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Commercial Integrator Europe Q&A: Chris Gunton On Devising ‘coherent’ AV Policies Leading Integrator

Date: 28-08-2014

August 22, 2014 | by David Davies

Founded by Chris Gunton, CGA Integration is one of the UK’s most widely-acknowledged specialists in bringing high-qualty sound, lighting and video to bars, restaurants, hotels and other public spaces. Gunton spoke toCommercial Integrator Europe about the current growth in its international interests and the need to counteract the rise of compressed music sources.

To what extent is the market for the kind of high-level integration undertaken by CGA a buoyant one in 2014?

CGA Integration specialise in the five star hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant sector. What we deliver is quality AV to match the attention to detail offered by these sectors in all other areas of their business. 2014 is proving to be a very buoyant year but not all of that is to do with the year; many of the projects now being delivered by CGA are a result of relationships built and developed with clients and designers over the past 5-10 year. Most clients now come to us through recommendation and in the certainty that CGA will deliver a quality solution that is appropriate to their market sector

Which project types are currently evincing the greatest growth – and why?

CGA are very focused on the sector we work with so that we can have the correct level of market knowledge and experience. The growth sector for us is in international projects, where we are now working as the AV consultant to project AV brand values globally. As AV is now integral to all areas of hospitality there needs to be a coherent AV policy throughout all areas of a complex and not just the restaurants and meeting rooms. Increasingly, we are seeing operators taking their values from a single venue and interpreting this into a larger venue or resort

What are the technological issues that concern you most as an integration firm at this time?

One of the biggest issues with the current proliferation of technology is understanding the client requirement and expectation correctly to deliver the correct solution. There is so much technology out there and you can deliver integration to most devices, but is that what the client needs? To turn the sound up and down in a simple area do we really need a touch screen or an iPad app?

There is a place for iPad apps, DSP and touch panels, but integrators must be aware of what the client needs to function/trade and not necessarily what you want to sell them or what the client saw in a brochure that he thought looked nice!

The other issues that causes me concern is the use of portable music and compressed music sources in commercial environments. At CGA Integration we deliver quality sound systems capable of a wide dynamic range at high and low levels, and get frustrated when clients sign up with a music provider or connect a portable music player that has hugely compressed MP3 files that leave the overall sound delivered being flat [and] lifeless. If we all want to increase the priority given to AV in public spaces we need to ensure that our clients are using good source material to ensure that the sound enhances an environment and is not just muzak.

To what extent are architects increasingly affecting the working lives of integrators?

Thankfully more and more architects and designers are becoming AV-savvy and bringing in the AV contractor or consultant earlier in the project. This ensures that systems are being sympathetically integrated with the decor and AV functionality is being considered alongside the aesthetics of a space. As mentioned above we still have some discussion with architects who have seen a particular brand or device on another project and want to place this irrelevant of the requirements of the current project. Designers need to learn to trust the AV company to fit the correct products in a space.

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