed sound or projection system, rather than having a portable system that you put up when you need it.
First of all, it is worth noting that you may not be able to have a fixed installation in your building if you are a church that meets in a school hall for example. But the majority of the time, an installed audio-visual system is always going to be preferable to a portable one. This article lists the 3 main reasons why.
If you are currently using portable equipment that needs to be set up and taken down each time it is used, consider how much time that takes each week and then multiply that by 52 to give a rough idea of how long you have spent in a year doing this. If it adds up to a lot, then maybe it is worth thinking about a fixed installation.
That projector that you have to mount on a table in exactly the correct place to get the image to fill the projection screen which you are dragging out and pulling up? How about a fixed projector which is turned on by a control panel on the wall, and an electric screen which drops down at the touch of a button on a remote control?
Or that sound system that you have to set up for each service, with the speakers on poles and sending someone to tape down the cables to stop them from being a trip hazard. Do wall-mounted loudspeakers which turn on with the system and a system which has been equalised and balanced already sound better?
Think of all that time you could save on Sundays, having an extra hour (at least) each morning to enjoy a bacon sandwich (other breakfast choices available) before heading to church 15 minutes before the service starts.
By week 20 of setting up your portable system, you will have a good idea of how everything connects together, where everything goes, and how long you need to give yourself before the service starts to get everything ready in time. I imagine you will also have a list of things which have gone wrong before and solutions to each one in case they happen again mid-service.
But there will always be a new issue that you haven’t come across before, which makes running the AV system become stressful all over again. A cable that has been misplaced or not connected to the right input, a table which moves every time you get the projector in just the right place, or even feedback that you have never experienced before.
With an installed audio-visual system, you are going to get the security of everything being the way you left it last week. All the cables will still be connected, the loudspeakers will still be facing in the same direction and the microphones will be set to the correct levels. This means that you have a far more reliable system, one which is not going to throw up unexpected difficulties mid-service (although these do still happen).
Reliability allows you and the people using the system to have more confidence and to be able to focus on the things that really matter, like delivering their presentation or the reading they have been practising all week. You are there to enjoy the service as well remember!
As a rule of thumb, an installed system is going to produce higher quality due to it being designed and tuned to the acoustics of the room. Often, unless you have spent thousands on your portable PA system, the standard of the equipment used in a fixed installation is going to be better, which makes sense considering it is going to need to perform for the next 10 years.
Having a fixed installation means that we can design the system to fit the space, using products which have the correct characteristics to deal with the size, shape or high reverberation of your building. This is not possible with portable equipment, meaning that the sound quality will always be compromised to some extent.
When it comes to projection, you are far likelier to get a clearer, brighter and crisper image from an installation projector than you are with a portable model. Portable projectors are great, but they have been designed to be as compact as possible, which means that they usually give a fairly low lumens output (how bright the light source inside the projector is - see our article about projectors in more detail here).
The other benefit of a fixed installation is the smaller footprint it will have in the building, as the equipment will not be taking up floor space, but mounted on the walls and often almost completely out-of-site when not in use (see our video on the winch-down screen we often use here). We are able to hide cabling and ensure that there is minimal impact on the aesthetics of the space, which is not possible anywhere near the same level as portable equipment.
Hopefully, this has convinced you that a fixed installation has far more pros than cons, but as we said at the beginning of this article, sometimes it is not possible for a number of reasons, in which case portable could be the best solution for you.
We are often asked if it is possible to use wireless speakers to form a church sound system. this is because churches, especially the older ones, are not very suited to running cables. It’s not something that we can hold against the people who built them all those years ago, but it does present a real challenge when installing any new audio-visual equipment. Often these buildings are Grade 1 listed or higher, which makes it necessary to pay extra attention to cable runs and fixing positions.
Newer church buildings do not usually have the same constraints as running plastic trunking is usually permitted, or cable routes have been thought about in the original design of the building, which saves our engineers a lot of time during an installation.
But a question we are often asked when installing sound systems, in particular, is one which we think deserves a further explanation, as we hear it so often. That question is this:
Why can’t you use a wireless speaker instead of running all those cables through the church?
Now, at first glance this might seem like a very valid thought; after all, in today’s world, most people have a wireless speaker in their house, whether that be a smart speaker in your kitchen so that you can dance while you cook, or a portable speaker you take to the beach with you to play some summer hits while you sunbathe.
I, myself have a portable Bluetooth speaker, which I use all the time for all sorts of things - even when I want some accompaniment while singing in the shower. It’s brilliant and sounds great, so why wouldn’t I want to use it for a church sound system?
Well for a start, I would need a lot of them to give the kind of volume I would need for even a small church. As a comparison, the portable speaker I use has a power rating of 30 watts, which is impressive considering its size. However, when you compare it to a typical loudspeaker we install in our installations which is rated at 240 watts, you can see that there is quite a large difference in the amount of volume we are going to achieve. It’s a bit like putting a Smart car up against an Aston Martin; there is only one winner.
Another problem with using a wireless speaker in a church is that it would be very unreliable. Churches are generally made of lots of stone and other reflective surfaces, which is why they are often so reverberant. But as much as this is great for concerts, it does not work in favour of wireless connectivity, which will struggle to clearly communicate due to all the reflected signals it will receive.
Bluetooth, which is the technology most wireless speakers use, relies on line of sight to give a reliable connection between the two devices paired together. As soon as you add columns and thick walls in between, that signal will struggle to reach our wireless speaker on the other side of the church and we will end up with very jittery audio. Adding this on top of all the signals it is seeing come back from off the hard surfaces in the church and you have little hope of it ever working reliably.
“But my Alexa is on the wi-fi network and I connect my phone to it that way!”
This is true, but often churches do not have a wi-fi network to connect to, coupled with the fact that this will only allow you to play music, so will not allow us to connect all the microphones and other elements of the sound system to it too? Some speakers have to be physically wired into the network, which then defeats the point of using it over a conventional loudspeaker in the first place.
Another problem with wireless speakers is that they either need to be constantly connected to a power source or if they have a battery, then they will go flat and need to be recharged after a certain period of time. That is fine at home when the speaker is sat on your bedside table, but not so easy when it’s sat on top of a column in church.
The main reason why you would not use a wireless speaker in church is because that is not what they are designed for! They are designed to play music and give an impressive sound output for their size, but they have not been created to sit as part of a church sound system. Installed sound systems are capable of clearly reproducing speech and music, and the products we use have been (in most cases) purposefully designed for this environment, with specific characteristics that make them ideal for the church environment.
For example, the loudspeakers we select have been designed to focus their output on a limited area, which greatly reduces the amount of reverberation which will occur when the system is used. Wireless speakers spread their sound as widely as they can, but this will bring down the intelligibility of the sound when in a church with lively acoustics.
Ultimately then, as good as the idea of using a wireless speaker as part of a church sound system may first seem, there are a number of reasons why this is not a good idea and why spending time finding appropriate cable routes to loudspeaker positions is worth the headache.