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Author Topic: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?  (Read 4011 times)

brian maddox

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2012, 08:38:06 pm »

Well, while we're on the subject;

Assuming they do decide, once we move to our next building, to actually take my advice and have a consultant involved in the planning stages from the very beginning, who would you guys recommend?

as it so happens, after a conversation with our Senior Pastor today, my church has finally decided to budget some money to have someone come in and look at our room and recommend some fixes.  i spent 20 years doing sound reinforcement, so i'm pretty qualified to deploy and tune the rig, but that doesn't mean i know much about room treatments.  all my work was pretty much run and gun.  i never had the luxury of fixing the room.

anyway, i'm now asking the same question.  i'm located in frederick, MD [near washington DC].  would anyone have a recommendation for someone to call?  i know lots of production guys, but no acoustical consultants, so i'm looking for any recommendation you can make.

jason, sorry if i'm hijacking your thread.  i'm hoping the answer to my question will also assist in your endeavor as well.
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Jeff Carter

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2012, 09:11:04 pm »

Or even stepping back from specific companies to recommend, what sort of questions should we be asking in order to distinguish a good consultant from a bad one?
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dick rees

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2012, 10:03:14 pm »

Or even stepping back from specific companies to recommend, what sort of questions should we be asking in order to distinguish a good consultant from a bad one?

Ask for referrals to previous clients you can contact for references.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2012, 06:20:10 am »

Jason, your situation is all to common and it is surprising how many churches will say that the primary mission of their worship spaces relates directly to communications but they then try to cut corners or 'make do' regarding the acoustics, audio and video systems for the space.
 
Audio and media presentation are no longer 'add ons', they are often integral to the purpose and function of the space, yet many people appear to continue to perceive the related provisions and systems as an afterthought or something you add to a space rather than as an integrated element.  The acoustics are directly releavnt to the basic space design (room shaping, room volume, space planning, etc.) and the audio, video and specialty lighting system are integrated building systems just like heating and air conditioning, power, architectural lighting, plumbing, etc.  Just because there are no legal requirements for using audio and acoustics design professionals does not diminish the potential need for or value of proper consideration and design of those aspects any more than it does for any other area of the building design and construction.
 
There is value in your having related knowledge, but it is disappointing to see how many churches seem to not even think about acoustics, audio, video and lighting until after the Architects, Mechanical and Electrical Engineers and even Interior Designers have all already completed much of their work.  The only ones who can change things by not supporting such a perspective and educating others is folks like us.  If we start supporting it being an acceptable approach then that will most likely just perpetuate the problems.
 
So instead of letting others believe they can continue along the same path and then trying to cover for them, think about using the situation to make a point that such an approach is not effective and they should get qualified people involved and get them involved at an appropriate time.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2012, 07:50:15 am »

Jason, your situation is all to common and it is surprising how many churches will say that the primary mission of their worship spaces relates directly to communications but they then try to cut corners or 'make do' regarding the acoustics, audio and video systems for the space.
 

PREACH IT BRO'.

It is amazing to me how many churches forget that the MAIN reason for going to church is to HEAR THE WORD!!!!

Yet they do all sorts of things (budget-limitations on placement etc) to keep that from happening.  They just think you can "put some speakers" in the room and all will be fine-NOT!

They will dump all kinds of money into other things-but somehow just can't find the money to make the acoustics or the sound system work properly.  So we have to make do with what limitations we have.

They forget what the priorities are.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #25 on: November 30, 2012, 09:02:56 am »

Or even stepping back from specific companies to recommend, what sort of questions should we be asking in order to distinguish a good consultant from a bad one?
As Dick noted, references can be good although it is important that the references be able to provide an accurate assessment.  I have had cases where people called and spoke with someone who did not know all the details only to end up being blamed for problems that had nothing to do with our work and in one case getting blamed for the results of work that was actually cut out of our scope and given to someone else (something I established only after we had lost the new work as a result of that reference).
 
