Trends and Opportunities for Audio System and Low-Voltage Contractors

The beginning of the year is a good time to reflect on past challenges and successes, as well as future opportunities. Here are my thoughts on 2019 opportunities for pro AV integrators and consultants.

Costs are Down, Performance is Up, and New Business is Ready for Audio

Ashly Audio installed in a house of worship.

There's a large opportunity for new integration in houses of worship. (Image credit: Ashly Audio)

In today’s professional audio market, there is a great opportunity being presented to small- and medium-sized applications. Spaces can achieve high-end production quality for a fraction of the cost of what was once expected. The professional audio space is now a buyer’s market.

One major space I recommend looking to: small- and medium-sized house of worship (HoW) facilities. Thanks to industry-wide innovation, as well as influence from other markets, the ability to provide professional-grade audio is no longer relegated just to the big spenders, especially in the HoW market. Specifically-designed systems, using the right solutions and products, now exist to bring high-quality audio to worship spaces of all size and shape.

[Sound for Houses of Worship.]

The best practices here are to identify the needs of the environment, seek out partners who are invested in long-term success, and integrate a complete system that works for the space.

AoIP is the New Norm

Audio networking in the AV industry is a hot topic. The forces driving the adoption of IP technology are a combination of cost savings, performance and, above all: flexibility. Those forces have changed the way we think about audio systems. AV networks use the same IT equipment that connects computing devices everywhere. For most small installations, no detailed knowledge of networking is required to create an audio network. Modern solutions are self-discovering and automatically configure clocking, making setup easy and essentially plug-and-play with simple software.

[The Integration Guide to AVoIP]

But for larger systems and for growing a business, it's highly beneficial to consult with or hire an IT specialist. Traditional audio contractors need to get familiar with IT-networked audio, provide training for employees, and prepare for the new audio connectivity and management norm.

Start Playing Zone

For audio contractors to win and expand their business, they need to learn to “play zone.” The reality is that the market is incredibly broad in terms of use applications: bars, night clubs, spas, meeting spaces, retail spaces, restaurants, houses of worship—the uses of sound reinforcement is virtually endless. To that end, contractors should think of spaces in terms of specific areas. or zones, that require their own soundscapes. From there, find ways to integrate those zones to create a singular audio integration that provides true benefit to the end user.

A hotel, for example, may just be a lobby, hallway, and rooms. If so, the integration would fit under just “hotel.” But as these facilities grow more robust—through the addition of bars, restaurants, retail spaces, outdoor areas, pools, meeting spaces, etc.—it is critical to approach a bid with a plan for each and every space.

While pitching these potential integrations, offer each zone its benefits and its individual price as options for the system. Explain the limitations to systems in terms of power and scope and offer flexible options that will truly future-proof a location for any potential add-ons.

Partner with Audio Leaders

Finally, seek out a manufacturing partner that can help integrate all types of audio devices and sound reinforcement, as well as lighting, security ,and IoT devices. Taking this approach also provides you access to the newest solutions and products available and creates a support network when issues arise. The result: your audio clients will always have the very best in terms of integrated professional audio systems, and you become their go-to technology business partner.

Jim Schwenzer
Jim Schwenzer is the director of technical support and service for Ashly Audio; he has led the daily customer service operations at Ashly Audio for over 23 years. Schwenzer is an accredited electrical technician, audio engineer, and professional musician with more than 35 years of experience in the field. Schwenzer has transformed his passion for audio and knowledge of electronics into a front-line asset for Ashly’s customers.