Jay Fullmer, JBL Electro-Acoustic Senior Design Expert and 30+ year industry veteran

We recently had a chance to catch up with Jay Fullmer, JBL Electro-Acoustic Senior Design Expert and 30+ year industry veteran to get his thoughts on the most important questions sound contractors may want to discuss with their clients and some additional questions to ask themselves as well.

Jay shared his thoughts on best practices for being successful no matter what space you are designing for.

Whenever you are designing an audio system, there are some important questions you should ask—both of the client and yourself. Being prepared and having the right knowledge from the start can prevent many headaches down the line. That said, here are sixteen questions every sound contractor should ask at the start of a new job:

12 Questions Every Contractor Should Ask Their Client

1. What is the main use of the facility under development or the venue you are designing for?

  • High-energy house of worship or a more traditional space?
  • Live performance venue, nightclub or a dance/karaoke club?
  • Restaurant with a Sports Bar?

2. Is the project new construction or renovation or a mix of both?

    • Will the existing equipment be used along with new equipment?
    • What will the floor plan look like?
    • What are existing infrastructure considerations and will anything need to be moved like power, water or gas supply connections that could impact cable routing?

3. Are there digital CAD plans or paper blueprints available?

  • If so, can we borrow them and run to the local print shop to get them scanned?
  • If not, what plans are in place?

4. What is the estimated life expectancy of the room for its designed function?

  • Will the room designed as a main sanctuary/worship space become the youth room in four years?
  • Are you adding video to the Sports bar in a year?
  • Will the dance area start adding live acts later on?

5. What are the SPL and/or performance goals for the system?

  • Does the client know what 105 dB sounds like?
  • Will there be extensive amounts of subwoofer energy required?
  • Will touring gospel/religious groups use the system?
  • Will they demand technical equipment rider adherence?

6. Who will be operating the system?

  • Will operator training be included in the after-sale support?
  • Is the required operator skill set of the system at “Broadway-level” and the available in-house skillset at “Community Theater-level?”

7. What is the actual audio budget as related to the A/V scope of work?

  • How much of the A/V system budget needs to be allocated for video and lighting?
  • Is there anything you should know about when budget funds will be available and – all at once, in a draw structure, etc.?

8. What is the timeline for the construction and installation phase?

  • Is there adequate available time for design and equipment procurement?
  • How long can you ‘lock in’ pricing for?
  • Are raw material or equipment costs on the rise?
  • Are labor and installation personnel costs stable?

9. What are the rooms’ working configurations?

  • If a multi-purpose room, is there a set presentation area or does the presentation focal area shift for different functions?
  • Does the sporting gym/field house/arena also function as a convocation center for graduations or assemblies?

10. Is the new system eliminating live production costs incurred by portable systems brought in for live performance events?

  • Does it make sense for the client to buy a system used three times a year when live production companies regularly update and maintain their rental stock?
  • Am I shooting myself in the foot asking this?

11. Is a new sound system being asked to address room acoustic problems?

  • Do the services of an acoustical specialist need to be used prior to audio system design?

12. Is the structural design of the facility ample for a properly placed flown system?

  • Do funds exist for a structural/professional engineering analysis to evaluate the new rigging positions?

4 Questions Every Contractor Should Ask Themselves

1. Is the scope of work beyond my skill set and prior job experience?

  • Can I sub-contract rigging, system tuning and adjustment, and shop drawing requirements and still make a profit?
  • Is it time to add a new contractor level?

2. Can I access all required equipment lines necessary to fulfill the bid list?

  • Can I open up additional lines or two-step what I’ll need to complete the consultant’s design?
  • How will this affect my bottom line?

3. Will the scope of work require additional personnel to be hired?

  • Beyond the above-mentioned subcontracted specialists, is the company infrastructure ready for the additional workload?

4. What are the additional associated risks involved in the project?

  • Will additional insurance and/or bonds be required for my company’s overall protection?

Installed Audio Support Resources

If you are a pro audio contractor, consultant, integrator, facility manager, owner or end-user, the JBL Professional Installed Audio team is ready to support every aspect of your designs, projects and installations. Our many combined years of knowledge, proven by thousands of

global success stories equip us to suggest the right strategies to create the ideal audio experience for any space.

  • HARMAN Professional Training – We are excited to deliver the most impactful pro audio training in the industry. Go to JBL Training Resources to see available live and on-demand classes, certifications and more and if you ever need direct training support, just give us a shout.
  • Learning Sessions Webinars – We have over 150 workshops presented by leading engineers, designers, programmers and other experts sharing strategies, tips and tricks. Every webinar is free and you can receive AVIXA RU credits for attending live or recorded webinars. To explore webinars you may be interested in, just go to the JBL Learning Sessions Site.

We Want to Know
What questions do you ask when starting a new AV installation and what are other questions contractors should ask themselves? We’d love to know. Please share them in the comments section below.


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