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Author Topic: Looking at proposals - Need Advice  (Read 16469 times)

Tony Mah

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Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
« Reply #50 on: December 23, 2006, 03:23:25 pm »

Well Nathan,

You are experiencing the limitations of getting "free" piecemeal advice over an internet forum.

On one hand you ask about where to put the amps but say you want low cost or "value". Now you say you can afford to run new curcuits for all the new equipment and do things properly.

There are only two situations that cover 99.9% of installs:
1. Existing building - go in have a look and work with the staff and volunteers
2. New building - work from the CAD drawing and work with the project manager and key staff.

For existing buildings I have already told you what a good consultant or contractor will do for a room your size. In a new building, it is easy to get floor plans, electrical drawings and etc.

In you church's case it has to be treated like a new building becuase nobody on the forum can see the building, you seem to be the project manager, but you don't provide detailed floor plans or requirements specifications. This makes it hard to give good specific advice.

Tony
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Chris Penny

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Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
« Reply #51 on: December 31, 2006, 02:03:48 am »

I think the main thing to get right in this whole process is to ensure your concept is as thorough as possible. I have been involved with far too many projects where because of poor concept design you end up with a completely unusable and unsuitable system.

My suggestion is to sit down in the church and just have a think about what you think you need and think how you would design the system, you may not know exactly what speaker you may need, or what processing units you may exactly require, but you should know what you want out of the system. If you have the time "black box" schematics can be really useful (I would suggest a layout drawing and some type of signal path type drawing).

In the end, remember your the one who has to operate, maintain and train people on this system, so make sure you are happy with the concept design before signing any large contract.
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Chris Penny
Lead Sound Person
Caringbah Anglican Church
http://www.stphils.org

Nathan Walker

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Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
« Reply #52 on: January 01, 2007, 06:04:10 pm »

Please delete this thread.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
« Reply #53 on: January 01, 2007, 06:22:38 pm »

It is about value not price, but try telling that to the commitee.  Laughing  

You say that your preferred contractor is twice the price of the others.  But they may actually give you a system that you can use and meets your needs, while the others may fall short of these goals.  How much is it going to cost you to get those needs fixed?

Unless the contractors were all bidding on the same equipment list and exact specifications (which they weren't) you CANNOT simple go on price alone.

Ask the various commitee members if they bought their car or house purely on price alone.  I bet they actually have some basic needs involved in their choice and looked at many (especially houses) before getting the one they wanted/needed.  

If you need 4 bedrooms, it really doesn't matter how good of a deal the 2 bedroom house is etc. or how good of a deal it is.  Remember, the wrong gear at a really good price is STILL THE WRONG GEAR!

The thing I would look at FIRST, is which proposals meet your needs.  Then start to look at the price and the company and what they can do for you.  Are they going to be there for you after the sale?  Many take your money and are off to the next job.

Now the real problem comes when you try to determine which proposals actaully meet your needs.  Mixer channels-stage inputs etc are easy, but the really important part, loudspeaker system design, is not so easy for lay people.  It is that part that can have some of the biggest price differences and quality differences as well.
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Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.

Nathan Walker

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Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
« Reply #54 on: January 02, 2007, 12:47:07 am »

Please delete this thread.
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Tony Mah

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Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
« Reply #55 on: January 02, 2007, 01:41:48 am »

Nathan,

I would stand firm on choosing the best contractor. You can always work with the contractor to cut stuff like wireless, subs, and etc, to lower the price later.

If the committee chooses the cheaper guys, then at least you can sleep at night knowing you did your best.

Tony
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Brad Weber

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Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
« Reply #56 on: January 02, 2007, 03:04:29 am »

I agree with Tony and Ivan, select the best value bid and then you can negotiate with them.  A couple of alternate bidding approaches sometimes get used on bigger projects and might help you.  The goal with both approaches is to try to get the greatest value and best quality for your money.

In one approach you develop a scoring table where you award points for different aspects of the bids.  The values and categories vary based on the project but it might be something like 30 points for price, 30 points for technical qualifications, 20 points for completeness and accuracy of the bid and 20 points for intangibles.  You then score each bidder in each of the various categories and the one with the highest total score is awarded the contract.  One nice aspect to this is that you can adjust the categories and the points to reflect your specific priorities.

Another option is the "two envelope" approach.  In this scheme the bids are submitted in two parts; the first packages are all the qualifications info for each bidder while the actual bid amounts are in the second envelopes.  You open the first envelopes from all the contractors and rank them, thus setting an order of most to least qualified.  You then open the second envelope from the highest ranked bidder based on the qualifications package, if that bidder's price is within the budget you stop there as you are getting the highest quality you can afford.  If that price is over budget you then go on to the second envelope for the next highest qualified bidder.  You keep doing this until you either get a bid that is within the budget or figure out that all the bids are over budget (at which point it might be time for a rebid).

