In Blog Post, Guest Post

Pro AV Requirements: How to Ask the Right Questions?

What Are the Right Questions to Ask During Pro AV Requirements Capture

During the most recent episode of SDVoE LIVE!, Justin Kennington, President of the SDVoE Alliance had an enlightening discussion with Paul Zielie, Pro AV industry luminary and a Consulting Solutions Architect/owner of AVCoIP LLC. Paul advised, “The most important question to ask of your customers during the design process is: What are you trying to do?” Paul explained further that customers often have a vision of the “magic bullet” that will address what they are trying to accomplish with an AV installation. As a designer or engineer, you will want to further qualify the customers ask. And beware, that often the customer might be asking a valid question but it might not be an important question. For example,  they may ask a question around SDVoE such as “what is your latency?” The answer is practically zero but when you ask again what they are trying to do, the answer may point to latency being irrelevant. Perhaps SDVoE’s built-in multiview is more critical to their application.

The key is to steer the customer to ask the most important questions, and this starts with a need’s analysis. Other important considerations include who are all the stakeholders, in what environment in which the system is being installed, and to identify any constraints—both a minimum and maximum. This will help to design a system with technology that is good enough. It may not be important to exceed specs that will not improve the experience of the end users.

Justin asked Paul to elaborate on the need to understand product specs. “What are the ways that product specs might help or hurt in the conversation with the end customer who is just trying to get their problem solved?” Paul wished first that all spec sheets were accurate. He referred to an example of an installation where he was using a video encoder for IPTV for a sports bar environment. The encoder enabled unicast and multicast. The important question not answered by the spec sheet was. “How many unicast signals can go out before it starts to break down?” The need is to know at what threshold another technique might need to be considered. “If it is only going to two displays, I’m going to opt for unicast because I don’t need to worry about the network, but if it needs to go to 20 TVs, I’m going to obviously go with multicast.” The unit will not be able to support 20 individual simulcast displays. And it is important to think about this ahead of time. Looking at this example in the Sports Bar world, they are not going to notice until the Super Bowl when 40 screens on it and nothing works.

The bottom line is you must ascertain from the customer:

  • What are you trying to do?
  • What kind of constraints do you potentially have?
  • What are the environmental factors and use cases for the work to be done?
  • Who are all the stakeholders to consider during the design and selection of technology?

Pro AV Requirements Capture in the News

For some additional reading on the subject, see the following:
Workflows: Fighting Yesterday’s War

If you really dig in, you’ll see that many of the tools are made for yesterday’s paradigm, but companies shouldn’t be investing money in fighting yesterday’s war. And in those gaps lies a huge opportunity to add value and innovate.


The pro AV industry has embraced SDVoE Academy as their trusted resource as we blend AV and IT technologies to take full advantage of off-the-shelf Ethernet switches to realize greater system flexibility and scalability over traditional approaches such as point-to-point extension and circuit-based AV matrix switching. Since its inception in 2018, SDVoE Academy has attracted more than 5,000 students and served more than 25,000 lessons over more than 100 different online courses in video technology, network basics, and system design across a variety of vertical markets. We’re building a strong community around the SDVoE Academy forum where SDVoE members, designers, developers, and end users can mingle, share tips & tricks, answer questions, and solve problems together. And it’s all free!

Two professional certification programs, for SDVoE Design Partners and SDVoE Developers, have together graduated more than 1,600 students with the goal of enabling great AV user experiences. And again, it’s all free!

What’s next?
Join us every other Tuesday at 1 PM ET (New York) for a fresh episode of SDVoE LIVE! in SDVoE Academy or on THE rAVe Agency’s LAVNCH platform.

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