Audio, Video, and Control systems are not completely independent, they need to interact with many things. No only do these systems need to work with the major systems in the building, such as telephone, building management, and Internet. The systems must interact and work within the facility itself. The impacts to the building can range from the basic of needing an outlet put in for a video display to needing additional footings to hold the weight of a large video wall.
The Advisist team offers review services to not only check the common items of AV systems but can expand into the Architectural and Engineering Program. Their experience with bringing concepts to life provides an invaluable level of reference when examining the facility, the needs of the AV System, and how the two interact. The evaluations are not simply will this device fit here, there are the other items to be considered such as how much cooling is needed or the amount of power required.
Creating content for the Pro A/V industry goes well beyond writing advertorials. The Advisist Group offers various writing services and has years of experience writing multiple pieces in multiple styles. The team has written press releases, thought or opinion articles, analysis pieces, white papers, product reviews, application notes, operations manuals, news content and much more. These services are detailed under their own website pages.
We can tailor content towards any persona, vertical, or category of readers. It’s always a best practice to have another set of eyes review operations procedures being prepared for an end user to find items that the original writers may have assumed or overlooked in the process. Having both technical and editorial writers in the group provides a unique perspective when reviewing and writing the content. It can be evaluated for the audience, checked for accuracy and for style by our experts.
We understand that content also needs to be visual as well sometimes, and our team can produce content for multiple formats with the same information for consistency. This type of content can be powerful and can illustrate concepts without many words which can be confusing. Creating a video version that shows the process can often aid in the process. The content professionals at Advisist understands content parameters and can assure that your messaging is clear and concise. Below are some examples of content pieces we’ve written.
Making sure a project meets or exceeds the scope of work and performance specifications is a critical point in a project. Acceptance testing provides an empirical verification that a system is performing properly, typically it also includes the testing of communication and interaction with other systems. It is an important benchmark for all parties collaborating on the project including the integrator, consultants, end-user and occasionally manufacturers.
The process of an acceptance test applies to many project stages. The testing can be done as part of the fabrication stage to verify proper performance and functionality before the project is delivered to the site. Verifying that the products are connected, and function properly goes beyond just turning on a signal and seeing if it is output by the amplifier. The process needs to verify that the configuration of the system is as expected. If there is a paging portion of the system, the ability for the page to be properly routed and made is important. Checking that digital signal processing outputs are routed to the correct amplifier channels is important to prevent damaging loudspeakers. Doing this testing before the system equipment arrives on the job site often saves both cost and time.
When there are defined performance requirements such as achieving a specific sound pressure level or frequency range at a listener’s position, verification requires proper tools, instrumentation, and processes. Verification goes beyond just audio performance, it includes such things as verifying video output color, brightness, and cabling performance. The performance specifications may also contain specifications about how the system should interact and react with various controllers. These interactions can range from playing prerecorded messages to being properly synchronized with the video content in the space.
Acceptance testing also includes things beyond performance and operation, acceptance testing also needs to include functional and fabrication acceptance. This type of testing is different than performance verification. It typically happens at the end of fabrication or installation. We have found through our experience, that waiting until these milestones occur can be risky. If the same mistake has been made multiple times in a large system, it takes much longer to fix than a small mistake being made once in an evaluation system. This process often includes things like stress testing, and confirmation that the system is built and installed correctly, as well as verification that the control interfaces are functioning properly. It also includes physical items, such as are cables labeled properly, is the equipment installed correctly, and is the documentation correct.
Advisist provides a fresh set of eyes as an independent party for these types of services. For the integrator it allows a third party to review the system before the client does, providing time to make any necessary adjustments. For the end user it allows for someone with more experience in the AV field to impartially evaluate the system. For manufacturers, it allows for a party to verify that the equipment is being used properly as well as properly integrated into the system.
It is one thing to say “if you build it, they will come,” and it’s another to know if it will function correctly once built. You start with a clean sheet of paper and an open mind to all the possibilities. With conceptual designs it’s not about mapping out how a project is going to get accomplished, but rather if it can be accomplished. It is not important to define the technology at the start of a project. Defining the goal of the project is important in the conceptual design process. This process includes defining what the guests or end users will experience, and then defining the story. After that, we can begin thinking of the technology that can support the projects objectives.
During the conceptual designing phase, not every item will be defined, it is the intent to outline the approach, tools, and methods that would allow the project to achieve its objectives. For instance, while looking at concepts, it is not important to know if a video server is from Brand A or Brand B; it is important to know that the video server can perform then needed tasks to meet the objectives.
Advisist can help determine if a concept is valid, and that the equipment specified can function as needed to support the systems objectives.
Reviewing projects is more than checking drawings or doing a cost evaluation. There are a great number of additional things to consider.
