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Pro AV on a Budget: How to Make the Most of Your Money

May 31, 2017

Budget is always a concern when it comes to leveraging pro AV, but not all clients have deep pockets to spend on digital technology solutions that may or may not produce results.

Still, it’s incumbent on solution providers to provide high-quality solutions to customers in order to help them sell retail products or quick-serve-restaurant menu items or provide information in places like airports and train stations.

When approached by customers on a budget, consider mapping out a pro AV solution from the core on out for hardware, software and everything in between.

Find a Turnkey Provider

All too often, clients think that putting together a pro AV package piecemeal will save them money, but most of the time, it actually costs more.

Selecting a turnkey vendor as a one-stop shop can eliminate unnecessary costs associated with sourcing different vendors for displays, audio, lighting, etc. Besides being less expensive, selecting a turnkey pro AV provider also gives you a single point of contact for planning, installation and troubleshooting problems.

Aim for the Best Quality

It’s rare for the words “budget” and “high quality” to be common goals when it comes to sourcing pro AV for a particular project or installation, but it really is important when on a budget.

Pro AV is like the automotive industry: There are both legacy and new brands that simply charge more for their products because they can, whether because of better brand recognition or ingenious marketing campaigns.

Once a pro AV project has hardware and software specifications inked on paper, it’s time to go shopping. Make a list of specs that are most important to your project and shop apples to apples.

There’s a good chance that hundreds (or thousands, depending on the size of the project) can be shaved off the budget by honing in on several key features that will produce the expected results. Just don’t forget to do your homework when it comes to manufacturer and vendor reliability and reputation.

Trim the Budget Where It Counts

Trimming the budget on make-or-break essentials like content management, display size and IT providers is not the way to go when looking to make the most of your pro AV money.

You can, however, cut costs without sacrificing the overall effectiveness of your project in the following categories:

Audio

  • If audio reinforcement is required, make sure not to spec out too many speakers for a given space.
  • Compare speaker prices. Look for important things like frequency ranges, cabinet size and weight and manufacturer recalls.
  • Price out generic speaker cabling versus name brand.

Lighting

  • Consider whether or not your event really requires moving lights, which are more expensive than fixed lights.
  • Shop gently used. Quality manufactured lights are fairly rugged and built to last.
  • Use gobos instead of custom banners to promote your event or brand. They are much cheaper.

Projection

  • Source projectors based on light output, size and mounting options.
  • When renting, make sure to check how many hours the bulb (if applicable) has on it.
  • Compare prices for similarly equipped units.
  • Get at least three different quotes, whether renting or purchasing.

Making the most of your money on a budget requires equal measure of due diligence and research to achieve your client's goals, which, when carefully considered, will produce the best results if you’re on a tight pro AV budget.