Finding Industry Training

By Linda Seid Frembes
rAVe Columnist

edit-sydaudcon-0110I often hear that hands-on training is the best form of learning, and that’s especially true when it comes to AV technology. Most of us aren’t born with the magic ears or the sharp eye that it takes to get the perfect mix or the best video calibration. To get to that level of skill requires hard work, lots of seat time, and basic fundamentals that can only be learned by putting your hands on a mixing console or a video display.

Training also takes time and money, two things that are in short supply in a bad economy. If you are lucky enough to be busy, you don’t have the time to take a day or three off for a training session. If you’re not busy, then you have plenty of time but not necessarily the money. There’s also a contingent of folks who believe in “on-the-job learning” with the thought that you’ll get paid by the client to figure it out on the job site. Why pay to learn when you can get paid to learn, right?

But can you honestly say that you’re putting your best foot forward while trying to figure out your arse from your elbow? I don’t think so. Your client may not be getting the best AV system for his or her money and your reputation may suffer in the long run. Hands-on training (yes, the kind that you pay for) provides both theory and practice so that you leave the training session with an understanding of the technology and the ability to use it.

One great resource for hands-on audio training is the seminars put on by Pat Brown of Syn-Aud-Con. He and his wife, Brenda, travel the country offering seminars in core audio principles, sound design, and sound reinforcement. It is important to note that Pat and Brenda bring $130,000 worth of equipment to the training sessions that require a full day of setup. They invest in these seminars as much as you do.

I’ve had the pleasure of taking a workshop with Pat and he is a seasoned presenter. He is very conversational, knows his stuff, and doesn’t miss a beat when someone has a question in the middle of his presentation. Check out Syn-Aud-Con’s seminar schedule here:

Another great audio training resource is Rational Acoustics, who offers training for Smaart, the sound system optimization software. They offer all levels of training from introductory to advanced, and their class formats include lab time where you can gain hands-on experience using the principles you learned earlier that day. Classes are taught by Jamie Anderson, Arthur Skudra, or Harry Brill, all of whom have decades of experience in the audio industry. Bonus: They also offer classes taught in Spanish.

AV integrator Ford AV is also offering some hands-on mixing classes in Dallas in October and in Oklahoma City in November. The daylong sessions include hands-on operation of a mixing console with the help and guidance of an instructor. Pre-registration is required.

If you’re looking for hands-on video training, check out some of the onsite classes offered by InfoComm in Fairfax, VA. Lion AV also offers a hands-on video calibration class and even has photos on their web site of that a typical classroom looks like.

TKO Video Communication offers hands-on video conferencing classes at their corporate headquarters in San Jose, Calif. Topics include how videoconferencing systems work and video conferencing troubleshooting. Per their web site, TKO will provide onsite training courses for groups of 8 or more, but you have to call them for details.

And, of course, Extron is renowned for having pioneered ProAV training and their Extron Institute sets the bar for all other manufacturers to emulate – they even have their own certification.  Their training is comprehensive and covers any and all ProAV subjects.  See their entire training schedule and offerings at:

Hands-on training is a big investment in time and money, but sharpening your skills or learning new technologies can only strengthen your business. The strong will survive in this economy and those with real training and real skills will thrive even more once the economy returns. My only question: what are you waiting for?

Linda Seid Frembes is a rAVe columnist who covers AV technology, installs, market trends and industry news. Linda has worked with high profile AV manufacturers, trade organization, systems integrators, rep firms and dealer/distributors in the industry including John Lyons Systems, Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW), Northern Sound & Light (NSL), and InfoComm International, among others. Reach her at