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Author Topic: How did you pick your church sound supplier?  (Read 3333 times)

4String

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Re: How did you pick your church sound supplier?-kinda long
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2005, 12:51:10 pm »

To Ivan Beaver - Thanks very much for the white paper - great reading.

Here is a quote from your paper that is my opinion (and fear) in a nutshell:
What if the system does not operate correctly-i.e.: dead spots in the audience- certain functions not working as expected? If the contractor put the system in as designed, is it the consultants fault or the contractors?  Often there is a lot of finger pointing and blaming and in the meantime the customer is unhappy with both parties and just wants a system that works.

Your paper follows with a great list of decision criteria for working with a design/build contractor.  Really what you are saying is that the buyer must extend his due-diligence when evaluating a supplier and not take a hope-for-the-best approach.

Thanks again for your most valuable input.

And thanks to all the other forum members that replied.  Your comments are much appreciated.

4String
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Tom Young

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Re: How did you pick your church sound supplier?-kinda long
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2005, 06:15:36 am »

Ivan has raised the hairs on the back of my neck. While I have no doubt that he and his company have run into some pretty sloppy and shameless consultant-designed systems, I do take exception to having all of us categorized in this manner.

There are a number of errors, or false assumptions, in his attached document.

First of all; we (I) am in close contact with both the manufacturers and reps and just as much as any contractors I know. No consulting firm that I know of receives any compensation from manufacturers other than the occasional invitation to a factory-sponsored factory tour or workshop and sometimes a dinner during a trade show. And while our expenses are paid for, our time is not. This is no different for contractors who also get invitations for the same types of factory-sponsored events.

For the record; any consultant who does receive monetary compensation for specifying any product should be shot, as this is in violation of the premise, assumed or stated, that the consultant is independent and is only in the employ of the project or owner. It's just wrong.

Ivan has overlooked one differentiating fact of life: in order to retain their dealerships the contractor MUST attend these factory tours/workshops and we consultants do not BECAUSE we are independent. The manufacturers have NO leverage with us. Likewise; the contractor must sell so many dollars of each brand in order to keep those lines. We do not. Therefore it is unavoidable that equipment selection decisions made by a contractor are effected by the need to keep their dealerships and/or sell what is in their warehouses. The reps I work with often DO receive compensation for spending time with us consultants, BTW. Bottom line: as an independent consultant I specify equipment only based on its merits for the applicatyion at hand. Period.

The examples that Ivan has provided of design flaws are obviously alarrming and should not have been tolerated. These aside, there are benefits in having a consuiltant design and competitively bid package as long as the winning bid (and this is not necessarily the lowest bid) is from a competent contracting firm. One is that the client gets a decent price. Another is that there is a "checks and balances" process so that any small errors that may be made or any complications due to site conditions may be observed by the contractor and then the consultant has the opportunity to work with the contractor (and others on site) to resolve these. Likewise; the consultant sees that the installation work done by the contractor is up to standard.

For every bad consultant that Ivan appears to have worked with there are more "contractors" who should never be allowed anywhere near a sound system installation. I personally thoroughly "vet" each bidder befor they go on my bid list. In my experience, there will be errors on both sides but these are all small ones. In a sound system design of medium-to-large scale it is unavaoidable. But these do not result in additional charges and (again) they occur on both sides.  I sincerely hope that Ivan does not proclaim to never have made a few small errors.

One point (and there are a few others) that I do agree with Ivan on is that the sound system design for churches in particular must be straight forward to undestand and operate. Because churches rely on volunteers these systems cannot be over-the-top in their complexity. This is true, BTW, for many secular performance venues as well.

Ivan and his company appear to be a very qualified outfit that does exemplary work in their geographical market area. However, his work does not come under the scrutiny that a consultant-designed system does because there is no other party that works with them to see the system get designed and built. Perhaps this is unnecessary in their case because I know Ivan and Mike to be very honorable and technically proficient folks. But I still maintain that the client is better served when they have a qualified design consultant working with an equally qualified contractor to achieve the best system they can afford.
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Tom Young, Church Sound section moderator
Electroacoustic Design Services
Oxford CT
Tel: 203.888.6217
Email: dbspl@earthlink.net
www.dbspl.com

Ivan Beaver

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Re: How did you pick your church sound supplier?-kinda long
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2005, 09:46:38 am »

Tom:

I appreciated all that you have said, and understand why you said it.  Of course I am biased towards my camp (design/build).  We just redid a system this week that another design/builder did.  Tons of problems-including possibly issues with the cluster falling on the stage-not good.  The whole design was flawed.  This was a $500K (audio only) job with a major speaker manufacturer.  This is the 2nd one in just a few months in which we have come in and made the customer happy with a system that was 1 year or so young, by the same design/build contractor.  They only do expensive jobs.

I am biased against the consultants of whose jobs I have seen.  So therefore my window is rather small.  It is just that in all of them, I have not seen one that is not full of MAJOR errors.  I have lots of "oops" "forgot that" "how did I not count right" etc.  We eat the cost and make it good by the customer.  They are ususally small things, not major design flaws.

I have many consultant friends (yourself included-I hope still!), with whom I have not worked with.  There is no way that they can all be bad.  I will agree that there are just as many-if not probably more-bad contractors-than there are consultants.  It just seems that all the bad ones are drawn to us. Maybe so we will fix their problems HAHA.

