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Important Questions for your Customer, on Home Theater Design (2 replies)

Charl Lotter
5 years ago
Charl Lotter 5 years ago

Hi all, nice general discussion would be: You're in the fortunate position where your customer would like you to design a Home Theater for them. Which questions, and why, do you ask your customer? And how does the answers of said questions influence your design choices?

Gerry Lemay
5 years ago
Gerry Lemay 5 years ago

Hi Charl,

Wow!  Your question seems to require a course or even a book for a proper answer.  The obvious first questions should be subject to your initial passive qualification of the client.  Qualification begins with your informal appraisal of the clients probable budget and their preferences.  That qualification is something that you'll get wrong some of the time but as you deal with more clients (and possibly lose a few) you'll get better at.  Everyone has heard the story about the customer wearing shabby clothes and being ignored by one sales person only to watch them buy a giant system from the next sales person.  You'll refine your appraisal once you begin a formal qualification at your meeting with them. 

  • Having said that (above), look at the car they drive the home they own and the space they want the theater.
  • Discover their level of knowledge.  Some clients know what they want and are familiar with key brands or technologies.  Give them your opinion without disparaging products or competitors.
  • Determine if they have an interior designer or architect;  if you are lucky you can begin consultation with them "before" they design a terrible room and already have it approved by the client.
  • Listen to the client and try to determine the importance of each preference.  Missing the key desire of the client is easy when there's so many requirements laid on the table.  If you drive them toward a reference system and all they wanted was a playroom to watch sports, you might lose their confidence.
  • I also highly recommend performing an informal "client training".  We discussed this in the class.  Teach them what's important technically before they hijack the room with poor seating placement or imprudent speaker locations, screen size, etc.  This is where a demo can be so useful.  Explain the metrics of a good design and try to get them interested in the concept of great sound and video, most clients are unaware of the industry standards for home theater.  Above all, gain their trust by avoiding baffling techno-speak, being clear, and being a good listener.

Once you're in the room to do a first walk-thru, you can begin laying out the system:

  • Determine the screen wall; using the short wall means more flexibility in seat placement.  That is, more seats will be in the sweet triangle.
  • Determine the seat locations;  be aware that clients often want more seats than the room can handle properly.
  • Find acceptable sub locations to even out the bass response for the most consistency seat-to-seat.
  • Based on the prime seating location place the left and right speakers.
  • Pick the screen size based upon SMPTE or THX standards.  Keep in mind the screen can be an obstacle for proper LCR placement.  An acoustically transparent screen makes good sound a much easier achievement.
  • And so on

Well, the beginning is the most important.  I'll let other chime in with their thoughts.  The hardest thing to get right is the budget.  If you can successfully gain the clients trust, start high.  It is just as unfortunate to start low and give the client less than they would have liked than to start high possibly scaring them off.  If you have established a good relationship with the client it shouldn't be hard to adjust the design to their budget.  The key is holding their trust and establishing your credibility.

My thoughts...

Usama A
2 months ago
Usama A 2 months ago


Certainly! When designing a home theater, it's essential to understand your customer's preferences, lifestyle, and technical requirements. Here are some important questions to ask:

  1. Room Dimensions:

    • What are the dimensions of the room where the home theater will be installed?
    • Are there any architectural features (e.g., columns, alcoves) that may impact the layout?
  2. Budget:

    • What is your budget for the entire home theater project, including audio-visual equipment, furniture, and any additional features?
  3. Primary Use:

    • How do you plan to use the home theater? (e.g., movie nights, gaming, sports watching)
    • Will it serve as a multipurpose room, or is it exclusively for home theater purposes?
  4. Seating Preferences:

    • How many people do you expect to accommodate in the home theater?
    • Are there specific preferences for seating arrangements (e.g., recliners, sofas, theater-style seating)?
  5. Acoustic Considerations:

  6. Audio-Visual Equipment:

    • What type of audio system are you looking for? (e.g., surround sound, Dolby Atmos)
    • Do you have specific preferences for brands or types of projectors and screens?
  7. Smart Home Integration:

    • Do you want your home theater system to integrate with smart home features, such as lighting control, smart blinds, or voice-activated systems?
  8. Lighting:

  9. Storage and Cabinetry:

    • Are there specific storage requirements for media, gaming consoles, or other equipment?
    • Do you have preferences for built-in cabinetry or freestanding furniture?
  10. Aesthetics and Design Style:

    • What is your preferred design style for the home theater? (e.g., modern, classic, minimalist)
    • Are there specific color schemes or themes you want to incorporate?
  11. Future Upgrades:

    • Are you planning for any future upgrades or expansions to the home theater system?
    • Is the design flexible enough to accommodate new technologies or equipment in the future?
  12. Remote Control and User Interface:

    • Do you have preferences for the type of remote control or user interface for operating the home theater system?
    • Are you interested in home automation systems for centralized control?

By addressing these questions, you can tailor the home theater design to your customer's specific needs and preferences.

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