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Title: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 12, 2006, 03:50:17 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on December 12, 2006, 04:15:02 pm
Nathan Walker wrote on Tue, 12 December 2006 15:50

... Our church has chosen to forgo a contractor, but we are seeking any sources of outside help....what are a few questions you all might ask a vendor besides how much experience they have, what type of maintenance they provide and that sort of thing?


I'm my opinion vendors generally supply the equipment and that is it.  The best price, return policy, and product support you can get, is the vendor you should go with.  A vendor is not there to provide installation information, system training, or system maintenance. Those are all roles of contractors.  If you want that level of support you need to hire a contractor.  Beware, as vendors usually just want to sell their products.  You should know what you need before you start looking for vendors to buy the items from.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 12, 2006, 04:46:03 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tom Young on December 12, 2006, 04:54:44 pm
No. There is no need for breaking in professional loudspeakers.

There is a huge need to measure and optimize a loudspeaker system once it is in place. Are you being provided with this ?
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tom Young on December 12, 2006, 04:56:30 pm
Hopefully the 4 vendors have been given the same programming needs and other criteria and will therefore submit proposals that can sensibly be compared.

Is this the case ?
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on December 12, 2006, 05:01:16 pm
At the risk of the wrath of many audiophiles out there, a break-in is not required.  No burning in cables so the electrons know which way to flow or anything like that.

Perhaps it is terminology, but firms that not only sell equipment but that also install it and support it are contractors, that is pretty much the definition of what a contractor is.  Or did I misunderstand and you are doing the install yourself?

That being said, there are many differences between contractors.  Definitely check out references, make sure you try to talk to people who were directly involved rather than getting second or third hand information.  Also check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints.

Find out the background and experience of their staff.  Make sure they have the resources, a one or two person firm may be less expensive and do great work, but could that be a problem when something has a problem later and they are all tied up on another job.

Definitely check out how they plan to test, adjust and tune the systems as this has a great impact on the end result.  Poor gain structure or system tuning with an audio system and poor signal levels and display adjustment with a video system can more than offset using good equipment.  Find out the processes, personnel and equipment used for this critical part of the install.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on December 12, 2006, 05:01:47 pm
Nathan Walker wrote on Tue, 12 December 2006 16:46

It may not be as in depth as if it were from a contractor, but they said their business is to design and install audio and video solutions, train the people who run it, and occasionally come in for additional training and system maintenance.


This is more than a normal vendor would provide.  They are combining the role of a contractor and the vendor.  Something that is talked about here a lot is even speaker coverage throughout the room.  Ask for a coverage plot, such as and EASE plot.  Maybe Tom, Ivan, or Brad can give more information on this.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 12, 2006, 11:52:59 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ivan Beaver on December 13, 2006, 09:18:17 am
Nathan Walker wrote on Tue, 12 December 2006 23:52

All the vendors/contractors have received the same technical specifications. The only differences that these proposals will have are their respective solutions to our specific needs.

I'm assuming that these guys are what you all would consider contractors. I think I confused contractor with consultant. Our committee has been using the term vendor as any company that will install our A/V system.


That clears things up a bit, depending on who you are talking to, the terms can mean different things to different people.

What sort of "specifications" were given out?  depending on how specific they are, you can get bids that are all over the place.

At a minimum what the contractor should do is to totally test everything in the system, all mic jacks, monitor jacks etc.  Do a complete system alignment (this often seperates the men from the boys) and the same system can have quite different results with the same gear in the same place, training on the system and a warranty period (at least 1 year) at which time they will come out at no charge "unless operator error-and that depends" and repair or replace any defective equipment.  Yes the equipment itself will be covered under manufacturers warranty, but what about the labor to actually do the work-that should be at no charge to the customer as well.  Stuff hanging from the ceiling gets expensive to repair.  That should be part of waht you pay for up front.  

They should also be available for phone questions at no charge.  I spend quite a bit of my time doing phone consultations-especially on digital consoles and how to do certain things.

The training issues can get a bit touchy, regarding exactly what is involved.  Those people that do not know anything about sound expect the training to make a sound person out of anybody, you can just train them right?  NO!

It is not the contractors job to make a sound person.  What we do is show them the features of the system, what they should and should not mess with, how to turn the system on, patchbays (if any) etc.  Most of the time is spent on a complete (OK, well almost complete) going over of the console and the functions.  I don't waste time showing how to skip tracks on the CD player, or what the pause button means.

I have heard of some "instructors" who spend all the training time showing how to plug in a mic, how to coil a cable etc. and very little time on how to operate the console.  You just make adjustments on that  Laughing .

While that is something that some people need, if they need that sort of level of training, that will be at additional charge and take a lot longer.

I would ask for references AND CALL THEM!!!!!!!!!!!  We have competitors that put down as references jobs that they did not even do, but have actually stolen work from us "because they did XYZ church so they must be good" when in fact they had NOTHING to do with that particular job and were not even allowed to bid it, much less do any work.

And they DARE go into a church to work?

If you can, go visit similar churches to yours that they have done and see what you  think.  Kinda like buying a new car, are you going to buy it without even sitting in it or driving it?  OK maybe if the color is right, nothing else matters  Laughing

But that is how some people buy sound systems, OH they are going to use so and so loudspeakers and I have heard so much about them.  Well what if those "pretty shiny" loudspeakers are not right for your room?

Talk to the engineers of the different companies and see what sort of a "feel" you get from them.  That might tell you a lot.  Ask them to tell you how they figure their design is RIGHT FOR YOUR ROOM, and not just because "everybody likes them" or "they used them is so and so church and they do the same worship style as you" etc.  Yes I have actually heard those comments.  But are they right for your room?

Ask them what do do to align a system.  What tools do they use, methodolgy etc.

How big are the particular companies?  That may or may not give you an idea of what sort of support you are going to get after they have your final payment.  The 1-2 man shops are often times going to be to busy on another install to bother with yours.  They will be cheaper on the front end, but what is it going to cost in the long run?

I am just finishing up a job in which the church could not get the cheap guy to come back and get the sound right.  After several years they had had enough.  They had decent gear.  We came in and took it all down, rehung it right, rewired the amp rack, reprogrammed DSP (WOW what a joke) and now they have a very good system. BTW the wiring was all pretty and clean, but jsut done wrong. But the equipment list stayed the same, so you cannot go simply on the list of gear, but HOW that list of gear is used is what really makes the difference.

We do this type of work fairly often, just selling labor and expertise and no gear.  It is a real shame that we have to do this.

That's where talking and visiting other churches can make a difference.  Anybody can sell gear, but using it properly is a whole idfferent issue.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 13, 2006, 11:51:30 am
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on December 13, 2006, 12:03:55 pm
Forget about the feedback destroyer.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 13, 2006, 12:22:09 pm
Aaron McQueen wrote on Wed, 13 December 2006 12:03

Forget about the feedback destroyer.

What do you mean?
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on December 13, 2006, 12:35:18 pm
In a properly tuned system you will not need it.  Mic placement, mic choice,  monitor placement, speaker system alignment and system tuning are much more important in the fight against feedback.  Often times feedback destroyers will automatically notch out frequencies to the detriment of the overall sound.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 13, 2006, 12:57:14 pm
You make a good point. However I'd still need to learn how to use one for special occasions where microphone placement is not as it is on a typical Sunday. For example, 5 wireless lapel microphones for a Christmas pageant. All within 15 feet (never again without decent microphones).
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on December 13, 2006, 01:23:35 pm
Nathan Walker wrote on Wed, 13 December 2006 12:57

You make a good point. However I'd still need to learn how to use one for special occasions where microphone placement is not as it is on a typical Sunday. For example, 5 wireless lapel microphones for a Christmas pageant. All within 15 feet (never again without decent microphones).


Exactly, different microphones would have fixed the problem, not a feedback destroyer.  
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 13, 2006, 03:12:51 pm
Good point yet again.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tom Young on December 13, 2006, 05:13:22 pm
This "specification" is pretty non-specific to begin with as far as its base performance and in particular for the loudspeaker system.

By not specifying basic performance criteria the results are very likely to be much more the subject of interpretation.  

Among other things, you need to know:

how loud the loudspeaker systems can get and with how much dynamic headroom

the frequency response: +/- so many dB and tied into a clearer requirement of coverage ("system shall cover all seats (while restricting over-coverage onto walls and ceiling) and provide a frequency response of +/-4dB across this area".... for example)

how the elements of the loudspeaker system will be optimized and aligned. This includes the processing, how it is routed, amplification and then how the whole shebang will be measured and tuned once it has been installed. Folks who know how to do this can significantly improve any make of ldspkr system (cheap or 'top shelf') and this should be included in their labor charges.

Safety. You need to ensure that the rigging for any suspended devices (audio, video and lighting) are designed by experienced installers and then have this inspected and stamped by a licensed PE. Ditto the electrical power and the need for establishing how this is designed and implemented.

Also FYI, there are a good number of DSP processing systems (absolutley needed for the loudspeaker systems) that you can buy with additional inputs and then program these for automixing so that smaller/less complex events can be run without an operator OR relying on the operator to remember to set the board up.  Adding this to a DSP system only costs a few hundred dollars more. But this takes time to program, which the installer should include in their labor.

While you are at it, include a few more inputs and outputs in the DSP system so that individual mic's (or subgroups of mic's) can be equalized separately and with far greater precision than what is provided on the mixer channels. Your Christmas pageant is a good example of where this comes in handy. I would add 1-2 additional "spare" in's and out's for future applications.

Another detail falls under system noise and quality and includes specifying the right cable, routing it correctly (separation between wiring level groups, using metal conduit where needed, etc) and then painstakingly setting system gain.

