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  • Ryan Peavey

Is Your AV System a Dinosaur or a Diva?

By: Ryan Peavey, MCH Media Systems Consultant


As the financial quarter winds down and the Top Brass start discussing capital budgets, consider whether your AV technology deserves some TLC.

Planning for AV system upgrades can be a long game. Depending on budgetary constraints and strategy, plans may need to stretch over several years -or- a one-time spending spree may be the right option. No matter your plan, there are key questions to ask when allocating funds to AV systems upgrades.

What should our AV system do that it currently can't?

From corporate bigwig to technical director, a system’s features are important to consider. AV technology is ever-evolving, which can feel like your system goes from state-of-the-art to obsolete faster than you can say "upgrade."

Let's be real - "obsolete" means different things to different people. For some, an age-old system still gets the job done. For others, the latest and greatest features are a must. While tempting to chase tech trends, it is important to understand how upgrades can impact your operations.

For example, a theater’s lavalier microphones feature specific connectors, so switching to a new system could mean a whole new set of mics. A savvy design team with experienced consultants can guide decision-making to ensure appropriate upgrades are made, while considering budget limitations.

In this process, communicating needs and existing system limitations clearly will allow your design team to offer the best solution for your organization.

Can new AV technology help achieve organizational goals more effectively?

You betcha! Incorporating AV technology into existing systems, like IT networks, is all the rage these days, and can help fast and efficient connectivity throughout your facilities. However, keep in mind that integrating AV into existing systems can have a ripple effect on different departments, so it's worth proper planning to minimize negative impacts.

Leveraging AV tech to boost your organization's efficiency and effectiveness can be beneficial, but first consult with a knowledgeable designer to gain insight of the potential challenges and develop a solid plan for addressing them.

How long can our AV system run on a wing and a prayer?

Some organizations are lucky enough to upgrade their systems annually, while others might have the same system for a decade or more. No matter the interval between upgrades, it is important to consider how long systems need to last.


There might be some quick fixes or “band-aid” solutions to keep the system going in the short term, like replacing a faulty component or two. Be careful with this approach, because too many quick fixes often hide deeper issues, causing more problems in the long run. If your AV system is so outdated that it needs a manual crank to turn on, or if you're still relying on vacuum tubes, you may be due for an upgrade. Don't keep patching things up - take a good look at the big picture and plan for the future – you, your organization, and patrons will be thankful!

Will our AV system upgrade break the bank?

Finding good balance between functionality and finance is important. It might not be practical (or financially feasible) to go all-in on a comprehensive installation, but exploring other paths could get you where you need to be without breaking the bank.

One option to consider is investing in underlying infrastructure first (i.e., conduit, power, and cabling). This can be a significant undertaking, but having a solid foundation for your AV system is an important first step to any major upgrade. Infrastructure is typically not specific to equipment, giving you flexibility and expandability in the future. Once proper infrastructure is in place, equipment can be added as needed, spreading the costs over time. This infrastructure-first approach that can help you achieve your goals over time without breaking the bank all at once.

How do we pay for all this?

Don’t panic! You have options.


For non-profit organizations, a strong Development Manager paired with a sharp-minded Controller can be a powerful duo in securing funds needed for these upgrades. Don't underestimate the power of a passionate Development Manager, whose connections to patrons can turn an impossible dream into a reality.

For other organizations, grants, loans, or even crowdfunding can be useful sources of funds. Don't let finances stand in the way of upgrading your AV system - with the right approach, you can find the funds you need to keep your business running smoothly and your audience impressed with your optimally functioning systems.


Whether you're looking to improve the user experience, stay current with technology trends, or just keep your system running smoothly, there are many factors to consider. Taking time to assess your system's current condition, exploring different upgrade paths, and planning for the future are important to assuring your AV system can support your organization's operations and objectives for years to come.


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