Tip: Improved Outdoor Audio for Your Home

When you spend time outside by your pool or on your deck, what audio options are you using? Speakers hanging on the back of the house? A sound dock or bluetooth speaker for your phone or iPod? A bit limiting, right? Either you’re too far away and can’t really hear all that well or you’re stuck sitting next to the music and the sound is too loud to have a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Plus your neighbor may not share the same tastes in music. Or decibel level.

The good news is there is a better solution for providing high-fidelity audio that doesn’t require excessive volume and that blends into the landscaping of your backyard.

image courtesy of Sonance

image courtesy of Sonance

The above diagram shows an example of the speaker layout in a backyard with pool. Instead of one or two sound sources, the outdoor array of speakers easily covers all areas where you and your guests would be spending time outdoors. The sound is directed towards your property and can be kept at a pleasant volume thanks to the number of speakers.

One complaint about outdoor speakers is their lack of bass, but the new trend solves that issue by ingeniously burying the sub-woofers underground to provide tremendous bass coverage. All the speakers are run off a single audio output and relayed together without disturbing the beauty of your landscaping. Below is an example of just how little of a visual impact the speakers have.

courtesy of Sonance

courtesy of Sonance

These speaker systems can be installed using a single cable from the audio source. It is always best to use direct burial wire for an outdoor system as this type is made to deal with the range of temperatures and moisture conditions present in soil. We recommend and use 14-gauge wire for direct burial as this will provide the best quality and performance over the lifetime of the sound system.

Keep in mind when installing direct burial wire that you should dig down at least six inches when creating the channel for the wire. You’ll likely be aerating your lawn annually and you want to make sure your wire doesn’t get harmed during this process.

Rock your yard this summer with a new outdoor sound system.

 

Is a Soundbar in Your Future?

Soundbars are a popular item right now.  When I’m traveling to product shows and conventions, every company seems to be making and displaying their soundbars.   Next time I go through a drive through to get my salad and yogurt (yeah, right), I will not be terribly surprised if someone asks me through the scratchy speaker “Want a soundbar with that?”

DO I?   Do I want a sound bar?  More importantly, do you want a so soundbar or would you like to know more about them? 

Let’s explore the wide world of soundbars, and whether a soundbar is something you should consider for your home.

What is a soundbar?

Sonos playbar and subwoofer

Sonos playbar and subwoofer.

A soundbar is a speaker system enclosed in a rectangular-ish box designed to work with your television.  Today’s TVs are so thin there is not much room for speakers inside. The sound quality tends to be uninspiring.  If you cut open a sound bar – which would be silly – you would see lots of stuff packed into the chassis including speakers, digital amplifiers, crossovers and other signal processing wizardry…and some tiny little people who live inside soundbars.  You may not see the wee soundbar people, but trust me they are in there.  Late at night, they speak to me  – but let’s keep that between us for now please.

Soundbars have a wide variety of designs and performance levels.   For instance, the number of audio channels may range from two channels (left and right) to many more.   Three channels are common (left, center, and right), but much of the simulated surround sound relates to the digital signal processing (DSP) capabilities of the soundbar.  Even if more channels are part of a particular soundbar’s specs, all of the sound is still generated from the single soundbar unit, although most soundbars are designed to provide the best results when used in conjunction with a separate subwoofer.

Another important differentiator is whether the sound bar is active or passive.  This does not mean an active subwoofer needs to be walked like a new puppy.  When a speaker is active it means that it provides its own power (amplification), whereas a passive speaker requires external amplification.   Whether you should consider an active or passive soundbar really depends on the application, and what you expect from your soundbar.

Should I use a soundbar?

