Sound issues at conferences.

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by zekmoe, Apr 23, 2015.

  1. zekmoe

    zekmoe Member

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    I just attended a local IT Symposium, held at a hotel known for business conferences and corporate get togethers. It was a good, well worth my time event, but what happened was typical of what I've experienced over the years.
    The speakers mics fed back, howling a bit, then some ringing after every word. We had probably a couple of $1,000,000/year CEO types speaking and it was very annoying. Almost every speaker had the same series of noises and feedback. The hotel of course sent a cleaning lady, then janitor, and then front desk associate to resolve the issue. After many tries they basically lowered the volume to the point of no amplification.
    Why are these places so cheap and clueless? They had probably spent the equivalent of real money on the sound, but couldn't get real equipment, OR someone who has a vague idea of how to run it.
    Our COO was visibly annoyed as we were chief sponsors of the event. This seems to happen every where I go. Feedback, cracking mics, not enough volume. I've suggested to him they insist the place hire a sound engineer for the next event, as it's disruptive, and unprofessional to say the least.
    Your experiences:
     
  2. Tonekat

    Tonekat Supporting Member

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    Once events reach a certain size, yeah, whatever company is contracted with the venue for A/V should offer an option for a guy to make sure it works right. Did the hotel own the system?
     
  3. zekmoe

    zekmoe Member

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    Yea I think the hotel owned it, though wouldn't know. Looked like it was wireless mics plugged into receivers on a table, connected to a commercial but older powered mixer. Speakers were in ceiling, and maybe on poles. Room held about 200.
     
  4. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    If it was that important of an event, the company should have coughed up the dough to have at least a guy there who could fix it.

    Apparently the organizers didn't think it was?
     
  5. taez555

    taez555 Member

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    I work at a hotel in finance. For the most part it's because that's what people are willing to pay for.

    If demand for AV isn't much, the hotel won't even have a full time AV tech and will just buy whatever they can afford for the majority of their conferences and have the banquet houseman/server or banquet manager set it up and run it.

    You're more likely to find though, especially if demand is higher, that the AV is being run by an outside company. It just doesn't make sense from the hotel's perspective to constantly purchase and maintain AV equipment and hire the staff to keep up with the latest electronics and gear. Better off rent it when you need, and bill back the full expense to the client.

    Plus you figure when some office assistant is booking the event, AV is a complete afterthought.

    They have a set budget. Are they more likely to spend the extra money on the open bar and passed crab appetizers, or splurge for the better AV setup with on call technician?

    :)

    Yeah. Odds are you're dealing with an outside company, hired on the cheap, with inexperienced staff, who have underpowered gear and are dealing with an unfamiliar room.

    The Crab appetizers are good though. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  6. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    The combination of overhead speakers and lapel mics is always a disaster. That latent ringing is incredibly distracting. I'm always glad to see powered speakers on poles at these things. At least you know the overhead speakers will be off.

    I'm surprised how many professional speakers don't learn the tools of their trade, including how to use lav mics. I see so many of them clip the mic way up high or too far to one side of their clothes. You either get a muffled sound from their throat or that annoying thing where they're too loud facing one direction and inaudible facing the other. Drives me nuts.
     
  7. sanrico

    sanrico Member

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    I attend a lot of conferences. Seriously, more than I can stand. EVERY conference has these issues.

    Don't get me started on phone-in meetings.
     
  8. taez555

    taez555 Member

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    Maybe 5 years ago we had one of the Beachbody pyramid scheme groups hold a "conference" at our hotel, and they didn't want to pay for an outside company.

    Our normal AV guy was off that day, and they asked me if I could fill in (Hey taez555, we know you work in accounting, but you went to berklee, you're a musician.... oh yeah, it pays double time)

    :)

    So I show up, and this is all they gave me to work with for a crowd of about 200 people...
    :thud

    [​IMG]

    Underpowered powered speakers, a mixer with nothing but volume, and an energetic high pressure sales dude in spandex selling powdered health shakes while standing right in front the speaker.

    :facepalm

    Sorry about the Feedback. :)

    :bonk
     
  9. erok64

    erok64 Member

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    Live audio is a challenge. Rarely is the engineer or operator presented with an ideal situation. Witness any awards show (Grammys, Oscars, Superbowl, CMA, etc...) which is broadcast and you'll hear feedback, poor mixes, late mic unmutes, low volume, and poor equalization. AND THESE SHOWS HAVE VIRTUALLY UNLIMITED BUDGETS, INDUSTRY LEADING ENGINEERS, AND PLENTY OF REHEARSAL TIME. Is it any wonder why the guys doing corporate AV have the same issues? I've worked clubs, festivals, HOW (houses of worship) and corporate audio for most of my life. Even when your room, gear, and talent are substandard, the true professional will make the most of the situation because HE CARES.

    I've worked cavernous exhibit halls without an ounce of sound absorption, dueling a way too loud HVAC system, with a lav clipped onto a presenter (didn't like the look of a headset mic) who spoke barely above a whisper and the event planner wondered why it sounded so weak. Sometimes the deck is stacked against you. When it is, you use all your skills to make the most of what is available at the time. I've had disappointing events, but nobody could ever say I didn't do everything in my power at the time to make the most out of a $#it sandwich. Good skills can't always overcome a no win situation, but you'll get a lot more respect when you battle on rather than surrender. Bottom line, you're only as good as your last show. That's true whether you're the talent or the tech.
     

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