Getting to Know Programming Services: A Conversation with Tom Kehr & Drew Metherall

In a recent video, Exertis Almo’s Tom Kehr, Systems Designer and Trainer, and Drew Metherall, Programming Manager, discuss different programming topics and how you can position these services to give your business an edge.

Let’s dive into their conversation with key points mentioned in their discussion.

Control and DSP Programming Services

With decades of experience, Kehr and Metherall acknowledge the long and unique history of programming in the AV industry and the complex work completed by programmers.

“There’s a user interface, be it a button panel or touch panel, and often a lot of sensors, and you’re expected to tie all this together to make the experience better for the end user,” explained Kehr.

Kehr begins the discussion with a question.

“What makes Pro AV control so different and unique from a residential system?”

AMX AV control systemMetherall attributes this difference to the added flexibility with Pro AV control and aspects like macros, which you can build and interface with various products, sensors, temperature controls, and lighting, noting that residential universal remotes have limitations in what you can do and are more of a configurable system whereas Pro AV is actual programming of a device.

Regarding the products not distributed by Exertis Almo, Metherall explains that there are some systems that Exertis Almo will not program if they are not up to the level of necessity required in Pro AV.

When discussing the different systems, Kehr brings up the topic of certifications and training within programming.

“I held an AMX certification for 20 years. One of our programmers has a Crestron Silver Level. Our new programmer coming has a Platinum Level. We all hold certifications in Extron, we’ve gotten most of our certification for Q-SYS,” Metherall said. “And if we don’t have [a certification], we’re getting there.”

Kehr elaborates on Metherall’s point, explaining that there is always room for ongoing training.

Kehr and Metherall then discuss the advantages of using Ethernet for an audio-visual control system, explaining that although there are some challenges when mixing audio, video, and control on the same network, you can have a low voltage network company to come in to do all the wiring, since it’s all network, simplifying installation.

Another challenge exists in making changes to an existing control system, as many control files are compiled files. Kehr and Metherall explain that if the client has the original code, or they are willing to invest in a rewrite, Exertis Almo can do that work.

“During an installation, we see the bill of materials, and we have a system schematic or a flow diagram,” Kehr said. “What other documentation do you need as you begin to put the program together?”

In response, Metherall explains that he usually requires a Scope of Work or a Programming Narrative. We typically need a Bill of Materials and a signal flow. While Exertis Almo does not need all these just to do a quote, but once we get into the work, we definitely want all that information.

Kehr mentions that a lot of programming work is event-driven and poses the question, “What can you incorporate into a system for easier use?”

Metherall notes that most programmers utilize a video sync signal off some of the digital or Ethernet-based video transmitters. “We can take that signal and have the system turn on and route to that source without having to even touch a button,” he said.

Metherall elaborates, explaining that many programmers also use sensors on touch panels. Additionally, timers are a frequent addition to a system, allowing the system to turn off after a certain time or turn on at a prescribed time.

Kehr and Metherall also discuss decreased incorporation of voice assistance, acknowledging that these capabilities, like Siri or Alexa, are more present in residential systems.

The duo concludes their conversation by encouraging listeners to learn more by attending the industry-leading expo, E4 Experience.

The discussion offers a detailed look into the world of Exertis Almo Programming Services, with valuable insight on how to expand your reach. Watch the full conversation on YouTube.

If you learned something from this blog and video, you may also enjoy learning how to “Grow Your Business and Expand Your Reach – A Guide to EA’s Commissioning Services” blog.

Tom Kehr

About the Author

Tom Kehr

CTS-D, CTS-I, Network+, LEED Green Associate, ISF-C, ATD Master Trainer

In-House System Designer and Trainer

Supported Applications: System Design

Audio – Twenty Years Ago. One Almo BDM’s Fond Memories and Meager Beginnings

Hello Almo Customers!

As the New Year begins, I thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself, as I am one of the newer Business Development Managers here at Almo.

My name is Steve Alexander, I came on board with Almo in July of 2017 to help grow the audio offerings we provide to you, our customers. I’ve been involved in professional audio since the early 1980’s, graduating from the music business program at Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee.

