Almo E4v Roundup Part 4: Pro Audio Matters

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Ever since UCC technology became commoditized — thanks to Zoom issuing more than 100,000 free licenses to K-12 schools, then expanding to accommodate more than 300 million daily meeting participants since early 2020 — audio-quality issues have become front and center. You can still have a remote or virtual meeting without video, but not without audio.

We’re back again today for a roundup of the Pro Audio part of the Almo E4v — part four of six in an E4v recap series.

One of Almo’s E4v Solution Centers on Wednesday, all about Pro Audio, helped us understand the new and emerging technology that ensures audio connectivity is not just good but great.

The recap is below. Have at it!

How We Can Rethink Audio for the Future of AV

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Chuck Espinoza, senior staff instructor at AVIXA, was next up for E4v on Oct. 28, presenting on the topic of rethinking audio for the future of AV. Fun fact: Espinoza presented to us sitting inside a big diesel farm truck padded with pillows. #ThatIsCoolThough

The topic at hand: How do we design better audio and audiovisual systems within the current, (frustratingly) always-changing climate? How do we help with at-home audio keeping in mind the many varied environments people are in today? In addition to supporting end users on the spot in the workplace, we also need to think about how to support them at home now too.

“Latency’s going to be a big issue when we start talking about audio,” Espinoza said.

Standardization of equipment (e.g., headsets) will help immensely. We can also start talking to our customers about factors such as ambient noise around the home. It’s the same thing our designers do in meeting rooms: How much sound comes through the walls? Do we need acoustic paneling in the room? What kind of microphones will we use, and how far away will they be? We now have to go over these things with our clients and end users — starting simple with the basics, of course.

Testing audio quality (and, yes, video too) in today’s environment will be big, Espinoza continued. If you turn your camera off, you can still communicate. If you turn your microphone off, the meeting won’t happen. Audio, therefore, is (and has always been) the most important half of “audiovisual,” as most of us will already argue.

All this means everyone, today, may have to have a little AV knowledge in their back pocket. But this is part of how we need to rethink our work process and workflow (e.g., one-sheets!), getting the department standardized on equipment. New educational models and training will be needed. How much training will we have to do with at-home audio systems? Probably more than we’ve been used to in the past.

Espinoza’s advice in thinking about future audio designs: Work with your IT departments and end users to write and share SOPs (standard operating procedures). Think about network and internet reliability, which will continue to be a huge factor. Consider recording and playback — where are recordings going to be housed? How are those playback recordings monitored? How can we ensure, every time we hit play on the recording, it comes through with the same quality every time? If we don’t already have protocols and testing — with multiple devices too — in place, make that happen. Engage in thorough needs-analysis research before you even start the project.

And for now, it’s about the little things — put a towel under your laptop if your device is sitting on granite in your kitchen, Espinoza explained. Why? You’ll have to ask him that. I humbly admit his technical explanation was well over my head. 🙂 If you know why, drop a comment below the article.

That’s a Wrap on E4v Day Two

Almo’s second E4v (or E4 Evolution), a totally online version of its regional E4 Experience show, began Tuesday, Oct. 27, and will continue through Oct. 29. The show is broken down into six verticals — what Almo calls “Solution Centers” — that offer the industry a wide array of insights and forward-thinking education. The experience offered 14 AVIXA CTS Renewal Units (RUs) over the course of the three days: a very real draw, we’d say!

On Wednesday, two great Solution Centers played out during E4v: Next-Generation Workspaces and Pro Audio.

At the concussion of Wednesday’s live sessions, attendee Dawn Meade commented, “‘Teaching is the new selling.’ – YASSS! As an end-user, I don’t want to see another black/grey box. Teach me something new that provides a solution to MY needs!”

Carl Howell added, “Nice presentations today. Lots to unpack here!”

After the live webinar-style sessions, we were prompted to explore the six E4v Solution Centers: UCC, digital signage, next-generation workspaces, pro audio, the future of events and meetings, and direct-view LED.

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A screen shot of Almo E4v’s Pro Audio Solution Center interface

As one of Wednesday’s featured Solution Centers was Pro Audio (hence this wrap-up article), here’s a look at some of the featured content Almo included:

  • Leveraging Pro Audio Expertise During COVID-19 and Beyond
  • Keeping Clients Safe by Repurposing Existing Pro Audio Technology
  • Where Audio Automation Will Take AV Pros
  • Overcoming Audio Attenuation Caused by Masks and Other PPE

Also interesting was the breakdown of the Pro Audio “Product Solutions”: including microphones/sources, sound reinforcement and production solutions, speakers, amplifiers, conference-room solutions and more.

If you missed day two of Almo’s fall E4v, register to sign up here: https://e4evolution.com/. (Post-event registrations will be open for a short time.)