With Christmas behind us, a new year beginning, and weather that frequently keeps us indoors, now might be an excellent time to consider some preventative maintenance for your audio, video and lighting equipment. And if you're like most churches, you're probably thinking "Oh yeah, we meant to start doing that five years ago."
Most AVL equipment can stand some preventative maintenance and an occasional once-over to ensure it's still operating properly. While many failures of electronics are immediate and catastrophic, some can be less obvious and slowly degrade the performance of your systems.
Let's start with audio systems, and discuss what should be done to keep the system in good operating condition.
If it seems like your audio system just doesn't sound as good as it used to, it's possible that some of the speakers in the system are no longer operating properly. While you see a loudspeaker as one large box, inside there actually are multiple "drivers" the components that generate the sound. It's usually a driver that dies, not the entire speaker. So, sound may be coming out, but not all the sound that should. Having the speakers tested by a professional to ensure all the drivers are functioning would be a good thing to do. This could be done every few years, or when you feel like the sound of the room has inexplicably changed.
The boxes usually mounted in an equipment rack, are what power your loudspeakers, and usually have cooling fans that pull air in through air filters to eliminate waste heat. If the air filter gets clogged with dirt and dust, the cooling won't be as effective, and your amplifiers can overheat and become damaged, or shut down to prevent damage. Thoroughly vacuuming your equipment racks, paying special attention to any ventilation filters on the front or backs of the equipment, is an important thing to do multiple times per year. And don't just clean the ventsclean the entire rack to keep dust and dirt as far away from those vents as possible. But, be careful not to disrupt the wiring within the racks, or you'll have a much bigger problem than dirty vents!
Simplify and Maintain with Storage:
And speaking of cleaning, keep the audio console well dusted, and cover the console when it's powered down and not in use. Dust and dirt will otherwise build up in the controls, and before long you'll start hearing nasty crackling noises from your speakers when knobs are turned and faders moved. If you already have this problem, consult with the manufacturer to see what they recommend for cleaning the controls to eliminate the problem. Sometimes just a can of compressed air used in the faders can do wonders.
And in general, keep equipment not in use in covered storage containers to keep them protected and clean. Gathering dust never helps any piece of equipment to remain in good operating condition. I've found that a roll-around tool chest works great for storing microphones and other audio gear used on stage. They are frequently lockable if theft is a concern, and your audio volunteers can wheel it out onto the stage while setting up for a service, speeding the process along.