In my opinion there is little point in having instruction if the system is hampered by poor performance when completed.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Mac Kerr on December 13, 2006, 06:24:44 pm
As Tom has pointed out, without a performance component to the spec you may as well go out and buy a bunch of boxes at Banjo Center. The critical design phase of your installation is not mentioned at all in your RFP. This is the most important reason to hire an independent designer, or at least an installer who will break out the design as a separate job. Someone who knows what they are doing has to set the minimum performance goals or there will be no way to know if your finished system meets any kind of reasonable standard. They don't need to know how many console channels you think you need, or what kind of mics you want. They need to know what you are going to do with the system, and what your goals are for the future.

I am getting some improvements done on a cottage I own. I have hired a contractor who is doing a design based on what I have told him I envision. We will work together through the design phase, and when we have something I like we will move on to building it. I have paid for the design, but it is the property of the builder until it is built. I would expect to use a similar model when working with a sound system installer.

Mac
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 13, 2006, 09:00:01 pm
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ivan Beaver on December 13, 2006, 09:24:47 pm
The question I am going to ask, and have asked many times here before, are the JBL's listed for mains actually correct for your room?  How are they planning on implementing them?  What about subs?  What is your style of worship?  What is the size/shape/seating of the room? Is the TT24 going to give you enough inputs?  Do you need a choir monitor?  Is 2 monitor mixes enough for you?

Does the price include installation?  This may sound like a stupid question, but many churches have been "burnt" by this little fact.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Mac Kerr on December 13, 2006, 09:55:09 pm
I don't know what you're trying to say with the list. There is nothing in that list particularly relevant to designing a sound installation. What is important in the design is to meet a specification of function. The mics don't matter, the CD player doesn't matter, even the console barely matters. What matters is understanding the use the system will be put to, and guaranteeing a certain level of performance. Compared to the cost of installing wire, and designing and installing and optimizing a proper speaker system, the other items are spare change. They can also be added at any time, the speakers and wire cannot.

The proposal returned by the bidder should describe how their system will fulfill the functional spec, and should be backed up by documentation. After completion, at acceptance, where they demonstrate that the spec has been met, they should also turn over full documentation, including "as built" drawings.

Mac
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ivan Beaver on December 14, 2006, 08:45:24 pm
Totally agreed.  Anybody can spec a mic or a console, but designing a good sounding system that has proper coverage is a whole different issue.

Here is a shot of before and after of a job we finished rehanging and realigning a customers system and did not sell them any gear, just reused their existing stuff.  The different traces are different positions around the room.  The yellow one is FOH. Shocked
index.php/fa/77/0/
Title: Nice
Post by: Mac Kerr on December 14, 2006, 09:10:04 pm
I really like the way everything from about 2k and up varied around the room. Man, did they pay someone for that? it looks like you brought it together pretty well. Care to mention what you had to do?

Mac
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 15, 2006, 04:15:47 am
Ok, so from all of this I assume that a good vendor will be able to get similar frequency response at all seating areas and be able to measure it with a device rather than by ear alone.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tom Young on December 15, 2006, 06:45:31 am
"Ok, so from all of this I assume that a good vendor will be able to get similar frequency response at all seating areas and be able to measure it with a device rather than by ear alone."

That's it, but still is a bit too simplified.

A good contractor will be able to measure and then correct the frequency response so that it is similar in response at all seats. This may include tweaking the aiming of some of the devices and then applying delay, gain adjustments and precision equalization to make the system response smooth and natural sounding.  This process may also include identifying acoustics effects (problems) and applying treatment.

In most cases, the designer of the loudspeaker system gets the loudspeaker positions and aiming right and also spots acoustic problems ahead of time (and recommends or provides appropriate treatment). Measurement confirms these but sometimes shows anomalies that the design process missed (modeling software is a work in  progress). Measurement also displays the interaction between loudspeakers and the interaction between the loudspeakers and the room that are impossible to accurately predict or model. Finally; measurement shows you whether the correction you have applied has worked. Important note: this is complicated stuff and sometimes what we first think will fix something does not, so we go back and rethink what we can do.

Another important note: it matters not whether you have a budget ldspkr system or a top shelf system - they both will exhibit interaction problems and need to be measured and then optimized.

This is not a process that goes like clockwork.  Sometimes you run into a problem that there is no easy answer to. But you have to have the tools, experience and determination to stick with it until you reach an acceptable point. Sometimes it takes an extra day.

And it doesn't stop when you play a CD and everyone (including you) goes: "Wow !!" You need to then do sound checks, coach/instruct the band and sound crew and measure/optimize key (sometimes problematic) microphones such as the pastors lav or headset. Here, too, whether you have an E6 headset mic or you have a cheaper model..... any mic used in this manner needs to be optimized without changing the overall system performance.

The important thing is that the contractor (or consultant when they carry this ball) is capable of handing over a system with no blemishes that will effect how the system performs.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on December 15, 2006, 08:40:53 am
Nathan,

You got it all wrong. Anyone can stick up a microphone in a church and use an equalizer with some software and make the graph look flat at one seat on the floor. A good contractor will be able to show you before you buy how the speakers they choose will give a similar response at most seats. A program like LARA can do this and is very inexpensive.

In a prebuilt room your size (250) this should not take more than a few hours and will be quite accurate. It only gets complicated whne the room gets large and is not built yet.

contractor come on site and:
1. Measures the floor and seating surface area
2. measures reverb time
3. asks where the speakers are allowed and not allowed to go
4. asks about present and future style of worship music.
5. Gets a feel for the amount of money the client wants to spend, from a basic clean system ie. passive 2-way, shure 58, no subs, to something that would make everyone coming in on Sunday to say wow.

Should be able to produce coverage plots in a few hours and a quote in less than a day. Will provide calibration service as part of the package.

A red flag would be if the contractor used room modeling software and goes overboard and draws too much detail like doors and windows. With a prebuilt room, only the floor plan is needed! The walls don't matter because the reverb time is known and you can actually go inside the room and listen for problems like echos.

Tony
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on December 15, 2006, 11:21:35 am
Tony Mah wrote on Fri, 15 December 2006 08:40

A red flag would be if the contractor used room modeling software and goes overboard and draws too much detail like doors and windows. With a prebuilt room, only the floor plan is needed! The walls don't matter because the reverb time is known and you can actually go inside the room and listen for problems like echos.
Had me agreeing with you pretty well up to here.  When you can get data for an existing room that is definitely the preferred way to go.  However, you typically measure a lot more than reverb time, such as gathering multiple Impulse Responses that you can later analyze for many acoustic descriptors and characteristics.  And one of the primary reasons for making these measurements can be to use that data to tweak a model in order to provide a more accurate result, which takes the model being complete and sufficiently detailed.

The last thing one would want to do is measure high reverb times and/or hear echoes and then go and model the system based only on direct coverage of the seating area with no room acoustical environment included.  This situation would be precisely where I would want to most carefully model the room and get the model results to match what was found to actually exist before modeling the sound system.

Modeling direct coverage only for speakers in a more a complex acoustical environment (such as in a any enclosed space) does not give an accurate picture of what can be expected.  Why do this if you have actual data that can be used to more accurately model the acoustical environment?  A quick model of just the seating area(s) can certainly be used for some initial modeling to verify that good coverage is even possible, but it would not show that good coverage and good intelligibility, clarity, etc. could actually be expected as that requires considering the acoustical environment of the space.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 15, 2006, 11:58:05 am
Heh, do they have college courses for all this? I just realized how little I actually know about sound systems.

Do any of you live in Missouri?
Title: Re: Nice-What we did
Post by: Ivan Beaver on December 15, 2006, 05:34:41 pm
Here is a really poor photo of the center cluster before redoing.  I tried using the nighttime setting, but it moved a bit Laughing The camera was at the rear seating.  Notice how far down it is pointed.  It was aimed about 1/3rd or less back into the sanc.

The seating is all on the floor.  Notice how the side loudspeakers on the cluster point to the walls.  There were also 2 exploded cabinets on the sides.  The cabinets were all Renkus Heinz.  The centers trap 40's and the sides TRX151's.

We took two of the main loudspeakers off of the cluster and moved the cluster closer to the ceiling.  We then pointed it towards the rear of the room and added one of the side loudspeakers as a downfill.  The other side loudspeaker was moved to the rear of the room to act as a delay.  The extreme rear seats narrowed from the widest part of the room, so it was fine for coverage.

They also had 2 120* loudspeakers for the choir that were "arrayed" at about a 25* angle.  We busted them apart and moved both of them so as to give 2 different choir monitors for 2 different locations.

The other 2 mains were moved to the sides and positioned so as to add to the main coverage pattern.  The origional setup had the side loudspeakers too far off to the sides so as to pull localization to the sides.

We had to pull extra send lines as the DSP (Media Matrix) was located at FOH.  I wiped the DSP as that was faster than trying to "clean it up".  I rewired the amp rack so as to fit the new DSP settings.  We pulled the extra speaker wires as needed.

We did sell them an Aviom system, but that doesn't count as selling them gear for the PA.  We started on Mon. morning and were finished Tues. afternoon, including the Aviom install.

The part in the DSP that I liked best was using a stereo eq with mono controls with the inputs being the highs and lows of the biamped mains.  How does that work? Not very well at least.

The design and install was by one of the largest sellers and installers of church sound system in the US.

After talking to the church the contractor never actually sent anybody to do alignment.  They just kept sending programs up for the customer to load into the DSP.  Alignment by customer opinion I guess.

The install was 6 years ago and the gear was fine GL4000-48 FOH, Media matrix, QSC/crown amps, Renkus loudspeakers etc.  It was just how it was used that was the problem.  They have not had a service with it yet, but this weekend is their Christmas drama.  We will find out next week, but comments from rehersals are very good.

I enjoy doing this type of work as pushes us to make the best of what is available on the fly.  This time we reused all the existing equipment, but often times we actually give gear back to the customer because too many loudspeakers were installed.

index.php/fa/78/0/
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice-Models
Post by: Ivan Beaver on December 15, 2006, 06:27:31 pm
We had a consultant once that had me build the model for his own church. He was going to do the loudspeaker design. He didn't like the actual building of the model.

When I got to the church and looked at the loudspeaker placement(as per consultant specs) I noticed that there was no way the aiming was going to cover the room.

