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Author Topic: New High School Gym - Mini Rant  (Read 4160 times)

Adam Kane

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Re: New High School Gym - Mini Rant
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 04:37:59 pm »

Did you check to see if the very expensive DSP was actually programmed and not just straight-lined in to out?

And at least your speakers were pointing down -ours had several pointing directly at the walls 20' up -actually increasing the slap-echo in the place.

Or how about the piles of un-installed gear that music teachers and custodian had to ask me about because they didn't know what it was for and had been sitting there for years.

None of the gear was crap, just deployed wrong, incompleted or simply not installed at all!


Frustrating is that it's public money and the school district gets over 2/3 of my total property tax bills.

There's never any repercussions to the architects and contractors yet they get to charge higher and get paid more than they could in private contracts.

A/V consultant who's nameplate is on all the racks also has every relevant "industry certification" that I keep reading about in System Contractor News.  Makes me now doubt the value of such certification if it still means that the resultant install is garbage.

Sorry, don't mean to get ranting too, but I've seen this type of thing in more than one project.

Something is seriously wrong with the "system" and it really casts doubt on other aspects of public projects. 
(Such as:  Is structural, electrical, hvac and plumbing also installed with the same attention given to the A/V?)

It's like you're in my head.

This is exactly what happened around here to three local districts about 10 years ago. Cookie-cutter systems in all the buildings. DSP's doing nearly nothing and speakers aimed poorly. The A/V contractor that got the work happens to be BFF's with the architect and consultant that was involved with these projects. Huge company with tons of techs and an office staff capable of generating massive amounts of paperwork and lovely documentation. They have every certification and qualification under the sun. The racks are all beautifully constructed and neatly wired, although removing an XLR connector requires cutting 103 zip-ties. And (heaven forbid) if you have to replace a piece of gear and the connectors are not in EXACTLY the same spot, it turns into a 45-minute wiring job.

We are doing a lot of work in all three districts now because the original A/V contractor rudely refused to service any of the systems. Great for us.

My favorite system of theirs is a multi-purpose room where they have 2 speaker zones driven by a 2-channel amp (not sized correctly to directly drive 70-volt) connected to a total of 12 70-volt ceiling speakers. 8-output EXPENSIVE processor with two outputs going to the amp, and the other 6 running into a conduit. 1 mono input routed to all 8 outputs, all with identical processing (meaning no real processing). I was wondering where the other 6 outputs were running. I gave the bundle of wires a tug and they all came out of the conduit with the ends cut off and taped. The blinking meters on the front panel of the processor made it look like it was doing something. Principal was furious, as was the technology director. That was the initial find that got us the rest of the work in that particular district.
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Don T. Williams

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Re: New High School Gym - Mini Rant
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 04:45:14 pm »

Telnet a "clear 0 devconfig" command to it.
-however be ready to go with a new configuration afterwards because it will be totally blank of everything.

Thanks, Craig.  I think the schools Drama Department has finally convinced the school that that processor is antiquated and  isn't needed because active loudspeakers and subs were added for stereo.  The old mono center cluster will get a newer processor.  And yes I know a mono center cluster is probably better for most things audio, but . . .
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: New High School Gym - Mini Rant
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2018, 01:02:49 am »

I have cleaned up a number of new school gym, cafeteria, auditeria sound systems and have seen everything mentioned here!

A few general things I've noticed on new school installations:
They don't know the difference between line level
and mic level.

They don't know the difference between stereo and balanced inputs, I've lost count of the number of stereo
source inputs wired to a balanced input with one stereo channel going to + and the other going to - I have found.

They think power amps must be the most important piece of equipment so they plug them into the first stages of a power sequencer system.


The trend now is to put 1/8 inch stereo "aux inputs" all over the place without proper transformers at the inputs and wire them to the mixer mono inputs like I mentioned.

At a recent job the 1/8 jacks were directly mounted in a steel plate tying the building ground and audio ground together resulting in a loud high pitch RF induced whine in the system since the day it was deemed finished.

In addition to other problems at a different school in checking the auditeria system after my first check 1  2 on the mic I told them half your speakers are not working.
These were Lowell open mount suspended speakers, after checking the dead speakers I found they were all tapped to OFF position, the tap selector is under the grill on those.
This was another school that was certified as meeting spec even after a return service call by the installer to address the problem of poor sound in the auditeria.


Two schools I've done work were certainly designed by the same guy, on the stage they had eight hanging mics, two rows of four, so far that seems fairly normal even though I have never found hanging mics to really pick what you want them to!!
In these cases the hanging mics were Earthworks omni measurement mics, I can't remember the model but when I looked them up they were in the $500 each price range.
As you can guess they never really worked well for that use, I told them they could sell those mics and buy something much more suited for choir pick up and have money left over.....to my knowledge those mics are still hanging at those schools.

Electrical contractors usually get the bid package that includes AV, security, technology. Some will (for better or worse) sub those jobs out, others just do it all in house, some have created an in house company with a different name and more or less sub it to themselves.

