Integrated Audiovisual Systems

Why Do You Need An AV Consultant?

By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

Architects Better Homes & Gardens 1956

I recently came across this advertisement from a 1956 Better Homes & Gardens magazine:

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Although the setting is a home, and the topic of the ad is cutlery, I believe the headline still holds true today, especially in commercial projects.  Larger projects will have multiple architects, engineers, and consultants, each working on different disciplines.  There are structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers, acoustical consultants, landscape designers, lighting specialists, and telecom and data experts.  And last but not least, there is often an audiovisual/technology consultant on the team.

Nowadays, the AV consultant works hand in hand with the information technology designer, who engineers the structured cabling, category 6, and fiber optic networks. For smaller projects, the role of AV designer and IT consultant are one in the same. So what size project do you need to hire an independent AV consultant, and when do you bring them on to the project? 

Generally speaking, any new construction project team should include an AV/Technology consultant from Day 1, because everything in life these days revolves around technology.  Retrofits and remodels are even tougher, because the technology is usually an afterthought.  So its best to think of it early!

Novato City Council
An audiovisual system should be designed at the same time as the lighting and acoustics

Here is a list of audio, video, and control systems that will be specified by the project’s AV Consultant:

  • Properly sized projection screens
  • Projectors with correct lenses
  • Flat-panel television type displays
  • Interactive whiteboards and software
  • Microphones and table-top connections
  • Videochat and audio conferencing
  • Digital signage and way-finding kiosks
  • Ceiling speakers, spacing and placement
  • Wall-mounted speakers including angles
  • Floor boxes and wall-mounted input plates
  • Conduit sizing and cable/wire pull schedule
  • Power requirements for audiovisual racks
  • HVAC coordination for studios, mixing booths
  • Acoustical ceiling tiles and fiberglass wall panels
  • Audio mixing consoles and digital signal processors
  • AV touch panels and camera controllers if needed

These are just a few (okay more than a few) of the things that an AV consultant will specify and draw using CAD or Revit.  You can hire an AV consultant at any time in the project, but remember, it’s always best to start that “audiovisual integration” sooner, than later, so it doesn’t look like an afterthought!