Growing A/V for a Start Up Pt 1

Engineering

Learn from our challenges and triumphs as our talented engineering team offers insights for discussion and sharing.

Growing A/V for a Start Up Pt 1

Engineering

When I first joined LiveRamp as a “You Can Do IT” Support Technician, I didn’t have a lot of in-depth knowledge of Audio/Visual Systems and how to build, support or diagnose effectively. I originally came from a computer hardware and software background with a focus on customer service and troubleshooting methodology. A lot of my learning came from LiveRamp colleagues and other networking connections I made along the way. So this was originally a difficult task to tackle but I was confident in my troubleshooting and my team mates here made the process a whole lot easier. But let’s start with what the setup looked like when I got here.

When I first arrived at LiveRamp, the team room had a screen, projector, podium and a home theater system (5.1 surround sound without a microphone). The person who built this together before me needs a round of applause since he was able to build a system that worked for them on a minimal budget and was able to cable manage everything as best he could with the amount of wires that were everywhere. This worked for them for a long time since they were a smaller company and did not need a professional system installed; at the time this would have been a waste of money and resources.

The way the old system worked was that one would hook up a computer to the projector with the cable that had been laid, open up the computer and use Zoom (meeting software) for remote employees and use the computers internal microphone for remote viewers to hear the presentations. This did not sound great for remote viewers and meant you had to talk to the computer and not to your audience. It also meant that if you wanted to project the sound out, it would sound subpar due to the microphone quality in the computer. The speakers were set up hanging from the light fixtures and one center speaker above the podium on the screen. This became problematic later in my attempts to use the system and introduce a separate microphone because of the feedback for having a microphone so close to the speakers. But we will get more into this later when I explain my decisions about the new system I installed.

Getting back to the system, when I first was brought on, one of the first requests that was asked of me was to get amplified sound in the team room. Since we were growing at a very quick rate, it was difficult to hear from presenters especially when the A/C in the building would turn on and drown out whatever the person presenting was saying. This was becoming an issue very quickly when we would have visitors or someone that did not have a naturally loud voice. So the first thought I had was to keep the system the way it was and try to just introduce a microphone to the mix. I had a Blue Snowball and an aux cable to plug into the sound system in the IT room, so I tried that. I did get amplified sound but it did not sound well at all. Since there were so many cables involved and third party software to get it to work, I had a lot of interference, sound quality issues, and many complications for the presenters to work through. I thought this might be due to the audio being run from the computer so I ordered a wireless microphone to hook into the 5.1 system. This did not improve things at all but gave me the starting ideas for the new system I was going to build. These did not seem to be the right solutions for this company and did not seem like the idea that they had when they asked for amplified sound.

I knew at this point, the best solution would be to install a brand new solution. I knew this would not be easy and would be a steep learning curve for me, but I knew I could complete it with hard work and I knew that this was the solution that the company really needed. So I hired a contractor who does A/V professionally to not only help me, but to teach me what and why he was doing what he was doing so I could take those ideas and run with them. To troubleshoot the system more effectively and to be able to build off of it with minimal effort was my goal.

In the next post, I will go into some detail into what I bought and why, where I installed certain things and why and then to show you some photos of what the system looks like now and what can be done with it to better help the company from a social standpoint and a company stand point.