Wondering why your church service doesn't sound as good on a live-stream as it does inside your church building? We've talked with an expert to get your church stream sounding better.

Brett Ziegler is a musician, award-winning sound artist, and the Technical Director at North Langley Community Church, in Langley, B.C.

Ziegler says that while his church has been live streaming for a while, the reality of an empty sanctuary means they're adapting and focussing on the sound of their stream in new ways.

Many churches simply run a line out from their soundboard and into their camera input. However, there are a few extra steps that you can take to make the overall sound much more true to a real-life experience.

Ziegler lays out the following steps that he's been experimenting with:

 

Use room mics

I was able to put up two condenser room mics, about 30’ in front of each speaker array (Left and Right), roughly at standing head height. I brought them into a stereo channel, hard-panned left and right, and lifted these mics OFF of the main mix (so they are never feeding the speakers in the room).

I have a pair of 414s available to me, but any condensers would be helpful.

Adjust band and preachers' volume

We normally feed the stream with a stereo AUX called REC, with all the channels post-fader and turned up to 0 (unity) to start. Then I push the speech mics up to +10 in that mix. So now I’ve made a copy of the main mix, with extra “weighting” given to the speech mics.

This is because we need the speaking level and full band level to be closer to each other on the live stream than they need to be in the PA system. This post-fade aux method lets you correct for something that doesn’t translate the same in the live stream. It’s always “tracking” with the main mix, but then you can +/- individual channels if you need to (we generally don’t).

 

This past Sunday, I then added the room mics into that REC mix, PRE-fader, and feathered them in to taste. Much higher during band than during videos or speaking.

Mix with headphones on for a better feel of what people are hearing

After 15 minutes of rehearsal, when things sounded good in the room, we turned the PA down to -10 or so, and put on headphones. Then we solo’d the REC mix and mixed through headphones for the rest of the morning, for the most part. The quieter PA gave a bit more gain before feedback than usual (less PA bleed into microphones, and pastor mic less likely to approach feedback), and the room mics helped glue all the sounds together and made them less immediate and stark.

Another thing that room mics do is help disguise the noticeability of mics on stage being muted and unmuted, say, after a video, or when the band comes up after the message. Room mics help smooth over those sudden changes because there is never dead silence.

 

Watch these videos

These are great resources below. Rather than making a REC AUX, they make a REC MATRIX, and feed that matrix with the house mix, a SPEECH boost aux, and a ROOM aux. There are some great tips in these videos.