The AV industry is moving fast with new feature rich contraptions appearing every day. That coupled with the fact that everything seems to be connected via IP/Ethernet now.
It isn’t surprising that in this world of technology there seems to be an amplitude of equipment to meet your wildest expectations. Full home cinemas; party size sound systems; invisible speakers; and state of the art control systems to easily manage it all – the future of entertainment is here.
But really, is it what you need or what your guests actually wants?
I want to put on the table some food for thought, suggestions that you should consider when looking at renewing or upgrading your current system. With the endless possibilities out there, there is a certain complexity which you need to keep in mind.
The most important factor is to have someone that you trust, guiding you through the maze of choices, but more importantly breaking down the solutions into what is actually useful and manageable for you.
In the end, you want something that simply works. That doesn’t take up your time when you least have it, be it because it hasn’t been used often enough to get to know it, or it is so fiddley that it’s too prone to fail in those critical moments.
Ensure you have an advisor in your integrator or as an external consultant that understands you. That spends the time to discuss things and clearly shows the pros and cons of different products. And more importantly who works to find solutions with you, not more problems! Like going to the tailor, you want something that fits you perfectly, something that the owner and the yacht needs, not what a salesman wants to sell you.
Have conversations that clarify what your AV system will be used for. Is the end user a film buff? Or someone who values listening to music more? Or both! Do we invest in a better stereo surround, or Dolby sound? Are we looking for live sports, which sports? What is the delivery channel, on satellite? Or via a streaming service. Does the commentary have to be in English, who is the broadcaster? Will the interface need to control the blinds? the lights? the HVAC system? The questions just flow on, many of which you as end user may not have the direct answer to. So, you will want to work with someone who presents the solutions in a way that is clear and understandable. It all adds to the “luxury experience”, but is it really essential and worth the potential hassle?
With more equipment in tight spaces you need to look at the ventilation. Electrical equipment suffers quickly if it is not adequately cooled. It needs to be shielded from dust, dirt and salty air. And that tidy well fitted cabling in an organised rack not only looks good, it is an immense help when maintaining the equipment, as well as ensuring a good airflow.
But it’s not only the equipment that wants cooling. Cinema spaces tend to be closed off environments, well insulated for noise, and during the screening filled with a quantity of heat emitting bodies who want fresh cool air! All without the background buzz of a ventilator, that destroys the so important movie experience.
Now Bandwidth suddenly becomes a critical issue. Bandwidth is the size of the data pipe needed to carry the movies, sport broadcasting, music, as well as the data generated by the guests themselves, pictures and videos that they have taken being uploaded to the “cloud”. Guest will want to continue using their tablets, smartphones, playstations as if they were at home. This brings a certain demand on the internet connection you have on board, be it by satellite, mobile phone network, or marina wifi when in port. This has to be managed properly, efficiently and without breaking the bank account due to that high phone bill charge! Ensuring the owner and guests get the maximum experience, not impeding the vessel needs to function, or the crew taking a share when least desired. The on board WIFI also needs to give the constant coverage when moving around the vessel which doesn’t cause that annoying buffering issue, or break in the WhatsApp/Facetime conversation.
And then there is the long-term support. Will the integrator be there after they have finished the install? and have they provided all the required documentation? The programming source code? The detailed info may not be 100% understandable to you and be a set of cyphers, but if the programmer is hit by a bus, without this you will be starting from scratch again…
Should you consider having a remote ETO that is available at any time for even the more seemingly ridiculous questions. Does it make sense to have someone watching your systems to ensure that it is all operative when you need it. Understands it to help the rotating crew get familiar with it.
With all this, the budget needs to be very clear. As mentioned earlier, the technology is moving fast. The system that you choose, you will probably live with for 5 years before you look at renewing. With AV & IT you get what you pay for, therefore you need to ensure that the investment you make in this, is indeed an investment worth it, and not simply a cost!
All niceties aside, the beautiful controlled blinds, speakers disguised as ornaments, the hidden TVs. The AV system is the one entertainment system that will be used day in, day out when guests are onboard. So, what do you want? You want it to work, when you want it, without the hassles.