Mr. Opinionated is approaching the sound booth…again.
Do you pretend like you can’t see him and walk away? Or, listen to his hundredth complaint about how loud it is and pretend like you are going to do something about it?
The truth is, there will always be opinionated people (maybe you used to be one of them). They want to be heard because they believe their way is the best way. Considering they will always be around, I want to give you a few pointers on how to deal with complaints when they come in.
Shelve it until you hear the same complaint from multiple people.
When it comes to any part of an organization, all complaints should be shelved until you hear it from at least three different people. Otherwise, you are going to waste loads of time trying to accommodate everyone.
I have witnessed a non-profit organization implement loads of new procedures simply to accommodate one or two people. The result: wasted staff time, overly complicated procedures and unending frustration. Then, the new procedure becomes ‘the way we’ve always done it’ and is impossible to change…all because of one person’s complaint.
Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, listen to the complaint, write it down, be friendly and wait for someone else to express the same complaint before wasting time searching for a solution.
“It’s too loud!”
The most common complaint is, “It’s too loud!” For most, this is simply a result of them never being around subwoofers. So, the low frequencies they are not used to hearing startle them. Others may simply have sensitive hearing, so be sure to have earplugs available.
There is also a good chance that it is too loud, but the answer is generally not turning down the main fader.
You see, when someone perceives sound is too loud, it is not the overall sound – it is a certain frequency range. So, you need to analyze the frequency spectrum to see what is sticking out and apply EQ as needed.
“The drums (or guitars) are too loud!”
Another common complaint is about the drums or guitars being too loud. This is generally a result of someone not being used to drums or guitars being a part of worship. For those people, they will just have to get used to it. But, maybe the drums really are too loud.
Are you using acoustic drums in a small to mid-sized room?
If so, you need to have some type of shield and sound absorption around the drums. Otherwise, the natural sound coming from the drums will be overwhelming.
If you don’t want to use a drum shield, try using different sticks (like these).
You also need to communicate with the drummer if they are playing too loud. I know, this is a hard thing to get across to a drummer that loves to beat the heck out of the drums, but keep at it. Find ways to help them realize that the drums actually sound better when control is used.
Keep in mind, your drums should always be mic’d, even if you are in a small room. There is no other way to get a full sound out of the kick, toms and snare.
“I can’t hear the vocals!”
If someone is complaining about not hearing the vocals, it is probably legitimate. I have been in many services myself where the vocals get buried deep in the mix. And, if you can’t hear the lead vocal, it is quite hard to sing along.
I get it, it is tough to learn how to keep vocals on the top of the mix. Some sing soft, some sing loud, while others do both within the same song. Good news is, there are a few simple things you can do to fix these problems.
What are other common complaints?
What other complaints do you hear about church sound? Share in the comments below and I will do my best to help you find a solution.