7 Important AV Technologies for Your Auditorium

Cor­po­rate audi­to­ri­ums often hold the high­est vis­i­bil­i­ty meet­ings at an orga­ni­za­tion. They need to sup­port sin­gle pre­sen­ters, pan­els, and oth­er con­fig­u­ra­tions with clear audio and crisp visu­als. Audi­to­ri­ums may broad­cast all-hands meet­ings to satel­lite offices or stream pre­sen­ta­tions to hybrid workers.

Mod­ern AV tech­nol­o­gy can achieve all this.

While some AV com­po­nents of a cor­po­rate audi­to­ri­um may be obvi­ous, oth­ers aren’t as appar­ent. If you’re plan­ning for a new audi­to­ri­um or an audi­to­ri­um refresh, keep read­ing. This blog unpacks the most crit­i­cal AV com­po­nents in an auditorium.

1. Projector & Screen

Floor to ceil­ing win­dows and nat­ur­al light have become more pop­u­lar in audi­to­ri­um design over the last decade. The trend towards bright spaces makes low-lumen pro­jec­tors a non-starter. High lumens pro­jec­tors with high con­trast ratio help keep the con­tent from appear­ing washed out.

What do we mean by high lumen? Audi­to­ri­ums often need 10,000+ lumen pro­jec­tors. These high-qual­i­ty pro­jec­tors don’t come cheap- around $15,000-$25,000 plus. Remem­ber, this is the hard­ware cost and doesn’t include the ser­vices required to design and install it.

Most new sys­tems will fea­ture motor­ized screens which tie into the con­trol pan­el. A user selects the desired con­fig­u­ra­tion on the con­trol pan­el which trig­gers the screen to auto­mat­i­cal­ly drop down from its ceil­ing recessed housing.

Depend­ing on the size of the space, you may want two or three screens for con­ve­nient view­ing from any seat. The screens can either be spaced across the stage with con­tent on each one or placed next to each oth­er so a sin­gle image spans across the entire canvas.

These screens typ­i­cal­ly range from 133” to 270” diag­o­nal. The right size will depend on how large the room is and view­ing dis­tance of the far­thest participant.

Not all screens are cre­at­ed equal. It’s impor­tant to con­sid­er the Pro­ject­ed Image Sys­tems Con­trast Ratio (PISCR) stan­dard. We may select a screen with light reject­ing mate­r­i­al or a pro­jec­tor with a high­er con­trast ratio in order to meet the PISCR standard.


2. Video Wall (Optional)

Video walls are an alter­na­tive to the pro­jec­tor and screen. Direct View LED video walls offer flex­i­bil­i­ty for the super-pre­mi­um audi­to­ri­um experience.

Pix­el pitch deter­mines the res­o­lu­tion. For exam­ple, a 1920x1080 res­o­lu­tion is 1920 pix­els hor­i­zon­tal­ly and 1080 pix­els ver­ti­cal­ly. If there’s a larg­er pix­el pitch (the amount of space between pix­els),  the video wall must be larg­er to achieve the desired res­o­lu­tion. A small­er pix­el pitch will be able to achieve the same res­o­lu­tion in a small­er wall.

There are a few major ways LED dis­plays dif­fer from the pro­jec­tor and screen. First, is their abil­i­ty to scale. They are not lim­it­ed to a spe­cif­ic aspect ratio, and the sky is the lim­it in terms of size.

With flex­i­ble scal­ing comes flex­i­ble lay­outs. This can be achieved through pre-con­fig­ured lay­outs with many dif­fer­ent sources. How­ev­er, the pre­ferred method for an audi­to­ri­um is a can­vas that mul­ti­ple pieces of dig­i­tal con­tent can be pre­sent­ed on.

Anoth­er major dif­fer­en­tia­tor is that LED dis­plays are incred­i­bly bright, mak­ing them easy to see in areas with high ambi­ent light. They typ­i­cal­ly have a life­time (half bright­ness) of 100,000 hours. This is com­pared to pro­jec­tors which often fea­ture 20,000 hours of laser mod­ule life.

These added ben­e­fits do come at a cost. Size and pix­el pitch dri­ve the price for LED dis­plays, which can vary great­ly depend­ing on those two fac­tors. While LED dis­plays are more expen­sive than most pro­jec­tor and screen solu­tions, that should be eval­u­at­ed against any poten­tial reduc­tion in oper­at­ing cost as the solu­tion ages.

