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Sound System Design for Cafeterias, Auditoriums and Small Churches

Thomas Mason, P.E.

Course Outline

This two-hour course discusses the choices for design of music and voice sound systems for cafeterias, auditoriums and small churches. Key principles are sound characteristics and equipment characteristics. Sample designs along with warnings of common design errors and installation errors are included. The reference list shows sources for advanced theoretical analysis and the origin of specialized sound terms.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Course Introduction

A good sound system improves the quality of all forms of public activity and in some cases provides a life safety service. Most existing sound systems work satisfactorily, some work well and many work so poorly that intelligibility is better with the system turned off. With current advances in electronics and speaker design, the limiting factor for sound systems is design and room acoustics. This course explains the principles of sound system operation and principles of design for cafeterias, auditoriums and small churches. Design for large commercial installations requires the consultation of a trained acoustician and are not addressed by this course. Sound systems are not presently considered life safety systems and are not regulated by the government beyond NFPA 70, National Electric Code, wiring limits. (Note that regulated life safety systems, such as fire alarm, must not be combined with sound systems unless the entire system meets the Fire Alarm Code.) Design of sound systems is done by sound system component sellers, installing contractors, system vendors, and Professional Engineers. This course includes an acceptance guide, since the system does not require governmental permitting or approval.

Course Content

The course content is in a PDF file (496 KB) Sound System Design for Cafeterias, Auditoriums and Small Churches. You need to open or download this document to study this course.

Course Summary

This course covers the concepts and a little simulated field experience in sound system design. It introduces devices, plan drawings of device locations, riser diagrams and specifications to purchase materials and installation. Following successful review of the reference material and the associated examination, the student should be able to prepare a complete sound system design package under the supervision of a Professional Engineer.

Related Links

For additional technical information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages:

Cool Edit, spectrum analyzer and more -

Mouser Electronics - audio connectors and more -

Switchcraft connectors -

Shure, microphones and more -

Belden cable -

West Penn cable -

Assistive listening devices -

Musician's Friend, retail commercial audio equipment -

Professional Sound and Lighting, retail commercial audio equipment -

JBL Technical Handbook and Tech Notes -

Rane technical information -

ElectroVoice Catalog -

Bose speakers -

Radio Shack -


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered professional engineer. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.