Joseph D. Macry

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Re: New High School Gym - Mini Rant
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2018, 05:11:37 pm »


There are approximately 12 full range speakers arranged in a symmetrical grid in the ceiling.  They are painted to match the ceiling with all the cables run neatly in conduit.  All in all a completely professional installation.  Except ALL of the speakers are placed over the Basketball court, and ALL are facing straight down.  There are exactly ZERO speakers pointed in the direction of the bleachers or any other spectator area in the room.  So unless you are on the actual court or in the 10 feet or so surrounding the court, you are completely out of the speakers coverage zone.  So, the announcer seated next to the court can hear GREAT.  I know because his mic was feeding back the entire time.  And the 10 players and 3 referees also hear perfectly.  But if you're anywhere else you're out of luck.

12 speakers in symmetrical grid. Two rows or three?
If these are trapezoid boxes, I would expect the ones closest to the bleachers to be aimed at center of bleachers, and those over center aimed down (and set to lower volume). I have no idea if the designer specified aim points or angles. But it wouldn't be hard to change given a lift and a few hours labor.
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brian maddox

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Re: New High School Gym - Mini Rant
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2018, 05:24:33 pm »

12 speakers in symmetrical grid. Two rows or three?
If these are trapezoid boxes, I would expect the ones closest to the bleachers to be aimed at center of bleachers, and those over center aimed down (and set to lower volume). I have no idea if the designer specified aim points or angles. But it wouldn't be hard to change given a lift and a few hours labor.

i think 4 by 3 but might be 4 x 4.  Regardless, the row closest to the bleachers is still about 15 feet away from the lowest bleacher bench.  And pointed straight down.  The floor in front of the bleachers may be in the pattern, but nothing above that.  And yes, It could be re-aimed fairly easily and i expect that will happen at some point. 

However...  New Expensive Publicly funded building = everybody is a critic = i'm not touching this issue with a ten foot pole.  :)

I'd rather just rant on here. 
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Joseph D. Macry

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Re: New High School Gym - Mini Rant
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2018, 10:23:30 am »


Electrical contractors usually get the bid package that includes AV, security, technology. Some will (for better or worse) sub those jobs out, others just do it all in house, some have created an in house company with a different name and more or less sub it to themselves.
Now granted I only see the jobs that I (a dedicated A/V contractor) work on BUT:
Schools in my area (central TX) tend to have AV systems built by AV contractors, security by security contractors, data by data contractors etc.
My biggest problem is implementing audio systems designed by IT guys. Common mistake: Specify a network-capable (or Dante enabled) power amplifier (extra several hundred dollars) then not connect it to anything on the network, or connect it and do nothing network-y with it. And they don't understand cabling requirements for analog audio.
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: New High School Gym - Mini Rant
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2018, 11:24:44 am »

And they don't understand cabling requirements for analog audio.

I went on a service call about noise in the gym sound system to a school that had been recently remodeled. For some reason during the remodeling they pulled out all of the perfectly good audio cable running to the various input jacks in the gym replaced it with Cat5 and replaced the nice stainless steel wall plates with XLRs mounted in plastic Decora inserts. Even better at the mixer where the inputs all came back to they just wire nutted on cut off cheap XLR cables to plug into the mixer.

The system had a high frequency RF whine in it any time it was on.

The new sections of that school were all wired the same way with similar noise issues.

I told powers to be at the school what the problem was and after
a few "discussions" the contractor re-pulled the correct wire, I went back, terminated and set the systems up to actually work.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 04:07:04 pm by Mike Caldwell »
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David Pedd

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Re: New High School Gym - Mini Rant
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2018, 12:14:56 pm »

I went a service call about noise in the gym sound system to a school that had been recently remodeled. For some reason during the remodeling they pulled all of the perfectly good audio cable running to the various input jacks in the gym replaced it with Cat5 and replaced the nice stainless steel wall plates with XLRs mounted in plastic Decora inserts. Even better at the mixer where the inputs all came back to they just wire nutted on cut off cheap XLR cables to plug into the mixer.

The system had a high frequency RF whine in it any time it was on.

The new sections of that school were all wired the same way with similar noise issues.

I told powers to be at the school what the problem was and after
a few "discussions" the contractor re-pulled the correct wire, I went back, terminated and set the systems up to actually work.

Years ago (early 90's) I did a service call at a school and found the system had a programmable EQ in the rack.  The problem was, it had never been set up.   Found out the install company didn't have a laptop to connect to do the setup!  You see all kinds of things.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: New High School Gym - Mini Rant
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2018, 02:47:12 pm »

For a large indoor athletic facility I was asked to "verify" (after the installer's call back period expired, go figure), one of the specific criteria the athletic dept had was "more sound on the floor for the athletes."  I guess it's an emotion/motivational thing for the pumping music and blasting announcer vox.  Because that was the jock-oriented need, that was the only thing the Person In Charge actually listened to before signing off on the installation.

He completely missed the big dead spot(s) and seating sections that have lousy intelligibility due to multiple speakers aimed there (want to guess where they should have been aimed?).  These speaker aiming failures are welded in place so the issues will not be addressed for at least another 10-15 years when another billionaire donor is tapped for new video scoreboards, remodeled locker rooms and better video patch/fiber runs.
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: New High School Gym - Mini Rant
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2018, 07:58:38 pm »

Let's not forget to mention that sometimes the speakers are OK and actually aimed into the bleachers but have thick heavy banners hung up directly in front of each one!!
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