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How Loud is Your Church? Actual dBA please.

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by dbbxyz, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. dbbxyz


    Jan 29, 2010
    Curious, how loud is your worship music in actual dBA?

    Do you have a policy in place? If so, please describe.

    Do you have a target? Min? Max? Range?

  2. 95 dba at our 9am service and 105 dba at our 11 am service. Our Saturday night service is usually 105 also.
  3. I average about 92 and peak as high as 96. We used to have a policy about volume but that's not very realistic, since you can have a mix at 98 that doesn't sound as loud as a mix at 90.

    BTW our congregation is about 250 and the sanctuary can seat about 400-500 max.
  4. mccartneyman


    Dec 22, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Managing Editor, Bass Guitars Editor, MusicGearReview.com
    In a sanctuary that seats 1,200, with all instruments except brass, strings & woodwinds going direct to the PA, 86 dba at the back of the room. People say it sounds like a radio. Good or bad, I'm not sure.

    But, in a room that seats 400 for the contemporary service, I have no idea what the range is. Acoustic drums, three guitars, bass & keys, all with amps. All I know is with a 600 watt amp running two 112 cabs, I could barely hear my bass three feet from the amp. The monitors were louder -- and the closest one was 15 feet away. We routinely had people walk out because of the volume. Tried baffling the drums and amps and helped very little.
  5. For stuff I have control over... it's 87db for the speaking parts (middle of the spectrum) .... 97db for music

    The choir and organ can commonly blast it (no pa) to over 105 db

    I run a calibrated RTA 100% of the time... I do not trust my ears to establish if I'm accurate.... I found a TOA on Craigslist for $25 including the mic


    It makes me chuckle... the loudest thing that the greyhairs complain about is the band... we then show them the printed read out of what the organ/choir produces.


    HINT --
    IF you're having volume complaints... ask a SINGLE person to be the "Loud CZar"... they seat at different positions in the sanctuary... and are tasked with "too loud... too quiet" etc. ... THEN send all complaints and input to them for fielding. ... Combining this with an RTA gets you out of the complaint business.
  6. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I think we're generally around 92 at the sound board (which is about 2/3 of the way back in a 1,200 capacity room).

    Our typical lineup is:

    - WL on lead vox and electric and/or acoustic guitars,
    - usually two other guitars (one electric and one acoustic)
    - keys
    - 5-piece acoustic drums behind a sneeze guard
    - bass

    Plus one or two bvox who are either stand-alone singers or members of the band. There is a bass rig on stage (GB Shuttle 6.0 and Hartke 4.5 XL cabinet), but that is turned around facing the bassist. Bass, keys and acoustic guitar(s) go direct, all drums are mic'd, electric guitar amps are mic'd but offstage. WL and instrumentalists are on IEMs and there are a couple of wedges at the front of the stage for the vocalist.

    P.A. is all JBL... one 2x18 sub on each side of the stage, and some line-array stuff flown up top.

    No set volume policy as far as I can tell. Basically "make it sound good" and if they start getting e-mail complaints then back it down a couple dB the next Sunday or two and then start inching it up again.

    Getting good FOH sound has been a huge challenge for my church for many years, due primarily to sound techs who have good technical knowledge and good hearts but terrible ears and little to no experience mixing full live bands (especially drums and bass). There were many Sundays when I was in the house that the sound was so midrangey and shrill that it literally hurt my ears. We're finally making progress and that's due in large part to the fact that both our WL and our lead pastor are really owning the importance of good sound to the worship experience and aren't afraid to turn things up a bit. If your lead pastor is anti-volume or anti-low end or whatever, well good luck cause even the best sound techs are fighting a losing battle in those situations.

    And MnAirHead speaks truth... my church used to have an organ in our main sancutuary, and when she cranked that puppy up it was easily louder than the full praise band. No one complained about the organ though... :meh:
  7. blastoff99


    Dec 17, 2011
    SW WA
    92dBA at the back of the house, peaks to 96 or so. Room seats 1300.
  8. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I would interpret that to mean, it's a "professional sounding", balanced mix but the volume is on the low side compared to what most people would associate with live music environments (86 dB is pretty feeble). Which actually, is what a lot of churches are looking for so I would take it as a compliment.

    Unless of course they're talking about a transistor radio. :p
  9. Jaywa...

    May have been a Gilligans Island 2 coconuts and salt water radio
  10. TMFoodBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    Adamstown, PA
    We have a sanctuary that seats about 250 with 11' ceiling. Our sound guys are really stingy when it comes to volume. I think that they're trying to keep it around 92-93 dBs, but it's almost impossible to be consistent throughout the room with the ceilings so low. Add that to the fact that they can't mix to save their lives, and it ends up sounding kind of crappy most of the time.
  11. In that situation I'd get a new sound guy...
  12. TMFoodBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    Adamstown, PA
    I only wish it was that simple.

    Being a relatively small church, everyone except the pastor and a couple of part time church office workers are volunteers. And the only people who are any good at sound are a couple of the musicians. We try to set eq's and levels when we can, but it's always completely out of our hands when the service starts.
  13. Same here, everyone except the office workers and Pastors are volunteers. No paid sound guys or musicians.

    I started doing sound for the church 3 years ago. When I started I didn't know anything about EQ, compression, gating, anything. Now I know all of that because I was willing to take the time to learn. If your sound guys aren't willing to learn, let them go and find someone who is.
  14. TMFoodBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    Adamstown, PA
    I agree with you. Unfortunately, not my decision to make. And I've spoken to the worship leader about it many times.

    Good help is hard to find.
  15. Or pro installed and calibrated gear then lock it and put it on auto pilot
  16. Yeah that's great if you can afford it. Churches like mine can't.
  17. That I understand. I too am not in a position of leadership so I can't make calls like that.

    Fortunately we just don't keep people that aren't faithful to their position. If someone can't be depended on we don't ask them to serve.
  18. TMFoodBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    Adamstown, PA
    Yeah. And therein lies the catch 22.

    Our sound guys are extremely faithful and dependable as far as being on time, and willing to learn. They read about it and do Internet research all the time. But they just suck at mixing. And they've gotten to the point that can't hear and constructive criticism about it from the worship team members.

    Honestly, if they had half an ear for mixing (and weren't so bull headed), they'd be dang good sound techs.
  19. cashpoor51

    cashpoor51 Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    new jersey
    Volunteer sound operators are always a source of frustration in Churches
    Musicians spend a good amount of time in rehearsal to put some songs together only to be poorly mixed from untrained operators
    Small Churches are the worst but I've played at and attend some larger ones that are just as bad
    Just something you have to get used to or give up playing and run the sound instead

    As far as DB goes if its mixed well you can always get away with more DB
    My ears like around 100- 105 for todays music but a few churches
    had a limit of 92 and wanted it around 88 which to me never sounds good even mixed well
  20. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I've definitely seen that. In some respects I think the more high-end the technology, the worse that problem gets. You've got these digital boards with all these presets and onboard EQ and effects and an LCD screen that puts everything into graphic form and as a result people mix by what they see or what the manual tells them and not by what they're hearing.

    You'll go to a service and the pre-recorded warm-up music will be coming through the P.A. and sounding great and then the live band comes on and... blecch. Baffling.