Audio, AV & Acoustic Questions + Answers
I have an acoustic or audio-visual question. Will it be expensive to consult you?
My room or equipment doesn't sound good. What can I do?
There can be many reasons for this, which may include anything from construction and geometry to equipment settings and installation. An acoustic and audio site survey is often the best approach to getting to the bottom of the problem.
According to what is needed, this can include examination of room acoustics, sound insulation, ambient noise and audio systems. We will then be able to give you expert advice on making things better.
Can modern audio technology overcome difficult acoustic environments?
New technologies such as beam-steering loudspeakers and microphone arrays have made huge advances in recent years. These tools help us put sound just where it is needed.
But they are limited by the laws of physics – it is impossible to have a tightly controlled beam of low frequency sound from a small loudspeaker for example. This means that however advanced our equipment, there will always be an interaction with the acoustic environment.
A steered loudspeaker array has the potential to outperform a conventional one, but will still sound better in an acoustically well-controlled room. And a microphone array may improve clarity compared to a simple microphone, but the results could still be poor in a reverberant room.
So these tools can give us a big advantage when working in acoustically difficult spaces, but they only do so much. It is helpful to consider equipment and environment together as a single system and look at the big picture rather than relying on technology alone to deliver the performance you need.
Can you improve acoustics without affecting the appearance?
There are a number of options for acoustic treatment that have minimal impact on appearance. Acoustic plaster, fabric covered walls and clear absorbers can all be part of a solution.
However, it is even better to nip issues in the bud by considering acoustics at the design stage. We can work with designers to incorporate features that aid acoustics without compromising appearance. These might include setting out of partitions and room dimensions, smart location of decorative details or materials selection.
Both headphones and loudspeakers have their own advantages.
Since most people have a pair of headphones and a computer, it is a simple option for us to prepare audio files and email them to clients to listen to. This means that we can't control the reproduction quality, but it is a quick and easy method when accuracy isn’t important, but controlling cost is.
A step up from this would be to use specific high-quality headphones, and to adjust the sound files to suit. Using loudspeakers has the advantage that several people can experience a soundscape at the same time. The shared experience and discussion often helps people form clear opinions. However, it takes significant effort to make loudspeaker reproduction accurate, and an environment with suitable acoustic conditions is needed.
So we weigh up many factors including budget, time constraints, required accuracy and number of listeners to find the best way to present an auralisation.
Do auralisations use headphones or loudspeakers?
The cost of an auralisation depends on its complexity.
If we are already building computer acoustic models for a project then it may only take an hour to generate sound files. At the other end of the scale, a soundscape with many components (e.g. musical instruments, audience, PA system, traffic noise and plant noise) and illustrating many design options could be many days.
Our charges reflect the amount of time we spend on an auralisation, and can be fixed in advance or charged hourly.
More about auralisations
How much does an auralisation cost?
If you have a very clear brief, then asking a supplier to carry out system design can be cost-effective. Indeed, many of them are very capable of doing so to a high standard.
However, if there are many potential solutions to your brief, then you may have trouble comparing bids from suppliers, and knowing which best meets your needs.
The services of an independent consultant can add value by helping you get your Request For Proposal (RFP) right first time, so tenders can be easily compared.
Should I use a consultant or a supplier to design AV systems?
When clients engage a consultant to advise them they can be confident that only client interests will be considered, so designs properly match their needs.
And later in the project, a consultant representing you can ensure that all aspects of a project from construction and installation to documentation are properly delivered and snags bottomed out.
Our experience is that clients benefit overall from our contribution by ending up with superior results as well as savings on the bottom line.
How can paying for a consultant reduce my costs?