Apps/Gear recommendations from AV insiders

We are living in the app/gear era and there are apps/gear for just about anything you need available. But the problem is you can’t buy all to find out what suits you becuase they might be expensive or even time consuming. The best way to find out is from the users who swear by the apps they use. I do regular features on AV insiders and have been personally trying out apps/gear they recommend.

Here are 9 AV Insiders sharing their most used apps/gear helping them do their job better.

I always say “if it is not on my calendar, it does not exist.” In addition, I frequently use the GoToMeeting app, Avis app (it’s awesome for quick rental booking), Tile (a life saver), Hotel Tonight (you’ll thank me for this one), Google Maps and Ring Central. On the personal side, Escort Live (when I speed) and iAquaLink to turn on my Jacuzzi remotely.

CRM – keeping track of clients, conversations and follow up items, “Chatter” which is part of our CRM to see information shared by colleagues, Outlook for scheduling and email, my laptop and my mobile. 
Apps: Twitter, LinkedIN, Facebook – all great tools to build relationships in different ways

The primary software I use is AutoCAD. I learned how to draft by hand in high school. I consider myself quite lucky to have taken design technology classes at such an early age. I distinctly remember the last year of the drafting tables, pencils, eraser dust and the first year of AutoCAD Release 14. That was a big deal for a high school to get a computer lab of about 30 PCs equipped with ZIP drives, AutoCAD and PhotoShop. So I’ve been using CAD for a little over 15 years now, first as a student and then professionally when I started with HB Communications. Knowing that one piece of software has been vital to my AV career development. Additionally I find myself using a mixture of enterprise level and consumer level tools like Box, Trello, NetSuite, Omnify & Zoom.

The one app that I have figured I can’t live without is Evernote. I have to have an evernote tab open when I am working and the versatility of the app is incredible. I use Dropbox for storage and use Scannable for all forms of document scanning. I can’t remember the last time I used a real scanner! I am usually listening to “Apple Music” or “Gaana” when in India and on “Spotify” when I am in the US. I used to carry around all my music on my ipod but I just stream it now. I need to have music around me and another interesting music app is the “Aweditorium” which is amazing for discovering new music from very talented but lesser known artistes. For entertainment, I am on YouTube or NetFlix. I am an active user of Zomato in India and Yelp in the US for restaurant reviews. Audio apps which I use extensively for work include the ViSi remote app from Soundcraft, the HiQnet motion control app, dbx Venu360 appSRX connect app from JBL and powered by Crown app.

My gear includes my iphones, a Lenovo thinkpad X230 which is my work laptop and a Mac Book Pro for my music and entertainment apps. I also use an ipad mini which is great for taking notes, casual surfing and as a second computer at my desk. I also have a collection of headphones ranging from the incredible AKG K3000i reference in-ear monitors to the Harman Kardon Soho that I use when I travel. I also have a JBL Flip and a Harman Kardon Esquire mini for music and as a speakerphone. At home I use a Mac Mini as my media center and player hooked up to my TV. My main entertainment system at home is a pair of stereo JBL 4312E vintage monitors hooked up to Crown XLS 1500 amplifier and a Project Carbon turntable. Being in the professional AV industry definitely has its perks especially when it comes to access to gear!

-APPS:
a) AV Industry software (Netlinx Studio, SIMPL Windows etc)
b) Notepad++ text/source editor
c) Termite RS232 terminal
d) KiTTy telnet/ssh terminal
e) HxD Hex editor
f) yEd Flow chart designer
g) Freemind for storing ideas
h) Various utilities developted by us
i) Visual Studio, Code Typhon for Development

-GEAR:
a) MacBook Pro, 15”
b) USB to RS232 adapter
c) D-SUB9 gender changers
d) D-SUB 9 null converter
d) Long, custom made, RS232 female-female cable
e) 2 Extron compact screw drivers
f) USB Drive 16Gb for file transfers
g) USB Drive 1Tb for backups

I use the following apps on a daily basis: Twitter, Google, YouTube, Slack, Skype, Instagram, LinkedIn and Outlook. I use them all throughout the day while working. It’s all about time management, notifications and having them all in sync.
My gear is fairly simple. I carry with me a Microsoft Surface Pro2, Samsung Note5 (Personal), Apple Iphone6S Plus (Work Cell), pair of earbuds, wireless mouse, 25 ft. tape measure, SPL meter, light meter and a 10000mAh portable charger.

