Frequency Asked Questions

Seven Integration

Look for answers to your questions here. We have years and years of experience at designing and installing smart home technology into people's homes and have probably been asked any questions you may have before. So we have built a frequently asked questions page to help you build up some knowledge before you contact a home technology professional. If you can't find the answer here, then get in touch.

Questions about smart home automation

  1. What is home automation?
    Home automation is the process of enabling the systems within a property to be automated. The earliest form of home automation would have been back in the days when wealthy households would have had a servant to light the fires and open the curtains. We now have “digital servants” that do this work for us. The term “home automation” or “smart home” has come to mean more generally, the control of electronic, “connected” devices over a home network, either by app or control system
  2. How much will a home automation system cost?
    It could be free! Smart devices such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home allow you to enable a string of activation commands that control your connected devices. So for example, when I ask Alexa to turn the TV off, that may also trigger a command to turn the lights off (if I have a lighting system that works with Alexa). However, these systems are a little hit and miss and take a bit of setting up, and even then are not particularly “smart”. For a home control system like Crestron or Control4, both of which can control any electrical device you have that either plugs-in or is on your network, then it can be as little as £1000 for a single room. Equally, it can run into tens of thousands of pounds depending on how many devices you want to control, and in how many rooms.
  3. Who can help me with a smart home automation system?
    If you are doing a major renovation or starting a new-build project then you should seek out a home technology professional. We’ve written a blog about how to find and select a home tech professional and is a great place to start. Do not think that because your electrical contractor says he can fit some speakers for you, that makes him qualified to talk to you about control systems and a whole home package.

Questions about home cinema

  1. What is the difference between a home cinema and a media room?
    When we talk about home cinema, we are generally talking about a dedicated room with a single purpose. A media room is slightly different in that it is a multi-purpose space that you can enjoy a movie in, but may also be a living room or part of an open-plan space. The design and performance principles are the same but with a media room a home cinema designer will realise that there will need to be some compromise – in a home cinema, we always strive to reach certain technical performance parameters with as little compromise as possible.
  2. How big should my home cinema room be?
    The temptation is to build a huge room that can seat 20 or 30 people and think that you can do it for £5k. the reality is that when you double the size of the room you roughly quadruple the budget. The more people you want to seat, the more seats you need and so the more floor space. The further back you are seated the bigger the screen will need to be, and when you increase the size of the screen, you must balance that with a better projector capable of projecting an image onto the screen.
  3. How big should my projector screen be?
    There are calculations that your home technology professional will carry out to determine the optimum screen size. It is not the case that bigger is always better. You have to factor in seating position, which should be about 2/3 of the way back in the room. Then you must consider the screen format – 16:9 or 2.35:1 which will be determined by your primary viewing media. TV broadcasts generally in 16:9 “widescreen” format, whereas movies are generally filmed in 2.35:1 or there-abouts. You want a screen that will fit the image being watched most of the time.
  4. How far away should I sit from my home cinema screen?
    As a general rule of thumb you want to be sitting about 3x the height of your screen away from your screen. With 4k resolution it is accepted that closer then 3x height might be better, but too close and you can’t see the full image in your field of view.
  5. What is Dolby Atmos?
    Dolby Atmos is an advanced audio technology that adds height channels to a surround sound system, allowing for a more immersive and realistic audio experience. If you’re interested in Dolby Atmos, you’ll need a home theatre system with speakers that are specifically designed to support the technology and an AV processor or receiver that can deliver Dolby Atmos.