Another good analogy can be tools.  Sure, you can buy a cheaper tool and save some money, but if you use and rely on that tool on a regular basis then doesn't it makes sense to buy the best you can to start with?  You may have to work within a budget, but I'd rather get a tool that I feel more assured will work well and be reliable than to save a little bit but struggle every time I use it and never know for sure whether it will work or not.  Doesn't that also make sense when it comes to your sound system?
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video
www.museav.com

Ivan Beaver

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Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
« Reply #57 on: January 02, 2007, 12:48:40 pm »

The warranty issue is something you really need to consider.

Let's say a loudspeaker that is hung up in the ceiling goes bad and will be covered by the manufacturer. Sometimes the cost of the labor to build scaffolding and drop the loudspeaker down and put it back up costs more than the loudspeaker.  And what if they have to make two trips?

Great. But who is going to take the loudspeaker down and determine the exact cause of the problem and deal with the manufacturer to either get it repaired or replaced, and then put it back up in time for service next Sunday?

That can get expensive.  That is also where the contractors warranty comes into play.  We not only cover the equipment, but also the labor to properly find the problem and fix it.  We deal with sending the equipment back if needed, and reinstalling it.  We provide loaners during this time as well.

Let's say you have an intermittant problem.  Who is going to come and find it?  Is it inside a piece of gear or simply a connection going to it? or a wire with a nick in it (I've got lots of stories about that type of problem and the nightmares finding them)?  

A warranty is a gamble on both parties.  The contractor hopes he has chosen gear that will not fail under normal use and that his crew has done a good job installing it.  The church also hopes that with a good warranty, they will not actually be needing it.

But if co not have a warranty, what is the rate to come out and find the problem and fix it?  A couple per year can get expensive.  It is the total investment cost over the life of the system that you should be interested in, not just the initial costs.

Think of light bulbs that are hard to get to.  Is it better to buy a short life bulb that is cheap or a more expensive bulb that lasts longer and you do not have to pay for the labor to replace it.  The cost of the labor is generally more than the bulb.

As with other products a good warranty generally gives the idea of a well built product that the manufacturer is willing to stand behind. The contractor should be willing to offer a warranty on their work as well.  If they don't, I would be very suspicious.  There is A LOT of bad work out there, and just because it kinda works does not make it right.

Yes warranty is not everything-nothing is, but worth considering and not to be taken lightly or assumed.  Get it in writing and exactly what it covers.
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Can I have some more talent in the monitors--PLEASE?

Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.

Nathan Walker

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Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
« Reply #58 on: January 02, 2007, 03:32:56 pm »

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John Ward

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Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
« Reply #59 on: January 02, 2007, 07:24:48 pm »

It would be my guess that the highest priced and most experienced contractor has already included any potential warranty labor, etc. into their cost. You won't find this as a line item.

The bottom line is that you can't have your cake and eat it, too. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. As a general rule, my labor rates remain the same if I am installing $200. speaker cabs or $2,000.00 speaker cabs. The system has to be designed, installed, tested and optimized regardless of the cost of the merchandise. Warranty work has to be done, and no one should work for free if there is a product failure. (Workmanship is another story.) There are just too many variables involved with warranty issues - including the site vist, crew as necessary, equipment costs, rental costs, etc. My personal policy includes overnight shipping for any failed warranty product if necessary. Few vendors / manufacturers will "eat" things like overnight shipping, or even shipping without charge replacement equipment without first having the bad product in their hands. Shelling out $4K-$6K and paying for overnight shipping on a 100 lb. console can eat operating capital in a hurry. Fortunatley I have vendors that works with me on those kinds of issues, but none the less I can't bank on it. Therefore, "hidden" in my final cost sheet is warranty labor. Another personal policy is that I do not barter in terms of labor, period. It is what it is, fair to all parties from my perspective, and basically take it or leave it. Some leave it, but I don't have to worry at night about all the "what if's". When contracts are signed, treating people and the product they have purchased is the commencement of the ceremonial wedding between us - for better or for worse. We have gone through some kind of pre-marital counseling so to speak; we know what our commitment is in total and unlike a real marriage, the fix for anything wrong is very simple - just get 'er done. Period.

I would suggest you do as others have already said - make sure the design fits your needs, your room and at least some potential future needs. Make your budget fit the net result of the above, or settle for a little less in terms of brand name, bells and whistles, wired vs. wireless and products that the contractor will have no qulams about backing up, be it a top of the line dbx driverack or a behringer dcx2496. Remember, HE~is the one responsible for making everything work AS PROMISED and to it's OPTIMAL CAPABILTY in terms of overall system performance. I have stated before - I would rather see a church spend $30K on a system that can be used to it's full potential and satisfy the demands of the room and user as opposed to spending $100K and getting less than perfect performance because "that part wasn't in the budget". ANd tha includes warranty work.
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Professional Audio Systems
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
« Reply #59 on: January 02, 2007, 07:24:48 pm »


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