06 Jul 3 A/V Musts
Imagine this. It’s $5 burger and beer night, and there’s a big college football game on. Tables are filling up, and your servers are hustling with trays of hot food and cold drinks. And right after the first kick off, your audio video system shuts down. You try calling your cable company and get “we’ll be with you momentarily” for 20 minutes after which your call is suddenly disconnected. You try calling your buddy who knew the guy, who knew a guy, who installed your system for you, and he’s gone fishing. It’s a real problem! Aside from just building your A/V system, you should also be shopping for reliable customer service.
Consider these three rules for choosing the audio and video system you’re replacing. First, make sure the equipment can produce quality sound and visual that covers the entire space. For example, if you are a sports bar, be sure each TV can be seen from all sitting and standing locations. Next, remember that bartenders, servers, and managers can’t waste time fiddling with the system in the middle of a busy shift, so it needs to be easy to use. Choose a system that you are sure multiple people can learn AND troubleshoot. Lastly, although you may expect never to see your A/V company again, choose one that guarantees its work and provides reliable service when it counts. Control of your sound system directly affects your ability to manage the attitude and expectations of your customers about your bar or restaurant. It is an investment to take very seriously.
We recently talked to the folks over at AV/NY about the issues. They have over twenty years of experience in live sound and broadcast audio/video in the tri-state NY area. We chose them because of their experience building sophisticated, user-friendly systems that provide high quality picture and sound, not only for small independent bars and restaurants, but also live concerts in major venues. They understand how sound and visuals affect the mood of your patrons, and also anticipate and prepare you for many of the things that could go wrong when you’re on your own.
Daryl Kral at AV/NY points out that audio quality can make or break the atmosphere. “No two spaces are alike, so there is no cookie-cutter system. “Anyone selling you a ‘standard’ system out of a box is setting you up for failure. Your installation technician should have the scientifically-based qualifications to provide an ideal audio balance no matter where you’re listening.” Before you make the assumption video needs are just TVs for sports bars, think about security camera feeds, menu displays, and your own programmed ads injected into regular programming. These are all regularly used components that add value to your installation.
If you want to start small, but have dreams of something more sophisticated, ask about upgrade plans and how your starting components will be included in what you’ll eventually need, so you’re not buying a total replacement in the future. The capacity to plan with your long-term goals in mind will point to an A/V company that will save you money.
Without sounding like a geeky audiophile, think about how many things affect your A/V system. If your place is crowded and noisy with chatter at night but calm and half empty during the day, your music level should adapt to the difference. Not only does sound reflect off the floor differently than it does off a crowd of bodies, but the temperature of the room, the humidity, and other factors change what profile you need to run for your sound system to provide a consistent experience.
The point is not to drown your customers by just turning the volume up (or down). You may activate or deactivate certain groups of speakers in strategic locations that fill the space with multiple sources of reasonable-volume sound instead of murdering the people close to the speakers to reach the ones far away. How many times have you been to a club where you needed earplugs? How many times have you strained to hear something that interested you on the television? Have you ever wished you had your glasses to read a sports score on a screen across the room? Bigger isn’t always the right answer, but thinking of the situations where customers have their own expectations IS your job. You control the environment of every square foot of your establishment and what customers will experience.
We might not have thought of these things either before talking to Daryl, but now it’s forehead-smacking obvious what to focus on when planning to spend money. All is not lost if you have a system today that isn’t up to snuff. Task your next A/V provider with incorporating as much of your existing equipment into the new plan as will support your goals in creating an enjoyable experience for your customers.