When I asked him why he speced them at the aiming he did, he said that he had ramped up the reverb time to almost 3 times what it actually was and was modeling for greatest intelligability.  Why, the RT60 in the room was not that bad.  

We aimed the loudspeakers the way I wanted and all was fine.  I asked him a couple of months later how it was and he said that he had not had a chance to "tweek" it yet, but everybody was happy.  

Models are just like everything else, a tool, and how you use it and how much you understand about it, determines what you will actually get out of it.  My honest opinion is that some people spend waaayyyy too much time inside the model and not enough time in the real world.

I use both methods, just mapping the seating plane for coverage and full models.  It depends on what the customer is willing to spend and what I need out of the model.  Depending on the complexity of the model (as you know), it can take a week or more to build it and get data out of it.  That gets expensive.

The real question is like so many other things in audio-What are you here to do?  What do you want out of the model?

Just like in measurement, I could spend weeks gathering data, but is that really necessary for what it takes to fix "the problem".   Maybe, maybe not, It depends.

I do not believe in over engineering (design time or equipment)(to an extent) or anything else that does not bring the customer any real value for their money.  Stewardship is what we are all about, and that does not mean cheap, just not excess.

Sorry to rant, it has gotten to be a habit  Laughing  
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on December 16, 2006, 02:02:17 pm
Brad,

My response is was specifically for Nathan and their 250 seat church, and not all conditions. Let me put in a time constraint and you tell me how you would do it.
9AM-10AM drive to church
10AM-11PM meeting with pastor etc to talk about vision what they want to do.
1PM-noon - measurement time
Noon-1PM -Lunch
1PM-4pm - do caluclations and quote
4pm-4:30pm - go over quote with client make sure you got everything
4:30-5:30 - drive back to office, check email, etc and go home.

So you got about 4 hours to solve the room and finish the quote. IMO you can't spend more time than this on a small church unless you are going to over sell on equipment. Hint: The usable surface area on the stage is strongly correlated to the maximum number of channels required regardless of what the client wants.

The more experience you have, the faster you can go. I would ask if anyone complains of echos in the room. Do a few RT 60 measurements with a bookshelf speaker, measure the current system response, and maybe tweak their eq for them. Check for echos and if there are some, spec some absorbtion on the rear wall. Most small churches with RT60 of 1s to 1.5 sec follow the Sabine formula.

Based on this information, I would pick some speakers with the appropriate directivity for the room and check the coverage plot at 500hz and 2khz with software. I use LARA becuase it is easy, CADP2 because it is the only program that allows you to enter the measured RT60, and bypass the modeled calculations, and CATT  when I can't measure the room.

Tony


Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on December 16, 2006, 02:22:17 pm
Nathan,

There are no college courses for sound system design that normal people can take. There are sound system design courses that are part of degree programs, but you can't take them unless you are part of that program like Masters of Acoustics, Masters Fine Arts Theatre, Architecture, Recording Sciences, and etc.

There are courses from independant schools on how to install alarms, ceiling speakers, and sound systems, but they don't cover design work.

SYN-AUD-CON in the only place that offers a design course, but the crash course assumes you are in the trade and Pat goes very fast, that is one of the reasons many people take it over and over again. So if someone claims to have taken the course, it doesn't mean alot becuase there is no exam. If Pat had an exam with a 70% mark required to pass, I would expect over half the class to fail.

Tony  
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ivan Beaver on December 16, 2006, 03:54:55 pm
In the old days there used to be a synaudcon test, and it was not easy.

You are correct in many people attend the class and then saying that they "know it all".  I knew a guy once who took a synaudcon class 20yrs ago so he was an "expert".  In reality he barely had a clue.  You are probably correct that half the class would fail.

Every class is different, even covering the same material.  That is one reason I have been to so many and still attend more when I can.  Synaudcon is like so many other things, the more you know going into it, the more you will get out of it.  ALso the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

There are also "bits and pieces" type courses available at trade shows like NSCA and Infocomm, but if people think Synaudcon is expensive (it is, but still a GREAT value for what you can (can is the important word there) get out of it), then the trade show courses are really expensive.  However, there is a lot of good useful information  available.  I have taken several, and walked away with skills and knowledge that I use all the time.

NEVER stop learning!
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on December 17, 2006, 11:07:26 am
Tony Mah wrote on Sat, 16 December 2006 14:02

Brad,
My response is was specifically for Nathan and their 250 seat church, and not all conditions. Let me put in a time constraint and you tell me how you would do it.
9AM-10AM drive to church
10AM-11PM meeting with pastor etc to talk about vision what they want to do.
1PM-noon - measurement time
Noon-1PM -Lunch
1PM-4pm - do caluclations and quote
4pm-4:30pm - go over quote with client make sure you got everything
4:30-5:30 - drive back to office, check email, etc and go home.

So you got about 4 hours to solve the room and finish the quote. IMO you can't spend more time than this on a small church unless you are going to over sell on equipment.
I guess I misunderstood what you were saying.  I did not get that your comments were limited to preparing a quote and interpreted them as being related to the actual design.

If a client puts you in a situation where they expect a bid within 24 hours, which is not a good idea to start with and certainly does not seem to be the case here, then I wouldn't expect any modeling.  I would also question any bids put together that hastily for a project like this, just from experience I know that unless there is a single person that is salesman, designer, installer and service person, getting an equipment list together and then getting all those people to get review it and make any necessary adjustments will take more time than that.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on December 17, 2006, 01:53:56 pm
Brad,

It would only take me a day to do a small church and even if I spent a week, the quote would be the same. My job would be to design a great sounding system and save the church time and money.

The better question is how can we save Nathan's church money?
1 Mackie TT24 Mixer
- A 24 ch digital board for a church that if Nathan leaves will not have anyone that can take advantage of the features? A&H wizard might be just fine
1 Marantz PMD325 CD Player
1 Tascam CC-222MKIII Recorder
- A CD recorder yes, but why can't the church use the CD player and the tape recorder they already have?

2 Shure SLX SM58 Wirless Mics
- From the pictures it looks like the room is more reverberant than normal. Audix OM5 wireless seems more reasonable.
1 Shure ULXS w/ WH30 Headset Mic
- Sub Audix guitar body pack kit
- Add Countryman or DPA Headset

1 Shure EZG12 Gooseneck for the altar
2 Shure MX202 with P/C for Choir
- Why mismatch the choir and podium mics?
- Sub 3 Earthworks choir/goose neck mics

1 Shure KSM109 Mic for congregation
- Why mismatch the vocal mics?
- Audix OM5

1 DBX Zone Pro 640
- They need a dsp zoning system for 8 speakers?!
2 DBX Volume Control
- Substitute passive pot volume control
1 JBL E-System 15 (Multi-purpose room)
8 JBL Control 25T (Multi-Purpose room)
- Why do they have an E-System and the Control 25T?
1 Crown CTS 2000 (Multi-Purpose room)
- QSC RMX 2450 6year warrenty and cheaper too

2 JBL AM 4215/95 Mains
- Okay, setup in passive mode assuming it is correct for the room
2 JBL SRX712M Monitors
- JBL EON 15 G2 to match the E-System mains if incase they want to add 2 more floor monitors, or if they want to have monitors in the multi-purpose room

1 DBX Drive Rack 260
1 DBX IE231 Equalizer
1 DBX AF224 Feedback Suppressor
- The Drive rack 260 already has feedback suppression and eq why all the extra gear?
2 Crown CTS2000
- only one more QSC RMX 2450 is needed since I substituted the Eons
2 Middle Atlantic 21 Space rack
- No name computer racks will be fine
2 Power Conditioners
- Substitute 1 power sequencer

The reason why the company that made the quote the way they did was becuase they wanted to make more money on the gear.

Tony
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ivan Beaver on December 17, 2006, 02:54:02 pm
Before you jump on the contractor for "trying to make more money on the church", let's look at what they are/might be offering that you are not.  Let's just look at the last section for starters.

Regarding the processing let's assume the 260 is for the mains.  That is probably so.  Maybe they plan on inserting the feeback suppressor and not use it on the whole mix-which I despise (the whole mix part).
I assumed the EQ was for the monitor mixes and not the mains.

Have you ever wired up a standard computer rack (assuming you are talking about the base and rail types) that looks decent?  There is no way to dress out the cables.  We have tried and I refuse to do it anymore-I don't care how much the church want us to use one that was given to them.  

Yes maybe 2 21 space racks may be a bit much, but you can use some wooden knock down economy racks to same some money and improve the look.  An 8 space (playback)on top of the counter, a 8-12 space under the counter for wireless (16 will not fit in most cases), and a 12 space for the amp rack, allowing for some extra room for growth.

Why do you think that a power sequencier (with the associated remote outlet boxes) will be less expensive than 2 power conditioners-assuming they are simply talking about rack mount units with spike protection and outlets on the back and not something like the SurgeX products, which are great, but not cheap. You also have to add in the extra labor to wire up the sequencier.

I would tend to agree with you about the Zone pro, but we do not know what specs were given to the contractor about that system.  Assuming it is a small room, I would do it very different and for a lot less money, but there may something that we don't know about going on, there may be several rooms, I don't know.

Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on December 17, 2006, 06:38:46 pm
Tony Mah wrote on Sun, 17 December 2006 13:53

It would only take me a day to do a small church and even if I spent a week, the quote would be the same. My job would be to design a great sounding system and save the church time and money.
Try to help contractors and they still want to argue with you! Cool

It seems that you actually put together the equipment list, assign design effort and fees, determine the installation costs, estimate the cable and hardware costs, etc., as well as apparently doing the modeling, all by yourself with no input from others.  However, many firms do not work that way and have multiple people involved in preparing a proposal.  A salesperson may put together a preliminary equipment list but may have design/engineering and installation review what is proposed or perhaps even assign their own directly related costs.  People also often have other work and I certainly don't want them later dropping my project to try to get out another proposal out, so I also won't assume they will not have other work when my proposal is due.  In addition, I'd rather give someone time to focus on the proposal and really review what they put together than to potentially hurry it.  Put those issues together along with a number of others (such as verifying availability) and the Owner will almost inevitably benefit from giving the Bidders as much time as possible.

