General Design Criteria for Houses of Worship
For most HOW applications, two criteria play dominant roles in defining sound system design: speech reproduction and aesthetic considerations. These two elements can be combined into the concept of sound system “invisibility.” Many people view technology in the worship context as a necessary evil with a tendency to distract and intrude. Some high-tech churches use audio/video support extensively in their services, but these are rare. As a rule, the less noticeable the sound system is, the better.
With virtually no exceptions, natural speech reproduction establishes the success or failure of a sound system design. In HOW applications where the human voice makes up the vast majority program material, this point cannot be overemphasized.
The skillful designer must therefore balance speech intelligibility and source localization against aesthetic considerations to achieve the most natural reproduction possible within the context of each particular worship space.
Link to PDF: EAW Houses of Worship Guide 1999