Installations – The First Sunday

In Advice, Installation, Thoughts
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Well you have made it! The new equipment is installed and ready to go now it’s just waiting for Sunday to come.

Is that a new hairdo?

You will always get people that either, notice things straight away, never notice it, or ask weeks later. How long has it taken you to realise someone has a new hair style?

The reality is a large majority of the congregation will not care what the tech is like unless, it does not work and there are issues. We’ve all been there at some point where something goes wrong and people turn their heads in your direction.

As a tech your excited that all the new stuff is in and working and most likely you can’t wait to use it. The hard work you put in is now over, well nearly.


Lock down

If you work for a company with any IT Team you will probably find that certain things get locked down like control panels, installing software etc. Although it may seem harsh it is always helpful to lock areas down especially any major settings or things that you are worried in experienced people might change.

At the church I attend there are certain functions of the sound console that are locked down despite having had it for many years. This is not meant to be a security thing more a way of knowing who can adjust what and how much they can change.

Rotas and training

What I’m going to say now might sound harsh, but the reality is for a while you may need to reduce the rota to a select few. If you opt to use an installation company then they will generally provide some training, the difficulty and hard part for the trainer is knowing the level where to pitch it. If you have a look at your team you’ll probably have a mixed bag of, completed tech heads who read the manual in bed and study the topic through to those who serve as a part of being involved in the church. Each of these groups will potentially require different training and knowledge. Having everyone present at an initial here’s your system training session may actually make things much harder. For yourself you will probably want to know the ins and outs, what’s on the bottom, and where is the hidden switch that turns it into a coffee machine.

Make it a date!

If your married or in a relationship you will probably remember those first few dates where you were trying to get to know each other. In a kind of similar way, you need to spend time getting to know the equipment you have. As most techs are volunteers with jobs, families, and in today’s society, crazy busy schedules, it’s not easy to spend a few days learning everything.

The reality is for most church techs it’s going to take time not just to learn around your way around new equipment, but to test and try things.  You may find that the way you initially set something up actually is not quite right and actually adjusting it makes it work better or sound nicer.

An Installed system is very different to ones used for gigs. Not in what it does or the model but it’s purpose. For example, a sound system on an event will go in to multiple venues. Now don’t get me wrong each event will want to get the sound system sounding the best they can in a short time scale. With an installed system you have in theory more time to get it accurate or as close to what your wanting to do. An installed system is designed for your churches needs not the needs of a touring show or a hire company. It can take a bit of tinkering to get things right.

No system or new setup will ever be perfect the first time you use it. I’ve played with many new tech systems over the years and sometimes the way you plan initially on doing something can change. OK you can’t potentially re run cables or move speakers around as easy, but those areas are or should be designed right in the first instance and tend to not be issues. What I am more focusing on is how we use the equipment and wire / connect it up. 

Finding a way of working

If your integrating old and new systems together this can lead to more trial and error with ways or working. Whether you have the most experienced techs or a loyal group of volunteers, getting a variety of input into how people find the way equipment is setup can make things much smoother. As an experienced tech I know that that the way I prefer to work does not always make sense for a beginner. In a similar way a beginner’s setup might make it feel frustrating for someone with experience. The reality is it needs to be a middle ground with scope for all to enjoy using whilst doing what it is designed for.

What to do now?

The reality is few churches have cash to keep buying new equipment on a regular basis. The challenge is to now explore now and what you can achieve with the equipment invested in, that’s where the fun starts!

Anthony Lear

Anthony lives in Sheffield with his wife Fiona and daughter Naomi. He works for Hawthorn within the event projects team as a Project technician focusing on Video. Anthony is the founder of Church Tech UK, an initiative designed to support, develop and equip those that work and volunteer within a technical capacity in UK Churches.

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