Then we went back to the lab to mount our plasmas and projectors and place our speakers. Brian reminded us that, despite industry guidelines for hanging flat panels at 44 to 46 inches from the floor to the screen's center, good installers do a little research. "My boss is 5'1" - he's not going to be even with a screen 44 inches off the floor, and in fact, his TV is a little lower," Brian said. "In a theater install, that's going to depend on the client and the seating."
One of the great things about Boot Camp is getting to use the specialized tools and instruments. This time, the heavy artillery included a Sencore HDTV video generator and color analyzer for calibrating displays and a Sencore audio analyzer. Although I'm experienced with video calibration, the audio analyzer was an awesomely cool tool: It could generate noise tones, function as a spectrum analyzer to measure our room's frequency response, and even capture room reflections and reverb times. Our team used it along with the equalizer to tamp down frequency peaks in each speaker's output. But the best way to mitigate the room's boomy bass was to tap the tried-and-true method for subwoofer placement as recommended repeatedly in Sound & Vision: Place the sub on a chair in the listening position, pump pink noise into it, and then crawl around on the floor until you find the spot with the smoothest sound. (It turned out to be on the right sidewall.)
By the end of Day 3, with both rooms fully tuned, our instructors came in to judge the installations. It was a split decision, with our team taking honors for the best sound but the other team winning for best overall install. Our big mistake was that we had placed the stands for our surround speakers about 2 feet off the sidewalls, out in the room - where they would not likely pass the Wife Acceptance test. The other team had not only put theirs against the wall (at a modest sacrifice in sound quality) but also ceiling-mounted their front projector as far back in the room as the Runco's specs would allow. Our projector, being more centrally placed, was more obtrusive. Lesson learned: Along with maximizing performance, you have to make the equipment work within the environment and the client's needs. Touché!
As with my first Boot Camp, I left Indy with a wealth of knowledge and all charged up to practice my new skills. And as before, I met some great guys who share not only my passion for A/V but also the desire to earn their living around something they love. For them - beyond the incredible service CEDIA provides in the promotion of commerce and the Electronic Lifestyle - the ability to do that might be this organization's greatest gift of all.
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