Have you ever been to a restaurant that you thought had good food and good service, but something about the environment made you not want to return? Maybe the reason wasn’t so obvious initially but later upon trying a second time you found that it had an unpleasant smell that didn’t mix well with your food. Perhaps it was some other issue that was annoying such as poor lighting or a blaring game that was painfully loud. In any case, consciously or unconsciously you decide against that place next time.
Every space has a comfort level. A venue with live music has more variables that can make it difficult to properly translate a pleasant sound into a room.
A poorly designed, failing or under utilized sound system can inject that discomfort into the experience of any venue. Venue patrons know something is not pleasant but can’t or don’t bother to define what it is. Whether consciously or unconsciously, it just becomes a deterrent. Fortunately there are staff members who take the time to identify these issues and define the harshness, low fidelity, and/or inconsistencies in coverage.
By the time many of our clients come to us with sound issues, they often have been living with these pain-points that have degraded the experience in their venue for years. These “mean time” years can be costly. It becomes hard to quantify how many people didn’t come back because of it. It’s even harder to get them back once they leave. These are lost opportunities that deteriorate the return on all other investments from marketing to the building itself. The sound quality issue quickly becomes a hot potato of blame that is tossed around from one staff member to the next.
Depending on the size of your venue replacing your sound system can be a large investment. Sometimes that investment was only made 8 or 10 years ago. The thought of replacing it is overwhelming, which can deter management and leadership from addressing the issue. Like going to get your teeth drilled, who’s rushing to face the dentist? But the longer you wait the more damage is done.
But not all poorly performing speaker systems need to be replaced. Some do but we have found many venues that had systems that were greatly improved upon by better utilizing the existing system. This was the case-in-point for Knott Avenue Christian Church in Buena Park. They had all the typical problems with their sound. The speakers sounded hollow and low-fi to begin with. They were in a position that was way too loud up front and only covered certain areas of the room, leaving a large hole in the middle of the room. In addition, they sounded very harsh in the higher frequencies. When Joe Cota, the worship leader, contacted us about it, we came in and identified these issues. We recognized that the speaker system was actually a very high-end Nexo system and was the appropriate speaker type for the room. Unfortunately, it was deployed in a position that wasn’t affective. We suggested that we revisit the speaker modeling for the room and move the line arrays to a position that better covered the whole space. We also added out-fills and an audio processor that gave us additional control over the entire sound system, allowing us to perform a final speaker tuning. The end result was as if they purchased an entirely new sound system! We didn’t turn back the clock on the years of use on the amplifiers or speaker drivers but we were able to correct the experience in the room for much less money.
TechArts is often brought in to help evaluate audio, video, and lighting systems that have issues. When it comes to sound, we have a long list of satisfied clients that simply needed their system to be properly tuned to achieve huge improvements with their sound. System tunings cannot always save the day but it is one level of accountability that insures you’re getting the best out of what you already invested.