We have been delving a little deeper into audio visual technology, through a number of interview sessions with our technical specialists. We wanted to know what questions or problems our technicians encounter in their daily work. If needed we are happy to add some theory to these answers, because sometimes it is necessary to have a little more background information to understand why a certain solution has been chosen.
We kick off the series with an interview with one of our audio technology specialists.
Topic: Audio Technology
Audio Part 1
At events, we see more attention being given to video, lighting and decoration. The most basic instrument available to us in terms of technology is sound, but this is often neglected. And yet good sound quality is essential to the success of an event. Even if you have a TEDx level speaker, if the presenter can’t be clearly heard by the audience in the back rows, the presentation is worthless. We asked our technicians what it takes to make a meeting or conference a success in terms of considering the influence of the room’s acoustics when it comes to speech transmission.
1. Let’s start at the beginning: a technician does not talk about sound, but about audio. What does audio mean?
The word audio comes from Latin and literally means “I hear”. In everyday language, audio is used for everything that concerns the conversion of sound into an electrical signal. This can be either in analogue or digital form. For example; the conversion of sound into an electrical signal is possible via a microphone that converts the sound wave into an electrical signal via a membrane. This signal is then processed through a sound mixing desk, amplifier and finally made audible by loudspeakers.
2. How do you determine which audio equipment is needed at a location?
It is very important that we first look at the space where the event is taking place. If we don’t know the space yet, we always plan a site visit first. We look at the dimensions of the room and what materials have been used for the decoration and the furniture. Of course, it is essential to know what is going to happen during the event, and this is the first question that needs to be asked. Will there be a musical performance, singing or just presentations? How many loudspeakers are involved, how many participants are expected? Will there be questions from the audience etc. Speech uses far fewer frequencies than a musical performance, for example. This is all important to plan what equipment we will need for the event.
3. Why does an audio engineer often clap his hands when entering a room?
With this simple action, the technician gets an idea of what the reverberation of the room is like. When a sound wave comes into contact with smooth and hard objects, part of it is reflected. Part of the sound is absorbed particularly with soft materials such as curtains and carpets. The sound that remains “hangs” in the room as a reflection, and this is called reverberation. So by clapping their hands, the technician already gets a sense of how sound behaves in the room in question.
4. Are there also more advanced ways to check how the sound behaves in a room?
To be able to give the customer the best possible advice, we always make an “audio shoot” for the larger halls where we will be working. Different programs are available to accurately calculate how to distribute the audio to the selected loudspeakers in the halls. As we know the objectives for a conference are different from those of a pop concert. The most important thing is that everyone in the room has (as much as possible) the same experience during the event, no matter where you are in the room. During the construction of an event, after the loudspeakers have been installed, an analyzer is used to check whether the objective has been achieved and, if necessary, to make adjustments. During the measurement, we also check whether the various loudspeakers are in time and can add a delay.
This is the first part about audio. There will be a sequel to this text soon.
Do you have any specific questions about sound?
Just ask us and we will answer them in our next post. For advice you can always reach us by email or phone.