26 Jan 2017

The Unexpected Cost of the Do It Yourself Audio System

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We’ve recently had a service call to address ongoing equipment failures in a  Do it yourself audio system that we found was barely suitable for home use, much less for any commercial environment.
How does this happen? You might ask.

Well, sometimes the audio system for a commercial establishment is an afterthought, or at the very least, something many small business owners opt to take the “Do It Yourself” (DIY) route with.

After all: “How hard can it be?” they ask, rhetorically.

Enter The Do it Yourself Audio System

As it turns out; it’s more difficult to get it right, than it may seem at first.

“A trip to the closest big box consumer electronics store should do the trick; right?”

“Wait; that store that sells DJ equipment, yeah, that’ll work!”

First mistake: assuming that the pro audio, or electronics store, has your best interest at heart.

Don’t get me wrong; many of us audio technicians used to sell audio equipment in retail stores. It’s not that salespeople are “out to get you”, just that unless they’re designing, installing and being contracted to maintain and service your system, it’s all too easy for them to, not, be vested in the long-term success of your audio system investment.

They may be more interested in selling what they have and not so much, what you need.

Consider the following scenarios.

• A salesperson sells you the equipment but someone they don’t know who’s installing it; they already have a built-in scapegoat for shifting blame to if something, or everything, goes wrong. There’s also a very good chance they’re putting together your system without the benefit of ever having stepped foot in your establishment.

How can they customize the system to your space if they haven’t even seen it?

• An audio contractor is hired to install equipment that they did not specify, or purchase on your behalf; they may not be as familiar with the equipment as they’d like to be and that could lead to errors in set-up and configuration and they’ll certainly have no idea how reliable, or not, that unfamiliar equipment is.

• A qualified individual specifies the components and you purchase that equipment from a reputable establishment, then have it professionally installed but forego establishing maintenance and service agreement with the installer (at least a three-month service contract). Now you run the risk of having unforeseen obstacles, or issues (such as gross operator errors on the part of you or your staff), become major problems that lead to system failures and downtime.

• Sometimes none of the above is done; a business owner or, a friend of the owner’s, “that knows audio” takes on the project. In the best case scenario this can result in an adequate system but one that only operates for a short time before its limitations become obvious, such as easily overheating due to improper ventilation, or usage that exceeds the system’s operating capacity.

There might be blown speakers because the speaker/amplifier combination is not right.
Maybe there is just this nagging feeling that the system never sounds right because it wasn’t tuned properly and doesn’t meet your performance expectations.

A system is only as good as the weakest link; if shortcuts are taken anywhere in the system, they will be felt everywhere in the system.

At this point, a business owner will need to cut their losses and pay to have an audio professional come in and troubleshoot the problems.

This could further entail costly repairs, upgrades, or worse yet, starting all over but hopefully, salvaging some part(s) of the original system, if they’re lucky.

Now the owner is faced with the cost and time spent on the first system, added to the costs and time spent getting it right.

A little story here: I had a client tell me that after initially setting up the audio system in his establishment, he had purchased a new amplifier, every year or so because it kept burning out.

It turns out he had too many speakers on each channel and the amp just couldn’t take the load and would eventually crap out completely.

The system needed at least four channels of amplification, not just two.

By the time the owner reached out to me, four two-channel amps had been purchased, one at a time but three were fried and not worth repairing; time and money, thrown out the window.
Keep in mind that as this is happening, an establishment’s customers are being subjected to poor quality audio at best and at worst, when the system is down, no audio at all!

What kind of impression of you and your business, does that leave with your clientele?

Some clients leave sooner than they would otherwise, spending less money and they may never return!

Let’s also consider the bad social media reviews that can result from this kind of thing and how that will influence some to not even try your place out.

It’s difficult to calculate how much, in lost revenue, your business suffers when your sound system drives customers away.

It’s easy to see that DIY can cost much more than the cost of finding a trustworthy professional to deliver, within your budget, the audio performance and quality you need and want for your business.

Let Custom Playback Systems work with you from end to end.

Give us a reasonable budget (remember: it’s an investment in your business, not an expense) and we’ll design and install a system you can rely on, along with providing the follow-up service and maintenance that will make the difference between short-term success and long-term satisfaction.

Visit, www.customplaybacksystems.com to learn more about how we can help you get it right the first time!


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