The world of audio and visual is an ever-changing field. Advancements in technology bring on new capabilities while also rendering older processes obsolete. These advancements can happen fast which makes it difficult to keep up with current trends, especially for those who aren’t immersed into the A/V field as a career. 

There is a lot that goes into an audio-visual experience in the event space. An event has speakers, music, visual displays, maybe even a light show. Creating an impressive a/v experience for attendees can set your event apart and leave people talking about you well after the event ends.

Having a basic understanding of the A/V space will help event planners be armed with the information needed to choose the right approach to planning their corporate events, parties, movie premieres, or concerts. Let’s discuss some concepts that will allow you to feel more confident when making decisions for your next event.

What is audio-visual technology?

When trying to grasp a new concept it never hurts to get down to the bare bones and start with the basics. Audio-visual technology works in synchronization to broadcast visual and auditory content. These two systems work together to create an effective experience for the audience. The sound needs to match the visuals and the visuals must match the sound. Together they create the backbone for any event held in venues such as corporate boardrooms, hotels, convention centers, classrooms, theme parks, stadiums, and museums. 

If you’re hiring an audio-visual company to handle your event, which is definitely recommended for nearly every situation, a professional audio-visual technician will have the knowledge and experience needed to bring your vision to life and handle any hiccups that emerge along the way. They are responsible for the installation, monitoring, and maintenance of audio-visual equipment during a video shoot or event.

What is A/V production?

A/V Production refers to the audio-visual production and event technology used to produce an event. These can be in-person events, virtual events, or a hybrid of the two. It essentially refers to the overall audio and visual experience provided to the attendees. A high quality A/V production can truly make or break any event.

The production includes the strategy for the event, the equipment being used, and the technicians present that will implement the strategy using the proper equipment. For example, a concert is an a/v production and would include the audio setup from the sound booth to the stage as well as the lighting, pyrotechnics, or any other visual aspects of the show.

What kind of equipment is used in A/V?

If you’ve ever watched an A/V company unload their gear for an event then you were very likely blown away by how much stuff there is. Crates are stacked high and what seems like miles and miles of cables are unpacked. You can’t help but wonder how any one person can possibly know what all this stuff does. But luckily for the masses, the A/V specialists involved in events do just that. 

Having the proper A/V equipment is vital to a successful event. It brings a level of professionalism and shows that those planning the event put a lot of thought into creating a memorable experience for the guests. How much equipment you will need will depend on the scale of your event and what you are looking to accomplish. 

Let’s say you’re planning a conference and want the event to really shine. You’ll likely have multiple rooms you need to plan an audio-visual experience for. Most conferences have a main, larger room that would ideally have a stage and then smaller rooms for breakout sessions, panel discussions, or workshops. Here are some examples of equipment you will need for an event like this.

  • Microphones – Will your speakers be standing at a podium? Then you’ll want a high quality, dynamic microphone that has what’s called a cardioid polar pattern. These are ideal for isolating the voice of the speaker only and allows for more volume before feedback kicks in. Will your speakers be on the move? Then a wireless lavalier, or, lapel mic will be best to allow them to have the freedom to move about but still be heard clearly.
  • Sound System – Does the event space have an in-house sound system? If so, is it good? Ideally the main room or rooms at a conference are equipped with a good sound system. But sometimes they are not. In this case you will need portable systems for all rooms for the event. These include a mixing board, amplifiers, cables, mics, and speakers. It’s important to choose the right size and power for the amps and speakers for the room. 
  • Lighting – Similar to the sound system, many venues have their own in-house lighting system. But oftentimes they do not. Each room will have its own needs based on size, wall color, ceiling height, etc. A well-lit speaker will add legitimacy to your event and make them look like more of an authority than one under poor lighting.
  • Screens and Projectors – Smaller rooms may be fine with HD televisions but for larger rooms a full screen and projector will likely be necessary. Speakers often like to use audio visual aids in their presentations to help elevate them. But people need to be able to see what’s going up on the screen. Choosing the right type and size screen is extremely important.
  • Computers – If a speaker has a PowerPoint presentation, they will need a computer to run it. Most of the time laptops are sufficient over desktop computers and how many you will need will depend on how many rooms you are utilizing at the event.

This is only a basic list of equipment. Other things you may require are video cameras, two-way radios for the techs, and stage equipment. And don’t forget about power cords and the miles of cables you are going to need.

What is sound technology?

Sound technology involves recording and manipulating sound waves, which can include spoken words, music or sound effects. It centers around the operation and maintenance of sound equipment and the mechanics of sound engineering. 

David Edward Hughes developed a rudimentary carbon microphone in 1875 and sound technology has evolved rapidly ever since. Today, the electronics are far more efficient. Audio engineers can use much smaller amplifiers because current technology allows for more power in smaller packages. Even the audio consoles themselves are getting smaller and the rise of digital audio allows them to have onboard processing and effects capabilities. 

One of the more incredible modern technologies is sound beaming. It places ultrasonic waves just outside your ears and creates a 3D sensory listening experience. It’s only for you and does not disturb others. Sound beaming locates and tracks your ear’s position and uses those ultrasonic waves to create sound pockets around your ears. It is truly remarkable. 

Why is the audio-visual experience so important?

Using sound and lighting equipment improves communication by heightening the awareness of your audience’s sight and hearing. If someone attends a concert they may be stunned by the incredible visual and auditory experience. It helps to make the show memorable. That same person might attend a conference and not even notice the audio or visuals. If it’s a more basic event then that’s probably not a bad thing as in those situations a bad audio-visual experience is often more remembered.

Either way, a professional level of audio and visual production is vital to any event. Whether you are a professional event planner or if you were put in charge of putting an event together for your company you want to be remembered as putting on an impressive event that makes others want to step up their game. One of the best ways to do this is by providing a visually stunning experience and a sound quality that matches.

What is the best way to determine overall audio-visual needs?

The audio-visual requirements will vary from event to event. There are a lot of different aspects to consider. If you’re hosting a huge event that will have a large guest list then you might want to go big with the overall production. That might mean a complex light show, live music, and dramatic stage setups. 

If your event is smaller than going big would likely be overkill. You may only need simple lighting that is pleasing to the eye and effective to go along with clear, polished sounding audio. Sometimes the best solution is the simplest, as long as it is done professionally and with care.

Obviously budget plays heavily into this decision as well. A larger production with the light show and complex stage is going to be pricey. So, it’s important to have realistic expectations based on your budget. When planning your event be sure to have a strong grasp on the overall budget so you can easily determine what the allotment is for the a/v needs.

If you’re not experienced in A/V consider hiring a professional audio-visual company to handle this portion of your event. The knowledge and experience of the a/v technicians and specialists will help ensure your event looks and sounds amazing and leave people impressed with what you were able to put together for them.