I will also say that I would request a lot more from a proposal.  I like to see a proposed schedule, a breakout of "soft" costs such as design, installation, programming, testing, a reiteration of the general concepts or at least a reference to all the specific Program documents just so I you can verify that they didn't miss anything, a list of the proposed project team, etc.  An equipment list is just that, a bunch of equipment.  Proposals should address what is being provided as a system rather than a pile of equipment and should show how the system proposed will meet the project requirements defined.  This admittedly takes more effort than just developing an equipment list, but it is typically much more responsive to what the Owner really cares about.

It is sometimes hard to step outside how one does things themselves or what works for them, but the fact is that not everyone approaches projects or proposals the same and there is often more than one "right" way that needs to be considered.  Maybe you can do everything required in one day and never make mistakes, but that would definitely be an exception and in general I would be suspicious of any proposal prepared with little or no time available for a second look or review.  

Quote:

The better question is how can we save Nathan's church money?
1 Mackie TT24 Mixer
- A 24 ch digital board for a church that if Nathan leaves will not have anyone that can take advantage of the features? A&H wizard might be just fine
Maybe the more critical question is whether the equipment complies with what had been requested and identified as requirements for the project.  Perhaps you missed the Clarifications provided to the Bidders where Nathan defined 31 specific mic/line inputs as well as 5 stereo sources, but I believe that a TT24 by itself would not fulfill that requirement and a MixWiz would be even further off.  Also, I noted no comments regarding that there seems to be no mention of the audio for the Parlor, Kitchen and Nursery that were also specifically requested.  Perhaps too much focus on the equipment and models rather than if it fulfills the functionality requested.  Maybe even an example of exactly why you want to give time to bidders to double check everything, it is very easy to miss things the first time around.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on December 17, 2006, 07:42:31 pm
Ivan,

Your are giving the contractor the benefit of the doubt, nothing wrong with that, but I am going with the information Nathan has given and drawn a profile conclusion that may or may not be accurate:

Old church built of hymn music and voice with limited budget that don't have people that know about A/V. They are trying to move to modern music. Very few good contractors in the area.

This is like a parent that has never driven a car and knows nothing about cars going to buy a first car for their teenager. The sales persons trys to sell them a Mercedes becuase of all the safety features and the quality and service. This is not wrong but it is a bit much.    

The contractor was not trying to save the church money. There are not that many mic speced and even with so few mics they were mis matched and not know for feedback resistance. The mains could be run in mono passive. The other 260 channel could be used for monitors. Perhaps a bigger driverrack should be speced if they want to do more. They really should not have feedback issues with so few mics.

We don't know what model Middle Alantic was speced, I would agree they make the best racks, I have a friend that used to work for them, but MA makes the most expensive racks. A good computer rack is 40% to 50% cheaper. It would take an extra hour labour to make it neater with a cheaper rack.

The contractor could spec passive volume controls and the client would likely be okay. I don't think a church with 250 seats needs a matrix routing system.  

Powers sequencing would add to the cost but I have reduced alot of gear.

Tony
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on December 17, 2006, 07:57:10 pm
Brad,

Nathan and their church really don't know what they want and the contractor is giving them want they think they want. Nathan is the customer, but he is not qualified to spec the system. Why are they quoting a system so expensive and no subs are in the quote?

Why is Nathan specing stereo requirements?

Why can't each room have a single speaker and a passive volume control. I have speced a FM transmitter for a small church and told them to buy a few radios if someone wants to hear the sermon.

For a small church, how long does it take to build the equipment list, make all the diagrams in StarDraw by dragging and dropping and produce a quote?

The client can look at the 500hz and 2khz plots and the Stardraw diagram and figure it out pretty easy.

Tony
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ivan Beaver on December 17, 2006, 08:10:52 pm
There are so many issues that we simply don't know about in this scenario.  That is what is causing so much of the speculation on everybodys part.

Little things like: Where is the amp room? or is there one?   Are the amps at FOH?  This will change various different things such as rack size, turn on sequencing, return lines, speaker cable length and size etc.

What is the shape of the room?  That could change things quite a bit.

Regarding the monitors through the DSP.  The only time I do this is for the overhead choir monitor.  It is not going to change or move.  You cannot say that for the floor wedges.  You never know what the church is going to bring in.  If you have flattened out the response for a particular type of floor monitor, it is likely to be wrong for other types.

I am torn between whether or not to provide a user adjustable eq (typically 1/3rd octave).  Sometimes I do and sometimes I do not.  It just depends.  They can be quite helpful in the hands of someone who knows how to use them, and can cause a lot of problems in the hands of people who do not know how to use them.

There are lots of areas in the origionla request and the proposed list that things can be changed or added at a latter date as more funds become available.  The basic infrastructure should be put in place at a minimum so that the church can add the other pieces later without having to redo/repurchase anything that was origionally proposed.

When budget gets concerned, it can get to be a challenge, and teh church often needs guidence as to what is best for them.  Of course the contractor has to truly have the churches best interest at heart, or all sorts of problems can arrise.  "Let's just sell them this old crap we have laying around-nobody wants that anyway" is often a very real problem.  Sometimes it may be part of the solution, and othertimes not.  It just depends.

I guess you could always just go to a particularly large company and buy their System A (for churches less than 500 seats), System B (for up to 1000 seats) and so forth. Or whatever it is-I don't care to remember the details. They have already done all the design work for you  Laughing

The problem is, is that many people actually believe this.  Your particular needs don't matter. Just trust us Twisted Evil
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: John Ward on December 17, 2006, 10:09:05 pm
Because podium / lecturn mics are often problematic and prone to feedback my first mic of choice is the EV Polar Choice. The flexibility in having four polar patterns to choose from as well as a high pass filter can eliminate problems before they happen. A well thought out approach to design should always start with the simplest solution to problems whenever possible. Assuming Nathan's vendor speced redundant feedback suppression for front of house in my opinion is neither practical or saving the church money, and ultimately in the hands of inexperienced operators the second fastest route to signal degradation.  
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on December 18, 2006, 12:35:04 pm
Quote:

Nathan and their church really don't know what they want and the contractor is giving them want they think they want. Nathan is the customer, but he is not qualified to spec the system. Why are they quoting a system so expensive and no subs are in the quote?
Let me start by saying my comments are intended in a generic sense and not directed at particular person(s), I'm only referencing specific statements as they made me think of an overall issue.

Maybe Nathan and most churches are indeed not "qualified" to "spec" their system, but if they aren't the ones who can define what they want, then who is?  Are you saying the bidders should all just bid whatever they think the church needs rather than what was asked for?  And sure, there are a lot of unknowns, but the bidders who visited the site and asked questions may know much more.  Even so, there are indeed many open ended issues that add to the confusion.  But I don't think that we know that budget is a specific concern with this bid or that any cost reductions or "value engineering" have been requested.

We do know that Nathan is probably more qualified than anyone else to identify his church's particular functional needs and desires and that he has attempted to do this in two documents.  Sure, it may not be as complete as we would desire or as detailed as you would like, but that doesn't mean you ignore what is defined.  It is also only common sense that everything else aside, any bid should focus on fulfilling those requirements.  Worrying about which model microphone or how the DSP is used are valid concerns, but should follow way after the number one concern which is "can what is proposed provide the functionality identified as being the basis for the bids?"

For example, if I were reviewing this bid, the fact that the mixer can't support the inputs identified, that the audio for the Parlor/Kitchen/Nursery is not even mentioned, that one can only assume the "Multi-purpose room" is the Fellowship Hall, that there is no line items for installation, design, programming, tuning, etc. would essentially disqualify this bid before even wasting much time looking at the specific equipment.  Who cares what equipment was bid if the system defined doesn't fit the needs?  That's like buying a home and worrying about the carpet colors and dishwasher model before looking at whether it has enough bedrooms and bathrooms for your family.  The one set of issues is easy to change or negotiate, but the other is a little harder to overcome and really needs to be considered before even worrying about the second set.  I think a simple "it doesn't look like the bid provides all the capabiolities you asked for" is a lot mnore relevant and helpful than worrying about whether the model bid is the one you personally prefer.

This is a very common problem.  Contractors submit equipment lists and the Owners start trying to compare individual items rather than comparing the system that list defines against what was requested.  In their defense, that is often all they can do as an equipment list is all the contractor provides.

I also commonly see this issue cause problems with "Value Engineering".  A small church may have a big music program or two very different services with a short changeover, so they want a lot of inputs.  To meet their needs I specify a 48 input console.  Some bidder offers a 24 input console and a big cost savings because "that's all the size church usually needs" and they didn't bother to find out if there was any reason it was there (Well of course I did it just because I want to rip off the Owner even though I wouldn't profit from it, it certainly wouldn't have been for any good reason now would it?).  What the Owner sees is somebody telling them this smaller console will work and save them money.  Because they never even asked if there was anything that would make their offer inappropriate and it won't work, what I see is a bidder is more interested in getting a sale than is providing what the Owner wants.  Then they get all upset that I'm "trying to cost the Owner money".

Quote:

For a small church, how long does it take to build the equipment list, make all the diagrams in StarDraw by dragging and dropping and produce a quote?

The client can look at the 500hz and 2khz plots and the Stardraw diagram and figure it out pretty easy.
All your clients can read an equipment list, functional diagram and coverage plot and really know what they represent?  Wish I had only clients like that!  My clients usually seem to need some help in interpreting what those documents show and some reassurance that what is shown does indeed provide what they asked for.  This is where Consultants and Contractors often differ significantly.  I don't expect a client to understand or interpret technical documents, which is why both the Program or Needs Analysis and the Systems' Descriptions in the specifications that a Consultant typically generates are plain language overviews of the system functionality, the how it works and what it does.  These are the basis for the drawings and equipment specs and the one without the other is typically an incomplete definition of the project for most clients and especially most churches.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ivan Beaver on December 18, 2006, 01:13:07 pm
All very true, especially the part about meeting the basic functionality. Don't buy a sports car if you really need a minivan or a pickup.  One may be "cooler" and percieved to be better by some, but if it doesn't meet your basic needs, then what good is it?  Back to that old proper tools for the job thingy.

