This Year, Beat the Holiday Rush: Make a Plan Now to Have Your Audio-Visual System Checked Out, Tuned Up, Upgraded and or Repaired
It’s that time of year again, when the days start getting shorter, the kids start preparing for school and your organization starts pre-planning programs for the upcoming Holiday season. Everyone is feeling the beginning stages of anxiousness, but not you, instead you feel relaxed, no worries.
What’s the big deal? There is still plenty of time to schedule a preventative maintenance visit by the local audio-visual technicians before the big holiday events. Even though you promised months ago to your management to do the system checkout, you know you have plenty of time. You are content to watch others feel the pressure and panic. Time is your friend…… or is it?
How many times have you fallen into that trap only to discover that the middle of the holiday season is the worst time to schedule an update, tune-up or repair of your audio-video equipment? Keep in mind, the worst time to fix an air conditioner is in the middle of a heat wave. The best time is before the rush, before the panic. Remember what you were taught, “Be prepared.”
Not to worry, here is a list of things to check before the season officially starts. Use this checklist to evaluate whether you are all set or need to call a professional.
7 Items to check NOW on your audio-visual system!
Did you know that your loudspeakers should be checked a couple times a year for functionality and equalization? A lot of organizations overlook the loudspeakers when it comes to sound quality, mistakenly believing they either work or don’t. Those same organizations have forgotten that the sound you hear is not the result of a single component, but rather, a series of interconnected components working seamlessly together. To really understand what is happening at the loudspeaker level, just using and trusting your subjective ear might get you to “good enough” but to really get the most from your system, use a professional tool specifically designed to capture the performance reference measurements. These measurements will assist the audio technician in diagnosing potential problems and making necessary corrections. If no such tool is available, contact your audio-visual consultant, or call Audio-Video Group for recommendations.
2. All Inputs and Outputs
This is a big job, and you will be surprised at the large number of inputs and outputs in your system. Check and or calibrate all fixed and portable cables and connectors, the various adjustment pots on the mixing board like gain, pan, sliders, all panel lights, check batteries in wireless transmitters, test wired mics, amplifiers, the DSP, switcher/scaler, etc.; you get the point. This is a time-consuming, tedious, but necessary job for any organization that wants to protect their equipment investment while maintaining the highest quality sound and video possible.
3. Keep a Maintenance Journal
Be sure to keep a maintenance journal which is an important and often overlooked part of a well-managed audio-visual system. Record the results of the findings in a three ring binder along with equipment warranties and operating manuals. Missing manuals can usually be found on the Internet or available from the manufacturer for a small fee. Also, add any notes or drawings used by the architect, system integrator, or installer. Keep all of these materials together in the maintenance journal located in a safe but accessible place. The next time you do the audit, in six months or so, the maintenance journal will save you time and possibly hours of frustration.
NOTE: Keep your specific organization’s event or weekly operating “instructions” in a separate binder as they tend to be used more frequently. This will help reduce the possibility of the maintenance manual being damaged or misplaced.
4. Check, Clean or Replace System Filters
Often overlooked but extremely import to the health and care of the equipment are all of the various filters found in the projectors, displays and amplifiers. Filters keep suspended air-particles from damaging the sensitive circuits and over time require cleaning to improve air flow. Modern projectors often include a sensor that detects when the filter is dirty and will cause the projector to become inoperable until it is cleaned or replaced.
5. Clean Video and Camera Lenses along with Flat Screen Surfaces
Have you ever seen someone complain about not being able to see clearly, only to later realize that over time, those once sparkling clean lenses, are now dusty or dirty? In the same way, dust slowly settles on the projector and camera lens and over time we simply grow accustomed to the quality never noticing the degradation until it is a real problem. The cameras and projector lenses need to be cleaned regularly and examined for possible scratches or damage. Lenses will scratch easily, especially if they are coated with any light filtering or UV reduction films. Do not forget to clean your flat screens surface with a suitable solution and special cleaning cloth. Be sure to check with the manufacturer’s manuals and only use their recommended solvents for cleaning flat screens. If in doubt, always refer to a professional.
NOTE: Use extreme care and caution when working with video components, especially any mounted overhead. Follow all safety precautions and always refer to the manufacturer’s maintenance requirements to avoid possible future warranty issues.
6. Adjust Video Projectors and Cameras
Anytime you do preventative maintenance on the video equipment you will want to be sure to check the aiming, focusing and any electronic adjustments made through the systems menus. These adjustments should have been documented and kept in the Maintenance Journal to make resetting and adjusting easier. While adjusting be sure to check and document the lamp hours. If nearing the expected end of lifetime as supplied by the manufacturer, be sure to order a replacement to have on hand. Always order replacement lamps from a reputable audio-video supply company to ensure you receive the proper type and rated bulb. Avoid the temptation to save a few dollars by ordering replacement lamps from “after-market” or “knock-offs”. More often than not those “cheap” lamps are inferior in quality, have shorter lives and can possibly damage your projector. The few dollars you saved might be needed to replace your damaged projectors. Audio-Video Group can help you determine which lamp to order, ensuring you receive a high quality, properly rated lamp for almost any projector.
7. Perform Firmware Updates
Lastly, check your systems firmware to be sure it’s up to date. Firmware refers to a type of special “operating system” instructions necessary for the component to function as intended and to interface with other components. Firmware updates are usually downloaded from the Internet and component, version specific. Special care must be given to the updating process and we recommend you let professional company like Audio-Video Group take care of this part of the maintenance procedure. Again, be sure to document any upgrades in the Maintenance Journal and if possible, using a small piece of tape, on the case of the component.
As you can see, maintaining an audio-visual system requires a great deal of time and effort but the rewards are both immediate and long–lasting to the quality and reliability of the system. Waiting until October or even November to start the maintenance process can spell disaster if multiple issues are discovered. Make plans now to start the audit and if you feel this is beyond the scope of what your audio-video team can take on, call an audio-visual professional for training or to assist. Audio-Video Group has trained technicians ready to assist you in preparing for the rapidly approaching holiday season. In addition, Audio-Video Group is pleased to offer a comprehensive, 12 month “System Preservation Program” that covers everything mentioned above and includes two (2) visits a year.
Call Audio-Video Group at (800)668-4988 and let us get your system back in shape for the holidays!