One of the challenges I’m working on in my new church is getting a suitable balance of volumes during the music. The layout of the church has the band in a kind of ‘shoebox’ that comes out of one of the walls, behind the low platform that projects into the room. It is a good space in terms of keeping the musical equipment tidy and safe, because it is set back from where anyone but the music team would walk, but sound does have a tendency to bounce around, causing details to get lost under noise.
Today I went down and set a constant drone running through the bass amp, which I measured using my phone from several locations. The bass amp is another complication as, at present, that is the sole source of the bass signal for the room. As I expected, the signal drops off quite quickly and the position of the amp makes quite a difference as to who hears what. The most equitable distribution would be to put it right at the front of the box but that isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing solution; getting the bass through the main system would probably be a better one.
To finish off my morning I did a bit of reading to try and get a sense of what a good volume level would be. One article, ‘The Sound That Kills Worship‘, cited research which suggested 81dB as an optimum level. That will range according to context and, as my investigations this morning show, the sound level is unlikely to be consistent across the sanctuary.
I will be aiming to do some more measurements though; before long, I want to be able to go from feeling it is too loud to being more specific, such as ‘can we please drop the overall stage volume by 4dB’!