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Commissioning Audio-Visual Systems | Why it’s Essential

by Tim Heneveld on January 6, 2010

image of Commissioning Audio-Visual Systems and AVL System DesignThis past summer I went to commission a small sound system at a new facility. Not necessarily a big expensive project, but the client had hired us to commission the final installation and make sure everything was installed as specified. I showed up on site, confirmed all of the equipment was installed and then proceeded to check out how the wiring had been installed. At first everything looked pretty good, until I pulled one of the microphone input plates off the wall and discovered that there was no junction box behind it. Instead someone had busted a hole in the masonry block and tried to fish the wires down through the block from above. But they had run into a little problem at the steel beam. So they made another hole through the vapor barrier and ran the wires just inside the exterior brick. Problem solved, right? Uh… not so much.

The sound system worked just fine (although the wiring was definitely not installed correctly). But the installation method represented a major compromise to the building’s integrity. This is just one of many stories from when we commission audio, video, and theatrical lighting systems, and it represents the value that this service brings to the entire process. What could have been a serious problem for the owner and the building was able to be corrected, but it would not have been discovered without the third party sound system commissioning. Most issues we discover during commissioning projects for universities, schools, and churches don’t involve issues compromising the integrity of the building, but we routinely find things needing correction. On numerous occasions, we noted items that resulted in substantial credits back to the owner!

This isn’t to say that contractors always do a bad job. To the contrary, many contractors do excellent work. But the commissioning process helps to ensure that the owner gets exactly what they have paid for, and it also provides a valuable tool for feedback to contractors. They have a chance to have their work evaluated by an independent third party who will note both the good and the bad and help them to improve their work where necessary. The cost for sound system commissioning is minimal, yet the benefit for everyone involved is quite substantial.

At Acoustics By Design, we offer independent AVL consulting from the initial audio, video, and lighting systems design to the final AVL system commissioning and contractor checkout. We’re the third party who represents the owner’s best interest and sticks with them all throughout the process. That’s how you bring a project to a successful completion.

Tim Heneveld

Tim Heneveld

Tim Heneveld, CTS-D, has worked in almost every aspect of the Audio-Video and lighting industry. From System Design to Project Management to Studio and Live Engineering. Tim has overseen audio, video, and lighting systems as well as operations, and provided recording studio and live sound engineering around the world for recording artists of all genres. Tim is a Certified Crestron and Extron Programmer, and is the Senior AVL Design Consultant for Acoustics By Design, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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