Category Archives: Blog/Comments

Choosing between projection and Flat Panel in Your Theater Room

We are getting close to being in an age where a Flat Panel TV is the same size as a projection screen. Actually, there are now TVs as large as most standard projection screens. The Samsung 110 inch 4K TV introduced at CES in 2013 for $150,000. If that price tag is too high, you can opt for a 90” now for around $9,000. You wouldn’t think 20 inches would cause such a price difference, but the technology to create those additional 20” of screen is far more complex than one would think.

So, should you choose between an affordable 90” TV or perhaps a 100” screen and projector. The screen would run around $1400 and a decent projector around $3000, totaling $4400. It appears then that the projector and screen is far less than the TV. Not really. You have got to add sound to the projection system and to be honest, you need to add it to the TV as well, as having a $9000 TV without surround sound is like having lakeside property without a boat.

So, adding sound to the TV would probably bring the total cost closer to $12,000 and the projection system to $14,000. You can now see how the pricing differences are getting closer. Bringing the TV size down to an 85” instead of 90” TV will close the gap completely.

That said, how do you choose?

Think about where you are putting your TV or projection system. TVs can still have a quality image with light within the room. That said, if you don’t have a way to darken your room completely, you should probably opt for the TV. If you do have a windowless room with a ceiling that can hold a projector, then perhaps the projection system might be the best choice.

Installation costs are comparable for both if you are installing surround sound speakers. There will be labor costs to run wiring and mount the projector, but there are also labor costs to mount a large TV vs. a fixed projection screen, which is easier. Of course, if you opt for an electric retractable screen, then your screen costs and labor costs go up for the projection system.

The best thing to do is get a comparison estimate for both if both options are appropriate for your room.

Networking problems and Expansion

When to call your communications carrier and when to seek help elsewhere

You don’t call the electric company when your electrical outlet doesn’t work or when you need a new outlet put in? You call an electrician. You don’t call the water company when you want to change out a toilet or have a plumbing problem? You call a plumber. So when you have an Internet problem or need to expand your Internet within the home, don’t call your communications carrier, i.e. Verizon or Xfinity?

Verizon and Xfinity spend millions of dollars on advertising and they make themselves sound like once they sell you their service your home is all set for getting high speed Internet “no matter what”. They don’t tell you that you are buying a service, nothing more, and that there are many internal factors that affect the way that service will work for you.

When there is a problem outside of your home at one of their boxes, and even between your house & the cable modem/router hook up, they may fix it. When there is a problem within your home, that is not a bad router or DVR, you are on your own. We often recommend to our customers that you contact your service provider if your router or DVR seems to be the problem because you are renting those from your carrier, therefore they are responsible in providing you working units. However, if your service provider finds that both are working, then they can no longer help you, and it’s time to move on.

Their technicians are trained to set up your service and explain how it works. They are trained to recognize a bad router or DVR. They are not trained to analyze your internal network infrastructure to identify why you don’t get the full speed to different rooms. They will not run cables through your walls. They do not understand your existing network and AV system, so they might just rearrange things to put in their product, because that’s what they were hired to do, set up THEIR system.

Understanding what your communications carrier offers you will help you avoid wasting tons of time and money. For troubleshooting Internet problems, we suggest you go to their website (yes, you’ll have to use your cell phone if you have no Internet) and go to their support page. Go through their questions and find out if the problem involves their service or their product and do what they tell you to do. Note: Complete outages are generally a carrier problem. Poor speed inside the home is rarely a carrier problem.

Communications carriers are used to people calling them with problems. You can call and they can tell you if the Internet is down in your area. If it isn’t, they can run a diagnostic on your home. Calling them to complain about slow Internet or its reach throughout your home will be a complete waste of time. This is when you seek out a network specialist to identify how you can improve your home’s infrastructure. Sometimes it is a simple router move (which may or may not involve new cabling). Other times it is more than that, i.e. installing additional access points and other networking products. This is not something that Verizon or Comcast can or will tell you, so don’t take a day off work to wait for them to tell you they can’t help you.

Why your Fast speed Internet isn’t performing at a Fast Speed

I pulled this quote directly from Verizon’s website.

