Back to Math

Summer is over, and students around the country are getting back to basics. In schools across the country, the subject of math curriculum is enough to strike fear in the hearts of administrators, fac 9/01/2009 8:00 AM Eastern

InfoComm Focuses on AV Math

Sep 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D.

Summer is over, and students around the country are getting back to basics. In schools across the country, the subject of math curriculum is enough to strike fear in the hearts of administrators, faculty, parents, and students. But it’s time we discussed math curricula as an industry. Not the old-fashioned ’rithmatic of days gone by, but AV math.

As you are probably aware, InfoComm has been working on developing performance standards, and it finally has its first one on the books: ANSI/InfoComm 1M-2009, Audio Coverage Uniformity in Enclosed Listener Areas. More than 200 volunteer participants have been meeting, researching, and writing. And as the organization delved into the details, it has been forced to debate the level of technical and mathematical content that should be included in new standards as they are developed.

There is consensus that the standards must include the background math and the necessary calculations required to determine conformance of a system to the standard. However, there is also a sense that many audiovisual system practitioners are not comfortable with math and therefore will be hesitant to embrace the standards and their criteria.

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InfoComm Academy has always stressed the importance of learning the math behind AV and how competent practitioners internalize the units of measurement, values, and orders of magnitude of the test results they are expecting. InfoComm Design School students not only learn the concepts of potential acoustic gain (PAG)/needed acoustical gain (NAG), but they are encouraged to try it on their next project or on a project they think was successfully completed. Standards codify this idea in a new way, creating a common language that spans across all firms and projects. However, this means that the necessity to learn the math is finally here, and this is a wake-up call to the audiovisual industry.

In order to stay with the times, InfoComm has developed a new class, GEN104, AV Math Online. The class builds mathematical proficiency in AV calculations. Blending online lessons with short videos and a downloadable workbook allows AV pros to practice solving real-world AV math problems. Whether you need a refresher or you are new to the industry, AV Math Online covers using a scientific calculator, using proper order of operations, calculating aspect ratio, image height and viewing, estimating projection throw distance, loudspeaker impedance, decibels, scale drawing conversions, Ohm’s Law, heat-load calculations, Inverse Square Law, and more.

The application of performance standards will also help streamline the calculations AV professionals need to know. The standards, developed in an open process, will no longer be gray areas; they will be official, ANSI-numbered, and widely available.

AV has never been more ubiquitous, nor has the technology been more sophisticated. Just as we can’t do business the way we did a decade ago, we cannot limit our scope of knowledge to what we knew 10 years ago. Continuous learning is essential. InfoComm awarded twice as many EduBucks educational credits to members this year; use them. InfoComm has many online classes available this year and more under development. Free Wednesday Webinars are being offered, including one on Oct. 21 on AV math.

Back to school is not limited to kids. Learn the math, understand the performance standards, and participate in standards development. Be part of building the future of the industry. More information on InfoComm classes and events can be found at

Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D., is executive director of InfoComm International.

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