We have the same issue at times. Part of the problem is that our sound techs don't put in the same effort to learn their "instrument" and the musicians. I have several times asked our guys if they do any studying in order to learn how to do their job better. The answer is always "no." It's also real difficult when we have a couple of our musicians who are professional musicians with experience running sound, and the sound techs don't really want to listen to their advice.
What I tell our sound techs is that it is there job to present what we give them with respect. It's is not their job to determine who sounds good and who doesn't. It's the leaders job to determine how things should sound.
My theory is that a good sound tech is much harder to find than a good musician. Unfortunately, you have six major forces at work against you with the sound tech:
1) Personal taste. The sound tech can have a different idea of how to mix the sound than you or I. As long as it sounds good, this isn't a big issue.
2) Technical expertise/experience. Beyond personal taste, there is the realm where it either sounds good or it sounds bad. As if number 1) wasn't bad enough, we all have sound techs in our church who are below par with their technical skill and ability to mix good sound. A little training or experience or both would certainly help.
3) Ego. If you pile 1) and 2) on top of each other and take personal ego into account, you've got a formula for disaster if your Tech is unwilling to listen to advice.
4) Pre-concieved ideas about "church-worthy" sound. For instance, you will get sound techs who think you shouldn't have a bass or electric guitar in church, so they will quietly turn it down in the house mix until it's barely audible to the congregation. Sure, you'll hear it on stage in the monitor, but the congregation will not.
5) Stage sound vs. house sound. You can't begin to sense the mix from up on stage. Don't even try. If anyone on this thread is complaining about the sound based on how it sounds from the stage, you're complaining in vain. If you get out in the audience space and listen, you have a much closer approximation. But what good will it do? Most sound techs will change it back as soon as you turn your back on them.
6) Rehearsal vs. performance. It's hard to get this across to the sound techs, but the sound totally changes when the congregation is filling the room and singing back at you. They need to adjust accordingly. When the sound is adjusted correctly for live performance, it sounds wrong during rehearsal. The highs have to be boosted a bit more and it's ultimately louder. The sound tech has to know this an trust his settings.
Now if you look at all five above, and it's certainly not an exhaustive list, which of these are you dealing with? All of them? Some of them? Welcome to the struggle! Is a good husband hard to find? Is a good wife hard to find? If only a good sound tech could be found! A good sound tech can make or break the worship experience.
The issue is that if the tech is offended he probably "feels" as if he is not part of the team. It doesn’t matter whether he is or isn’t, it matters what the perception is. So That is what you need to work on. It is easy to be offended if your not part of the team. (lone ranger)
I read back my reply earlier and it sounded kind of cynical. Anyway....deleted it and started over...
My intent was to say that sound techs and worship leaders are often not on the same team even though they are part of the same body, they are not necessarily the same body parts. The sound person can be the "leader" of his/her area while the worship "leader" is the leader of his/her area. It's almost the same relationship as an IT person at a corporate environment. IT often gets bashed by the employees, but the IT person does know what's best for the company as far as security and proper procedures for doing his/her job. The sound person is the same way (church or not). This is why often times the worship leader butts heads with the sound person at certain churches. The key is to cooperate and work together for the same cause and don't try to boss each other around which is what causes these offenses. Keep to your own territory.
It's a blessing to have a cooperative and friendly sound person and likewise of the worship leader to make things work.
I also have to stand up for the sound tech. I am a worship leader at our church and elsewhere, and my husband is one of the lead sound techs at church and another big venue. We also own a professional recording studio. Quite often you have very gifted worship leaders, musicians, and vocalists who genuinely don't have any inkling at all what kind of work the (hopefully in most/all cases) well trained and gifted sound tech must go through to achieve a good sound in the front of the house and at the back, while still trying to please the worship leader, pastors, and congregation from the young to the old - which is a huge task. I don't use the word "gifted" to be snarky, either. Most worship leaders, particularly those who may be younger or less experienced in working in various venues, under a vast array of challenging circumstances, or with a wide variety of people, don't give proper credit to the sound techs, or know of what they ask may not be completely possible or for the overall good. This is where education of the entire worship team, including the sound, is absolutely necessary to keep the harmony (no pun intended), and cultivate respect and understanding of each others jobs. It is also very difficult when you have numerous ministries using the sound throughout the week. You can set the sound levels and so forth so they are great on Sunday morning, but come mid-week you might have the teens using the same equipment for their youth groups. Chances are, they are going to run the levels all "wrong" (kids love it LOUD - LOL), switch around cords, Avioms, monitors, take equipment, on and on. So when Sunday rolls around again, there's always an issue with readjusting everything to meet Sunday standards.
