AV refers to audiovisual, and when professionals talk about AV, they mean the audio and video solutions used for improved communication and collaboration. You might find an AV system in the front lobby of a business, promoting the company’s image. You might see AV solutions in a university visitor center helping new students find their way around campus. You may see AV on display at a concert, displaying vivid, mesmerizing imagery.
Just as there is a limitless number of ways to communicate, the potential with AV is nearly limitless as well.
What is AV used for?
AV, in all of its forms, is designed to make communication more interesting, more productive and easier to manage. To do this, an AV solution provides a few key elements, including:
AV solutions are designed for usability because technology shouldn’t get in the way of communicating. In this context, simplicity means an intuitive user interface, a system that responds to voice commands or gestures, or even specialized training to ensure that anyone who needs to use the technology, can. Simplicity is improving with time, as every new generation of AV products is easier to use than the one before.
An AV solution isn’t effective if it can’t be scaled up, because organizations grow. If their AV solutions don’t grow with them, then they no longer provide value. Scalability is therefore a major focus for AV manufacturers and integrators. On the manufacturer side, intercompatibility and widespread adoption of AV over IP has boosted system scalability. On the integrator side, proper system installation, configuration and forward-thinking planning makes scalability much easier to achieve.
The ability to wow an observer is at the core of what AV represents, whether that impact is delivered in the form of brilliant visuals or seamless communication. AV solutions are bringing the future into the present, with the ability to instantly connect multiple parties during a conference, offer a unique, interactive brand experience, or provide remote assistance with a push of a button. Increasingly, AV solutions are the “glue” that bring multiple streams of communication into a single, more effective whole.
What audio technologies are part of AV solutions?
Simplicity, scalability and impact are what define an AV solution’s value, but what technologies make that happen? AV includes audio and visual components, and when it comes to audio, some of the most important components include:
Microphones are where people and technology meet, as they take in audio and direct it to other components for processing. Microphones come in many forms, so they can be mounted in any room, for any purpose. For example, gooseneck microphones can be mounted to a table and pick up individual speakers extremely well. They are also better at reducing ambient noises like paper shuffling.
Boundary microphones are smaller than gooseneck mics but can also be placed on a desk or even on the edge of a stage to pick up performances.
Ceiling microphones minimize table clutter, as they are mounted off of the ground. They can also pick up sounds around the room, but careful placement is needed to reduce environmental noise.
With smart placement and proper configuration, microphones can be placed in any space and maintain excellent audio quality.
Speakers are what deliver audio into a room, and like microphones, they can be mounted in most spaces without interfering with the room’s function or audio quality. Speakers are also integrated into various conferencing systems, displays and phones, and audio technology has approached the point where excellent sound quality is possible in smaller devices. This is partly due to the advanced sound quality features that modern conferencing phones and systems are designed with.
Advanced AV solutions, like integrated conferencing systems, require additional audio technologies to output excellent sound. Amplifiers are one such technology and work by taking a small electrical signal and boosting its potency while retaining its quality. Amplifiers are necessary in larger rooms, where more volume is needed without compromising how the audio sounds.
Signal processors and audio mixing may be required in some solutions, too, but the above are standard audio elements in AV systems.
How is video technology used in AV solutions?
Video is the other part of the AV experience, and designers utilize it to some extent in nearly every AV solution. For example:
Video conferencing is one of the most in-demand AV solutions, and is used in business, education and government institutions. Modern video conferencing solutions make use of ultra-high resolution LED displays that can be sized for any conference space, including auditoriums.
In addition to the display, video conferencing systems include a camera for capturing video, audio technology for accompanying sound and a conferencing platform, whether software- or hardware-based.
Interactive displays look like standard commercial displays, but function like giant touchscreens, which makes them powerful presentation and educational tools. An interactive display is frequently added to conferencing solutions for whiteboarding and presentation purposes and can be used to deliver lessons to students.
Current generation interactive displays are built with an onboard PC for running software, storing media and accessing online resources. Educators can use these capabilities to create compelling lessons, engage students with learning-focused games or to grab media online to reinforce learning.
Digital signage solutions are a low-cost, high-impact form of visual communication that can be used in nearly any industry. Digital signage can be found in office buildings, restaurants, automobile dealerships, concert halls, sports stadiums, airports, museums, zoos – there is no limit.
With digital signage, businesses, schools and venues can help people find their way around a building, deliver news and weather headlines, provide event or travel schedules, deliver advertising, run promotional videos or just entertain guests.
Digital signage also relies on sturdy, commercial-grade displays, designed to be in operation around the clock, for weeks at a time. AV integrators typically group these displays into networks for easy, remote management on the backend.
AV solutions can be designed in countless ways and designed for any venue, but they’re all dedicated to the same mission – to communicate something in an engaging way. Whether found in the conference room or the classroom, a concert hall or city hall, AV is everywhere.