I will add another thing, when looking at plots, you have to know a good bit of information about how the plot was actually generated, in order to get useful information out of it.  

I prepared a little paper that we send out with all plots that shows the differences between identical systems and how the coverages can look very different, depending on how the designer deceided to actually show them.  I also talk about the little games that can be played with EASE in order to make things look better than they actually are.

I don't play those games and keep it as ugly was I can, knowing that the final result is going to be in reality, much better.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Lee Buckalew on December 19, 2006, 12:12:04 am
Very good comments all.
Can't know what the system is going to do without a spec that includes frequency response at a specified SPL and Weighting with a plus or minus figure for deviation.  On top of this the measurement of either the projected response or the measured response can be substantially doctored if you vary the sample rate (paper graph speed for older anaologue test units), scale used, etc.
This along with adequate power (which is rarely provided) and proper processing and system tuning design are the most important aspects of the system design.  All other components can be relatively simply changed or upgraded later.  You will rarely if ever change the speakers or amplifiers until the entire system is redone.  It can also be important to specify a noise floor for the sound system or that it must be inaudible at all seating locations with x number of mic channels open, etc.  This will eliminate problems of very noisy, cheap equipment being utilized.

I agree that a system contractor can not train people how to mix as part of the system spec but ongoing training is something that churches should consider.  Most can not effectively use the equipment they have and training in both use of that equipment (proper mic selection and placement, gain structure, principles of EQ and dynamics processing, etc.) and ear training for mixing well for balance and blend for various styles, etc.  The operators of the equipment are the single most important factor that most churches overlook.  They think that good or at least better equipment will improve sound and then, when the sound is great after the initial install and tuning but gets gradually worse over time they blame the system when the problem is actually the operators.

Just some thoughts.
His,
Lee Buckalew
Pro Sound Advice, Inc.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 20, 2006, 05:24:46 am
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tom Young on December 20, 2006, 09:15:37 am
There is a benefit to having the amps near to the greatest number of loudspeakers, which are usually near and on the platform. The benefit is that there will be less signal loss due to the resistance of the wire (wire runs will be shorter). For those more remote loudspeakers you can make up for the longer wire run by increasing wire size (gauge).

Usually there is precious little room at mix positions and not having this rack there would allow for more room.

Having the amps "more accessible" is a mixed blessing. They may be more easy to get to for servicing but they are also more easily accessed for unauthorized adjustment of their gain controls. They may also emit noise (if fan cooled) and this noise will more than likely be less audible if tucked away in the organ loft.

I would vote for tucking them away but also try to make their removal as easy as it can be.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ivan Beaver on December 20, 2006, 12:18:08 pm
Agreed totally, however he really needs to talk to the organ people, BOY THIS HURTS TO SAY THIS, but we have had real issues with organ people complaining about ANYTHING going in the pipe/speaker chambers because it ruins the precise tuning (give me a break-on one job I am sure they stacked up the organ cabinets and then just pushed them over, twisting as they went) that they have done and now the organ sound totally sucks because of that stupid amp rack. Evil or Very Mad

Other times they could care less, but when you get the organ people mad and they start to talk to the pastor and Music Minister, the sound company will usually end up loosing.  We have several times.

Having the amps at FOH for servicability reasons is a poor excuse to me.  How often do you expect them to fail? and when they do, are the operators of the system going to have enough knowledge to actually do anything about it?  Most likely not.  More often than not, as Tom said, they will mess with them untill they screw up the sound.  Just that one reason would make me suspicous of the reasoning for other ideas they have.

I vote for shorter cable lengths ANY day, for loss and damping factor reasons.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule and from time to time we do put the amps at FOH, but that is a last resort.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on December 20, 2006, 12:46:12 pm
Ivan Beaver wrote on Wed, 20 December 2006 12:18

Of course there are exceptions to the rule and from time to time we do put the amps at FOH, but that is a last resort.
The biggest exception I can think of is power.  Amplifiers typically represent some of, if not the, biggest power requirements in an audio system.  If it is easy to get clean power to FOH and difficult or expensive to get it to an alternative location closer to the speakers, then that is definitely a consideration.  If a remote location closer to the speakers is practical, then I definitely second Tom's and Ivan's recommendations to locate the amps there.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on December 20, 2006, 02:57:13 pm
Nathan,

For a small church like yours I recommend leaving the amps at FoH. The main reasons are risk management related and not directly related to audio.

Pro
Lowest probability of getting a buzz or hum due to unknown quality of electrical system. Lowest labour, political, and financial costs. No new electrical circuits needed. Lowest chance of someone plugging in some lights into the the same circuit and blowing the fuse.

Con
1db-2db extra loss in high frequency compared to having it closer - nobody will notice
Fan noise - can be annoying to the tech, but audience won't notice
Slight  increase in wireing costs.
Psychological - some people are more idealistic and feel more comfortable with the amps close as possible to the stage. In a new building you would spec an equipment room under the stage (or where ever the architect will let you put one), but you would still have to run long speaker lines to the under balcony speakers.  

Assumptions
For a small church 1 circuit at FoH is plenty to power mains and monitors.  


Tony
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on December 22, 2006, 05:07:06 am
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah 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
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Chris Penny 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.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 01, 2007, 06:04:10 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ivan Beaver 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.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 02, 2007, 12:47:07 am
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah 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
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber 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?
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ivan Beaver 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.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 02, 2007, 03:32:56 pm
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: John Ward 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.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on January 03, 2007, 12:16:19 pm
I don't think warranty should have to be hidden in the other costs, it should be presented as a separate line item.  There is a cost for this and pretending there is not by hiding that cost elsewhere just adds to the confusion.  If an Owner knows the cost and decides they don't want to pay it, then that's a clear agreement that the service is not desired or required.  If the costs are hidden that takes that option (and knowledge of the value) away from the Owner.

I personally request to see engineering, pre-installation (shop pre-build, etc.), installation, warranty and so on presented as separate line items.  I want to assess that an appropriate level of effort is assigned to each element.  I also want to know whether one bid is lower than another because they are giving a great deal on the equipment or because they are offering significantly less design or install labor.  I don't mind someone getting a bid because their price is 10% lower than everyone else, but I am wary if that difference is solely the result of a lower labor cost.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 03, 2007, 12:22:59 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 03, 2007, 12:30:00 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on January 03, 2007, 12:42:16 pm
Nathan Walker wrote on Wed, 03 January 2007 12:22

One of the differences we've noted between the two top contractors is the placement of projectors. One contractor would like to suspend them from the ceiling near the screens and the other has claimed that he can achieve the same quality with 4500 to 5000 lumen projectors and long throw lenses from the back of the church. I know this is a sound forum, but any thoughts?


Light does not lose intensity over distance like sound does.  Both would be acceptable.  The cost of a good lens is expensive.  The difference would be between equipment cost and and installation cost.  Also aesthetics may be of concern.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Kevin Maxwell AKA TheMAXX on January 03, 2007, 12:48:29 pm
Nathan Walker wrote on Wed, 03 January 2007 12:22

One of the differences we've noted between the two top contractors is the placement of projectors. One contractor would like to suspend them from the ceiling near the screens and the other has claimed that he can achieve the same quality with 4500 to 5000 lumen projectors and long throw lenses from the back of the church. I know this is a sound forum, but any thoughts?

After a bit of discussion at the committee last night we will be calling in the contractors for our last Q&A before the bid process. I'm getting goosebumps thinking about how the new capabilities will affect our worship service. As an added surprise, if there is any form of money left over, we would like to put it towards some form of church bells(electronic).


With the proper lens and placement of the projector the distance shouldn’t make a noticeable difference.

Proper lens depending on the projector will add about $2000 to the cost and is usually manual focus and zoom.

Placement of the projector should be such that when a video source is input into the projector and all settings (electronic adjustments) are set to the defaults. The image should be properly aligned on the screen.

The most important factor for me would be which mounting position allows for the easies access to the projector. If the filters aren’t clean regularly the life of the projector will be drastically shortened. At my church the projector is mounted at the back of the balcony which is 73 feet to the 9’x12’screen and is accessible with an 8 foot ladder. But no one cleaned the filters and one of the LCD panels burned out. The cost to fix it (if they could have found the part) was so close to the cost of a new and brighter projector that they bought a new one.  

I hope you have a room with very controlled lighting (no light bleeding onto the screen, especially sun light) because 4000 – 5000 lumens isn’t going to cut it in a bright room.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 03, 2007, 03:02:00 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Kevin Maxwell AKA TheMAXX on January 04, 2007, 12:21:11 am
Nathan Walker wrote on Wed, 03 January 2007 15:02


On the other hand, with the projectors mounted on an aesthetically pleasing shelf near the back of the church that would be about 10' off the ground (since the church has a slight slope downward to the chancel). The cable runs would be much shorter to the sound booth, labor costs would be cut, the electrician's job would be easier, maintenance costs would be much lower (since they'd only need a latter), and we wouldn't have pipes hanging from the ceiling.


So where will the shelf put the projector (height) in relationship to the screen?  
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 04, 2007, 12:47:29 am
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tom Young on January 04, 2007, 08:11:44 am
I am not aware that any contractor from any other field or trade would ever provide such a breakdown of what things cost and what they make. Car dealers don't do this (I am aware that those who play the "talk down price" game *think* they are getting all the facts..... bu they most certainly are not). Sears doesn't do this when they sell you a mechanics tool kit or washer & drier. When you have your engine rebuilt you get an itemized list with prices but you have no idea what their mark up is. When you have a hip replacement surgical procedure you do not expect to be given the mark up on the parts used nor anythng else.

