When selecting a public address system for a church, many designers still select a standard 70 volt public address system. For many churches, such a public address system is a good choice. However, new types of public address systems have been developed in recent years that should be considered for church use – especially for mid to “mega” sized churches.
Over the past five years, several companies have introduced a new type of public address system, called “networked public address systems.” These systems offer the ability to easily rezone (re-direct audio from a specific source to specific speakers) your public address system without making physical changes to the wiring.
With a networked public address system audio can be directed from any source to speaker/destination and the routing can be electronically changed at any time. If needed, the speakers in a given section of the church can be combined to all carry one audio program. Or, the same speakers can be subdivided into groups, such that each group is carrying its audio programs. Such systems offer major advantages for institutions such as colleges and churches, where one room may serve a variety of purposes throughout the week. The following is an example of how such a system would make management of a typical mid sized church much easier.
EXAMPLE NETWORKED PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM
The church is a midsized worship center with 1,700 members. There is usually more than one activity going on any given day. In fact, one room may be used for several purposes over the course of a few hours. This is a situation where a networked public address system can really offer an advantage. The following is an example of how such a system would benefit the church.
Saturday 9:00 AM – The church has a once a month business meeting, in the front third of the auditorium (the auditorium can be split into thirds using movable walls). The public address system is programmed to direct audio from that section’s microphone input only to the speakers in that third of the auditorium. At the same time, there are two other groups that meet in the other two sections of the auditorium. Similarly, these other two sections can have their local microphone directed to only the speakers in their section.
Saturday 10:30 AM – The weekly Youth Group meeting occurs. This event fills the entire auditorium. The public address system is programmed for this and automatically directs audio from the “front” microphone input to all the speakers in the auditorium.
Saturday 7:00 PM – The church offers the first weekend service in the Sanctuary. Since this service is especially popular, the auditorium and various small classrooms in the church are used as overflow rooms. As such, the audio is routed to both the sanctuary and the whole auditorium.
Sunday Services and Sunday School 9:00 AM to 12:30 AM – The auditorium is converted into three rooms for Sunday school classes. The local microphone input is routed to each of the speakers in each of the three sections. The audio is also re-routed to each so that each of the small classrooms can have their own individual classes. After Sunday School, the main service starts, and the audio from the pulpit is automatically routed to the sanctuary, the whole auditorium and classrooms. This can be pre-programmed or manually initiated.
Monday through Friday – Various classes are held in the church, and there is a Wednesday mid-week service. The public address system has been programmed to route audio from the required source to the required speaker destinations.
The Bookstore — The public address system normally routes music to the church bookstore, but every 15 minutes the pre-programmed announcements occur, informing listeners of new items in the bookstore. However, any church wide announcements will be routed to the bookstore speakers.
The entrance – During weekdays, and on Saturday, pre-recorded announcements tell visitors the service times, directions to the church office, and general information. Again, this can be overridden by church wide announcements.
Such a public address system can also be outfitted with a “panic button” – a button that addresses every speaker in the entire church. This would allow for evacuation instructions or church wide pages.
Many of these systems can be accessed via the internet. Therefore, the church administrator can change scheduling or add pre-recorded announcements, at anytime, from just about any location.
Other systems allow feature GPI (General Purpose Interface). The Atlas Varizone public address system; sold by Atlas Sound ww.atlassoundvarizone.com features an 8 x 8 GPI on its basic system. A GPI is a way for the public address system to interface with the outside world. The “8 x 8” means inputs and outputs. What this means is the Atlas Varizone system can detect 8 input sensors and send control signals out on 8 output lines.
For example, ultra sonic sensors could be placed in the building to detect when a person enters and turns the lights on – these would be the input sensors. Such sensors could be interfaced with the system to create a security system that would announce a break-in or fire.
Typically, the GPI would work along with the public address system. For instance, the Atlas Varizone public address system could not only schedule audio for the auditorium, it could open/close the movable divider walls and lower the screen for a video presentation.
CONTROL OF THE SYSTEM
Although networked public address systems can handle complex tasks, they can also be quite easy to operate. Most can be controlled by an AMX or Crestron touch panel and/or they may offer the option of using they’re own control panel.
Whatever the case, controlling the system, applying audio zones, scheduling audio routing, etc, can be easily done, using a control panel. Training a person to run the public address system is relatively easy. Overall, such a system can make management of a church all the more simple.