3. Speakers (and speaker placement)

While the visu­als are the most eye-catch­ing aspect of audi­to­ri­um AV, the audio is even more impor­tant. Noth­ing halts the flow of an event faster than audio disruptions.

Speak­er and speak­er place­ment are crit­i­cal in audi­to­ri­um AV design. So, it’s impor­tant for your AV inte­gra­tor or con­sul­tant to fol­low best prac­tices for audio design. This includes for­mu­las to find the appro­pri­ate db SPL, head­room, and dis­tance (loud­speak­er to lis­ten­er and ref­er­ence dis­tance). Each of these ele­ments inform the num­ber of amps required and loca­tion of speakers.

We also look at cal­cu­la­tions to ensure the sys­tem is sta­ble and free from feed­back loops. The Poten­tial Acoustic Gain (PAG) is what the designed sys­tem can actu­al­ly deliv­er. It is com­pared to the Need­ed Acoustic Gain (NAG). The PAG should be greater than the NAG for a sta­ble system.

As a client, you shouldn’t have to wor­ry about this tech­ni­cal jar­gon and cal­cu­la­tions. That’s what you’re pay­ing your AV part­ner for. But it should be hap­pen­ing behind the scenes. Ulti­mate­ly, this results in a speak­er lay­out that cre­ates a con­sis­tent, com­fort­able audio lev­el across the space.

4. Flexible Microphones

In cor­po­rate audi­to­ri­ums, your micro­phones need to be just as flex­i­ble as your fur­ni­ture layouts.

Find­ing the right type and num­ber of micro­phones to fit the needs of the on-stage pre­sen­ters is the first step.  An event may fea­ture a sin­gle pre­sen­ter and pan­els. Lapel micro­phones are a go-to for both pre­sen­ta­tion types.

It’s also impor­tant to coach pre­sen­ters on micro­phone place­ment and eti­quette.  It can be dif­fi­cult to reach the desired NAG when a micro­phone is not placed correctly.

The sec­ond piece of the micro­phone puz­zle is audi­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion. Will atten­dees need the abil­i­ty to ask ques­tions? If so, there’s a cou­ple ways to tack­le it.

Stan­dard wire­less micro­phones passed around is a tried and true method for audi­ence engage­ment. A proc­tor will often run up and down the isles pass­ing the micro­phone to dif­fer­ent par­tic­i­pants. It’s a famil­iar con­fig­u­ra­tion that atten­dees are com­fort­able with.

Anoth­er option is some­thing like a catch­box. This soft micro­phone is thrown from one audi­ence mem­ber to anoth­er. Some­one catch­es it and can speak into it to ask their ques­tion. While it’s great for some events, it can be too infor­mal for others.

Biamp Crowd Mics is anoth­er alter­na­tive. This new tech­nol­o­gy allows the audi­ence to use their cell phone as a micro­phone. It’s impor­tant to note it does require crit­i­cal net­work accom­mo­da­tions to ensure a strong Wi-Fi con­nec­tion between audi­ence mem­bers and the equipment’s network.

Crowd Mics

5. Multiple Cameras

Cam­eras are a crit­i­cal com­po­nent in the cor­po­rate audi­to­ri­um and allow for remote view­ing of the event. Whether you’re stream­ing to remote atten­dees or record­ing for archival, you’ll need a feed of the pre­sen­ter and audience.

The right cam­era will depend on how deep the room is and the far-end expe­ri­ence you’re try­ing to cre­ate. You may con­sid­er fea­tures like auto-track­ing, which will track the pre­sen­ter as they move back and forth on the stage. With this and oth­er Ai-based fea­tures it’s impor­tant to con­sid­er the back­drop since win­dows, light­ing, and reflec­tions can impact the functionality.

You’ll also need to make a few deci­sions around the work­flow. Will some­one be dri­ving the cam­era con­trol, switch­ing and pre­set selec­tion? If so, a joy­stick con­troller may be prefer­able. For a more auto­mat­ed expe­ri­ence a con­trol pan­el and  PTZ cam­era allows for easy selec­tion of pre­set layouts.

