Once an afterthought in many installations, acoustics have now become an integral part of the design process for many new applications. “I think there’s so much more awareness now than ever,” noted Gavin Haverstick, acoustical engineer for Auralex. “People are now realizing the benefits of acoustic work, and with the costs being more accessible, it’s never been easier to trick out your room.”
Acoustics First BlockAid
Companies like Auralex and Acoustics First are offering more to integrators and their clients alike. Auralex’s popular free room analysis service allows clients to send in .WAV files of the room for the company to analyze and make recommendations.
The availability of new measurement and design tools will hopefully help designers and integrators move beyond hardware troubleshooting when a client reports problems with a system. “We have dealers and customers that say they’re not happy with their videoconferencing setup, and they’re blaming the system,” Haverstick noted. “It’s the room that’s the problem.”
Acoustics First’s principal Nick Colleran concurred. “People tend to hear with their eyes, and we have to show them there’s a need for isolation,” he said. “Otherwise the acoustics in the source can double with the acoustics in the monitoring room, something like the cocktail party effect.”
Both companies stressed the importance of consulting their expertise early in an installation. “Integrators can save so much more money in the long run to have us involved during the design process to let you know which room works the best for the application,” Haverstick said. “The integrator that puts in a system and doesn’t consider the room as a part of the system will lose money. Integrators should look at acoustical treatment and the services we have available as things you can corner and make margin on.”
Before margins can be made, it’s important to make clients aware of their situation and let them know there are solutions available. “You have to remember that nothing sells itself,” Colleran said. “In marketing you find out what people want, but you have to make them aware of how bad their situation is. Once you point out bad sound to people, eventually they notice, and it will drive them crazy. They’ll realize you have something that can help them. Otherwise they’ll just figure that their situation can’t be helped, and they’ll accept it.”