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Why an AV Engineer is Critical to Your Next Integration Project

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How an AV Engineer Makes the Most of Your Budget

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but a lesser known proverb says that on every successful audiovisual systems integration team is an AV design engineer.

AV integration projects are rarely the work of a single person—they are a group effort. And making sure the right people are in that group is critical to your AV project. With an AV design engineer on your team, you can rest easy knowing that the planning, implementation, and installation of your AV system is in good hands.

What Can an Audiovisual Design Engineer Do for You?

So what does an AV engineer do that makes them such a valuable part of your team? Here are a few of the skills and benefits they bring to the table:

AV engineers have a specific set of skills that are important to any AV integration and installation project. An AV engineer can start helping you as early as the planning stage of your project, offering insight into which tools, solutions and platforms are best suited to meet your needs and fit your budget. They can also help ensure that the technologies you choose are interoperable and can work together without additional configuration or integration from your IT team.

“[An AV engineer] helps the client be responsible with their spending,” said Jeff Bethke, VP of Engineering for Level 3 Audiovisual. “The value is that they understand what you need, and they can come back and say, for it to do this, this is how we would approach it using best practices, quality products, and quality vendors. We try to find the common space where the function meets the budget and those two things are comfortable.”

Without the expertise of an AV engineer in the design phase of your project, you risk overspending on technology that doesn’t even deliver what you need. Which is, as the saying goes, a lose-lose situation.

Still not convinced? Imagine that instead of building an AV system you were building an airplane. Would you build an airplane by yourself without the assistance of an aeronautical engineer? If you wanted to get off the ground—or not crash immediately, the answer is probably no.

So why should your AV system be any different? You might not be risking a physical crash, but deploying an AV system without the input of an AV engineer can certainly disrupt if not destroy your meeting productivity, collaboration efforts, and the morale and satisfaction of your employees.

“You need technical people who understand the systems, the individual components, and how they work together to deliver the function,” said Bethke. “No one piece alone delivers any of this stuff.”

This is especially true as companies and organizations incorporate more complex and emerging technologies into their AV roadmap, such as artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality.

An AV engineer can help ensure your AV design meets not just your needs today, but needs and solutions that may arise in the future as well. As integrated systems become more advanced, AV design engineers become more of a necessity than a luxury, especially when it comes to providing a unified and positive user experience.

“In today’s world you can’t separate the meeting room technology from the end user’s experience at their desk, on their laptop, or on their PC. They are completely linked now. They are totally integrated,” Bethke said.

Your AV design needs to consider not just the actual tools and technologies you are using but the workflows those tools and technologies are facilitating, like scheduling meetings, reserving rooms, and launching and joining audio and video conferences.

At this point, you might be convinced that what you actually need is AV expert, an IT expert, a network expert, a software expert, and a communication expert. The good news is, an AV design engineer is all those things rolled into one.

Next Steps

Level 3 AV’s approach is to put the needs and experiences of the end users first. Audiovisual equipment that operates flawlessly is useless if it doesn’t do what you need. Ready to start designing the system that best suits your needs, your budget, and your users? Get in touch today.

Audiovisual Design: How Do AV Engineers Play a Role in my Design?

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Audiovisual Design: How Do AV Engineers Play a Role in my Design?

An AV engineer in the past, had a skill set more focused on (surprise, surprise…) the audio and visual aspects of presentation and communication systems. Properly specifying components like speakers, amplifiers, audio processors, microphones, projectors and displays, were all in the wheel house of the AV engineer. Then control systems entered the space, and those engineers started to add knowledge on how to control many aspects of the system from button panels, then custom designed touch screens. These control systems ran on proprietary communication lines for a while, then they started to add standard network and IP connections. Now the AV engineer needs to understand networking, routers, switches and access points, and especially how to work with IT managers in charge of the customer network. This also comes into play when working with video conferencing codecs, like Cisco and Polycom. Next the “soft codec” was brought to the conference and meeting room arena, which is a term used to describe video conferencing applications running on “BYOD” devices, like laptops. Video conferencing services include Zoom, Skype for Business and WebEx. Now the AV engineer needs to deeply understand incorporating USB devices into their designs.

Sound like a lot to understand? It is.

The AV engineer has morphed into an integrated systems and communications technologist. He or She needs to understand best practices, and most importantly, the interoperability of many components and systems in order to create an experience for the end user that is powerful and effortlessly simple to use. Oh yeah, the AV engineer also needs to understand the user experience (UX), because intimidating and difficult technology never gets used.

How do we keep this all straight? One approach is to use teams and checklists.

Audiovisual Design & Engineering Teams.

AV engineers by nature have very different backgrounds. Some used to be live or studio audio engineers. Some have college degrees in engineering, some have degrees in art. Some never went to college, but years spent in the industry school of hard knocks learning the pitfalls of “AV design and deployment” is schooling enough. Understanding that the knowledge spread across an engineering team is more vast and deep than any one person can hope to learn in a lifetime allows for the team to learn from each other, and provide subject matter expertise across the many, many disciplines required to engineer a complete solution. Information sharing does not happen by accident, or without a structured effort set forth to continually educate the team.

Checklists add Quality Management to our AV Solution.

Choosing a quality management system (QMS) to implement within an AV engineering department requires a lot of time and commitment from the team. Understanding where system designs can run into trouble, and putting those items to a review checklist, makes sure that known design errors don’t happen on the front end. This is critical in ensuring a “zero defect” system gets deployed for the customer and is exactly what they expected. The AV9000 QMS set forth by industry organization AQAV takes aim at poor quality.

How do AV engineers play a role in my design?

The individual engineer and the environment in which they work will ultimately drive the solution for the issues you are trying to solve for your users. But in general, without a deep understanding of the various technology fields mentioned previously, the absolute best solution for your user, your budget and the perceived success of your project can’t even be brought to the table.