In my last article, I started a discussion on tech booth location, and how the worst possible option is to create a little shoebox behind the auditorium with a window into the auditorium.
Now, let’s examine “The Corner.”
The second worse spot is off in a corner of the room. It's a big step up from the shoebox, but has some similar problems.
The bass in music, when it bounces off a wall, combines with the original sound from the PA and sounds artificially louder next to that wall. If there are two walls, like in a corner, the bass is even more artificially exaggerated. And while the low frequencies are by far affected the most, all frequencies of sound can have similar issues some frequencies get boosted because of the reflections; others get cut because of the reflections.
So, the corner position for the tech booth has similar problems to the shoebox, just not nearly as bad. The tech still needs to learn how poor the music needs to sound in their corner for it to sound good out in the room. It's easier, but still not great. You need to have audio techs who are above average in their mixing ability to mix well from a corner of the room.
The corner position does usually allow more access to the room than the shoebox, so that's a big step up. And they are not as cut off from the congregation, and can talk to people before and after services more readily, helping with feeling like they are a part of the congregation and aiding tech team recruitment.
The Back Wall
The back wall is better than the corner in that there's only one wall that sound is bouncing off of. Otherwise, it's similar to the corner. While the main room won't sound as different in the "back wall" tech booth as it will in the corner tech booth, it's closer so there's less of a challenge in getting the room to sound good.
The Optimal Position
So, what's the best location for a tech booth? The answer to that question is actually pretty simple. Most volunteer audio techs are not at the level or professional audio engineers. They are going to mix the band so that it sounds good to them where they are standing. So, the question becomes, what part of the room do you want to sound the best? Do you want a tiny room stuck off the back of the auditorium to be the best sounding space in the church? Or is it the far corners you want to sound the best? If not, would you like the seats along the back wall of the church to be the best-sounding seats in the house?
Most church leadership wants the main part of the room to sound the best. If that's the case, then that's where at least your audio tech needs to be locatedin the center of the room. Which is exactly where most pastors don't want them.
So, it's a balance. What's your priority? If you really want your auditorium to sound great, work with your architect right off the bat to look at ideas for creating a booth in the main part of the room that's neither an eye-sore nor a distraction to put your tech team or audio tech. This can be done, and done well. But usually not after the room is already being built.
Otherwise, you need to balance aesthetics with your desire for good sound. It does little good to have a beautiful room that generally sounds awful and frustrates your audio team to the point where you can't retain them.