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CTS-A – Putting the A into AV

With a visit to the InfoComm show in Orlando coming up next month, I wanted to look again at the perennial problem of the AV industry.We all know what AV stands for? Yes, that’s right – All Video

So much of the time, money, staffing, training and editorial within the AV industry is focussed on the video side.

But what about audio?

This blog entry asks whether InfoComm needs to take audio more seriously than they currently do…

It still surprises me that some AV professionals will specify expensive video gear and then accompany it with domestic audio equipment. Why do they do that?

Its a vicious circle:

If you don’t understand audio then you don’t concentrate on it so much. Other elements of your work – the video or the IT get given the focus. With more focus they get more budget, more care and more content.

With less content, the audio is less important so it has less impact, so less time and money is spent on it.

With less audio and less money you don’t need the people who understand audio and so on…

Many AV companies don’t employ an audio specialist. RH Consulting often provides audio support to AV companies. Whilst we are delighted to do this, we can’t help thinking that more can be done to help the AV industry out of the circle described above.

The skills and the perception of audio within the AV sector are intertwined.

InfoComm could take the lead, initially with training. They offer a great number of courses and a number of internationally recognised qualifications.

CTS is the ‘basic’ qualification, followed by CTS-D and CTS-I specialisations. But for each of these only a small part of the exam relates to audio. Whilst InfoComm sometimes offers specialist audio courses, this means a lot less if you don’t get the recognised qualification at the end.

Stuart Gillan and I each have each worked in professional audio for more than 25 years and have a great deal of experience but we may not get CTS certified because we don’t have the video knowledge. Now we could possibly bluff our way through, but again this does the exam a disservice as we have no intention of being video professionals.

There are plenty of audio specialists who cannot be useful members of InfoComm because of the CTS focus towards video.

Some clients only choose CTS qualified people to carry out their work, meaning if the project has a lot of audio they still may choose an AV generalist, instead of an audio specialist because the former is ‘better qualified’.

Our suggestion to InfoComm is to create a CTS-A qualification – audio specialist. This would achieve a number of things:

  • Customers with complex audio needs would know the best qualified people are doing the job
  • Larger AV companies could be expected to have a specific quota of engineers with CTS-A
  • Membership would increase, as more audio specialists would join InfoComm to qualify
  • Most importantly, it would send a message to the AV industry that audio is not a second class citizen. Audio would be treated more seriously by the AV industry as it would have a specific qualification, relevant to the work that very many of us do.
  • Of course InfoComm will say that they do take audio seriously and they can tell us about all sorts of worthy initiatives. I don’t dispute that. However, given the obvious disparity between audio and video more needs to be done and InfoComm is best placed to do that.

That would be sending the right message to the industry.

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