Laser Projectors

Like TVs, video projectors continue to make enormous changes and improvements. Not long ago, the standard household TV was a simple HDMI flat panel, but now, the standard has morphed into a smart, 4K TV. Projectors are following the same path of creating efficient, vibrant images.

In the past, projector manufacturers upgraded features such brightness (Lumens), image adjustment, and connection style, but not fundamental design changes. The light source has been the standard lamp, which dims over time and can discolor the image in as low as 1,500 hours of use, unless the bulb is replaced. Due to the heat created in lamp-based projectors, the fan runs continuously in an effort to cool the lamp and help it last longer. This creates another maintenance issue because the fan pulls air and dust into filter, which then has to be cleaned or replaced. Over the past few years, incredible design changes have been made to get better projectors on the market at competitive prices.

The most important change has been transitioning from lamps to LED or laser technology, giving a more efficient light that lasts much longer. With this upgrade, the image looks just as good at hour 1 as it does on hour 20,000+. For the most part, laser projector LED’s are so long lasting that you will replace the entire projector before the LED wares out.

Another great benefit of laser projection is how little heat is produced, which means the projector’s fan barely has to run. Since there is minimal air movement inside the machine, very little dust is pulled into the filter, and it will rarely have to be cleaned or replaced. If the fan is running at all, it shuts off the instant you turn off the power, and the projector does not need a cool-down period. This means that the unit can be turned back on right away, which is a great improvement over the long wait time needed to restart the traditional lamp-style projector.

The most popular upgrade with laser projectors is that most of them offer higher resolutions and detail on larger screens. Just as most TVs come 4K, most laser projectors are coming that way as well. Now, you don’t have to sacrifice the quality of your picture for the size needed to be viewed in a large auditorium.

Currently, laser projectors do cost a little more than standard lamp-style projectors, but the prices continue to drop each month as more options become available and the demand increases. Just as the home 4K TV came down in price over the course of a couple years, these projectors will continue to come down and become more cost effective.

While we cannot really say laser projectors are zero maintenance, we can say that they are pretty close for all practical purposes, which is very important in most auditoriums where the projectors are flown from the ceilings and are not easily accessible without moving seating and renting lifts.

When looking at your future projection needs, laser projectors are the best option. They continue to expand this technology, and we will continue to see amazing new features become available, as well as lower prices. We at AdvanceTech Systems are excited about the future of these projectors and would love the opportunity to talk with you about your facility and its projection system possibilities. Give us a call today!

Eliminating Feedback in Your Auditorium

Feedback is a common problem that most AV teams will face at times, and it often comes at the worst moments. In order to know how to respond and eliminate the feedback, it is helpful to understand what it is, what causes it, and how the solutions affect the problem.

What is feedback? Feedback is the uncomfortable ringing or squealing that comes over your loud speakers, often getting louder and more uncomfortable until it is addressed.

What causes feedback? Feedback occurs when the amplified sound from your loud speakers goes into one of your microphones, comes out the loud speakers and back into the microphone again. The sound increases as it creates a loop of intensifying ringing. You can think of it as a mirrored image of a mirror in which the mirror is reflected infinitely. The sound in feedback is that infinite repeat of sound circling through your audio system.

How do I stop feedback? Feedback can be reduced and eliminated in several different ways. We have included for you here a few suggestions for both immediate and long-term solutions.

  1. Reduce the volume of the loudspeakers. When feedback occurs in the middle of a service or performance, this should be your first step, as it will stop the sound loop and help you regain control.
  2. Turn off microphones not currently in use. It can be difficult at times to pinpoint which microphone and speaker/monitor is creating the feedback, so it is a best practice to mute and unmute microphones as needed.
  3. Encourage those speaking or singing to get closer to their microphones. The further away the subject is from the microphone, the louder they have to be turned up, inviting a chance for feedback.
  4. Ensure that all of your loudspeakers and monitors are properly positioned. Make sure that no speakers or monitors are pointed at microphones or at flat sound-reflecting surfaces and move all speakers and monitors as far away as possible from microphones. Additionally, hang the house speakers closer to the audience.
  5. Install appropriate acoustical treatment in the room. This can include curtains, acoustical panels, architectural details, etc. When your auditorium has good acoustics, you will not have to worry about reflected sound into your microphones.
  6. Consider in-ear monitors, rather than floor monitors. By allowing your singers to have in-ear monitors, you greatly reduce the amount of sound that is on stage and therefore greatly reduce chances for feedback.
  7. Hire an AV company to EQ (tune) your sound system. Every auditorium is unique and will have unique audio needs. By hiring a company like AdvanceTech Systems to tune all of your microphones, you will be able to eliminate the frequencies in your facility that cause consistent feedback.

As always, if you have any questions or would like help eliminating feedback and creating a better sound in your auditorium, contact us at any time.

Determining Your Acoustical Treatment Needs

We are often asked, “what acoustic treatment do we need?” or “how do we know what to do to control the echo in our auditorium?” Let me walk you through some of the terms used as well as some of the tests that help determine the acoustical treatment needs in your facility.

The echo we often talk about in a room is more commonly known as “reverb” and is measured by how long the reverb (echo) takes to decay (silence) from when it started. Go into a room and make a loud clap; then, measure or count how long it takes before that initial sound is inaudible. This tells you the amount of reverb you have in that room. Reverb is a result of hard parallel surfaces. For example, in a gymnasium, you normally have high reverb because the side walls and end walls are hard parallel surfaces. To add on top of that, there is normally a hard floor and parallel ceiling. Most gymnasiums have a reverb decay time of 2+ seconds, and it can be difficult to understand what is being said.

Having shorter reverb decay time in a room creates an environment that makes the space sound clear and intelligible. It allows the listener to be more engaged in what is being said and done on stage. With today’s audio technology, it is much easier to add a bit of reverb back into the music when and if it is needed. Normally, 1 second or less of reverb is preferred for a classroom or space where clear intelligible sound is needed. For an auditorium, theatre or space where music is performed, 1.5+ seconds is preferred. Keep in mind that the more reverb you have, the more distant the source will sound. In some cases, like music performances, higher reverb is preferred, but for most speaking engagements, a shorter reverb time is desired. Once you go past 2 seconds of reverb decay, both speech and music become less intelligible and harder to understand.

There are a couple of ways to help reduce reverb in a room. One way to treat it is to break up the parallel surfaces with angles or varying surfaces so the sound does not just bounce and reflect directly back all at the same time. In some gymnasiums and auditoriums, the ceiling has open ductwork, trusses or other structural materials to help break up the sound so it is not bouncing directly back to the floor. Another way to treat a room is by adding acoustical panels that will absorb sound and stop it from bouncing back. There are many sizes and types of panels that need to be considered to pick the correct ones for your facility. Overall size, thickness, density and surface materials all determine how much they absorb as well as what range of frequencies they absorb. Adding the correct type, number of panels and in the correct locations around the space can help control the amount of reverb and provide a good listening environment.

For most church environments, it is as equally important to consider how things are going to look as well as how they will sound. Acoustic panels can be strategically placed and designed around the architecture as well as color so they can both blend in and enhance the way the room looks and sounds.

Our goal is to help create a comfortable and pleasant environment that keeps people listening and engaged. Let us know if you have any questions about the acoustics of your church and space as we would love to help you determine the best solutions and plans for your facility.