Someone can correct me if I am wrong about any of this.

The employment of the term "profit" appears to be used fairly loosely here (by this one vendor).

What I provide is a list of all equipment and services and what I will charge for it. That's it. I do not intend to be questioned on any given device and what I am charging for it. I expect to be compared to my competitors on total price, specified system performance and with consideration for the all of the services I provide under the contract. No one has ever come back and said they feel they spent too much for what I delivered.

Bottom line: when folks start asking me what I am making as mark up on a given piece (in a system package), I do not tell them. It is not relevant and it is none of their business. If they insist, I walk.

When we get too involved in such matters two things happen:
1) the customer cannot help but get caught up in the minutia of comparing prices on every little piece of secondary equipment and otherwise not focusing on what is really at hand (how well the proposed system fits the needs). It seems that volunteers at (some) churches have all the time in the world for this. Would they do this if they were charging for this time ?

2) the vendor spends WAY too much time negotiating and explaining pricing..... and without even a signed contract.

Why would I (we) do this ? It simply makes no business sense at all.

Please note I am not advocating that there is no negotiation and no provisions of relevant information.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: John Ward on January 04, 2007, 08:38:08 am
The intangible costs, if I read the last part of your post correctly, does not sound unreasonable to me. There are too many variables in a total integration package for an existing building not to have these costs factored in. If I interpreted your post correctly, the contractor has factored in 14% "intangible profit" beyond labor. When you consider the "mounds of insulation", and everything else you have seen as negative factors inhibiting the installation, imagine what position this puts any contractor in in terms of problems he may or not encounter - especially when doing any work in an attic that 'may require a catwalk'. Imagine the contractor's position if three months down the road a cable fails and he has to replace that under warranty. He has to pay for a day's labor for someone to drive to the site, remove the bad cable, install the new one, etc.

In so far as the projector system - investigate brands that require no filter cleaning / no maintenance. You may also want to check out two projector systems (that combine to one image) vs. a single high lumen projector. You may find the price of two 4500 ansi lumen projectors with the proper lenses, including the mating frames, labor to set up, etc. to be less expensive than a single 10K lumen projector with the appropriate lens. I have only helped with one such installation, and it has worked flawlessly for the last three years, but you can PM me if you want more information.

Again - the bottom line is you get what you pay for - it is up to you to do all of your homework (which you are doing a good part of here), trust your instincts and more importantly, when possible visit other like facilities where your chosen contractor has done like work. It would be worth a day's trip to check out audio and video and speak directly with those who use the facilities and equipment. Consider that another intangible expense. It will be well worth it.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 04, 2007, 01:24:35 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Andy Peters on January 04, 2007, 04:47:26 pm
Aaron McQueen wrote on Wed, 03 January 2007 10:42

Light does not loose intensity over distance like sound does.


Huh?

Light may not loose intensity over distance, but it certainly does lose intensity over distance.  In fact, it follows the same inverse square law as sound.

-a


Title: Re: Looking at propowere skeptical sals - Need Advice
Post by: John Ward on January 04, 2007, 09:34:54 pm
Let me retract anything I may have said in my last post about the 'contractor' you were leary about. Instead, just don't do business with him at all unless you are buying a television or washing machine.

Based on your description of his last install, find a legit audio contractor.

Sheesh........

Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tom Young on January 04, 2007, 09:51:56 pm
"However when it comes to pricing, the prices quoted for other proposals have been consistent with the lowest prices I've seen at online retailers. So unless the other contractors aren't showing the price already marked up, the contractor with the 12% profit figure is actually making more on their equipment. The reason that concerns me is because their biggest pitch to our committee is that because they are members, they will be offering the system "cheaper than any other business"."

Just be aware that no local contractor gets as good prices as the big internet sellers. So, in theory, they could charge more and still make less mark up.

I also completely understand your reservations with hiring the local guys who also attend your church, an all accounts. If they did shoddy work befor, have they improved their techniques and practices that much since ? (I doubt it). And politically it could end up a real mess. I also need more than just someone's promise that they will provide the best deal because they are a member (or whatever the rationale may be). But I am not sure I would want them to provide a super "deal" if the results are compromised to accomplish this.

I can tell you with complete certainty that folks who "do" sound systems part-time while doing some other full time gig that has no relevance to sound are at least somewhat hampered compared to those who dedicate themselves to live sound full time.

Live sound is very complicated. Period. The laws of physics that govern what we do *at both ends of the spectrum* (small time and big time) are exactly the same. I do sound system designs in excess of $1mil (secular projects) and I do lots that are as low as $30k. Often, the smaller jobs require more skill to accomplish acceptable results.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on January 04, 2007, 10:15:40 pm
Andy Peters wrote on Thu, 04 January 2007 16:47

Aaron McQueen wrote on Wed, 03 January 2007 10:42

Light does not loose intensity over distance like sound does.


Huh?

Light may not loose intensity over distance, but it certainly does lose intensity over distance.  In fact, it follows the same inverse square law as sound.

-a





Sorry for the bad spelling.  Anyway I was going on what I had been told from this thread:
http://churchsound.prosoundweb.com/index.php/mv/msg/10987/94 009/00701a8ad94d8b5c84acb3bb555f1196/
Brian Kent Tennyson wrote on Fri, 16 December 2005 11:33

...Distance from the screen has no effect on the amount of candlepower you will need from your projector. ANSI lumen requirements are the product of a calculation of the gain of the screen, ambient light and desired contrast. Less stray light on the screen = less light needed out of the projector.

Photons are not like sound waves, and are not noticeably affected by 60' of "clear" air. If light control is good just buy the brightest thing you can afford and you should be alright...


Maybe I still do not understand.  I'm willing to learn.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on January 05, 2007, 01:04:23 am
Andy Peters wrote on Thu, 04 January 2007 16:47

Light may not loose intensity over distance, but it certainly does lose intensity over distance.  In fact, it follows the same inverse square law as sound.
Have to be careful with the terminology here as this is probably confusing to some people.  The output of a projector does not drop off with distance, if the projectors is 5,000 lumens at the lens it is 5,000 lumens at any distance.  What changes is the area that light is hitting, which does increase with distance.  The intensity is the amount of light per unit of area, if the distance is doubled, the area the light hits is quadrupled and the intensity is then 1/4 as much.  So intensity decreases because the area the light is spread across increases and not because the light level itself drops off.

That being said, there is another factor, that of the lens.  A lens focuses the light and changing lenses can affect the intensity by increasing or decreasing how fast the area the light is over changes with distance.  A long throw lens reduces the change with distance while a short throw lens increases it.

The result is that a projector filling a specific screen size has the same intensity no matter what distance the projector is from the screen as the output and area are the same.  This can be achieved through zoom lenses and various throw lenses.  Conversely, if you use the same lens and move the screen the image will grow smaller or larger, which will change the intensity of the image based on the screen size.  But it is always the image intensity and not the light output changing.

Confusing enough?


Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on January 05, 2007, 02:22:47 am
Nathan,

A 4500 - 5500 lumen Sanyo projector will be fine for a 70" screen according to what you have told us. Make sure you get the exact model they are quoting. The zooms will cost you 2k each but will be a lot nicer than putting in pipes. Sounds like you have a reasonable budget so go for it. What kind of switcher are they quoting you?

Tony  
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 05, 2007, 11:31:40 am
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on January 05, 2007, 01:19:12 pm
Brad, this was my understanding as well. Thanks for the clarification.

Sorry for the topic swerve.  Does sound behave similarly?  If you have single tone sound source covering a specific area at a given distance, and the moven the area away from the source, but refocus the source so that it covers the same area, is there a difference in level of the sound as the area moves from the source?  If there is a reduction, what is the cause of the reduction in level?
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on January 05, 2007, 01:20:51 pm
Nathan Walker wrote on Fri, 05 January 2007 11:31

And the other contractor didn't quote any switcher or scaler (take a guess).


3 strikes he's out!
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 05, 2007, 03:13:37 pm
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on January 05, 2007, 06:59:38 pm
In simple terms, in the most common form a scaler converts a video signal sent to it's input to a preset computer resolution output.  Combining a switcher and scaler gives a powerful device that can accept and switch between various differing sources (composite, s-video, component, VGA, RGB, RGBHV, SDI, etc.) while always maintaining the same format output.  The output resolution of a scaler is typically set to match the primary display device so that the signal feeding that display is already at the display's native resolution.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 05, 2007, 08:46:29 pm
Please delete this thread.

Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Kevin Maxwell AKA TheMAXX on January 06, 2007, 01:08:37 am
Nathan Walker wrote on Thu, 04 January 2007 00:47

If I can picture it in my head clearly... it will be roughly the height of the top 10% of the screen. I'll do some measuring tomorrow, but I've learned due to the slope of the house, the top of the chancel is level with the very back of the sanctuary. This will make it much easier to measure.

The assumption I'm making is that the bottom of the screen will not dip below 6.5' from the ground (doorway height). Assuming we go with a 6' X 8' screen, the projector should be roughly 12.5' off the ground. That is... unless the rule of thumb about projection placement only applied when the projector was upside-down and suspended. Either way, there is enough height available where we envision the shelf would be. We just purchased a 14' fiberglass ladder for other purposes, but it sound like that ladder will be perfect for cleaning the filters and replacing bulbs.



Most if not all projectors are meant to be either sitting on its feet and positioned towards the bottom of the screen or hanging upside down and positioned towards the top of the screen. In either case it is also best to have the projector straight in line with the middle from left to right of the screen.

A lot of projectors have the capability of doing all sorts of corrections to align the image. But I have found if you can get it right physically in the first place with out any electronic correction you will have better overall results. And if you did electronically instead of physically aligned it and if those finely tweaked settings get lost you have to go in and tweak it all over again.

Regarding how bright a projector is needed. I put in a 5000 lumen projector shooting to a 7.5’x10’ screen in a room where one wall is all frosted glass windows creating diffused light all over the room. There weren’t any shades on the windows. We used a little higher gain screen and with a computer image it looked ok on a sunny day but the video input was a bit washed out. But this was the most that they could afford. At night I bet it will look great if they turn most of the lights down.

