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Audio visual maintenance contracts are a very effective way of keeping your audio visual equipment operational. How many times have speakers or trainers started their meetings only to find that the image on a projector is very dim, or the interactive whiteboard wont connect to their laptop? Its more common than need be and a simple, proactive AV maintenance service can prevent issues before they arise.

Start by carrying out an audit of your audio visual equipment and systems. This is helpful for your own records but is essential information for any audio visual maintenance companies. It will enable them to provide an accurate cost for the maintenance of the equipment. Secondly, decide which equipment you want covered by any audio visual maintenance provision. This is important to keep costs down. It may not be cost effective to include legacy equipment such as VCRs or overhead projectors in the maintenance contract. Perhaps they dont get used? Its also likely that a one off repair of an old VCR far exceeds its value too. Ask yourself a simple question; does anyone use that equipment any more?

Once the list of audio visual equipment has been compiled, gather several quotes. It may be that some audio visual companies can maintain some equipment but not all. This is perhaps more of an issue if you have AV control systems. For example, not every audio visual installation company can maintain a Control4 AV control system. Its always best to look at vendors websites and find an accredited maintenance contractor. One point to be aware off though is that in the current economic climate, some AV control systems have been discontinued. Perhaps the best example of this is the Philips Pronto AV control system. This was discontinued some time ago and finding companies that can maintain a Philips Pronto system is becoming increasingly difficult.

Its always tempting to reduce the number of maintenance visits to cut the cost of an audio visual maintenance agreement. This often backfires. If your AV equipment is older and less reliable, you may end up paying for frequent call outs which will eventually push the cost of the agreement far higher than you have budgeted for. Limit expensive callouts by asking for at least 3 preventative maintenance visits throughout the year. Always ask what these visit will include too. Just looking at a piece of equipment wont make it last any longer. The AV maintenance engineer should disconnect everything, reconnect and carry out thorough tests. They should also provide a breakdown of the work done and any impending equipment replacements.

Once you find a reliable audio visual maintenance company (http://www.cts-networks.co.uk/audio-visual-maintenance), you will also have access to the kind of expertise which will prove useful when it becomes more cost effective to upgrade your audio visual equipment. Manage your audio visual maintenance to ensure that you get, not only, the best service from your equipment but also the best possible service from your maintenance service provider.

Exciting new technologies like interactive computer use, live video enhancement of speakers, and teleconferencing can be utilized but the associated cost of these new technologies can be steep. The type of AV support you will need for your meeting or event may be simple or more complex. Be sure to review all your options and plan ahead:

Get a list of all speakers’ needs well in advance of your meeting date and schedule a rehearsal.

Allow for rehearsal and set-up time in your meeting rooms.

Give speakers a chance to rehearse with equipment they will be using.

Test equipment immediately prior to the beginning of the event. Check acoustics Clap your hands sharply… talk loudly… listen carefully Check to see if there are any echo’s or dead spots. Do drapes or acoustic panels need to be added.? Plug-in and test the audio. Is the public address system working? Is there any feedback at working level? Are the speakers correctly placed? Are there enough microphones, cords, stands?

Have spare bulks and extension cords on hand. If you are taping, is the tape recorder microphone working? Check to see if you have to erect a stand or move a table

Is the audiovisual the right distance from the screen, rigid and level? Know the location of circuit breakers and fuses Have spare fuses and standby circuits ready Test the intercom system. Is the emergency work light ready?

Having a technician available to attend to your needs throughout the meeting may be your best insurance policy.

If the facility where you are holding your meeting has AV equipment available check to make sure it is in good working order.

Remember that poor-quality AV equipment can ruin a meeting.

To maximize your audio visual budget, try the following:

If using an outside vendor, choose a reputable company and reserve equipment early. If you have never worked with the supplier before, ask for references and check them.

Negotiate all costs. Package deals are good for you and the rental companies. If they know your needs and have your timelines, it will be more cost effective.

Make sure all agreements are in writing. If one company is not able to meet your needs, look at other companies until your needs are met.

Provide clear instructions in writing. Include agendas and room layouts so your vendors know exactly what you expect.

If you need help, find experienced production managers and technicians to oversee the AV portions of your event. Introduce yourself to the technicians who will be working your event, and find out how to contact them should the need arise.

Barter goods and services with your rental companies. They may want to advertise in your publications, exhibit at your trade show, or acquire leads from your attendees.

Guaranteed performance is often a policy of AV companies. They will compensate clients for rental costs in the event of equipment failure. Even better, many will provide on-site back-up.