Questions about audio visual systems

  1. What are the best speakers?
    You could argue that there is no “best speaker”. The best speaker is the right one for the location and performance expectations. Putting a pair of Wilson Audio Master Chronosonic floorstanding speakers @ $850,000 in your tiny spare room would make them unusable and you could argue that using some speakers at just 0.1% of their cost would give more enjoyment. So, not wanting to avoid answering the question, but the best speaker is the right speaker for the location and use. And knowing that only comes from years of installing speakers into homes.
  2. How many speakers do I need in my room?
    The amount of speakers you need really depends on what you intend to use the room for. If it’s just some background music in an open plan space then some in-ceiling speakers will do the job. In which case you could feasibly enjoy just a stereo pair. In a larger space, you may want to distribute the sound more evenly across the area and so you could install lots of small-form in-ceiling speakers that spread the sound across the ceiling – similar to having lots of downlights in the ceiling to give even light. If you want a room to spend time listening to music then you will almost definitely go with a single stereo pair of speakers to give the best performance.
    On the other hand, for watching movies, you may want to consider surround sound.
  3. How many speakers do I need for surround sound?
    If you would like surround sound, the number of loudspeakers you need in your room to watch movies will depend on several factors, including the size of your room, your budget, and your personal preferences.
    The most common setup for a home theatre system is a 5.1 configuration, which includes five speakers and a subwoofer. The five speakers typically consist of three front speakers (left, centre, and right) and two surround speakers (left and right).
    For a larger room or a more immersive experience, consider a 7.1 or even a 9.1 configuration, which adds additional speakers for a more enveloping soundstage.
    Ultimately, the number of speakers you choose will depend on your individual needs and preferences.
  4. How many speakers do I need for Dolby Atmos?
    For a basic Dolby Atmos setup, you need a minimum of a 5.1.2 configuration, which includes five speakers, a subwoofer, and two height speakers. The height speakers can be in-ceiling speakers, upward-firing speakers, or speakers mounted on the walls near the ceiling. Some sound bars will offer a version of Dolby Atmos, but these should not be confused with a true Atmos setup.
    For a more advanced setup, you can go with a 7.1.4 configuration, which includes seven speakers, a subwoofer, and four height speakers.
    Dolby Atmos is only available for some movies and TV shows, so you may only sometimes benefit from the technology. However, more and more content is being mixed in Dolby Atmos, and many people find that it significantly enhances their home theatre experience.

Questions about lighting design and lighting control

  1. What is lighting control?
    Lighting control is the ability to use the space between “on” and “off”, setting “scenes” by dimming some lighting circuits and not dimming others. This may be controlled via an app, remote control of in/on-wall touch panel. Nowadays it could just as easily be controlled via voice or entirely automated.
  2. Do I need to re-wire my house to have lighting control?
    The wiring for most lighting control systems is different from a traditional method of wiring for lighting. Wiring for a lighting control system requires each circuit to return to the lighting control panel with a comms cable linking all lighting control keypads back to the panel. There are some retro-fit systems that allow you to put an in-line dimming model in the power feed to a circuit that then communicates with an app or control device to dim or raise the level of that circuit. These will work on a traditionally wired home where the circuit is wired back to the switch point.
  3. What does a lighting designer do?
    A lighting designer is responsible for the creative and functional lighting of a property. They are concerned with the aesthetics of lighting features in the home and providing enough light in functional areas to carry out tasks. A lighting designer would not usually get involved in the control of the lights. They would usually liaise with your home technology professional giving guidance on scene setting (which light fittings should be dimmed and by how much for a particular task or activity).

Questions about home technology design and installation

  1. When should I contact a home technology professional to discuss an AV and/or control system for my new build project?
    Integrating home technology into your home is something that needs planning and collaboration between various contractors as part of the design team. The earlier you get a home technology professional involved in your project, the better the outcome will be.
  2. Can my electrical contractor take care of my home technology for me?
    No. You would not ask a plumber to design and build a pool and spa just because he works with pipes and water. Likewise, you cannot expect an electrician to design and build a home automation system just because he works with wire and electricity.
  3. Can I do it myself?
    In some cases if you are using manufacturer apps to control your devices then you may be able to get them to work together using something like Apple’s “Home” app. For something a little more elegant or complex then you really need a professional to design and implement an automation package for you.

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