Click Image to Listen  

Like many of you, while in school I did various jobs to supplement my meager student existence. My first “real” job in pro audio was working in a Music Row recording studio making cassette (you remember those, don’t you?) tape copies for songwriters and publishers wanting to pitch their songs to artist to put on their next release.

I eventually made my way to the control room, wrapping cables, setting up mics, and observing everything I could in order to have a chance to sit in front of the mixing console. During my tenure, I managed to work in various studios around town, eventually making my way up to chief engineer.

A number of years later I am still in love with audio. I’ve had gigs selling equipment to broadcast facilities, did some IT work as a Cisco engineer, and ran a team of AV pros supporting AV & VC technologies at the World Bank in Washington, DC.

I eventually married and settled in beautiful Annapolis, MD. Annapolis is blessed with a great number of talented musicians I got to know over time and thought, what’s an audio guy with an unfinished basement to do other than make the basement into a studio! Now remember, this was twenty years ago. So with a small budget I got to work. I triple-walled the control room and performance space to ensure as little noise as possible, made it into a performance space and built out the control room and vocal booth.

I decided to stick with a tape based system as a full blown Pro-Tools system was out of my financial reach at that time. So I decided on three Tascam DA-38’s synced together using their RC-848 transport remote, a Behringer 24×8 console was my recording desk, and I had a good bit of outboard gear to supplement what the Beheringer didn’t offer sonically, a Focusrite mic-pre & EQ, a number of dbx compressor/limiters, urei leveling amps, a Hafler audio amp,  JBL monitors and Auratone’s for my car audio mix. All this was tied together using Whirlwind TTL patchbays to route signals.  Over the years I had assembled a nice collection of microphones, from Shure SM57’s, to Sennheiser 421’s, and AKG D10, C391B’s, 414, etc.

One of my favorite projects was a compilation Christmas CD featuring local Annapolis artist. That CD provided the impetus for the still running two night live show of “An Annapolis Christmas” that occurs every December at our local music venue the Rams Head on Stage.

I’ve included a mix of “This Christmas” as performed by the Annapolis based band, Majesty 12.

No, it won’t sound as if it was recorded at Capital Studio A, but it ain’t bad considering it was recorded in my basement… ahh, my salad days…

Twenty years later, the technology is exponentially better, just to say you don’t need a million dollar budget to put together a decent sounding recording facility. This translates into the install and integration markets as well. With the convergence of AV and IT, the possibilities are truly endless. It’s an exciting time to be an AV professional. Almo ProAV is dedicated to helping our partners provide the best in class solution to their end users.

I hope you will allow me to assist you with any upcoming projects you have that involve audio.

AV in the National Park Service: Preserving the Sounds of Nature

I’m a huge fan of the park service and visit them quite frequently. This summer I’m headed to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. My idea of camping is with a full service hotel and restaurant but I do like it when there’s no TV and no cell phone reception, which was the case on my visit to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Check out these pictures of ancient Pueblo Indian dwellings from yours truly.

Pueblo Indian

Pueblo Indian








This year the National Park Service is celebrating its 100 anniversary in August and there have been lots of stories on the news providing coverage on the celebratory activities throughout the country. A few weeks ago, NPR did a segment on how sound engineers are going deep into the parks to record the natural soundscapes of streams, waterfalls, animals and all parts of nature that make our parks so spectacular. I was thinking about all those kids that grow up wanting to be a park ranger, then get into a band in high school carting around their own A/V equipment. Then through a turn of events, they end up in the A/V industry. Well guess what? Apparently you can do both!

One thing that was particularly interesting are the studies they are doing on how humans and our sound pollution affect the animals. The bio acoustical scientist in the interview, Kurt Fristrup, explained that just a few changes in decibels can have a great effect on their ability to hunt.

“Imagine you’re an owl looking for your dinner,” Fristrup said. “A three decibel increase in sound level cuts in half the area in which you could hear those sounds,” he said. “So you are half as efficient in finding food, with a relatively subtle increase in background sound level.”

Click Here to read the entire interview or download the segment.

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