Obstacle Number 1 –

What is good sound?



I’ve heard it a thousand times. We want “good sound”. OK, go ahead. Describe it. I’ll wait. . . . . . .

• What is good sound?
• By who’s definition?
• Who’s going to judge the “good sound” to know if you’ve bought the “good sound”?
• How can you describe it to someone in a way they know exactly what you are talking about?
• How are you going to describe it to the salesperson?
• What will be their interpretation of good sound?
• How will they perceive what they think you’re talking about?
• If you can’t describe it, how are you going to know if any proposal or new system quote
has the
  the good sound”?

The ARTICULATION COVERAGE TEST© is designed to show you how to KNOW the sound you're looking for!

See the problem? If you can’t accurately describe in precise terms what you want and the salesman can’t understand what he thought you said, you have already lost the most important battle in the game. And, this goes much deeper.

Who said the salesperson knows what good sound is? A salesperson has one job. To sell something. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just understand who you are dealing with. Have they ever mixed sound for hundreds of productions? Do they know what good sound is. More important, do they understand the good sound YOU want that suites YOUR church not the one down the street. Every install is tailored to the acoustics and the style of worship. I have yet to install the same system twice.

The majority of buyers and sellers of sound systems focus almost entirely on the equipment because they think that’s where the good sound comes from. That is a major mistake and dead wrong. The choice of equipment is the last step in the design of a sound system, not the first or even the second consideration. Yet people want to start with – we need 4 choir mics, we need a central speaker system, we want this mixer, we want JBL, and so on. WHY? How do you know? How do you know what type of sound that equipment is going to produce in your acoustic space? That is the key question. What type of sound is that particular equipment going to produce in your acoustic space? You see, you first have to figure out what kind of sound you want, THEN pick the equipment to get the sound regardless of who makes it or the price. It’s the sound you want, not the equipment. The equipment is only the means to the end. Not the other way around. This is crucial to understand.

A good example of this concept is this: several thousand ¼ inch bits were sold last year. No body wanted a ¼ inch bit, . . . they wanted a ¼ in hole. It’s not the sound equipment you want, it’s the sound that equipment produces in your acoustic space.

Would you buy a pair of designer jeans two sizes too small just because they are the latest rage, looked great on your friend, or most advertised brand? Of course not. But people buy sound systems with that mentality every single day. Oh, so and so church or arena has a JBL cluster and it sounded great over there, so we want one in our church. What they don’t realize is that the good sound is produced by the interaction of the speaker system and that particular acoustic space. Your space will not be the same. That speaker system may not work in your acoustic space regardless that it’s made by JBL, Electrovoice, EAW, or who ever and costs several thousand dollars. A speaker system must be designed to fit the space it’s going to be used in. Whoever builds the right parts and pieces to fit that space is what you need. It has nothing to do with name brand.

Which is a better known luxury car Mercedez Benz or a Chevy S10 pickup truck. Of course, the Mercedes. Which one rolls down the highway better? Neither. They both roll down the highway the same way. Will one get you from home to work better than the other. No. The Mercedes will last longer and be a better ride for sure. But the S10 truck will do the same job. And that’s the point. I use all brands on the market that best fits your job for the money. I’m not locked into being a dealer for this or that brand. As a professional sound system designer I get to pick whatever I want to use.

Now, you understand what I do. I define the sound you want, review your style of ministry, hear what your goals are, get some idea of your budget, do some acoustic studies, and then look at the audio market to see which manufacturers make the products around your budget that will give you the sound you want. The selection of equipment is always the last part of the process and is based on the type or quality of sound you want. The good sound NEVER and I mean NEVER, will automatically come in the box with the sound equipment. The good sound will only come with a deliberate design by someone that understands exactly what you are looking for and only then having good sound techs to operate it. It’s art, not technology.

As a musician, electronics technician, acoustical consultant, a professional system designer, and soundman that has mixed sound for all sorts of services and productions, I intuitively know what you are looking for. We already have a meeting of the minds, so to speak. But how do you explain what you want to other typical contractors or salespersons?

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