16 Important Questions Every Sound Contractor Should Ask

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 16 questions every sound contractor should ask at the start of a new job:

12 Questions for the Contractor to Ask the Client

  1. What is the main use of the facility under development?
    • High energy house of worship or traditional?
    • Live performance or dance/playback club?
    • Restaurant with Sports bar?
  2. Is the project new construction or renovation?
    • Will the existing equipment be used along with new equipment?
  3. Are there CAD plans or paper blueprints available?
    • Can we borrow them to get scanned at Kinko’s?
  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 skill set at “Community Theater?”
  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?
  8. What is the time line 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 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 for the Contractor to 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 set up a level as a contractor?
  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 consultants 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 work load?
  4. What are the additional associated risks involved in the project?
    • Will additional insurance and/or bonds be required for my companies overall protection?