There’s a crucial difference between, say, a dentist who owns a Mark Levinson Revel home system and the owner of a regional sound company who uses a Crown Audio-powered JBL touring rig.
The dentist does not depend on audio components for his livelihood; the sound company operator does. These are the tools of trade, and how well those tools work, can spell the difference between a business that prospers and one that struggles to stay afloat.
The term “best practices” has crept into the vocabulary of all business enterprises, and live sound companies are no exception. Basically, this buzzword (actually “buzzphrase”) refers to methods and techniques that consistently produce enhanced results.
In that light, it’s appropriate to take a look at the recently released JBL HiQnet Performance Manager software program from a broader perspective. Yes, it is designed to maximize the performance of systems built around Crown Audio networked I-Tech HD Series DSP amplifiers and JBL VerTec Series and VTX Series line arrays.
But it goes further by also providing users with a useful business optimization tool. This general concept can encompass a broad spectrum of issues facing the industry, including fuel costs, paying and retaining a highly-skilled workforce, inventory management and investment, regulatory compliance, and even environmental impact. They all affect the stability, viability and image of sound company.
For our purposes here we’ll look at three broad categories that often define “best practices” for a live sound provider, and then keep them in mind as we look at the impact that HiQnet Performance Manager can have on business performance.
In this screen shot, we see Crown VRACKs loaded automatically into the main workspace, each amplifier channel associated with the appropriate loudspeaker bandpass input. (click to enlarge)
Inventory optimization – How do you maximize the return on your equipment investment? The goal is to use only what you need on a given job to minimize transport and labor costs. You also want to minimize shop prep time between jobs so your gear is out making money as often as possible.
Employee skills and job satisfaction – Skilled employees are expensive and sometimes hard to find. You want to keep them happy, working efficiently, and provide opportunities for training to allow them to achieve higher skill levels.
Client satisfaction – If the event producer, artist production management, artist, audience, etc., are pleased with the sound quality (and on-time readiness), you’re more likely to get repeat work, and perhaps command a higher fee.
Of course, there’s nothing dramatically new here. For decades, all three points have been fundamental to best practices for sound companies. But both the economic and technological environments have changed drastically in recent years.
In light of today’s fully networked audio systems and highly competitive marketplace, any sound company leveraging a dedicated, market-specific software platform could realize a significant advantage.
To be honest, we did not set out to create a “business optimization tool.” Our stated goal was to develop a new software platform, based on the underlying code of HiQnet System Architect, with a more streamlined interface that was better suited to the common workflow procedures of live sound operators – ranging from relatively small corporate A/V providers to those supplying stadium tours.
However, given our development team’s combined depth of experience in the market and the technology, along with the help of our beta users, it’s hardly a coincidence that Performance Manager supports best practices.