In most of the consultant jobs that come across my desk, it seems as if the consultant never really talked to the church, as to what they needed.  A few years ago (and it is still around the shop somewhere) one of the MAJOR consultants had a completely designed job (down to the nth detail) for a job that was 5 years out.  They had a quote in the bid spec that said-and I quote "The needs of the customer are not important at this time"!!!!  Almost everything in the quote did not exist 3 years prior to the bid date, yet the job was 5 years away!  Who knows what equipment will be available at install date?  I guess so they could redesign the job for an additional fee? They also had many specs that simply add to the customers costs without adding any benifit to the customer.  Since most of these consultants are paid a perchantage of the job, it it advantagous to them to get the cost up as high as possible.  They want to to be paid based upon the origional bids-not what actually gets installed or value engineered.  Why is it so often that the consultants (that seem to come our way)can't give the customer any idea what the system will actually cost?  Many times all the bids are way over what the customer has budgeted.  The consultant should be able to give the customer a price that is within 20% or so of the total expense (at least that is my thought).  

I have seen several times in which the consultant speced equipment that there is no way they could have tested it to see how it performs, because if they did-they would not have speced it in that application.

We will not install any equipment unless we have it in our shop for us to play with and test, under our conditions-not demo type conditions.

I guess I would come down harder on contractors (a lot of them are just plain stupid-and give us a bad name), but they don't (as an group) proclaim to keep the customers best interest in mind.  So many of them just want to be the cheap and sell equipment.  We later come in and give the customer what they really need.  

My biggest gripe with the consultants that I have delt with (albeit a few) is the general statement that the customer needs to hire a consultant who will actually consult with them and keep their needs in the forefront of the project. Why did they design an LCR system with 3 exposed clusters, when the customer specifically wanted a "hidden" intellivox system- )that would be the right choice for the room anyway)? The ones I see do not, and are designing for what they want (gotta keep that cost up ya' know)-not the customer who has to live with the design.

I figured that my post (and paper) would ruffle some feathers.  I guess it is a slam towards consultants in general (but not all in particular).  I do not see my job as work.  I take imense pride in what I do, and do it to the absolute best of my ability.  I just wish others would do the same.

I still don't understand why a speaker wire needs to be spliced 5 times between the amp and the speaker.  Just more work and more chance for failure.  We got another job in from the same consultant last week and it is still so full of needless "fluff", that the church is going to be overwhelmed by the cost.  If done as designed it will probably cost well over 3 time what it should.  We have done several jobs for this particular customer (and they are happy with them), but somebody must have gotten to somebody and told them they need to get consultant involved since this is a "real" room.  I know what the needs and capabilities are in the church, and this system ain't it.

We'll get together and swap "nightmare" stories.  I probably have as many contractor ones as consultant ones, but at least the customer was not out as much money with the contractor ones.

We, as people, get stereotyped all the time, from where we live, to the color of our skin, our sex, religion etc.  Stereotypes do have a basis, but there are just as many exceptions to the rule, as there are those that meet it.  I count yourself and myself as exceptions to the rules for the particular stereotypes we have of each others "side of the fence".
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Can I have some more talent in the monitors--PLEASE?

Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.

Phillip Graham

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Re: How did you pick your church sound supplier?-kinda long
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2005, 12:15:54 pm »

Hey Tom, I think you know my comments are not meant to slight consultants (heck, I've thought about doing consulting), but just some observations from a knowledgeable outside observer:

Tom Young wrote on Wed, 25 May 2005 06:15

Another is that there is a "checks and balances" process so that any small errors that may be made or any complications due to site conditions may be observed by the contractor and then the consultant has the opportunity to work with the contractor (and others on site) to resolve these. Likewise; the consultant sees that the installation work done by the contractor is up to standard.



Here in Atlanta, at least, the checks and balances system you speak of does not work well.  I have friends at most of the major contractors here in town (e.g. Baker, SPL, TIP) and they, almost without fail (a couple consultants excepted) end up fixing boneheaded things the consultants do without feedback to the client, OR the consultant, about what the issues were.  The client usually doesn't know and/or care, and the consultants tend to be very unreceptive to criticism from the contractors.

Quote:


For every bad consultant that Ivan appears to have worked with there are more "contractors" who should never be allowed anywhere near a sound system installation.



This, to me, would seem to speak in favor of a good design/build, because if the design is good, I would hope the install would follow.  Your vetting of contractors works well too, obviously.

Quote:


In a sound system design of medium-to-large scale it is unavaoidable. But these do not result in additional charges and (again) they occur on both sides.  I sincerely hope that Ivan does not proclaim to never have made a few small errors.



Again, I have not seen good communication back and forth over what the errors are, and I have seen some major ones (e.g. incomplete or non-existant drawings).

Quote:


However, his work does not come under the scrutiny that a consultant-designed system does because there is no other party that works with them to see the system get designed and built.



Contractors need work, most are going to "smile and nod" when they get passed a consultant gig, even if they essentially end up redesigning it.  If the design turns out good, and it actually is the contractors doing, the benefit goes to the consultant!  One consultancy in the Atlanta area in particular (whom I've mentioned to you) would (unknowingly) be sunk on lots of projects if they chose another installation contractor.

Quote:


Perhaps this is unnecessary in their case because I know Ivan and Mike to be very honorable and technically proficient folks. But I still maintain that the client is better served when they have a qualified design consultant working with an equally qualified contractor to achieve the best system they can afford.


I agree that this particular arrangement should, and does, work out well, but I struggle to see how it is much different than an equally good situation from a design-build.

My cents tossed in,
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Phill Graham

Doctoral Candidate

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

The Georgia Institute of Technology
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