Check the audio-visual equipment that is available at the meeting facility you are using. Many facilities have their own in-house audio department. Ask if any audio-visual equipment is included in your room charge? Be sure to check out the quality and age of the equipment provided.

Most facilities only provide a podium and microphone, so you will need to rent additional equipment from a qualified local audio-visual rental company. The facility where you are holding your meeting can provide recommendations.

Written by Yvon Douran, www.keynoteresource.com

Audio visual or AV installations are on the rise with both the business and domestic market realising the benefits of bespoke AV systems. Standard systems can be installed but a bespoke system is completely tailored to the specific requirements of the customer.
The first stage in any project is to establish a brief with the client, including what functionality is expected from the system and any budgetary constraints that may exist. From there the audio visual installation consultant will draw up a system specification and layout diagrams if necessary, along with a detailed quotation setting out all of the costs involved. It is very important to instruct a company that will liaise with architects/building contractors as well as electricians and any other on site contractors. Communication and co-operation with building trades during installations is essential in order to achieve the best possible installation. The range of equipment and systems available is vast in todays market.

Audio visual systems are installed in a wide variety of situations. A few examples are: museums, schools, conferencing and meeting rooms, exhibitions, events, bars, clubs, film festivals and even mobile AV installations in vans. Each situation listed has a different specification and requirement. Bars and clubs will require a system quite different to that of a museum installation for example. For businesses, the latest technology that comes with bespoke audio visual systems greatly improves working conditions, professionalism and productivity.

Domestic environments are also places where there is a need for design and installation of bespoke AV systems, from a simple plasma screen on the wall through to whole-house audio and video. Home cinema systems are becoming very popular and with todays technology can be discretely installed to complement the surrounding decor, with exciting features such as concealed projectors and screens, touchscreen remote controls and in-wall speakers.

When searching for a audio visual services contractor it is important to check that a full Health & Safety policy is available to view and that the policy is adhered to by the installation engineers. Method statements and Risk Assessments should be produced for every job which requires work off-site. Engineers should be PASMA qualified for work at height using scaffold towers and that any electrical work carried out is done so in accordance with BS7671 and NICEIC certificated.

Technology advances at lightening speed. You blink and there is something new on the horizon. Sometimes, it’s challenging to keep up, but when it comes to home audio & theatre, nothing is more exciting than the prospect of accessible and affordable technology to help create a cutting-edge, comfortable and streamlined experience.

2013 has many exciting developments in store on the home theatre front and as experts in home theatre setup, design and support, we wanted to share some of those trends with our readers.

1. Seamless wireless integration

Airplay is an Apple functionality that allows you to stream music or video through your entire house, wirelessly. This technology can be integrated into speaker docks, AV receivers and stereo systems so that your iTunes playlists can be enjoyed in any room with the click of a button. And while most AirPlay products were somewhat pricey in 2011-2012, there is some expectation that prices will come down in 2013.

But if wireless isn’t in your budget, you can give the impression of a streamlined, wireless system by strategically concealing all back-end power sources with a clean and tidy cable management approach. Cable management is the practice of using small and specialized cable ties and devices to hide cables from view and keep your home looking beautiful. Cable management can be extensive, used in larger server installations in businesses, or while building large homes. Cable management options can also be inexpensive and easy to undertake. Vendors such as Ikea or Best Buy offer many cable management devices for home use.

2. Bye-bye discs

It used to be that streaming video was the way of the future – the future is now.

While DVD and Blu-ray players still exist (and will for some time), more and more, consumers are demanding streaming functionality. Content streaming services continue to expand. Rogers on Demand offers more, Netflix invested heavily in its content in 2012, iTunes has an ever-expanding library, and all offer you entertainment when you want it. We can set up your Apple TV and integrate it with your Netflix or iTunes library so that you can stream any movie to any enabled screen in your home.

3. Multi room home audio

Imagine your favorite music, vibrant and clear, played softly or loudly in any room you choose, throughout your home. A strategically planned multi-room, multi-speaker home audio system is the ultimate in flexibility. And it is entirely possible in 2013.

All of your music is stored in one location (like your iPad, for instance) and we set up your audio system so that your favorite tunes can be transferred from your living room to your kitchen and even to your bathroom with the click of a single button. Enjoy bass thumping beats in the basement while you exercise, then switch to classical playing softly in the background while you work in your home office, and later, some sing along oldies while you prepare and cook dinner in the kitchen. Whole home audio amplifies joy in your life! The music to your ears is just a phone call away!