Over the years we have found that it is wise to involve a professional sound contractor from the very conception of a project that will require sound. That way not only are the equipment requirements met but also the acoustical problems. Even things like when using a rear screen projector to make sure that a other contractor does not place somthing in the way of the projector. (This happens all the time) Involving a pro from the start will save hundreds and even thousands in the long run. The normal joe from the music store may have some knoledge but may not have the experience and know the right way to do things. Better to do the right thing once than to keeping doing somthing until you get it right.
Drums: Look good or Sound good.
For many years I have had to work with drummers and music directors who seemed to hate each other. The music director would tell the drummer he was playing to loud and bleeding into the chior microphones. Then the drummer would complain that his drums sounded bad and did not have a clear sound. But hear is the problem the drummer just spent a bunch of money on a new drum kit and he wanted everyone to see them even though he was in a drum cage so the walls were all plexy glass and his drums were mic'ed The problem is actually bigger that he and the music director understand. The microphones on the drums are not only picking up the strike on the drum but they also pick up the reflections off the hard plexy walls. This makes the drum sound as if each hit is studdard and muddies the drum sound. To solve this problem is something that neither person wants to hear. The music director does not want to hear that the music dept. has to spend more money on the drum booth for sound deadning materials. The drummer does not want to hear that everyone will not be able to see his whole drum kit. What needs to be done is a layer of sound deadning material should be placed as high as the drum kit all the way around the cage. This will cut the reflexions and clean up the drum sound. IN closing I want everyone to know that I have nothing against good drummers. This answer also allows the drumer to play the drums instead of beating them.
Why do the monitors sound hollow?:
The reason that most monitors sound hollow is that the acoustic reflecton off the back wall is heard with a short delay thur making the sound hollow. The simplest cure for this is to make sure that the speakers are not pointed directly at the back wall without some acoustic treatment has been done. For the best sound you need to hear direct sound not reflected sound.
Microphone Use and Placment:
Most peolpe have the idea that when placing microphones on a chior that the more the better it will sound. That is not true What you are striving for is a acoustic blending of the voices for each group and then you want to bring that to the mix to be blended with the others. For chiors up to 40 people we use just three microphones (good mic's with a great pickup pattern) These microphones do not have to be $2,000.00 microphones that come in a wooden box. As a matter of fact for live application we have found that less expensive microphones are better especially if you are on the road with a group. It is a lot easier to get a couple of hundred from the road manager that a couple of thousand. The main thing about placement is that if the persons mouth is not pointed at the microphone then there is a good chance that the microphone is not picking it up. You also do not want the pickup pattern to be pointed at a flat reflecting wall. This just asking for problems to happen (like slap back)
One of the more common problems we have with soloist is that they forget that there lips are on thier face and not on there belly. I can't tell you how many times I have gotten the Evil Eye because people could not hear the artist performing. But the artist was not even singing into the microphone. This should be addressed with the artist during practice not during the service. In a closing thought I hate microphones with a on/off switch unless they are used during a group discussion where the mic is turned off between questions. It is improtant to choose the right microphone for the job it is being required to do. The wrong choice usually means bad sound in some way.
How to double your chior with out adding one person:
For over thirty years we have been helping chiors on tour and in churches sound bigger than they could. They want to be able to have the vocal of the chior to be heard above all the instruments and the crowd noise. I will let you in on a couple of the tricks that we have learned over the years. Frist off it is hard enough to tour with fifty people let alone one hundred. The first thing is that we use a light course effect on all the vocal for the chior. This allows us to turn the volume up on the effects giving us more chior without increasing the microphone levels thus we don't have near the feed back risk that you would if you tried to do this with just the microphone levels. Effectively you can double the voice and volume of the chior without adding a person. This is not the only thing that we recomend though. If you are going to enlarge the chior then why not also inlarge the room they are performing in also this is done by adding a little reverb This will increase the feel of the room. Warning do not put the reverb effect on the course channel this could cause problems. it is best to use a seperat aux to control the reverb effects. if you have any questions just call we will be glad to help you.