It is very hard to overcome any bright light hitting the screens. And if it’s the sun coming thru a window, good luck. All of this also depends on what type of image they will accept. There are all sorts of formulas that will give you the details of exactly what you need to get a particular image. Ask your contractor to show you those numbers and have them tell you how they determined exactly what would suit your needs.

There was a thread that I think was on one of the prosound web boards talking about using 2 projectors to give a brighter image on the screen. I know some if not most people were telling them not to do it. I would have to agree with that suggestion. I have done a number of events where we had stacked projectors to brighten things up. It can be done successfully but these are usually projectors costing many times more then what we are talking about here. Those types of projectors have electronic alignment capabilities that you can’t do in the price range that you are looking at. I was never the one to do that alignment. At one show we left the guy to work on it overnight and it looked great in the morning. But these were all temporary setups and I think they would still be playing with the alignment a little bit each day. So I don’t know how stable something like that would be in an install.  

Don’t forget that almost all projectors use lamps that dim as you use them. So the image will lose brightness as the bulb is used to the point of an unacceptable image and if I am remembering correctly this usually is about half the life of the bulb. Also on and off cycles cuts into the life of the bulb not just the number of hours it is on.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on January 06, 2007, 04:03:40 am
Nathan,

The video scaler/switcher is possibly the most important piece of equipment in your system. All of them will allow you to switch from video to computer. The top models will dissolve from video to computer and crossfade the audio and allow preview monitoring.
The features go from:
Dual processor scaler - Will cut, fade and dissolve like when switching cameras on a tv show
Single processor scaler - Something inbetween - What is best for your church
Switcher - like changing the channels on your TV

Brands range from
Folsom (Mercedes)
Analog Way (BMW)
Extron (Toyota)
Kramer (Nissan)

The quote for 3 Kramer Single processor scalers is unusual. Why three? If you want to play a DVD and have it on all three screens how will they do it with three? For the price of the 3 Kramer 724xl quoted, you can get one 727 Dual Processor model.

I have never used Kramer, and do not like Extron. I prefer the other two brands.

Tony  

Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 06, 2007, 04:45:23 am
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on January 06, 2007, 09:50:07 am
Nathan Walker wrote on Sat, 06 January 2007 04:45

I guess he was thinking that each projector would have one. I did specify that I wanted individual control of what was to be viewed on each screen in case I ever needed to show a video on one screen, lyrics from a computer on another, and sheet music on the confidence screen. Thats a wild scenario, but it was more for use with the two screens at the front.  I guess he would some how split the signal from the source three ways and run each to the switcher scaler modules.


If you want to send a different signal to each screen you need a video matrix.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on January 06, 2007, 11:09:47 am
Tony Mah wrote on Sat, 06 January 2007 04:03

Brands range from
Folsom (Mercedes)
Analog Way (BMW)
Extron (Toyota)
Kramer (Nissan)

If you like Folsom Research/Barco, then also look at FSR http://www.fsrinc.com.  Same device in many cases as many of both of their scaler and seamless switcher products have been co-developed by the two companies.  I'd also throw TVOne in there as another cost effective option, especially with their dedicated use boxes.

While I don't necessarily disagree with the rankings (although I would probably make Extron Lexus or Acura to more directly compete with Analog Way), it is a little difficult to make such generalizations as there are a wide range of products and prices among the different product lines.  You need to make sure you are comparing equivalent products and I believe that a lot of Tony's basis for the rankings can't necessarily be seen in product data sheets, it includes reliability, customer service and support and other intangibles.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on January 06, 2007, 11:20:43 am
Kevin makes several good points.  To add to his...

How far off the desired location a projector can be located varies from projector to projector and can be affected by the lens used.  Very short or long throw lenses often limit the horizontal and vertical image shift possible, so in those cases you often need to be closer to the centerline in both directions.

An issue with any projector but especially if considering stacking is that the image will change as a projector warms up.  The alignment of devices within the engine as well as the optics themselves will vary due to expansion as the projector heats up.  Again, this varies form projector to projector and lens to lens (especially between all plastic, all glass and hybrid lenses, but once the projector reaches a normal operating point they will usually stay consistent (some more than others).  However, you want to do any projector setup after the projector has been running for some time (maybe 15-30 minutes) and for critical use you want to let the projector warm up before actual use.  As a result of this, when you have projectors properly stacked and converged, they will often be somewhat out of convergence until they both warm up.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 06, 2007, 12:17:23 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on January 06, 2007, 12:33:02 pm
Nathan Walker wrote on Sat, 06 January 2007 12:17

I think as a committee we ruled out the double projector option. If we are going with long throw, stacking projectors would be incredibly tough to calibrate, plus the added cost of the long-throw lenses. If we were going to project for mounts suspended by the ceiling, then it kind of defeats the purpose of stacking since we will already be getting a more intense picture.


As I tried to say earlier, this is not the case.  If the screen size is the same, the intensity will not change no matter where you put the projector.  Here is a quote from Brad earlier in this thread.

Quote:

The result is that a projector filling a specific screen size has the same intensity no matter what distance the projector is from the screen as the output and area are the same. This can be achieved through zoom lenses and various throw lenses.

Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 06, 2007, 01:15:11 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on January 06, 2007, 03:42:59 pm
Quote:

I guess he was thinking that each projector would have one. I did specify that I wanted individual control of what was to be viewed on each screen in case I ever needed to show a video on one screen, lyrics from a computer on another, and sheet music on the confidence screen. Thats a wild scenario, but it was more for use with the two screens at the front. I guess he would some how split the signal from the source three ways and run each to the switcher scaler modules.


Sounds like you should cross off this contractor. Seems like you don't know the complexity of what you are asking for and the contractor did not know how to implement it and could not tell you it was not feasible!

If you wanted to display the same powerpoint on all three screens and then switch to a DVD clip on all three screens how would you do it? Split the computer and the DVD three ways each and push the three buttons on the three scalers simultaneously? What about the audio?

A video matrix that Aaron suggests can't handle three projectors, in fact nothing under 100K can do what you want.

Tony
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on January 06, 2007, 06:38:45 pm
Tony Mah wrote on Sat, 06 January 2007 15:42

Quote:

I guess he was thinking that each projector would have one. I did specify that I wanted individual control of what was to be viewed on each screen in case I ever needed to show a video on one screen, lyrics from a computer on another, and sheet music on the confidence screen. Thats a wild scenario, but it was more for use with the two screens at the front. I guess he would some how split the signal from the source three ways and run each to the switcher scaler modules.


Sounds like you should cross off this contractor. Seems like you don't know the complexity of what you are asking for and the contractor did not know how to implement it and could not tell you it was not feasible!

If you wanted to display the same powerpoint on all three screens and then switch to a DVD clip on all three screens how would you do it? Split the computer and the DVD three ways each and push the three buttons on the three scalers simultaneously? What about the audio?

A video matrix that Aaron suggests can't handle three projectors, in fact nothing under 100K can do what you want.

Tony


Are you sure Tony?  Why wouldn't something like this work?

8x8 VGA Matrix
Scaler

Scale each input, then run it through the vga matrix.  If there are 4 inputs (one of which is a computer) your looking at 3 scalers and the matrix which runs about $2500, far from $100K.

I've never done anything like this, but it seems like it should work.  If it won't I would like to know why.

EDIT: The links were messed up.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on January 06, 2007, 08:45:28 pm
Aaron,

You originally just mentioned the video matrix, and now you change it to a computer graphics matrix plus a composite/component/VGA scaler and it still won't work well.

Nathan will have three data projectors and want to display three different signals, or 3 identical signals AND switch

With your solution all the video signals needs to be scaled so if there is a video cam, VHS and a DVD, you need 3 scalers going into the computer matrix.  

Now if everything is at 1024x768, and the matrix is programmed properly, in theory it will "work".

But the best case is....
What happens when you push the switch button?
1. The signal from the matrix to the projector will get cut off.
2. The screen will have a momentary glitch as it loses lock
3. The screen will turn black for about 1 second as the Matrix switches
4. The signal will be restored to the projector
5. the screen will have a momentary glitch as it takes 1 second to lock the signal
6. the screen will display the new image

The problem is that the signals are not genlocked (something that is done at the broadcast level)

Depending on the type of church it is, it may or may not be acceptable to take 2 seconds to do a switch with artifacts on the screen. Worse case is a lot of things can go wrong. The guy that has a quicktime video on a wide screen laptop and plugs into the matrix, the projector may not lock.

The equipment is priced according to what people can afford. People that want it to be like TV and switch instantly, glitch free, with preview monitoring are willing to pay big dollars.

Tony
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 07, 2007, 02:31:05 am
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on January 07, 2007, 01:44:51 pm
Nathan,

Quote:

Since you are using two projectors, you need a video source switcher/scaler so that the two projectors don’t get out of synchronization. We recommend a “video-source-switcher and image-scaling” unit to greatly simplify the usage of your system. This unit allows us to use a single computer cable up to the projector. You push one button for all switching of sources and this happens quick. This switcher will do “picture-in-picture” displays.
It allows you to hear the audio associated with the corresponding video programs from any and all sources, using a single audio input on the sound system. It also (up-scales) the image of your video sources to match the quality you see when displaying “computer-images”.




This is what most small churches buy. I have edited the quote to remove marketing BS. You need to:
1. Give up having different material on the right and left screens
2. Decide what to do with the third screen
3. Figure out how you are going to preview your DVDs
The Kramer on the other quote will do what the contractor discribed.

Here are the levels of switchers
1. Simple switcher - Church has no money, this is not your church
2. Simple switcher/scaler - What is quoted, what most churches buy, but I don't consider it professional and it is not seamless under all conditions. Take your 1024x768 powerpoint and switch to the quicktime movie on the widescreen laptop the guest speaker brought in, and the simple switcher/scaler will likely choke.
3. switcher/scaler with preview monitoring - Profession and seamless under all conditions and easiest to use out of the three
4. Router switcher/scaler with preview monitoring and multiple screen display capability - Only a church that does TV broadcast might have this, it has less to do with money and more to do with needing a trained technician to program and operate it.