- Will all of the items fit in the space allotted?
- Will there be sufficient access to service the equipment?
- Is the building’s systems able to support the system as designed?
- Does the documentation meet the scope of work?
Advisist can conduct a peer review of designs to assess your work before being submitted to spot small problems before they become bigger issues. For end users and technical managers, it allows some one else to be the “bad guy” while reviewing drawings and submittals. For other parties it allows for putting your best foot forward. This type of peer review can alleviate some of the political challenges projects sometimes face. Often reviews help improve performance and verify that standards have been met, and that the quality of work is aligned with the client’s expectations. Think of it as having the project work graded before submitting it to the “teacher” so that one has the chance to correct errors. Peer reviews can be used for design submittals, fabrication, installation, and for commissioning anything that a neutral set of eyes should be looking over.
The Advisist team has helped many companies over the years hone their skills with respect to following different standards and practices to meet the client’s needs. Ultimately the same approach is taken for each design review. By asking the following, questions with a fresh perspective Advisist can conduct a thorough to mitigate project challenges:
- What is the expectation?
- Is there a checklist for guidance?
- Are there any standards to be enforced?
Budgets are quite often a limiting constraint for a project. This constraint can start during the “Blue Sky” or “Green Field” design phases. Being able to properly estimate and budget the project largely impacts its success. Some of the challenges come from not understanding what technology already exists that can be leveraged versus developing new solutions at a higher cost. Quite often the costs of audio, video, and control systems are improperly calculated during estimating for a large construction project. Many professional estimating companies do not have the proper tools to estimate what it actually costs to install an AV system. For many special venues these estimates often overlook the cost of creating content for the project. this situation results in either an over inflated price, or an unrealistic low price. Budget reviews are important for all project partners.
Providing realistic budgetary numbers throughout all phases of the project helps project partners stay on target to achieve goals. Budgetary goals vary for each project, client, and business plan. For some projects the key metric of success is the capital expenditure (Capex), for others it is meeting the future Operating Expenses (Opex). A key item to monitor is the budget allocation, or what costs are carried by which project partners. For instance, the cost of conduit and wire could be carried by the general contractor, the electrical contractor, the low voltage contractor, the structured cable contractor, or the integration firm. Each of these approaches has different cost impacts and project impacts. The key item though is to verify that the cost is not being captured multiple times resulting in an inflated cost. Let the professionals at Advisist conduct budgetary reviews to define and understand all of the budgetary requirements and impacts.
Products are designed to solve a particular challenge for customers. Quite often the product can do more than the original intent. A great example of this situation is Kutol Products’ most successful product – a wallpaper cleaner designed to safely remove soot. Its more successful use, and more well-known, is Play-Doh. (The Accidental Invention of Play-Doh – Smithsonian Magazine). Those unintended uses can be more successful than the original intent.
This evaluation process can begin with the manufacturer on the product side, or on the application side with the integrator, or anywhere in between. The evaluation is not just theoretical, it is based on real world experience. If needed the product in question will be tested by Advisist to verify the application objectives can be met successfully. Application objectives don’t just apply for the hardware involved, but also the software or user interface. The usability of the software is also evaluated. The proper software and interface can have huge implications as the iPod showed. The ability to store and play compressed audio files was not unique to Apple. The user experience, more importantly the ease of it, made the iPod a success. This same impact happens with equipment like digital signal processors and how the human machine interface (HMI) functions. A seamless software experience is as an important part of the experience for users, as is the technology used. The ability for the software interface to change the adoption process of equipment cannot be overstated. Advisist believes that some products can be considered for alternative uses. For example, people in corporate environments often think digital signage for uses outside of meeting rooms. Placing a digital signage player in a meeting space can allow for easily showing marketing content during a meeting. Triggering the content from a touch screen or control screen makes the process more reproducible.
These are just some examples of examining the use of products. Please reach out for more information.
There is the expression that one can never be a prophet in their own land. Roughly translated that means one can tell coworkers how to do something it will be ignored, but if an outside person tells them, it will be retained. Staying up to date on the latest technologies is a challenge, and training staff is essential.
Leave the training to our professional team at Advisist. We can help educate and share the knowledge through their experiences. Bradford’s experience as a trainer for Harman Professional, as well as his work with synergetic audio concepts or SynAudCon makes him an invaluable resource. A transfer of knowledge is a skill honed over many years. We offer custom trainings can be developed to meet specific needs and can cover any topic.
These trainings can also be based on the systems that are being installed. One of the requirements that is often overlooked is training the final operator or end user of the system installed. As an independent party, we know how critical this step can be, and can review the project to determine what information needs to be conveyed for training purposes. Whether it’s your staff, or your clients, Advisist can tailor a training program to meet your needs.