It seems like schools are in a constant battle to correctly allocate available funds. One of the questions schools should ask themselves is: “Are we allocating enough funds to upgrade or improve our facilities?” If so, are they spending it on areas that will help gather and retain parents?

We have uncovered an area that schools almost always overlook. This one simple change could help schools gather and retain parents without the need to spend big. The answer might come as a surprise to you. We were recently informed that one of the most valuable marketing tools for schools is your hall’s audio-visual experience. 

Think about it. A school hall’s audio-visual experience is directly marketing the school to the current and future parents attending open days, events, shows, etc. If the parent can’t hear or see the action clearly at an event, it will affect their opinion about your school. 

Chris from Bound Sound and Lighting has provided these top tips for schools on how to plan and budget to improve your hall’s audio-visual experience. 

Q1: Why is bad sound and audiovisuals detrimental to a school’s marketing?

A: Attending a presentation, school event, show, etc. should be an enjoyable and even impressive one for all. Having bad or insufficient sound and lighting can reflect badly on the school.

Q2: How can a school analyse if their sound and lighting is creating a negative or positive impact as a marketing tool?

If your sound is boomy, echoey, unclear, not loud enough and doesn’t reach the entire space adequately, then you have what may be considered a negative experience. 

Good lighting means that people on stage are lit adequately and that skin tones are preserved well, and shadows are kept to a minimum. 

Q3: What are some quick tips that a school can do to improve their school hall experience?

  • Big speakers can be less effective than smaller, more detailed speakers and separate controlled bass speakers.
  • Acoustic panelling can be added to help with echo and room ‘boom’.
  • A good mixer and a high-quality microphone are both also vital. The entire sound system is as good as the weakest product in the audio chain.
  • Different modes can be configured according to what sound is required. Speech requires more mid-high frequency detail, while music/movies require a fuller EQ. One setting for all will always result in one of the other experiences suffering. 

Q4: When it comes to lighting, what are the non-negotiables?

At the very least, schools should have LED lighting and the ability to control lighting remotely. 

In addition to having longer life spans and being more energy-efficient, LED lighting offers so much more than standard RGB lighting does. 

LED lighting makes a huge colour palette available through wash lighting which can greatly enhance events, stage shows, etc. Having cool white, warm white, UV, and Amber in addition to the standard RGB is a real plus. For example: when lighting people on stage with wash lighting, skin tones can look untainted or even enhanced. This is opposed to a washed-out white that can happen with RGBW (Red, Green, Blue, White) full-on combinations. 

Q5: Speech Intelligibility – what is it and how does it affect parents and pupils? What should a school do about sound quality?

Speech Intelligibility refers to clarity or how well what is being said is translated accurately through the sound system. 

An inadequate sound system will lead to students and/or parents only hearing a percentage of a message clearly. By needing to concentrate more on what is being said, their attention span will wane very quickly and parts of the message will most likely be lost altogether. 

Hearing every word in a detailed and clear way without effort, allows the audience to fully absorb what is being said more thoroughly and without fatigue.

Q6: Most schools hire-in expensive equipment for big events. What does this roughly cost? Is it better to hire or own?

Hiring a professional company to supply sound and lighting for events can be a very costly exercise. Schools can pay approximately R90,000-R100,000 for a month’s worth of sound, lighting, and engineering, and between R3,000-R6,000 per day for ad-hoc rental.

Investing in a good in-house sound and lighting system either as a once-off project or over a planned period can reduce dependency on outside companies for AV (audio-visual) support.

Creating an AV team is also a very exciting project. Students can learn to work as a team, learn to be responsible, as well as gain skills in managing a sound desk, lighting desk, etc.

Q7: How often should a school be looking to change/upgrade their sound and lighting 

Poor planning coupled with sub-standard equipment means that upgrading (or maintenance) would need to happen often.

With a correctly planned system, upgrades would simply mean adding to an already existing infrastructure to only give additional capacity or functionality. A good example of this is using smaller speakers (originally installed as main sound), as stage monitors or side-fill speakers when upgrading to a large main sound system.

Q8: What is the best action plan for a school looking to improve their sound and lighting affordably?

As mentioned in question 6, budgeting for new equipment can be done as a one-off investment or as a roll-out over months or even years. There are also ways to fund an investment like this outside of the normal budget.

An AV audit would be the best place to start. This involves a professional sound and lighting company looking at what equipment you already have and what would make the most substantial improvement immediately. They can then see how to integrate existing gear into future roll-outs or whether it needs to be sold as a contribution towards a new system.

 

If you are looking to improve your hall’s overall sound and lighting experience, Bounce Sound and Lighting are your AV professionals. They work closely with schools to ensure you have the very best sound and lighting solution for your hall to boost your marketing in order to attract and retain parents.

If you are Gauteng-based and would like an AV audit done to evaluate and improve your sound and lighting experience at your school, simply leave your details below. Bounce Sound and Lighting will connect with you to see what can be done.

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