Tony




Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 07, 2007, 03:02:40 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on January 07, 2007, 06:29:05 pm
Nathan,

I would only go ghetto if there was no choice becuase someone else decided to cut the budget. Don't propose this yourself.

What you discribed would work if you are willing to hot patch stuff on the fly. What happens if you are not there, and a new person had to run it? The Kramer is only $1100 mail order
http://www.audiogeneral.com/Electronics/Processors.html

Don't tell me you can't afford it, it is better to go with cheaper projectors and get any switcher than drop the switcher. If you are seriously considering going ghetto, find out if you can freeze or blank the projector screen. I know that you can't with most low and med level projectors!

Tony
PS, don't forget to budget for an extra projector bulb
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 07, 2007, 07:52:23 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on January 07, 2007, 11:51:45 pm
Quote:

I'm only saying that even though it would be a bit more expensive to use switchers, there has got to be an easy way to accomplish the task of dividing screen output at a reasonable price (not $100k)


"easy" is a key requirement. Easy and professional doesn't come cheap.

You can:
1. do what Aaron suggested and get a cheap scaler to upsample every non computer input and plug it into a computer router. You get what you want, it is kinda easy, but it is not glitch free and doesn't look professional. It is an expensive way to spend 3-4k. This is a technician's answer to make it work.

2. Do what your old church did and find projectors that has freeze or black frame insertion. It is not easy but it might be professional enough for church use and you save a lot of money. This is a business person's answer. Have a solution that works, save the money and pass the risk of something going wrong downward to the tech.

3. If your church can give up on having a different image on three screens and be satisfied with having a different image on two screens, get a scaler with preview monitoring. The video will look professional and be easy to use most sundays. When there is a need for different material on the second screen, plug the vga cable for the second projector into the preview monitoring output. This is a compromised consultant's answer that takes into consideration all parties.

5. Pay the big dollars to do it properly. This is a visonary's answer, build it and they will come.

6. Give it up becuase 99% of small churches don't do it and get a simple scaler. This is an older committee person's answer. If 99% of churches use a simple scaler, it can't be wrong and we as a small church don't want to jump ahead of the technology curve becuase it is expensive, or risky, or requires more volunteer experience than we can easily find.

The bottom line is that if you can't do it easy and professionally what kind of trades is your church willing to make to get this feature. If the feature is used once or twice a year is it worth the trade?

Tony
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Aaron McQueen on January 08, 2007, 10:33:33 am
Tony Mah wrote on Sun, 07 January 2007 23:51

Quote:

I'm only saying that even though it would be a bit more expensive to use switchers, there has got to be an easy way to accomplish the task of dividing screen output at a reasonable price (not $100k)


"easy" is a key requirement. Easy and professional doesn't come cheap.

You can:
1. do what Aaron suggested and get a cheap scaler to upsample every non computer input and plug it into a computer router. You get what you want, it is kinda easy, but it is not glitch free and doesn't look professional. It is an expensive way to spend 3-4k. This is a technician's answer to make it work.

2. Do what your old church did and find projectors that has freeze or black frame insertion. It is not easy but it might be professional enough for church use and you save a lot of money. This is a business person's answer. Have a solution that works, save the money and pass the risk of something going wrong downward to the tech.

3. If your church can give up on having a different image on three screens and be satisfied with having a different image on two screens, get a scaler with preview monitoring. The video will look professional and be easy to use most sundays. When there is a need for different material on the second screen, plug the vga cable for the second projector into the preview monitoring output. This is a compromised consultant's answer that takes into consideration all parties.

5. Pay the big dollars to do it properly. This is a visonary's answer, build it and they will come.

6. Give it up becuase 99% of small churches don't do it and get a simple scaler. This is an older committee person's answer. If 99% of churches use a simple scaler, it can't be wrong and we as a small church don't want to jump ahead of the technology curve becuase it is expensive, or risky, or requires more volunteer experience than we can easily find.

The bottom line is that if you can't do it easy and professionally what kind of trades is your church willing to make to get this feature. If the feature is used once or twice a year is it worth the trade?

Tony


I do not own the Kramer VP-8x8, nor I have ever used it.  I did however read over the manual.  This unit has a delay mode as described in the manual.

Quote:

Has a delayed switching mode (ranging from 0 to 3.5sec) for clean transitions (seamless switching) when switching between non-genlocked sources


This sounds to me like it would address the glitch issue you have described.  A 3sec delay may be not be acceptable for broadcast, but I think it would acceptable in a church setting.  How does a standard switcher/scaler deal with this glitches from one non-genlocked source to another?
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 08, 2007, 10:58:07 am
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on January 08, 2007, 12:16:30 pm
Aaron McQueen wrote on Mon, 08 January 2007 10:33[quote title=Quote:

Has a delayed switching mode (ranging from 0 to 3.5sec) for clean transitions (seamless switching) when switching between non-genlocked sources


This sounds to me like it would address the glitch issue you have described.  A 3sec delay may be not be acceptable for broadcast, but I think it would acceptable in a church setting.  How does a standard switcher/scaler deal with this glitches from one non-genlocked source to another?
[/quote]Most basic single scaler seamless switchers freeze the last frame of the currently displayed video image, select and scale the new source and then switch the output.  If you are watching a video source with a great deal of movement and look very closely when you switch to something like a high res computer source, you will see the momentary freeze.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 08, 2007, 02:43:53 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on January 08, 2007, 04:39:15 pm
The V-SCALE is not really a seamless switcher, it is a lower cost scaler from Analog Way.  It has one composite video, one composite or S-video input and one VGA computer input along with very limited unbalanced audio switching.

Analog Way, Extron, Folsom Research and FSR are sold through professional dealers and contractors.  These manufacturers see their products typically applied as components in larger integrated systems, so that is how they approach their product development and distribution.  Supporting a mass market, direct sales approach would require a different manufacturing, sales and support structure that I believe these manufacturers simply believe is not practical for them.  As a result, many of their products and pricing can't be found through online dealers.

I believe that deciding what flexibility and capability you want in routing and displaying the signals will be vital to getting bids you can really compare.  The operator interaction will certainly be part of that, expecting one person to run and audio mix and switch multiple switchers may be too much.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on January 08, 2007, 05:35:09 pm
Aaron and Nathan,

A standard scaler 1k-2k when you press the switch button on a decent one will:
1. insert a black frame at 1024x768 to the projector
2. In the background lock the next input
3. know when the input is locked properly (no delay times needs to be setup)
4. switch over to the next input
5. remove the black frame from the projector
This is all done in about 1 sec and is seamless in the sense that the scaler and the projector is ALWAYS locked and sync is NEVER lost.

Aaron's solution when you press the switch button
1. the switcher will mute the RGB outputs but keep sync
2. The screen will look black depending on the projector and how it is configured. Different projectors behave differently.
3. The switcher will switch over to the next sync input AND START the timer to unmute the RBG outputs. This may or may not cause an issue with the projector. Some projector you will have to turn off the logo and set it to black screen and it will still say "no input" in the corner. Make sure someone doesn't reset the projector.
4. The projector will try to sync with the new input device
5. RGB outputs will unmute regardless if the sync is correct or not.

This is why I said if you plug in that widescreen laptop it will likely choke. 3 seconds is 1 second too long. People will turn their heads and look at you if it takes 3 secs.

No reputable contractor will do a 30K+ job and risk this type of issue. With the right switcher/projector combo setup properly this will work. This is how things were done 10 years ago when scaler technology was not affordable.

Tony
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 08, 2007, 07:19:38 pm
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Tony Mah on January 09, 2007, 12:03:42 am
Quote:

I wanted individual control of what was to be viewed on each screen in case I ever needed to show a video on one screen, lyrics from a computer on another, and sheet music on the confidence screen


Nathan,

Churches that want to do this usually
1. plugging a separate computer into the confidence monitor. Why do the people on stage have to see the videos or anything else beside powerpoint text? This way that can send the people on stage info that is not on the main screen like, time for offering and dismiss the children.
2. Play the same video on both screens and overlay the text on top of the video like on TV. They buy a switcher that allows them to push the computer switch and the video switch at the same time. The video plays from the DVD, the powerpoint displays white text on a black background and it is "keyed" or blended together.

45k for a 250 seat church is $180/seat, this is a good budget. There has to be a better solution. I have spent too much time on this if you want specific recommendations email me the proposals and I will look at them over the weekend.

tonymah@shaw.ca
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 09, 2007, 12:36:33 am
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ole Anderson on January 10, 2007, 12:09:38 pm
Please excuse my ignorance on this subject, but what is a "confidence monitor"? and where is it located.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Brad Weber on January 10, 2007, 06:03:31 pm
Ole Anderson wrote on Wed, 10 January 2007 12:09

Please excuse my ignorance on this subject, but what is a "confidence monitor"? and where is it located.
In the broadcast world you want to be confident of what your are distributing so you usually have a monitor that simply displays the same signal you are distributing.  This monitor lets you both confirm what is being sent and the quality of that signal, thus a confidence monitor.  In a more general sense it is any display used to confirm what is being sent to a destination.

I believe that Tony was referencing the display serving the stage or chancel, which is often used to simply show the same signal being sent to the primary display(s) but can also be used to display other signal in lieu of or in addition to that confidence application.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 10, 2007, 06:09:09 pm
Please delete this thread.
Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Ole Anderson on January 12, 2007, 07:58:04 am
Confidence monitor: usually in the booth when you can't see the screen.  
Confidence screen: a second projection for the folks (performers)to see who are facing the congregation, possibly with script or song words added.
Correct?

Title: Re: Looking at proposals - Need Advice
Post by: Nathan Walker on January 13, 2007, 03:17:21 pm
Please delete this thread.