Integrators would be hard-pressed to find another duo more capable of fielding difficult audio questions than Gerry Lemay and Anthony Grimani. The two experts combined have over half of a century of audio experience, and the pair used their knowledge to host a CEDIA Expo educational session on audio and acoustics at this year’s CEDIA Expo Virtual Experience.
After some convivial banter between the two hosts about all things CEDIA Expo, Gerry Lemay, founder and director at Home Acoustics Alliance, served as the moderator of the session while Anthony Grimani, president of Performance Media Industries, took the first crack at answering a number of attendee-submitted questions.
The session got off to a hot start when one attendee wondered whether the quality of the audio equipment or the quality of the room is ultimately more important for high-end audio.
Lemay immediately jumped in with his thoughts, believing that the lowest common denominator during an install is usually the most important thing.
“I think of each of the pieces of a chain in a system as a series, so the weak point of the chain is where it’s going to break,” said Lemay. However, he qualified his statement by adding that the room is also critical, assuming the integrator, “has a reasonable chance of buying good products.”
Grimani, by contrast, decided to focus on the room aspect of the audio equation.
“Why is the room important? When you’re in a room, unless it’s anechoic, then there is more sound leaving the speaker [and] bouncing off the room than there is direct sound,” said Grimani. “If your room character is poor, and if the speaker off-axis radiation is poor, you won’t get good sound no matter what you do.”
This discussion led naturally into a conversation about equalization and whether or not EQ can “solve” a crappy room, or whether it’s a useful tool for integrators to consider. While both Grimani and Lemay were forced to shorten their responses for the sake of time, Grimani distilled his response to a punchy, “You actually can make [rooms] less bad. It can do something, but you can’t turn an echoey, reverby room good with just EQ.”
Lemay agreed, saying EQ can’t solve all of a room’s problems. Issues like where people sit, existing echo in the room, listening distortions, and other factors all cannot be easily fixed with equalization.
Getting Clients to Spend Money Without Questioning Every Decision
The session closed with a discussion on how best to get clients to spend money on audio and room treatment without having them question each step in the process. Neither Lemay nor Grimani felt they were the right people to ask, but Grimani eventually tackled the question and provided some solid advice to those in attendance.
“One of the reasons why somebody might not want to do acoustic [treatments] is because of aesthetics. You are asking somebody to put stuff on their walls, and that’s not what they expected going into the journey,” said Grimani.
“Very early on…I bring up the issue that we’re going to need to put stuff on the walls…and all of this stuff is kind of ugly.” He suggests letting clients know as soon as possible that more aesthetically pleasing options exist. “You can select acoustic materials that look good!”
Additionally, he suggests finding out what spaces homeowners are okay with acoustically treating, while also offering solutions the homeowners may not know about like treating ceilings.
“Treating the ceiling gains you a lot. The reflecting off the ceiling tends to narrow down the sound field,” said Grimani. He added that integrators can make those ceiling treatments into room features that add style. “You can make it into a feature, like a cloud on the ceiling.”