So in a word, be compassionate and patient with your sound techs. Ask them questions, and let them answer without cutting them down. And be respectful of the job they have to do and the hoops they have to jump through to please everyone from the leadership through the congregation. Remember if anything goes wrong, the sound tech is usually the first pegged to be the source, even if your lead worship leader decides to blow out the mic with their "dynamic" singing, or your electric guitar has a short in their cable and lets off some ruckus feedback... you get the point. It's also a really good idea not to buy a load of sound equipment without first consulting the sound techs for their input.
If either side gets offended, well then it's really not about the sound at all, but it gets down to a deeper heart issue. Understanding and respect of all involved earns a great working relationship. That kind of grace always shows through the worship itself.
This statement is the key. There are a lot of sound "techs" that have no training other than someone showing them the basics of a sound board. These are people that are simply "doing it for God" but have no real experience with live sound. It is real frustrating when these "techs" try to control how the sound should be. It becomes especially difficult when the pool of volunteers is very small. Sometimes you have no choice in who is running sound.
If I had a sound tech who had the background you're describing, I wouldn't have any complaints. In my case, I'm the most knowledgeable sound person and I happen to be the worship leader as well. I wish all our sound techs had an ear for the music.
What you said:
"You can set the sound levels and so forth so they are great on Sunday morning, but come mid-week you might have the teens using the same equipment for their youth groups....So when Sunday rolls around again, there's always an issue with readjusting everything to meet Sunday standards."
..happens all the time. But there is no excuse here. If you don't have sound boards with memory settings, you should at least have it all written down.
"If you don't have sound boards with memory settings, you should at least have it all written down."
If I had a dime for every time I've said this to our sound people....
"I wish all our sound techs had an ear for the music."
Amen to this. Personally I wish all our sound people cared about their "instrument" as much as the musicians. For the most part, the only time they even think about sound is when we're doing sound check right before service.
"In my case, I'm the most knowledgeable sound person and I happen to be the worship leader as well."
Yep. Makes it hard to run sound and lead worship at the same time. That's our problem, too. The most experienced sound people we have are also musicians. We can't afford to pull them off the platform in order to "fix" the sound. That's why I wish the people who are volunteering to do sound would remove their egos and listen.
Let's just make sure we've done our best to provide proper training. Many times volunteers are tossed into the sound booth and expected to produce miracles. Just like with any of our team members, we as the worship leaders have the responsibility to not only provide training and growth opportunities, but to also try and instill a reason and a desire for them to learn - other than to keep us off their back.
It's easy to point out the problem; it's a whole lot tougher to provide solutions that work. A teacher hasn't taught until the student has learned.
well if you have a small thing put your mixer on the platform Rick ,at least until you can trin someone :),I have played in clubs in Blues bands is that cool NOOO ,we need to play in church,oops rabbit trail,right now Blues bands some don't even have monitors ,me drummer:) likes to hear vocals keep my place in the song, heres the sound equipment list :) don't crack up :) 2 house spkrs 3 monitors one of them for drummer ,I had to bring mine & power amp if I got a line signal one powerd mixer it it had 6 channels wow thats big ,thats is what they kinda still in use today I live in orlando there are places like bb kings ,the sound system is out of site,some of us have to come out of the cave & watch/ask pro sound kats in action ,why have i went down this rabbit trail well here it is I don't play jazz ,my friend who has played in 15 piece show bands said how did you learn to play rock & blues I listened /watch he said WELLLLL ---oK GET OUT OF YOUR CHURCH GOTO PLACES LIKE THAT ,yes by all means watch all those pro sound techs in action talk to them ,they will let you steal some of there technique ,now most of this is humor ,but there is some truth there ,email@example.com ,on fb too ,send friend request