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.
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.
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.
Reverberation is probably a word you have heard many times, but what exactly is it and is it a good thing? Can we get rid of reverberation and if so, how? This article will explore all of those questions and more, to leave you clued up on reverberation.
First things first, are reverberation and echo the same thing? They are similar but not quite the same thing. Reverberation is generally a jumbled mix of decaying sounds without discernible syllables (in the example of speech).
An echo is a completely discernible sound, word or syllable which by definition is a reflection of a single surface with a reflection time long enough to be heard after the source has stopped and can be distinguished as a separate sound.
Sound travels in waves, and like the waves in the sea, these sound waves have energy. When sound waves are generated by a voice, instrument or any other audible source they radiate out from that source and strike objects and walls around them. Hard surfaces reflect most of the sound energy and (acoustically) soft surfaces absorb, transmit and reflect depending on the frequencies and the material. The amount of absorption depends on the structure of the material, but, more on that later.
So what happens when sound is reflected from a surface? Sound waves travel at around 300 metres per second. That seems incredibly fast to us (roughly 670 mph!!) but it is slow when compared to the speed of light, which travels 1 million times faster. That is why we see the flash of fireworks before we hear the ‘bang’ from them.
The result of this is that in a conventional room, the sound energy reflects multiple times off the surfaces in the room, losing energy as it does so. Depending on the (acoustically and usually physically) hard or soft nature of the surfaces, more or less energy will be lost when each of these reflections occurs; the harder the surfaces, the less energy is absorbed and so the longer the sound takes to die away.
(Picture of a graph showing the speed of sound vs light)
If you cast your minds back to your high school science classes, you would have been taught that energy never dies, it only changes from one form to another. In the case of sound absorption, as the sound energy passes into and through an absorbing medium, the friction caused by the medium on the movement of the particles strips them of energy, which is turned into minute amounts of heat.
In short, it depends on the situation. Reverberation is not necessarily a problem, and sometimes it is a positive boon. When it comes to opera, classical music, organ and choral music, it could be said to be essential to the performance of the genre. Performances like these which are generally acoustic in nature (ie not amplified or performed through a microphone) rely on reflected sound for the performers to hear themselves and to add desirable reflections that sustain and ‘fill out’ the performance.
However, for amplified music and particularly the spoken word, reverberation is positively detrimental. The later reflections are still loud enough to cause the ear and brain difficulties in interpreting what is being said. With the diction of the speaker being smeared by the elongation of consonants especially, an increasing amount of brain power is required to decode and understand.
Imagine a snare drum beat and instead of being short and sharp, it is elongated so that it hasn't died away completely before the next beat happens. The further away from the source of the original sound you are, the less of it you hear directly and the more you hear the result of the reverberation. The point at which intelligibility dramatically falls away is called the Critical Distance. At this distance, you are hearing an equal amount of direct sound and reflected (reverberant) sound.
Reverberation is measured in seconds and this measurement is called the reverberation time (RT). It is defined as the time it takes for the original sound level usually of a short loud sound such as a balloon burst or gunshot, to die away to 1 millionth (-60dB (Decibels)) of the original peak level.
The ‘ideal’ reverberation time depends completely on the venue! For cinema and the spoken word an RT (reverberation time) of around 0.5 seconds is the aim, however, the RT is usually much greater unless a room or hall has been designed from the ground up or has had a lot of absorption added.
For contemporary music genres like rock or modern worship songs around 1-1.2 seconds is good.
For classical music, 1.6-2.3 seconds would be considered ideal, and for organ music 2-4 seconds is desirable.
So you can see that if you have a venue with multiple uses there are conflicting demands on the RT. However for multi-use venues generally an RT of around 1.2 seconds is a good compromise for intelligible speech and music that is not too dry. We can always add reverberation electronically but it is not possible to take it away in this manner.
Some venues have sliding panels and heavy drapes to allow for a change in the RT depending on the performance type, but for most venues, these would be seen as too expensive or impractical to achieve.
(Photo of ideal reverberation times for different events)
Very few public buildings in the UK were designed with more than a passing nod to acoustics, certainly not your average village hall or community building. We have worked in brand-new spaces where the acoustics are terrible and could have been designed with better acoustics in mind.
The typical treatment is to add absorption to reduce the reflections and therefore reduce the reverberation time. This can be incredibly effective, even adding a few square metres of panel absorbers can turn a difficult space into an acoustically comfortable one.
Panel absorbers are the most popular non-construction solution to excess reverberation. They are generally large flat fabric-covered panels of acoustic-grade mineral wool or other fibrous material. They are available in matching or complementary colours so can be discrete or made into a feature. The sizes are generally chosen to fit in with spaces between windows and other features in the room, although they can also be fixed to the ceiling or ‘flown’.
The number of absorbing panels required is calculated by measuring the volume of the room and the reverberation time to calculate the current amount of incidental absorption. Then these figures are plugged back into the same formula to calculate the required additional absorption to bring the RT time down to the desired level.
In this way, what was once a space where it was difficult to hold meetings, concerts or other gatherings, can be tamed and turned into an acoustically comfortable space. The great thing about acoustic treatment is that it doesn't use any power, doesn't wear out and works all the time, whether you are using amplification or not.
There are other cases where acoustic treatment would be very useful, such as video conferencing rooms, where you can often hear as much of the room as you can the person you are listening to.