“Fios is the fastest internet available.1 Period. Why’s that? Because Fios provides a 100% fiber-optic network to your home. So get the best internet with the 100% fiber-optic network.”

They are being 100% honest in this statement. The key word is “to” your home. Chances are you got lost in the rest of the verbiage, and didn’t notice that tiny little word in the middle “to”. In small print they state “Fastest Wifi based on Internet speed plans and maximum router throughput available.

“Maximum router throughput” is another way of saying that your router has to have no obstructions to any room in your home and needs to reach every room to get their high speed.

Communication carriers bring Internet TO your home. How it works throughout the home is based on so many other factors.

Location of Router: The communications carrier will only have a few choices as to where to put your router because of where the cabling comes to the house. You can’t just move it anywhere you want without also adding cable and the communications carrier are not going to run wire within your home.

Construction of Home: Some home’s have much better WiFi than others simply because of the materials used within the walls.

Number of devices: Think of the Internet cable coming into your home as a river. It moves very fast because there is nothing in the way. Then think of the inside of your home as all the tributaries and streams that come off the river. They don’t move anywhere as fast as the river because the water from the river splits apart to them. The same happens in your home. Once the cable is in your home, the broadband splits apart to every source that needs it. The more sources being used, the slower it runs.

Speeding up your Internet within Your Home

There are ways to get your Internet up to speed within your home. Sometimes it is simply moving the router, though this most likely will require running additional cable if your home doesn’t have the hard wiring needed to move it.

One of the best ways to expand your network is by adding access points. An Access point (AP) connects directly to a wired local area network, typically by Ethernet, and the AP then provides wireless connections using wireless LAN technology, typically Wi-Fi, for other devices that cannot use wired connections. APs support the connection of multiple wireless devices through their one wired connection. (Source: Wifi) In layman language…access points spread out the Wi-Fi coverage area. Please note that correctly installed Access Points are NOT Wi-Fi extenders. They operate in a completely different manner when compared to a Wi-Fi extender.

Other products, such as Extenders/Repeaters take an existing signal from a wireless router or wireless access point and rebroadcast it to create a second network. These work in some cases but are not always a complete fix for expansion of your network’s broadband.

The best fix is to hardwire what you can. Hardwired components tie directly to your communications carrier’s wiring so there is nothing to interfere with the speed and quality. Not everything has to be hard wired. You might hardwire your main audio system and then expand its reach with Sonos via WiFi. You might hardwire your TV, but be fine streaming on your laptop without plugging it in to a wall.

Something to keep in mind is that networking is based on industry standards. EVERY manufacturer must comply with these standards. If they did not comply, then interoperability between different manufacturer’s devices would not exist. Do not buy into the marketing names. “Panoramic Wi-Fi” is not different from other manufacturer’s Wi-Fi, while equipment standards like 802.11n vs. 802.11AC make a difference.

So, the next time you watch a communications carrier commercial, whether it be Verizon, Xfinity or some other….keep in mind the word “to” because they are bringing all that great bandwidth TO your home, but not necessarily “throughout” your home.

Interior Designers Benefit from Residential Electronics Experts

The CE Pro, January issue’s article Closer Ties Between Tech & Interior Design is old news to us. We have been working with Interior Designers for many years. Whether the homeowner, general contractor or the designer contacts us, we have been solving difficult aesthetic problems that designers face when their clients want a clean look, but also expect a quality sound and audio system. And, of course, hiding all those nasty wires.

For the first time ever, at CEDIA Expo 2018, groups of interior designers assembled to hit the show floor for an up close and personal look at the technologies shaping home interiors. And this trend continued at the 2019 show.

Interior designers are incorporating wireless networks, smartphone usage and hidden speakers into their design elements. Clients are also asking for more smart home technology such as smart shades and lighting control to full scale wireless speaker systems.

Manufacturers understand that consumers and especially interior designers want more products that are aesthetically pleasing and they are delivering. Providing a holistic environment for consumers is a win-win for everyone. Besides developing products that are hidden behind walls and yet still produce incredible sound, they are creating products that work with a variety of design elements, so while homeowners can see the electronics, they are less obtrusive.

