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Big August of 2013 DSI merged with 5 other high-end home technology integrators, and the new company is called VIA. For new blog posts, visit us at Be sure to bookmark our new site and subscribe to the blog by entering your email in the box on the right side of the page.

VIA is the home technology provider for today’s sophisticated, luxury homeowner. VIA's clients enjoy state-of-the-art home technology including home theater, home automation, IT networks, and custom audio video solutions that integrate elegantly or disappear entirely into the home's design. As the nation’s largest and most-awarded home technology integration firm, VIA is uniquely qualified to provide its clients with an intuitive user experience, reliability, and concierge-level service. Visit to learn more. 

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Architectural Horror Stories - Technology Assumptions Gone Haywire

ceiling detail
This follows up the previous post about why it is recommended essential to call your electronic systems integrator early in the design process. (If you haven't read that post, you can do so here > Architects and Interior Designers, Here's Where You May Be Blowing It). While that post focuses on the many aesthetic benefits we audio video designers bring to the table, this post will focus on more extreme uh-ohs that we've witnessed.

No names will be shared, just experiences. Afterall, I don't want to get shot! ;-)

My video projector has to go Where!! Why??

Here's what happened...

We get a phone call from the architect after the home is framed and the bulk of the interior design was complete. A rendering is shared with us that illustrates the desired aesthetic design of the home theater. It featured a large projection screen, tiered seating, and notably, a large ceiling mural that was to be one of the visual highlights of the room. Now the question that was posed to us...where do we put the video projector?

high-end video projector Los AngelesThe best solution wouldn't work, which was to put the projector on the other side of the rear wall so the projected image would come through a small window (like at the commercial cinema). Why wouldn't this work? There was custom cabinetry already made for that room (a bedroom) and the projector wouldn't fit. Since a high-performance video projector was desired, size and heat would be issues locating it in this bedroom, so this location was ruled out by the architect.

Mounting the projector on the ceiling was out of the question, as the client really liked the ceiling mural, which went to the edge of the ceiling/wall boundary (the above picture is just a pretty picture...not the actual ceiling mural design).

The fixes were to either use a short-throw projector near the floor level, which was a compromise due to removal of a theater seat and unwanted noise from a projector being so closely located to the viewers, or scrap the ceiling mural, which the client really wanted.

How this could've been fixed?...a phone call early in the design process to the audio video designer. All options could've been explained early, and a solution without compromising performance or design would have been reached.

Beverly Hills Home Theater Uh-Oh...

why you need an audio video designerThis particular new construction project had a high-end private home theater as part of a luxury estate. This estate features beautiful architectural detailing, and the end result is simply stunning. One big problem crept up during construction...the home theater design wasn't thought out in detail and the "fix" was to jackhammer 4' more depth out of the concrete foundation to achieve the needed sightlines. Ouch! I don't know what that change order cost, but I know it wasn't cheap. And, a change order like that messes up construction timelines. Here's the phone call to a home theater company (us!) would've prevented this problem. How, you ask??

The client requested a specific amount of people to seat (20 people) through a unique seating plan. The architect and designer did have the proper room width and length to accommodate the client's wishes, but the room's height was simply assumed. We were brought on board when the home's framing was nearly complete. When we created the theater's sightline drawings, oops!...there wasn't enough ceiling height to accommodate viewer sightlines. Unless the front of the theater was lowered, you'd either see the peoples' heads in front of you obstructing the screen, or you'd need a much smaller screen, which negates the reason for having a big screen home theater in the first place. Therefore, 4' of concrete needed to be removed from the front portion of the home theater space to correct the sightlines.

A reason was given as to why we weren't contacted early (we've worked with this team successfully before), and the answer was that sometimes clients do not want to choose an audio video installation company early in the design process. The feeling is that this decision comes later, such as when selecting their General Contractor. But, as you can see from the above examples and from our last post, that isn't a good idea at all.

I could go on and on with more examples, such as having an entire wall re-engineered late in the construction process because the weight load of a 103" plasma TV wasn't factored, but I'll spare you the get the point by now.

The Solution:

home theater designer los angelesEngage a design-minded custom audio video installation company for preliminary low-voltage design only. Make sure they speak the design language of architects and interior designers.

We are fortunately being engaged in this capacity more and more, but still not enough. We fully realize that the resulting design spec may go out to bid to competitors, but the non-compromised performance and superior aesthetics are well worth the effort to figure out early. These are the types of projects that win awards. Architects, interior designers, and most importantly, the clients LOVE the end result of such well-thought-out design. If you live in or near Los Angeles and Santa Barbara and need the phone number of the best local audio video designers around, call DSI at (866) 692-8489.

home technology makeover tipsKey Takeaway: a phone call early in the design phase of a new construction home or remodel to a qualified audio/video integrator eliminates compromises and will save money from expensive change orders.

This blog article written by . Follow us on Twitter @DSI_Audio_Video
Josh Christian - audio video designer Los Angeles