What is their program? Does it include everyone from your shop?
Beyond your system technicians, you need to be trained too.
Is there a surcharge? Understanding everything about your investment is crucial.
You need to learn the technologies and verbiage of the new system. This will be critical at times of urgency in your communication with your staff in the field and the manufacturer.
Specific training on the product deployment, servicing and any associated expertise are essential. Some top-line manufacturers provide a training course that is robust and thorough, to the point of providing a certification acknowledgement that allows a worldwide prestige for their knowledge base. This has proven to be a marketable anointment for the most dedicated technicians—there’s money in that certificate.
When you’ve stepped through your checklist and gotten the decision down to one or maybe two, it’s time to press for some real-time action.
Ask for the opportunity to use a demo system for one of your key events, one that typifies your usage. If the manufacturer says it can’t be done, for one reason or another, you may have discovered a telling lack of commitment on their part. Chances are they’ll get it done for you.
Is it deployable in the ways and environment you expected? What’s the “out of the box” performance and sonic behavior? At the end of the gig, how was it? This seems simple, but it’s an important litmus test. What you’re also looking for here is “who shows up from the manufacturer?”
The truck just left your shop and you’ve got a pile of equipment. Open it all up in a staged and well laid-out process, checking your invoice with the packing list to make sure everything ordered is there.
Establish a test set of racks for the processing and amplification, and step through evaluating each loudspeaker carefully, inspecting both visually and sonically. Join enclosures together on the floor and make sure everything mates up correctly. If possible, hang a couple of motors and fly each one to test the rigging compatibility and structures. Test everything.
I opened with the subject of patience. Employ extreme patience at delivery. For example, be sure to log the serial numbers of each and every part and unit.
It doesn’t hurt to photograph everything as well. Most insurance companies will require this anyway. Put a set of that data in a safe, off-campus location as well. Do it, and don’t wait.
Do The Homework
As I began writing, my desk was littered with notes and “oh-by-the-way” topics to cover. I’ve tried to hit the key subjects for your consideration. There are still a lot more issues and ideas to be pursued, and I will provide a further discussion soon.
The bottom line is gaining an overall appreciation of some of the crucial aspects of this entire process, as well as an understanding of your power and what to expect from the manufacturer(s) you’re doing business with.
Diligence in research will net rewards every single day. Ask the tough questions. It’s your livelihood and your profession.
Jeffrey Cox has spent the past 45-plus years on the road and in studios, in airplanes and cabs, hotel rooms and at front of house, dumps and dives, clubs, sheds, arenas, and a couple of “very big chairs” - all for the love of audio and music. He currently works with Eighteen Sound, a leading loudspeaker driver designer and manufacturer.