Designers are being encouraged to pull in AV designers at the beginning of a project, and that means learning more about what is offered. If nothing else, simply adding “AV needs” to their spectrum of offerings, when meeting with clients, will produce much happier clients in the long run.

Audiophiles can get excited over CES introduced products

Here are some exciting new audio products for those really looking for an advanced sound experience.

Technics SL-1210 MK7: The Technics SL1200 turntable expands on the series’ legendary sonic engineering and distinct visual design with new DJ features (such as reverse playback) when it arrives in the summer. An iconic slice of sonic history, it is destined to be popular among DJs and vinyl fans alike.

NAD Masters M10: NAD’s brand-new just-add-speakers audio system is the latest product to feature the BluOS multi-room streaming platform developed by NAD’s partner brand Bluesound.
The Masters M10 – an answer to Naim’s five-star Uniti Atom – supports hi-res audio, multiple streaming services and MQA, and features several analogue and digital connections (including HDMI eARC) and Dirac Live Full Room Correction. Apple AirPlay 2 is also imminent. It starts to ship next month.

Classé Audio Delta Series: Almost a year to the day after Sound United acquired the Canadian high-end hi-fi company, Classé Audio is preparing the launch of a new, three-strong amplifier range.

The Delta Mono monobloc ($11,000 each) and Delta Pre preamp ($10,000) pairing running at $42k pair of Magico speakers. A Delta Stereo integrated amplifier completes the series’ line-up. Shipping summer 2019.

PSB Alpha Series: 28 years after the original Alpha speaker series was launched by Canadian company PSB, the range returns in 2019 with a four-strong line-up
The P3 ($199) P5 $349) standmounts, C10 centre channel ($299) and T20 floorstander ($599) use a new 19mm aluminium dome tweeter with neodymium magnet (placed below the woofer on the standmounts), a mid/bass driver with textured polypropylene cones and rubber surrounds, and a crossover with an Acoustic Linkwitz-Riley filter design.

ELAC Navis Series: What stands out not only in ELAC’s well-stocked suite but also in The Venetian is its all-new Navis powered speakers, the Navis ARB-51 standmount and Navis ARF-51 floorstander. A new midrange/tweeter design sees a 1in soft dome tweeter concentrically mounted in the middle of a 4in aluminium midrange driver, and also new is the 5.25in aluminium cone bass driver(s) that sits below it. Each speaker houses tri-amp amplification, with a 160-watt amp for the bass woofer, 100-watt amp for the midrange and a 40-watt Class AB amp for the tweeter.

GoldenEar Technology Triton One.R: GoldenEar Technology’s Triton One.Rs are the newest addition to the brand’s flagship Triton Series of tower speakers, and have been designed to make the distinct form factor and top-end technologies of the $8000+ Titan Reference (where the range culminates) more accessible with a smaller build and cheaper price. With more than a handful of drivers, and integrated 1600-watt powered subwoofers, they need to be seen and heard.

Audioengine A2+ Wireless: Audioengine has made wireless versions of its A2+ bookshelf speakers. The logically named A2+ Wireless are desktop-friendly powered speakers with aptX Bluetooth streaming, in addition to 3.5mm, RCA and USB inputs.

TEAC AX-505 Reference Series: TEAC is adding two new amplifiers to its Reference Series range this year – one of which is the AX-505 integrated amp, which TEAC has launched at CES this week.
The 70-watt-per-channel AX-505 – $1500 uses a Hypex Ncore power amplifier specifically tuned for TEAC, and is an analogue-only design with three pairs of analogue RCA inputs and one pair of balanced XLR sockets.

Kanto TUK: It should come as little surprise that a speaker whose name takes after a hamlet from which the Aurora Borealis can regularly be seen (Tuktoyaktuk) is one of the most attractive speakers we’ve seen at CES. With a sleek baffle and distinct AMT (Air Motion Transformer) tweeter, the minimalist active speakers from Canadian brand Kanto have everything a multimedia mogul could ever ask for: aptX HD Bluetooth, an integrated USB DAC, optical input, line-level RCA, and phono inputs for a turntable for a rather respectful $799.