Control systems often represent the most significant budget item in a professional audio visual integration project. While dozens of HDTV screens can add up to thousands of dollars, the control system may be the largest single investment in a commercial audio visual systems installation. It’s important to make the right choice in control systems, selecting a system with the flexibility, capabilities and ease-of-use you need for your venue.

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Here are six things to consider when you work with your audiovisual consultant to choose the right control system for your AV project.

1. Scalability – Maybe right now you just need your control system to manage your restaurant’s sound and video systems. But maybe you’ll want to control lighting and HVAC systems using the same interface in the future. If your venue expands, can you add more zones to the control system?

On a day-to-day basis, does the control system interface allow different levels of control for different personnel? Can you give a bartender the capability to override pre-set volume controls, but only permit a manager to adjust the HVAC systems?

Scalability, both on a daily basis and in the “big picture,” is important when you invest in a control system that needs to grow with your venue.

2. Compatibility – Closely related to scalability, this factor affects which systems your controller can interface with right now as your systems stand. You want to make sure your control system can be used with lighting, AV, security, room shading, HVAC and other aspects of your facility if necessary. It’s okay to start small, controlling only lighting and sound, for instance, to begin, and scale up as funds become available.

3. Security – As IT and AV converge, control systems reside on the network (either a LAN or WAN.) Control systems should not compromise the security or stability of the network. Your audio visual integrator may work with your organization’s IT team to ensure that the systems work together.

4. Reliability – It’s not an exaggeration to say that the control system is heart of a successful audiovisual integration project. Does network traffic slow the control system down to unacceptable levels, or can it keep up regardless of how many other users are on the network? Are all components sturdy and dependable, with a solid industry reputation behind them?

5. Ease-of-use – While programming a control system is the domain of professional systems integrators, the interface should be user-friendly and intuitive. Controlling the lighting, sound and video systems in a bar or restaurant should be no more difficult than navigating an iPad. Popular control systems even have iPad and Android tablet apps available to control systems directly from mobile devices.

6. Professional installation and service-after-the-sale – Equally important as your choice of control systems is your choice of integrator. Look for a New York audio visual professional who offers service-after-the-sale, including 24/7 emergency service, and will be available years down the line, whether you need systems repair or an upgrade as your venue and your audiovisual needs grow.