To the tech director, dream big. What sound system would you put in your room, if budget wasn't a factor?
Sometimes simplicity is the key to great sound.
When technicians dream up a sound system, a lot of us gravitate toward the idea of having it include a lot of speakers most likely line arrays - and many subs. Maybe some fills, here and there.
Depending on your room, you may think you need to spread out your subwoofers and create an arc of low-end energy across your room or worship space.
That sounds nice, and maybe that's the dream. It could probably get loud and every seat in the space may have a comparable experience, with low-end energy.
Is that the goal, though?
Are we looking for a loud system that has measurably similar low-end coverage in every seat? Or are we looking for the utmost intelligibility and the tightest low-end, even if it may fluctuate a few decibels here and there across the room?
A great speaker manufacturer said it best, "The best sound comes from one source." At first glance, you may think they are referring to their speakers as the "source," but there's actually more to it.
Think about it.
The more sources we introduce, the more time alignment that will have to be done, and even still you have some phasing across different frequencies as they overlap in different areas of the room. If you take this into account, then you may start dreaming of simple systems that can cover your worship space without significant amounts of overlap with other sources.
When you consider timing and overlap of sources, the dream becomes one full-range coaxial speaker in the middle of the room, that's somehow able to cover the entire area.
Again, it's the dream.
It's generally not reality, unless you're in a smaller space. I encourage you with this, though, to keep it simple.
Sometimes simplicity is the key to great sound. Approach every project with the goal of keeping it simple and work from there as the project necessitates.
Consider the examples shown in the main image with this article. Even with two line arrays, creating a stereo system, we will have some areas that are not time aligned. As the distance between each source and the listener varies throughout the room, so will the timing.
The yellow area in the center of the room shows the listening area, where we will have a true stereo image. The blue areas show the portions covered by a single source, and the red areas show where the two sources are overlapping and have the potential to create a bit of a mess.
In this instance, with a simple system only having a left and a right array, there's no way around this unless you want to hang a mono array dead center and call it a day.
It looks great, in theory, but you'll likely find the mix to be less exciting. However, if it works, covers the entire room, and your primary goal is speech intelligibility, then you may be better off.
Clearly, I'm not a sales guy
This is some food for thought as you head into the Christmas season, and your wish lists are full of tech gear and exotic vacations far away from Wi-Fi and cellphone reception.
Try dreaming of a simpler system, and Santa might be able to afford to make your dreams come true in the coming year!