If you expect attendee par­tic­i­pa­tion, audi­ence-fac­ing cam­eras are a valu­able add. This allows remote par­tic­i­pants to see the audi­ence and peo­ple ask­ing ques­tions through­out the event.

6. System Control

Audi­to­ri­um sys­tem con­trol typ­i­cal­ly requires cus­tom pro­gram­ing. We fre­quent­ly use Cre­stron to pow­er our clients’ audi­to­ri­um, but Extron, AMX and Utel­o­gy are oth­er good options too. The right choice for your audi­to­ri­um may depend on what con­trol sys­tem your orga­ni­za­tion is stan­dard­ized on.

The pro­gram­mers work­ing on your project should have expe­ri­ence in sim­i­lar sys­tems. Don’t be afraid to ask for ref­er­ences and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. Our pro­gram­mers cre­ate sys­tems with ease-of-use at the forefront.

Auditorium- 1-01s

For audi­to­ri­um, this means pre-set con­fig­u­ra­tions. For exam­ple, con­fig­u­ra­tion 1 one may be for a sin­gle pre­sen­ter, not streamed. When select­ed, the DSP unmutes and routs the pri­ma­ry lapel micro­phone. The pro­jec­tor pow­ers up and the main screen descends from the ceil­ing. The con­tent is con­trolled from the pre­sen­ter podi­um con­nec­tions or booth at larg­er events.

Auditorium- panel-01s

Con­fig­u­ra­tion 2 may be for a pan­el. In this instance four lapel micro­phones are unmut­ed and rout­ed. The three pro­jec­tors and screens pow­er on, and the con­trol sys­tem trig­gers the pre­ferred light­ing and shading.

While sim­plis­tic, these two exam­ples illus­trate how pre-set con­fig­u­ra­tions save time and cre­ate con­sis­ten­cy. It reduces frus­tra­tion and makes the sys­tem more approach­able for users.

7. Streaming/Broadcasting

Stream­ing is becom­ing a ‘must-have’ in the cor­po­rate audi­to­ri­um. It pro­vides the hybrid work­force an oppor­tu­ni­ty to attend these high­ly vis­i­ble meet­ings. It also includes satel­lite offices in an event. Com­pa­nies are stream­ing all-hands meet­ings and events across plat­forms like Zoom, Google­Meet and Teams.

Ensur­ing your audi­to­ri­um audio, video and con­trol is inte­grat­ed into these stream­ing ser­vices is crit­i­cal for the far-end experience.

Bonus- Overall Aesthetics

Aes­thet­ics are impor­tant in offices, espe­cial­ly in an audi­to­ri­um. While com­pa­nies want tech­nol­o­gy to work flaw­less­ly, they don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly want it vis­i­ble. Instead, they want the tech­nol­o­gy to fade into the back­ground. For exam­ple, one audi­to­ri­um we worked in had a beau­ti­ful wood ceil­ing. The client did­n’t want the pro­jec­tor mount detract­ing from the over­all aes­thet­ics. So, we worked with oth­er trades to devel­op cus­tom cov­ers at the bot­tom of the pro­jec­tor lifts to cam­ou­flage them with the ceiling.

What about your space?

There are many dif­fer­ent con­sid­er­a­tions for a cor­po­rate audi­to­ri­um. Many of the choic­es will depend on how your com­pa­ny will use the space, the desired lev­el of flex­i­bil­i­ty, and any exist­ing hard­ware stan­dards. It’s impor­tant to cre­ate align­ment inter­nal­ly on what types of meet­ings and events the space will need to sup­port. That will be the foun­da­tion to deter­mine the func­tion­al­i­ty, and ulti­mate­ly dri­ve the design and prod­uct choice.

A little overwhelming, huh?

There’s a lot that goes into an audi­to­ri­um AV project. While we tried to pro­vide as much infor­ma­tion as pos­si­ble in this arti­cle, there’s many more con­sid­er­a­tions when design­ing audi­to­ri­um AV. This just scratch­es the surface.

The good news is you don’t have to fig­ure it out your­self. That’s where we come in. We’re not a jack of all trades. We’re an expert in com­mer­cial AV solu­tions, and we can help reduce some of your stress when it comes to build­ing out your cor­po­rate auditorium.

Get Help With Your Auditorium

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