Posted November 11, 2015 by Jim Wheeler 

Audio/Visual Talk: Save Money, Save Time, Solve a Problem

A/V Talk: Save Money, Save Time, Solve a ProblemWhen it comes to technology, ultimately we want products that will address one of three concerns: it saves money, saves time, or solves a problem. Here are three affordable products I’ve found that address one or more of these concerns and can be used daily.

Saves Money: Safcord Cord and Cable Protectors

Both OSHA and fire codes state that all temporary cabling needs to be secured in place to prevent trip hazards. Most people address this is by taping down cables with gaff tape, which, for those who don’t know, is a fiber-based tape that doesn’t leave adhesive residue on cables, as opposed to duct tape. It is fairly expensive though, costing between $20–30 per roll. Our biggest use of gaff tape has been in carpeted meeting room spaces.

In an effort to find a reusable solution, we discovered the Safcord cable protectors. These are 6-ft-4-in.-Velcro cloth covers that “hook” to the carpet. They are the perfect length for our needs, completely reusable, take less than a minute to set up, and don’t damage the carpet when you take them off. They also cost the same as a roll of Gaff tape, so switching to these protectors virtually eliminated our reliance on Gaff tape and has saved a considerable amount of money.

Saves Time: Gaff Gun

We have a relatively large audio/visual department with 20 student technicians. Learning how to tape properly is a tenet of their job. But not every school is like us, and not everyone has dedicated staff. For spaces with hard floors and gaff tape is a must, the Gaff Gun is an amazing time saver. It is a hair on the pricey side at $269 but makes taping down cables a breeze, especially for non-audio/visual staff. You lay the cables, and the Gaff Gun has a cable guide that collects and straightens them out as it tapes them down.

Some criticisms of the Gaff Gun have been that you need to use their proprietary tape, though this is not necessarily true. There is an additional attachment that allows you to use other brands of Gaff tape. Even if you do use their tape, it is about the same price as other brands.

Solves a Problem: Bluetooth Wireless Transmitters

We actually experience a unique audio problem with newer smartphones. Most people use the headphone jack for headphones (imagine that!), but our dance groups, which make up a large portion of our customers in need of audio support, use an 1/8-inch auxiliary cord to stream music from their phone into our sound system. Interestingly, while headphones work, auxiliary cables tend not to.

Without delving too deep into tech talk, new phones seem to have problems recognizing 1/8-inch cords that have low impedance. And because it’s such an uncommon scenario, there likely won’t be any fixes coming from the manufacturers. We addressed this by changing to Bluetooth adapters that plug into the sound system’s 1/8-inch input, so customers now connect to the Bluetooth device wirelessly which allows them to keep their phones in hand and avoid any potential impedance issues.

If you’ve discovered a product that makes your daily setups easier, share it below!
Jim Wheeler

Jim Wheeler is the Audio/Visual Manager at University of Connecticut.

Jim has focused on live and recorded sound engineering in the audio-visual field since 2008. He manages a student staff of 20 technicians, is responsible for coordinating audio-visual for event programing, and oversees the design and maintenance of the union’s audio-visual systems. Jim has also served as a sound advisor for the Drama department, and has been involved in over 30 theatrical productions as a pit musician and composer.

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