Another month, another AV audit. Here at Endless, we’re all about helping you get better at event planning. So we’ve come up with the AV audit, where we dissect bids live, on air, and inspect every single aspect of each individual quote. Even though you’re in the industry, that doesn’t mean you’ll be familiar with everything that’s on the technology side. And looking at the AV quotes easily becomes a bit of a puzzle, especially because no two are the same.
So joining us today, we have Will Curran and Andrew Latimer from Endless Events. This wonderful duo will tell you everything you need to know in order to gain a better understanding of how AV quotes work, what you should look for, and where you should direct your attention. After this little learning session, you’ll be ready to tackle bids like they’re nothing. Grab your tools, it’s AV quote dissection time – and we have two fresh arrivals!
AV Quote Audit #1
The first audit of the day came straight from South Africa, so the numbers can seem a bit off. Worry not, this is just a matter of adjusting the currency to US dollars! And this quote, in particular, looks more like a gear list than anything else.
If you didn’t know this already, write it down: there’s always important information that should be presented in the beginning. We’ve already covered this before, but core information such as dates, delivery address, and so on. If the quote only lists equipment, then you should be concerned. Too much information isn’t great either, but it’s better than the lack thereof! If you don’t have a description of the goal, it’s a huge challenge.
Queue The Confusion
Here’s the thing about AV quotes: if you’re looking at them on your own, it’s confusing. Most of them go into a great amount of detail about the equipment, the power, and the quantity. This is fantastic because hey, who doesn’t like to get to the nitty-gritty of stuff? Especially when it’s something important like an event. But what you need to do is make sure that the AV company can walk you through things line by line. If they can explain why that’s there, and why you need that specific equipment, you’re in for a good deal. If they can’t, then they’re trying to confuse you in hopes of getting more money out of you. So, in addition to doing your homework, always ask for a clear explanation!
When It’s A Concert
So, it’s pretty clear that we’re looking at a concert AV audit. Particularly after you see the backline section. if you’re indeed planning a concert, you will want to involve your production company in the whole ordeal, especially with the artists your bringing in. Bands will want the best of instruments, and that might not be what they need. Get those negotiations rolling! And keep in mind that if you’re booking a class act – a very good band – you won’t get away with low-level equipment.
DI boxes are very important, and your band will probably ask for a couple of extra ones. It helps take off the buzz in something called “lifting the ground”. It also turns a headphone jack for a laptop or a phone into a microphone input, so if your event has laptop audio, make sure you get a DI box. Look at line level versus mic level – do a bit of homework on this, it’s worth it.
Check Your Numbers
So, again, this quote is extremely specific. What you want to do is make sure the math is correct. Yes, you’re signing off on the final number, but what you don’t want is the company to say “oh wait, we miscalculated, we forgot X, Y, or Z”, and you’re asked for extra money. Also, check for round numbers. This usually means there’s a sub-hire from another company. Now, as the end client you might not know what it is you’re getting, so find a hire touch point with them.
Ask For a Rigging Diagram
When you hit the rigging section, make sure you ask your vendor for a diagram or plot. This will do wonders helping you visualize what exactly will be going down with the stages. Where is everything going, does it match our vision? And this is fantastic because you can show it to the band and the venue, making your event that much better!
AV Quote Audit #2
Moving on to the next bid, this one brings a concert as well, this time with a very big headlining artist. This great so you get to understand how things differ when we’re talking about bringing in some very big names. Also, this layout is much better than the previous one, and you get to see quantities, names, and pictures of the equipment. Yay for visualizing!
This particular audit is looking a bit confusing. It’s not that the equipment is wrong, everything seems to be okay on that matter. What happens is, we don’t have parcels – audio, stage, lighting, every piece of equipment is mixed together. If you’re not necessarily familiar with the technology, this will make it harder for you to follow the quote. So, on the side of the AV company, it’s important to make sure things are put into their own boxes so that it’s easier to understand. Ask your company upfront to have everything organized for you.
Separate Audio And Video
We strongly suggest that you make sure the audio and the video are on their own power service. If there is an issue of any kind in regards to this, if you have them separate, at least you know where the problem is coming from. Is it lighting, video, audio, rigging? Did someone plug something into the system they shouldn’t have? Avoid the buzzing sounds, and hopefully, go with an AV company that will be honest with you on this matter. Same goes for the venue!
It’s both on you and on the AV company to make sure expectations match. Honest, clear communication always has to happen when you’re negotiating with an AV company and this transparency has to come from both sides. Don’t shy away on saying that this is what you expect, you see what’s being presented, and you won’t accept anything less than what’s being proposed. This is about alignment and honesty, and it’s not unfair for you, as the client, to reiterate what your expectations are, and what you want to see at your event after having signed the contract.
Terms & Conditions
Most of the things you can see in this last page are pretty standard, including the deposits. A good thing here for you, as the client, is to understand is why an AV company will charge a 10% service fee if you request services or equipment made within 24 hours of scheduled load-in time. The company isn’t setting you up, but because in such a short amount of time, they’ll have to pull resources from other shows, bring in people late to the warehouse, and so on. Not to say you shouldn’t negotiate if it’s a very high rate, but all things considered, 10% is very much acceptable.
We hope you’ve enjoyed yet another AV audit! Remember that you can always submit your own quotes, and we’ll be more than happy to dissect it live. You already know our many goal is to help educate you on the crazy, confusing world of AV audits, so if you have any questions, suggestions, or tips, let us know in the comment section below!