I am an app junkie
1. Todoist – keep track of my todo items
2. 1password – keeps tracks of my various work related logins across phone tablet and pc (and personal ofcourse)
3. Notes app on iOS. For quick notes.
4. Whatsapp – lots of customers contact me on that now. and Skype
5. Music app  with Apple Music subscription. I need some alternative tunes while working
7. Audiotools – must have iPhone app for anyone dealing with Audio gear
8. Microsoft Onenote – Keeps track of my official meeting notes and personal notes across my devices

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See also  7 simple ways to remain relevant in AV world
On the PC
1. Wireshark – must have for network related issues
2. MS office suite ofcourse
3. Dropbox
4. Visio
 
I have many more apps, but these are the ones I use regularly.
And I love my gear:
1. Logitech H800 Wireless headset – for Skype and Voip Calls and Mobile calls. Connects with RF to PC and Bluetooth to Phone. 
2. AudioTechnica M50x headphones for critical listening (read: basically listening to  music :))
3. Tannoy 501a active studio monitor – for critical listening
4. Bose QC20 noise cancelling earphones – for when you want silence.
5. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface. Drives my studio monitors and headphones, and allows me to plug in XLR mics to my PC.
6. 2 Dell 24″ monitors with a laptop dock
7. Comfy super adjustable leather chair with good lumbar support
8. Work desk with slideout keyboard. Extremely important to maintain good wrist position for long hours at the desk.
9. Wireless keyboard (Apple) and Mouse (Logitech Anywhere MX)
10. Griffin Powermate USB controller – quick mute/unmute and volume controls
11. Buffalo 2 bay NAS – for files and music and whatever else I need to digitally store.
12. and of course iPhone, iPad and my Apple watch.

My number 1 tool would be my Macbook Pro. I would easily spend 10+ hours every day on it. So many people in the industry complain about them being too expensive, but I can’t stress this enough: it doesn’t need to be a Mac (or any particular brand) but do not under any circumstances cheap out on a tool that you use this much. This applies to both companies and individuals.

On the hardware front, when I’m at the office it’s accompanied by a 32” 4K monitor, decent headphones (really digging the Parrot Zik‘s at the moment), an iPad running Paper along with Pencil for quick sketching / diagrams (I can’t stand physical paper) and a standing desk. When I’m on site / out and about my kit includes the iPad which provides an extended monitor via AirDisplay, a BluePort XP bluetooth serial port and a little bag of adapters for most connector / signal types and a tweaker. Things come and go but my constraint is that all my kit needs to fit comfortably in a small backpack.

Software wise my main tools are Sublime Text for nearly all coding (unless you’re really forced to use a full IDE), git for revision management, Sketch for creation on image assets for UI’s—I’ve recently started using proto.io quite a bit for prototyping too. Wireshark helps out with a bunch of troubleshooting and protocol sniffing, and if you’re on OS X / linux learning the basic command-line tools let’s you do almost anything you could imagine for network and system probing.

When I’m working I’ll like to have Spotify with some IDM or trance, or brain.fm running to help block out external distractions ad stay focused. For task management Todoist helps me keep track of smaller items (both personal and work related), anything bigger usually gets a Trello board spun up.
Internally at Ci we use Slack for a fair chunk of communication and can escalate to video via some integration with various web-based video conferencing services. All file storage and document sharing is handled by Box too. The combination of these helps make it super simple to stay up to date regardless of where you are.

The most used apps would be Outlook email, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoho CRM, and Sage 100. These are a variety of applications for organizing and communicating daily all around the world. For development, it is a pretty long list as we use OrCAD for schematics, Allegro and PADS for PCB layout, and the Oscilloscope which is my best friend in troubleshooting and development.

Please share the apps/gear that you use in the comments below.

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Ajish Raju

About Ajish Raju

Ajish Raju is co-founder and Chief Evangelist of Favante. He loves traveling, trying new cuisines and gadgets. Reach him at ajish@ajishraju.me

  • Great post Ajish! I find it very helpful to see what software & hardware tools other Audio Video Professionals are using in different verticals and roles across the industry. I did not see any mention of Revit for 3D modeling of AV related MEP infrastructure (Mechanical Electrical Plumbing). Revit has come up in conversation for me personally a few times in the past month or so. Is anyone out there in the AV world actually using Revit in their business on a regular basis? I’d love to hear from you if you are.

    • I will check on the other insiders who have contributed and let you know.