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Author Topic: Hiring a company to consult limited work  (Read 6324 times)

William Henneck

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Hiring a company to consult limited work
« on: November 22, 2011, 06:21:22 pm »

Hi all!

I am new on this board, but certainly not new to the world of sound. I have consulted and worked privately with many venues working on existing systems. But now I have a new challenge. I've been asked to help re-design a system in an old venue.

I know many aspects of system design-and might even feel comfortable selecting FOH speakers for the new rig. What I'm NOT comfortable doing (and the ONLY aspect) I'm not comfortable doing is tuning the FOH system upon install (and rigging it).

Would it be an absurd request to ask a local company to come in, fly the speakers, tune them (with a DSP that I will select and program, specifically a NION system by MediaMatrix (Peavey)) and do nothing else?

I'm sure I could work my way through it, and considering the current facility doesn't have ANY FOH processing (just a crossover for subs vs mid/high-and its slowing degrading). So-it couldn't get any worse...right? I, however, don't feel like buying Smaart, an RTA mic, etc, and doing that part of the install. Question is above...anybody have a thought?

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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Hiring a company to consult limited work
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2011, 07:39:07 pm »

Hi all!

I am new on this board, but certainly not new to the world of sound. I have consulted and worked privately with many venues working on existing systems. But now I have a new challenge. I've been asked to help re-design a system in an old venue.

I know many aspects of system design-and might even feel comfortable selecting FOH speakers for the new rig. What I'm NOT comfortable doing (and the ONLY aspect) I'm not comfortable doing is tuning the FOH system upon install (and rigging it).

Would it be an absurd request to ask a local company to come in, fly the speakers, tune them (with a DSP that I will select and program, specifically a NION system by MediaMatrix (Peavey)) and do nothing else?

I'm sure I could work my way through it, and considering the current facility doesn't have ANY FOH processing (just a crossover for subs vs mid/high-and its slowing degrading). So-it couldn't get any worse...right? I, however, don't feel like buying Smaart, an RTA mic, etc, and doing that part of the install. Question is above...anybody have a thought?
The question is who is going to assume liability if the customer is not happy?

let's look at a worse case.

The customer is not happy-either about the way the system sounds-or coverage or output or whatever.

The guy tuning it says he can't tune it any better because of the speaker selection/design.  you the designer say that the design is fine-but it is not tuned right.  The customer doesn't care whos fault it is, they just want it fixed.  So a lot fo finger pointing goes on and the customer just gets mad at both parties.

I believe whoever designs the system should be responsible for the alignment and the end result.

There is only so much that even the best DSP can "fix".  Physical problems with the cabinets or the way they are hung is not one of them.

I would make sure the responsibilities are well spelled out ahead of time.

You should hire a company who is licensed and insured to be hangin stuff over peoples heads.  And make sure the gear that is specified is rated to be hung.

Probably not waht you wanted to hear-but I have been caught in the middle of the exact problem I have described.  And the designer is often long forgotten about and the installer (even though they installed the system exactly as designed) is left to blame and gets the bad rap.
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Ivan Beaver
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William Henneck

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Re: Hiring a company to consult limited work
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2011, 08:06:46 pm »

Thanks for the feedback.

What if the company who comes in selects the FOH speakers, amps to match, and also does the rigging and tuning?

Then they leave?
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Hiring a company to consult limited work
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2011, 09:31:16 pm »

Thanks for the feedback.

What if the company who comes in selects the FOH speakers, amps to match, and also does the rigging and tuning?

Then they leave?
That would less room for "blame".  Just be sure they understand all of the requirements of the system before they do a design.  If the system is designed for one aspect and theuse is another, that can be another issue.

It will be a lot easier to find somebody to do an alignment on a system they designed and installed.

It does not have to be the whole system (like consoles/effects-monitor rig/snake etc), but the parts that rely on each other should be designed together as a unit.
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Ivan Beaver
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William Henneck

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Re: Hiring a company to consult limited work
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2011, 10:13:58 pm »

That would less room for "blame".  Just be sure they understand all of the requirements of the system before they do a design.  If the system is designed for one aspect and theuse is another, that can be another issue.

It will be a lot easier to find somebody to do an alignment on a system they designed and installed.

It does not have to be the whole system (like consoles/effects-monitor rig/snake etc), but the parts that rely on each other should be designed together as a unit.

This put some interesting thoughts in my head, thanks. I appreciate the guidance.
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Hayden J. Nebus

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Re: Hiring a company to consult limited work
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2011, 09:49:44 am »

This put some interesting thoughts in my head, thanks. I appreciate the guidance.


IMO it's important to find a reputable outfit who will stand behind their work considering you will almost unquestionably need support down the line, long after the check's been cut, for service/tweaks/upgrades. Also, proper documentation of positions, splays, and analysis/ alignment data should be provided as proof in the pudding, so to speak.