In general, there are three areas you may want to assess.  One is technical competence, the second is relevant experience and the third is simply how well you 'click'.  That latter can be very important as you want your consultant to share your vision and goals and to be able to work well with you.
 
Also consider how their experience translates to your project and that the number of churches they have worked on may not be all that matters.  The situations and relationships on their past projects may be relevant or you may want to bring elements of another type of venue such as a theatre or club to your space in which case their experience in those other areas may matter.  I've seen some consultants who crank out projects in 'cookie cutter' fashion and who thus have a huge number of project references, but that may be an approach which may or may not work for you.
 
Depending on the size of the firm you may also want to verify that the qualifications and personnel being presented will actually be involved.  It's easy for some firms to present all sorts of qualifications, references, experience, etc., none of which then end up being relevant to the people that actually work on your project.  In the case of some large Consultants and Contractors I've seen cases where the qualifications submitted didn't even have anything to do with the office involved, I once had a Contractor submit that they had all the required certifications and personnel only to find out that they were all associated with another office in a different state that would not actually be involved with the project.
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Jeff Carter

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #26 on: November 30, 2012, 10:16:57 am »

As Dick noted, references can be good although it is important that the references be able to provide an accurate assessment

...
 
In general, there are three areas you may want to assess.  One is technical competence, the second is relevant experience and the third is simply how well you 'click'.  That latter can be very important as you want your consultant to share your vision and goals and to be able to work well with you.
I think in the case of a bad reference (or what looks like a bad job if local enough for me to have a look at) I'd at least be taking the contractor's side of the story into account as well.

On the "technical competence" aspect... that's really the core of my earlier question. For those of us who don't have any degrees or certification in acoustics, what do we need to know in order to properly evaluate technical competence, or pick between two treatment proposals that seem pretty different?
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George Friedman-Jimenez

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #27 on: November 30, 2012, 10:37:15 am »

I think Dick got to the essence of the question suggesting to get references of prior clients of the consultants. I don't think it is realistic to expect to learn enough acoustics to be able to judge, based on your new knowledge of acoustics, the better acoustics consultant or the better advice from a field of 2 or 3 different competent consultants. Looking at end results would be much more realistic and more helpful. References could be very helpful, also if you can go and see (hear) one or several of the completed projects of the consultant(s), that would seem to me to be another valuable source of information for a non-acoustician to judge which acoustics consultant to hire.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #28 on: December 01, 2012, 11:19:14 am »

I think Dick got to the essence of the question suggesting to get references of prior clients of the consultants. I don't think it is realistic to expect to learn enough acoustics to be able to judge, based on your new knowledge of acoustics, the better acoustics consultant or the better advice from a field of 2 or 3 different competent consultants. Looking at end results would be much more realistic and more helpful. References could be very helpful, also if you can go and see (hear) one or several of the completed projects of the consultant(s), that would seem to me to be another valuable source of information for a non-acoustician to judge which acoustics consultant to hire.
The reality is that the results of acoustical consulting often reflect not just the quality of the consultant's work but also when and how the consultant was involved, what budgetary or other limitations applied, how much of what they recommended was implemented (and conversely how much of what was implemented they had recommended) and how well their recommendations were implemented.
 
Another factor to consider is whether any references actually relate to the people who would be involved.  I know of a consultant that provides a good number of representative projects and references for which the majority of those projects represent the work and expertise of inviduals who left that company 5 to 10 years ago, many of whom are now at other consulting firms.  It's not unusual for a consultant to be competing for work and have their own past work used as a reference by a competing firm.
 
The point is that the results for past projects as well as for your project are often a factor of more than just the technical competence of the acoustical consulting firm.  Whether a good or bad example, determining not just who was involved by how they were involved, what considerations may have been applied and how closely the implementation represents what was recommended can also provide valuable information on not just the consultants but how to involve them effectively.
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