audio installers comfort zone …

Audio installers comfort zone

It seems dealer / installers with a reasonable amount of experience still fail to do a truly excellent job on “the audio” even when well within their comfort zone of domestic Hi-Fi and cinema, so what happens when they step out side of their comfort zone ??.

Most audio installers comfort zones are quite small. Here’s 2 examples of what happens when they step outside !

An installer steps out of his comfort zone into the whacky world of “commercial” audio. In this case a restaurant cum bar sound system. For some inexplicable reason they favour ceiling speakers. Probably due to least aesthetic impact issues, conveniently forgetting all the laws of physics on the way.
So, holes in the ceiling duly chopped, in go the speakers. Clearly without much if any thought and probably mislead and hoodwinked by the manufacturer into believing they are a “solve all” solution.
Any one with half a brain that uses a quarter of that (to quote Bob Nicholas) can see what’s coming next.

Yes, it’s complaints from above.

Once again I’m contacted far too late, the deals been done and the complaints have arrived !.  I recommend a few things, including tight notch equalisation, at least a plug in electronic fudge which helps alleviate taking down great swathes of ceiling to install the speakers properly, or maybe just consider putting a real speaker system in instead !. And .. no surprise, never hear another word.
This in itself, in my own sweet simplistic view is nothing more or less than rude !.
But, still probably far less of an issue than whatever the client had to suffer in “noise pollution” issues, complaints from neighbours, upheaval and maybe even lost business !.

Another installer, steps out of domesticity comfort into the gym. (And gets a good work out for his trouble)

Something like 10 years after the original instal, and having gone through various “changes and bolt ons” (instigated by the client no less), in a sort of “blind leading the blind” effort to get night club music volumes with minimal microphone feedback, I’m contacted for  “get it sorted once and for all”  assistance.
It’s soon obvious that, that despite lots of very accomplished installations involving heaps of video, lighting and automation theres not really any understanding of audio. Certainly not “loud and feedback free”.
I start with a quick look at the acoustic environment, the result, shows a reverberation time peak (circled in yellow).

audio installers reverb time graph.jpg

This is pretty big in “amount” terms and bang slap in the middle of the audio spectrum, affecting both music and amplified speech very negatively. It’s the first thing to get sorted, as, despite what equipment and more specifically, speaker manufacturers might tell you, left as it is, any sound system at any price IS going to sound harsh, ill defined and pretty unpleasant.

Further to that, the sound system, and hence the gym itself, would benefit from seriously accomplished, proven, amplification, driving a serious commercial grade speaker system, properly designed and electronically managed to give the levels, frequency response extension and pure dynamic clout the project deserves. This, along with live mic feedback control is all the subject of system design, and involves dipping into the worlds of professional recording and pa equipment well out of most installers comfort zone. Even out of their awareness zone !.

The really disappointing aspect to this case, given the many years involved, is that a working relationship could have existed for many years, alleviating the very kind of “installation fire fighting up-grades” that have been in progress, and ensuring really exciting, capable, industry leading sound system installations we can all be very proud of from the start.