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By Sam Cavitt March 18,2013
|Sam Cavitt (email@example.com) is
president of Paradise Theater in Kihei,
Hawaii, and Carlsbad, California.
Most professional integrators would never
consider installing a high-performance
video projection system in a white room
with windows and high levels of ambient
light, because that environment would
render the performance capabilities
of the system imperceptible. Why is it
then that our industry regularly installs
high-performance audio systems in the
acoustical equivalent of that same bright,
white room? There are two primary
1 Quiet Rooms Require
Planning , Expertise,
In many cases the home theater industry
chooses expediency over performance.
If a client can be sold a system and
materials that can be easily assembled
and configured, then it is easier for the
sales person to choose that route over one that requires time to engineer,
design, and construct. Above and beyond any additional cost in materials
needed to produce a quiet room there will be the professional design and
construction services that go along with them.
2 We Are Not Asking the Right Questions
AV design professionals are frequently informed that the client
“doesn’t want” or “there is no need” for acoustical isolation. Upon further
investigation, we often find that these statements are based on assumptions
or are the results of a failure to understand. If
quiet room construction costs more (it does),
takes more time, and is less convenient to
deliver (it does and it is), the client and the
salesperson must be convinced it is worth it.
Let’s take a closer look at what we fail
to deliver when we do not provide a quiet
environment for audio.
Detail: Leaves rustling, water lapping, and
voices in the background can help transport
the listener to the intended place in a movie.
Fail to hear them and the experience falls
short. Musically, the characteristic of the room
and even the instrument is often based on the
resonances and overtones. Without them the music falls flat.
Dynamics: High-performance loudspeakers and electronics are
carefully engineered to faithfully reproduce sonic detail and drive that
detail without audible distortion. These characteristics are what the client
pays for in high-end electronics. If the room is not sufficiently quiet, then
these details cannot be heard.
|Professionals need to understand the value of providing a quiet theater room if they want to stand a chance of overcoming low-price/low-performance competitors and client objections.
Distraction: Producers go to great lengths to create films that can
create an experience, but it is tenuous and easily destroyed by distractions.
A whirring fan, voices from an adjacent room, or water running through
pipes are all that it takes to break an audience’s focus, and there is no
magic box or room correction that will overcome this phenomenon.
Disturbance: Often we hear, “We won’t care because we will all
be in the theater.” Don’t believe it! What a shame to invest in a high performance
theater that cannot be used after someone else in the house
goes to bed.
What Steps Can You Take?
Understand. Professionals need to understand the value of providing
a quiet room. It may also be useful for them to understand the risks of
ignoring it. Imagine the exposure if an integrator provides a private theater
kit and system and after it is all said and done, the client is unhappy. The
room would have to be removed and rebuilt correctly.
Discover. Spend the time to find out and help the client find the value
of high-quality audio. Be able to describe sonic details and demonstrate
the quiet end of the dynamic range. Help the client realize how these
attributes will enhance their experience. Then describe how a distraction
can take it all away.
Consult. Resist the temptation to throw a price out before you know
what is needed, and do not take shortcuts. There are many products
on the market that do not work. Take this seriously. If you have the
knowledge in-house, then charge for your services. If you’re using a thirdparty
engineer, charge for their expertise.
Support. Once the designs are done, the isolation material is shipped
and the room is being built, stay in the loop. A successful high-performance
room generally involves a team and the integrator’s part is vital. Allocate
time in your labor proposal for your management and support of this