Would you ask your window cleaner to reprogram your central heating? Sounds a ridiculous question doesn’t it and we all know how we’d answer it, yet many non specialists are constantly being asked to operate outside of their areas of expertise or in some cases outside even their basic knowledge and understanding.
Whilst every second electrician will tell you that AV is simple and that they can sort out your system for you, this does not mean that they can deliver the quality of the AV system you require. Can your electrician, for example, tell you if a system is en-54 compliant? Or can they map out a speaker layout and resulting sound fields to deliver an even, phase coherent speaker system? If either of these questions is met with a confused look or enhanced bravado then the answer is probably NO.
We regularly see CCTV vans stating "audio visual systems" accompanied by the slogan "your security is our business." These companies might well be an excellent choice to install the right security system for you, but does this make them experts in AV? Do they understand how music systems can help you to deliver your brand values to your customers in your venue? Or how meeting room technology can be installed to maximise the growing trend in BYOD?
Often we find electricians fitting sound systems based on cheap components from electrical wholesalers. These might well be suited to a warehouse or store paging system, but are wholly unsuitable for music playback in leisure spaces. Similarly many contractors think that domestic solutions such as Bose or Sonos are suitable for commercial use, but then find that they lack consistency and control. These products although good in a residential environment, are designed for one user to use and to be controlled locally. There is no overall system control and no way to disable or limit front panel buttons which leads to issues in a hospitality environment.
Aha! It travels down a cable so it must be IT! Well yes and NO. Much AV overlaps with IT, but IT is a discipline in itself. The involvement of IT will help to facilitate the inputs and distribution of your AV system, but your IT team have specialist skills in other areas and most likely not in AV.
So how do AV and IT differ? Well IT is predominantly digital; either a unit or system is connected or it's not. But audio, whilst it has digital elements, has a varied and subjective output which can lead to a huge range of potential problems, resulting causes and a possible range of solutions as a result. AV is also dictated by the physical attributes of a room; not only the floor area but the height and structure of the walls and ceiling and their finishes.
So before you choose who you engage to install your audio visual or music systems, first ask yourself;
- Is this their core business?
- Have they installed AV in other venues similar to mine, and what do they sound like?
- Do they have a portfolio of other venues where they have designed and fitted music and AV systems?
- and can they give me appropriate references?
If you are really not sure of their AV pedigree after pondering on these key questions, why not consider speaking to a company who specialise in sound? You and your guests really will hear the difference.