How much does it cost to upgrade my House of Worship’s Tech?

When I’m guiding our customers down the path to an upgrade to an audio visual system to a house of worship, church, or community center – two things are completely clear:

  1. The messaging in the program must be clear, hence great sound and video.
  2. The systems that provide this clarity are not always cheap.

This means to us that our customers need to know up front that we deliver nothing but the best systems. These systems adapt to the ever changing landscape of getting the customer’s messaging out there and they do it with clarity. I also understand that cost is another major factor when it comes to deciding what kind of system to purchase.

Below, I’ve outlined three packages for speakers, amplifiers, and mixers to consider. These budgets are strictly for the hardware and do not include any other solutions or labor needed for installation. However, these are tried and true systems I’ve implemented with great feedback, so I think it will serve as a great starting point for you to consider.

Small Venue: $3,743.00

  • Speakers: (2) JBL CBT 100
  • Subwoofer: JBL IRX-115S
  • Amplifier: Crown XLS1502
  • Console: Soundcraft Ui16 16-Channel Rack Mixer

Medium Venue: $12,665.00

  • Speakers: (2) JBL CBT70J + (2) JBL CBT 70JE-1
  • Subwoofers: (2) JBL SB2210
  • Amplifiers: Crown XTI4002 + Crown XTI6002
  • Console: Allen & Heath Qu-24 24-Channel Mixer

Large Venue: $55,000.00

  • Speakers: (2) Lines of (4) JBL SRX910LA (8 Total)
  • Subwoofers: (2) JBL SRX928S
  • Amplifiers: Not Needed (Speakers are Powered)
  • Console: Allen & Heath Avantis 64-Channel Mixer

Does the following story sound familiar to you? 

You’ve been attending your church for years, an established member of the congregation. You’ve seen how the church has grown, adapted, and evolved to meet the needs of your community while navigating the complexities of Covid. You know that the purpose of your church and its community has never changed, its mission perseveres. 

However, the church building and its contents have remained the same since your arrival. As you attend your weekly service, you start to notice the walls could use a fresh coat of paint. The carpet in the Sanctuary reflects the history of foot traffic since its arrival over 20 years ago, marked with coffee spills and muddy shoes from the children’s ministry. There is a stark contrast of aging technology compared to other churches and venues you’ve visited. The audio system is old enough to have graduated college!

With all the renovations needed, it can be difficult to find a starting point. Let alone to figure out how to price out these projects. You start to ask yourself, “what can wait?”, “what can’t wait?”, and most importantly, “how much will this cost?”.

This article won’t answer all those questions. But that’s where I step in, to help guide you through the pricing factors that are involved with the technological upgrades for houses of worship. As an integrator, I am blessed to work with a great deal of churches and other houses of worship, answering the same questions you might have. In the next few minutes, I will review pricing factors that directly address upgrading live audio systems.

Complete A/V systems are not cheap to buy or simple to plan.

Factors that affect the cost of installation

The size and layout of the space.

Imagine this: You’ve planned an adventure to take your kids out to the aquarium on a Saturday. Your youngest has been overwhelmed with excitement with each day leading up to the trip, telling you every fact known to man about the sharks you’ll soon encounter. Eagerness overcomes them as they spill into the shark exhibit that Saturday afternoon, only to find them disappointed when you catch up. 

You raise your eyeline to the shark exhibit only to discover this source of tension. The glass walls of the shark tank, raised 30 feet high, and extending 100ft down towards the border of the aquarium, is only filled 10 feet high with water. It feels… empty. 

Although the sharks are present, they are swimming horizontally, limited to the range the water provides. You still delivered on your promise to your kids to see the sharks, but the experience was lack-luster. 

To translate this to your church, the performers – singers, instrumentalists, & drummer – are viewed as the shark in this exhibit. It’s who you’re trying to present. The container is your church, with the audio system acting as the water. 

It’s important to design audio systems to fill your congregation’s space to properly showcase your performers, the same way the aquarium staff is supposed to fill the shark tank with water to give the sharks a full range of motion. Properly designed audio systems are tailored to the size and layout of the church. This means that larger rooms require larger and more intricate sound systems, with smaller rooms requiring a different approach. 

Supporting the Praise Team. 

Consider the process of buying a car. Yes, we all want the Mercedes AMG that can fly down the road at a top speed of 180 mph (myself included). But for most people, the decision-making process is led by task and function. 

If you are buying a vehicle to transport your family to school and soccer practice, you’re likely not looking at that Mercedes AMG. Likewise, if you’re buying a vehicle strictly for commuting to work, you’re probably straying away from low-efficiency cars. 

The point? The equipment must support the task! 

Over the last 12 years, I’ve worked with houses of worship of all different sizes. Some organizations are smaller with limited instrumentalists and audio needs. On the other hand, some organizations have immersive and complex praise teams that consist of percussions, strings, woodwind instruments, numerous lead vocalists, and a variety of guitars. 

The speakers, subwoofers (if necessary), and mixer must meet the task and direction demanded by the performance. If your praise team consists of strictly choir, a subwoofer to reproduce low frequencies would be more of a paperweight than a speaker to improve your sound. 

To truly understand what speakers, subwoofers, and mixer your house of worship needs requires precise knowledge of the audio you’re looking to reproduce. To oversimplify, the larger your praise team is, the larger and more capable your mixer and speakers need to be. 

Low/High Voltage Wiring & Installation. 

To stay on the topic of buying a vehicle, I’ll share a story of mine I’m sure you can relate to. 

My wife and I were shopping for a truck in 2022. We found a new Toyota Tacoma that met our needs and price-point, so we were eager to complete the paperwork with the dealership. When we met with the finance officer, we were offered all types of additional service agreements and warranties we originally didn’t budget for. Those dealerships love preaching the gospel of GAP insurance! 

We realized that while we found the right vehicle for the right price, we didn’t factor in everything else that surrounded purchasing a vehicle. We love the truck; we just wish we budgeted better at the beginning to avoid the surprise of last second add-ons. 

This is often the case for organizations when they’re looking to perform an audio upgrade. 

Complex audio systems require tons of cabling, electrical work, mounting, storage, and labor. It can be difficult to calculate exactly what should be budgeted to account for these factors, especially if you’re looking to perform this installation yourself. 

I advise that, no matter how small the project may seem, bring in an expert to provide an estimate. I can’t tell you how many churches I’ve seen blow fuses by overpowering the capacity of their electrical system … sometimes in the middle of a service! 

To summarize, there’s a lot to consider when budgeting for an audio upgrade, and I hope I gave you a glimpse into the larger contributing factors. I want to leave you with a few budgets to consider. If you’re looking for more information, we’ve mapped out our process.