Let’s pretend . . .
Imagine you walk into the next committee meeting at your church, and to your amazement, discover that they’ve approved your suggestion to seek bids for new sound and video systems.
You leave the meeting excited! Finally, all of your problems will go away. No more buzz, no more hum, no more having to dim the lights and shut all the shades just to barely make out what’s being projected on the screen!
You figure by Sunday all of your frustrations will be gone. The next morning, you look online and see an impressive ad for Audio Services.
You call and talk with “Blair” who informs you that he has in stock two of the latest, greatest speakers that will work in any room and deliver equal sound pressure and all frequencies. To top it off he can have his guy there Friday to do the install!
To seal the deal (or your fate) he throws out a price that is well the spending limit set by your committee. Bingo! We have a deal!
Blair and his hatchet men show up Friday afternoon. You get out of work and excitedly head over to see the progress that has been made.
To your surprise, Blair and his crew are just walking around examining the sanctuary. They haven’t started a thing. After many heated questions and answers, it comes to light that these particular speakers won’t possibly work in a room of this size (i.e. average) without a costly add-on. Feeling boxed in, you agree.
However, upon the completion of the “installation,” not only does the system not work, but now you’ve spent more than the committee approved. You’re so embarrassed you donate enough to make up the difference so that no one will know of you blunder…other than hearing the obvious lack of sound quality every week!
Rewind: What should you have done?
When deciding it’s time to upgrade the old sound system there are many options as to how to proceed.
The first choice should be to hire a design-build contractor or a consultant to design the system. Needless to say there are some very bad design-build contractors and some very bad consultants. However there are also some very good ones!
My general rule: If the project is under $100,000.00 and in a room under 1000 seats, explore a good design-build contractor. Most design-build firms have good experience in these size rooms. (Variables such as acoustics and complexity of the system also play into this decision).
You also have the choice of using a local music store. Warning: In general, unless the music store has a specific division that focuses on installation and has a strong proven track record, I would steer clear. Many of the poor designs and implementations I see are from good intentioned “guitar shops” that have a great passion and understanding of gear and technology, but don’t understand the laws of physics and just how difficult it can be to install a successful sound system in a larger room.