Two years since my rig was commisioned, I still have an open dialog with my consultant who designed and aligned the rig, about what works well for me, what doesn't, what I would do differently, verifying performance after service, etc.

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William Henneck

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Re: Hiring a company to consult limited work
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2011, 12:30:36 pm »


IMO it's important to find a reputable outfit who will stand behind their work considering you will almost unquestionably need support down the line, long after the check's been cut, for service/tweaks/upgrades. Also, proper documentation of positions, splays, and analysis/ alignment data should be provided as proof in the pudding, so to speak.

Two years since my rig was commisioned, I still have an open dialog with my consultant who designed and aligned the rig, about what works well for me, what doesn't, what I would do differently, verifying performance after service, etc.

I just don't want to have them do the whole install. As a personal consultant myself, I want to do the parts of the install that I know how to do-infact I provide system maintenance/tweaking all the time. I've just never done FOH tuning-and don't have the experience or equipment to do so. Hence my snag point. I don't want to hire someone to do the whole thing-only the part I can't personally do.
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Lee Douglas

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Re: Hiring a company to consult limited work
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2011, 03:21:42 pm »

I don't want to hire someone to do the whole thing-only the part I can't personally do.

A very well defined scope of work is what is needed here.  If you want them to be available before or after the install for consultation or changes, you need to define that in the scope to allow them to build that into their bid.  Be very specific about your expectations and needs, understand that whatever you didn't think of or specify becomes your problem and a change order from them.  Try to stay away from subjective language that is open for interpretation. You've got three entities (you, you sub and the owner(s)) involved who's definition of "best possible location" may vary greatly.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Hiring a company to consult limited work
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2011, 04:36:51 pm »

.  Try to stay away from subjective language that is open for interpretation. You've got three entities (you, you sub and the owner(s)) involved who's definition of "best possible location" may vary greatly.
And other terms like Loud and Low can mean very different things to different people.  He will need specific numbers that can be backed up with measurement to make sure the system meets the specified needs.

If the customer says the system need to produce 100dB, and the system does that then fine.  But if want to actually run it at 110dB (whatever weighting and time constant you want to attach to those numbers also needs to be spelled out), then then cannot say the system doesn't meet their needs  And yes it doesn't, but it DOES meet the design criteria that was given (100dB).

This is where it can get "ugly" in some cases. 
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Brad Weber

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Re: Hiring a company to consult limited work
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2011, 05:27:27 pm »

I know many aspects of system design-and might even feel comfortable selecting FOH speakers for the new rig. What I'm NOT comfortable doing (and the ONLY aspect) I'm not comfortable doing is tuning the FOH system upon install (and rigging it).

Would it be an absurd request to ask a local company to come in, fly the speakers, tune them (with a DSP that I will select and program, specifically a NION system by MediaMatrix (Peavey)) and do nothing else?
The comment that you "...might even feel comfortable selecting FOH speakers for the new rig" sends up a red flag.  Would you hire someone who "might feel comfortable" doing whatever it is you've hired them to do?  Are you planning on performing any system performance prediction?  Are you analyzing the acoustical conditions of the existing space and coordinating with or even addressing the room acoustics?

I'm also a bit confused by some of your terminology.  You refer to your providing consulting and being a consultant, but then you talk about you providing some of the installation.  Are you providing the installation or are you consulting with the installation then being bid or negotiated with another company?  Are you acting as a consultant or as a design-build contractor?  That could have a significant impact on the responses to your questions.

The installed system design and installation world often has many liability, legal, licensing/permitting, code/life safety and other considerations that don't exist in other areas of audio but that can be very relevant when discussing issues such as subcontractors or splitting the scope of work.  There can also be many issues related to the design and procurement processes that differ from other aspects of audio.  What is you experience with projects like this?  Do you have all of the potentially relevant certification, licensing, liability insurance, bonding, etc.?  Are you familiar with the potential permitting, code compliance, etc. aspects?  The viability of using subcontractors, their responsibility and potential risk, the contractual relationship, the firms that might be willing to work with you or be appropriate, etc. may depend on some of these factors.

I have worked successfully as both a Consultant and Contractor with third-party system tuning and rigging providers as well as on numerous projects where I was the Consultant and the Contractor used third-party providers.  It can work quite well, however the most effective and successful such situations are ones involving significant trust, coordination and communication.  I think that before addressing the details of using third party providers it makes sense to first understand your actual role and relevant qualifications as that could impact both what is feasible and how to best approach it.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2011, 12:54:04 pm by Brad Weber »
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Re: Hiring a company to consult limited work
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2011, 05:27:27 pm »


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