Trade integration

Art & science in audio

Audio and video designers and integrators have new tools to make their designs more productive and profitable.

Juan F Montoya *

Audio is an art! ... and those of us who work on this are lovers of it, always looking for the subtle details, the naturalness of sound, its depth, its dynamics, the emotions it generates and the feelings that awakens us.

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Some curiosity has led us to go deeper into this world, and we have come to study its more technical aspects, closing to read and scrutinize any technical article we find and that is where organizations like AES give us the opportunity to know more about physical aspects , Materials, equations, algorithms and other "scientific" aspects.

But with a very high possibility, if you are a reader of this magazine, and you have reached this article, it is because you are also living the sound, or at least sound is being a source of income for you, either because you do it as Freelance, or because you've created a small business along with some colleagues, or because you do not ... you possibly work in a large corporation. And here is where the romantic aspect of art and the small dose of nerd in the scientific world must be supplemented by commercial terms such as efficiency, performance, productivity, etc., etc.

But how do we combine the above in a changing world, where time is pressing and where there are so many interests to please?

How do we do to be able to have productivity without sacrificing quality? To deliver the best projects and economically favorable designs for the client and in turn for the company?

It has always been a problem to try to balance these different technical, artistic and commercial aspects, in a way that allows us to generate business that resembles an industrial production line, but still, without losing the magic we dream about.

Possibly there is a formula to allow us to get closer to this and then we will explain.

If for the size of your company you have to do everything from design, sale, installation to collection of the project. Your time is vital for business growth. Being able to have a tool that speeds up your design is essential, and although at certain moments you have your mind thinking about a thousand administrative things, you're going to have to use a method to remind you of the artistic and scientific part of the products that you need to place in Your design without having to assume costs for forgetting, or in other cases, stop offering solutions and products that could improve your offer for greater customer satisfaction and, in turn, higher income for you.

Or if you are already in the situation where there are people working for you and the turnover of sales and engineering staff is more constant than you would wish. And when these people leave your company leave you a gap, which forces you to start again with another technical or commercial staff that will not really be productive and reliable until several months later. What can you do?

A good practice is to rely on some tool that promotes your productivity under the following aspects:

  • Have everything at hand without needing to be looking for many different places.
  • Be up to date on what is available and what things can no longer count on them easily.
  • Remember at the right time the products and accessories that could be used for this specific case - Not before or after.
  • Have someone give you ideas of various alternatives and combinations, but all within the context that you need them so that it is not a useless mental load.

Entering into the practical world, which is what I imagine are waiting for this article, audiovisual projects are becoming more complex, and the integration needs of multiple solutions, technologies and products that guarantee the best performance have become almost In the norm, and having an "electronic tutor" that is showing you the best options is key in productivity to get more projects in less time, but without lowering quality, nor having to fall into the copy-paste to always repeat the same Thinking more in the mechanical part of the business than in the same satisfaction of the client.

Regardless of the size and complexity of the audiovisual project you are facing, you should look for tools that help you select the most suitable products easily and quickly, either because you have to do everything yourself, the size of your company, or because you have to Ensuring that the "new" person who arrives can design projects more quickly even if he does not have the previous experience that we would like to have.

Stages of the solution
For now let me explain the concept of methodologies to improve designs, and elements that you can already put into practice using tools that are available (some) for free on the Internet and that will help you not only commercially but also educationally.

Identification of need
The first thing is to identify the type of solution that the customer is needing.

The good thing is that we can classify any audiovisual project with which you are going to find in one of the 3 groups that we are going to describe next. What is really crucial here is to clarify what the final purpose of the project is and what it is really what your client needs in his daily life inhabiting the place you are designing.

1. Communication and Collaboration
They are rooms or places where it is primarily sought to share information and knowledge in a collaborative way between people who are present or in remote places. Here audiovisual tools should be used to achieve more effective meetings, and to improve communication and the generation of ideas in an agile, flexible and timely manner.

2. Celebrations and Entertainment
They are places where you want to create the appropriate environment so that messages and events are captured and enjoyed by those attending the place, so that those who attend there, free or paying, have a good time. The audiovisual system must generate the environment that will allow the sermon, the party, the work, or the time that is spent there, to arrive more naturally and to obtain the desired results.

3. Environment and Emergencies
They are public places where people do not attend them for the sound but that independently of this they need to make a sound intervention because they want to provide security both to the staff who work there and to the visitors through announcements and warnings. Also in these sites it is a common practice to generate environments and images by playing music and even masking noise.

Filtering equipment
After that you need to filter the most appropriate products, since although a speaker is a speaker and an amplifier is an amplifier, each project has particular characteristics that make certain products perform better than others. That all work, yes !, but that the degree of satisfaction of the end user when using the appropriate product is greater, There is the least doubt !, and it is often difficult (without much experience or time to investigate) to know how to identify The most suitable products, which will not necessarily make the project more expensive. This is the scientific part! We will tell you how to do it more easily!

Selection of alternatives
A tool that helps you select the products in a logical order, taking the natural flow of sound will facilitate you to understand the concept, even in the type of projects you have never worked before. If the tool is complemented with descriptions of the equipment based on its benefits rather than the technical part will help a more artistic choice of products that were previously filtered by the "scientific". Get carried away by your intuition, and by what you knew of your client during the interviews. Do not be afraid to mistake, select what you think your client is going to live and really enjoy, have empathy, usually and imagine.

Landing of the project
Without actually realizing it, you have already passed the most difficult part of the design, the product selection that has been done, even though you have some configuration errors, what you have now selected comes with so much essential information that very surely if you had developed the Project would not have flushed these aspects.

If you get closer to someone with more knowledge about the systems selected you can fine tune this design and give you some more timely and quick advice, and without realizing it you have developed a much more complex project in less time, and in turn you have learned , Since the next time it will be easier to remember the suggested optimizations.

How to improve the project?
These networked tools that are designed for the realization of projects and the selection of audiovisual products are usually linked to a group of experts who, when receiving the info of selected products, will give you their concept about the selection of products that you have made and will inform you about Possible improvements or more optimal combinations.

* Juan F Montoya is UX Strategic Manager for Intelligent Environments in Colombia. You can contact him through juanf.montoya@a-int.co

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