Six Questions to Ask Yourself Before Installing Your Auditorium Sound & Video Solution

Whether you want to really enjoy the play's lead hit her high note, or need to clearly see a professors presentation from the back row, the sound and visuals in a school auditorium are vitally important. In today's highly audio visual-focused culture, the sound coming from a school auditorium has to be top notch and the visual experience has to engage. Every school is unique, so needs can vary greatly. But, all schools want to make sure that they have a fantastic-sound and visual experience. While it takes an expert to plan and install a system, it's helpful to ask yourself the following six questions before you embark on any audi-visual system work.

  1. What will you use the space for? Think about every possible use of your auditorium space. Will it be used solely for lectures? Or, might your school be staging musical or other live performances? While a good sound & video system can certainly accommodate various needs, it is important to know your system's purpose.
  2. Who needs to work the sound & video? If experts will primarily operate your system, it can offer more complex controls than if a variety of teachers, students, and others need to utilize it. In the latter, a simple operation is important.
  3. Where will people be seated? Sound coverage throughout the whole auditorium is important. Although there are devices that can test this, nothing beats the trained human ear. A trained sound technician will be able to listen while in different parts of the auditorium. If your auditorium is more vertically oriented (stadium seating), having even sound will be a bigger challenge. What about the people in the back sitting right next to the speakers? Make sure they are not blasted out of the auditorium when they want to enjoy the sound.
  4. How will it sound to performers? Performers on stage need to be able to hear what is going on. While their needs may differ from those in the audience, you still need to consider them when putting in a sound system.
  5. What are peripheral room requirements? Don't forget about those backstage, in green rooms, or in changing rooms. People in those rooms need to know what is going on. Are there rooms outside of the auditorium that need quality sound, too?
  6. What is your stage floor made of? Often times, designers want to make a stage floor out of some exotic wood. Unfortunately, the best stages--for sound and visual purposes-are matte black or flat black. Just a plain wood that can be painted black is your best bet.

While the above six considerations are important, there is much that goes into planning a high-quality sound system in an auditorium. Sound planners will take into account things such as internal geometry, reverberation time, and the general shape of the auditorium. Just ask the folks at Shanahan about all they did to give Northeastern's Blackman Auditorium the powerhouse sound and video solution they have today!