Widgets Magazine

Sound Masking in AV

This week I had the opportunity to sit down with a new, to me, sound masking company. They were in town trying to connect with integrators in the St. Louis area. We sat down to get a better idea of their philosophy when we do design work at Innovad. As they are explaining the different elements of sound masking, their main competitors, and their unique selling proposition I gained a better understanding of some of the problem areas with integrators selling these systems.
Cost Structure
A majority of sound masking manufacturers have a structure in place that puts them in front of the client and not the local integrator. The integrator is almost considered a sub contractor of the manufacturer and not a true partner. This is unlike anything I have seen in AV. It is a bit more like the IT space. When the manufacturers allow the local contacts to nurture the relationship and provide what the client really needs then the local company, the client, and the manufacturer wins. When the manufacturer acts as the main sales force only they win and sometimes the end user wins.
It is a talented individual who can ascend to the ranks of acoustician. We are talking about hundreds of hours of math in all sorts of forms. There is also an art to this as well. Making certain the curve and sound of the space is just right. These professionals are expensive to come by, and rightly so. They have spent years honing their craft and should be compensated for it. If you don’t have the resources, or if your client doesn’t, then you are at a disadvantage. There are a few companies who offer software built around the expertise of their acousticians that allow you to plug in the area information of the space and they can create the correct EQ settings for you. It’s a great move forward and as the software develops you will be able to plug in the software and have a sound masking system set up in a fraction of the time that a single engineer, regardless of how talented, could do so.
There are plenty of reasons for both above ceiling and below. Let’s start with the most obvious. If you have an open ceiling plan then a plenum solution is not going to work for you. There are great products out there that will blend into the background and not even be noticed by the average cube dweller. If you are above ceiling then make certain the products you use have enough power to get through to the work area to do their job.
The best advice I can give you if you haven’t gotten into sound masking is to at least give it a look; see if it matches up with your business model. You should do your research and make certain the sound masking manufacturer views you, the integrator, as a partner and not just a sub they need to install the product. It’s a great service you can offer your clients and a good way to get in the door of new ones.
That’s all for this week. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Have a great week.

About Author

Tim Albright is the founder of AVNation and is the driving force behind the AVNation network. He carries the InfoComm CTS, a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing an M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. When not steering the AVNation ship, Tim has spent his career designing systems for churches both large and small, Fortune 500 companies, and education facilities.

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