Easter Sunday is always special for churches around the globe, but this year it could be doubly so. After more than a year of challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming holiday offers many churches a chance to gather in person once again for Easter Sunday sermons and services. But, as you may be planning at your church, there’s still a twist: Many churches are holding these services either partially or fully outdoors.
And what seems simple at first — just gathering outside — can present some surprising challenges for many churches, from audience arrangement and weather issues to setup and teardown logistics.
Then there are the audio challenges. How can you configure an outdoor church audio solution that supports spoken word and worship with audio consistency, power, and clarity?
And for church services that include both dynamic worship and spoken word, even more challenges present themselves, especially because these setups are usually temporary and ad hoc.
- Unique Spaces
Outdoor spaces available to churches vary widely, and these spaces present challenges unlike those faced by even the toughest indoor acoustic environments. When conditions and parameters are steady, a unique solution can be designed and implemented. But what if everything is in flux?
- The Outdoor Elements
In addition to these unique spaces, weather elements also play a role in creating a shifting audio environment. In light showers and moderate wind gusts, an outdoor audio solution should perform without excessive worry that it isn’t up to the task at hand.
- Setup and Teardown Logistics
If you’re an established church, then the prospect of outdoor services is likely to give your people flashbacks of the church planting days, including late nights or early arrival (or both) and weekly cycles of setup and teardown. So any way to make the process easier and more efficient is a huge plus.
So, above are some of the challenges. But what about solutions? Well, one solution is simple, at least in theory — keep your audio system simple to operate, flexible enough to adapt to a variety of spaces, and durable enough that it doesn’t need to be babied and can handle a scuff or two. Luckily, there are systems built for this purpose — and there are already people using them in almost exactly these ways — and they were doing so well before COVID. Those people are, of course, gigging musicians. And what they use are, of course, portable PA systems.
There’s been a lot of advancement in portable PAs over the last few years. And these advancements address many of the biggest challenges posed by outdoor church services. There are acres of options when it comes to portable PA systems. We offer a variety ourselves — including the new L1 Pro portable line array series and the popular S1 Pro multi-position PA — but for simplicity let’s focus on how something like the Bose F1 flexible array loudspeaker can help address numerous challenges posed by outdoor church services.
Does the idea of outdoor services give you flashbacks to the church-planting years of weekly setup and teardown — and all the accompanying audio inconsistencies? Then you’ll be happy to hear that a good portable PA can, thankfully, make things a bit simpler. (You’ll still have to set up chairs though.)
For example, a Bose F1 system is powered and modular. Use a single F1 or double them up for even more coverage. It has a standalone design with a built-in 1000-watt amplifier. And you can combine it with the Bose F1 Subwoofer for even more low-frequency response. The sub has a built-in speaker stand for the F1 and it has its own built-in 1000 watt amplifier.
Advancements in loudspeaker designs are a big reason why a modern portable PA system is a great investment for almost any church. And in the case of the F1, this advancement is all about flexibility, literally. Its Flexible Array technology allows for easy and instant adjustment of the coverage pattern — Straight, C, J, or Reverse J — to optimize sound for different spaces: floor level, on stage, for raked seats or bleachers, and more. This feature alone makes it an ideal solution for virtually any outdoor church gathering because it means you can shape the coverage to your needs. And you can try different patterns to see what works best.
Gigging musicians and DJs learned long ago that it’s worth it to invest in gear that’s made to move and can take a beating. Likewise, any outdoor church audio system should be seen as a tool, not as precious and delicate. For example, in the case of the F1, the loudspeaker and subwoofer feature strategically placed handles for easy transportation and highly durable, lightweight composite enclosures for easy transport.
So there are numerous benefits to investing in a modern portable PA system. But every church is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
To explore these various challenges in real life, Bose is following three churches on their journey toward outdoor Easter services for their congregations — journeys that include some key decisions and inflection points for getting the best audio possible.
We’re working alongside churches to help them find the best audio systems for their unique needs. And we’re here to help you, too. Ask us a question any time here.