The most important thing to consider before answering this question is the location of your TV and the design of your system.   For example, imagine you want better sound for your master bedroom TV.   In this instance, you could consider a powered soundbar from a quality company such as Bose or Sonos, and I certainly suggest using the subwoofer designed for those products.  As a side note, don’t just think explosions and crashes when you think of a subwoofer.   There is a lot going on in the low frequencies of programming and music, and your soundbar will sound much better when paired with a subwoofer.  So yes, for smaller to average-sized rooms a soundbar can be a good idea.  In this example, the soundbar would most likely be active, as would the sub.

Another way we frequently deploy sound bars is by specifying a “LCR” bar as part of a larger system.  LCR refers to left, center, and right audio channels, not political leanings.  In this type of system, imagine a TV over a fireplace in a multi-purpose family room.  We would mount a soundbar directly under the TV, and use rear surround speakers along with a subwoofer to create a true surround sound system.  This style soundbar is passive, and would rely on a separate amplifier and signal processing, either from an integrated Audio-Visual Receiver (AVR) or separate components.   In this type of design, there is usually a compromise because of design and space considerations and the LCR bar fits the bill nicely.  We can even order a custom soundbar so it is the exact length of your TV in order to get the best appearance.

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Samsung TV and custom sound bar from Leon recently installed at a client’s Wellesley, MA home by Elite Media Solutions.

This photo shows one of our recent installations in Wellesley with a Samsung display and a low-profile custom soundbar from Leon.  Note how the soundbar almost appears as part of the TV to keep a sleek appearance.   Not shown are the ceiling mounted surround speakers and a subwoofer.  This sound bar provides the left, center, and right audio channels.

Connectivity Considerations

When using a soundbar (with or without a subwoofer) with a TV in a stand-alone system, your source devices (like a blue-ray player or Apple TV) will connect to your TV through an HDMI cable, and then the digital audio return from the TV connects to the soundbar, normally with a digital optical cable.  The bad news is that most TVs down convert the incoming surround sound signal back to stereo.   This is where the soundbar’s signal processing circuitry comes back into the mix; to take the stereo signal and simulate a surround-sound effect.   Some manufacturers are better at this than others.  There are some sound bars that also have HDMI inputs, and will decode Dolby and DTS audio formats properly.

 Installations

A soundbar can get mounted on the wall, usually below the TV.  Although this isn’t really difficult, nobody wants to see the wires, so it is best to have a professional handle the install.  Another option is to place the soundbar on a cabinet.  Some soundbars have side-firing speakers, so avoid placing those soundbars inside cabinet for best performance.

What to Remember

Soundbars certainly have a place in today’s homes, whether as part of your main system or in a secondary location such as a bedroom, playroom, or vacation home.   A big consideration is where the TV and soundbar will be located, and your performance expectations.   A compact soundbar is not going to give you the same immersive experience as larger separate speakers, whether those speakers are built-in or floor-standing.  Make sure you get advice from a home electronics expert because you may feel overwhelmed by all of the soundbar options on the market!   Click here for a short video from Bose about their Lifestyle 135 soundbar and subwoofer combo.  This is one of my favorite soundbars with great sound processing, something that Bose does extremely well.   Give us a call at (781) 237-2929 to schedule a demo for yourself in our Wellesley, MA showroom. 

Elite Media Solutions provides quality audio, video, home theater, lighting control, motorized shades, home automation, and more to clients in the Boston, Brookline, Newton, Wellesley, Dover, Sherborn, Medfield, Weston, Wayland, Westwood, Walpole, Norfolk and surrounding areas.   Bose dealer, Sonos dealer in the Boston area.

Things to Do In Denver…At The CEDIA EXPO 2013!

The 84" Planar 4k Ultra-Res Display can display 4 separate source images!

The 84″ Planar 4k Ultra-Res Display can display 4 separate source images!

Things were definitely not dead in Denver last month during the CEDIA Expo.  CEDIA is the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association, and the Expo is the leading trade show for the custom residential electronics field.  The show was held in Denver from September 25-28, 2013.  I attended the Expo along with Elite Media Solutions owner Brian Gibson and Sean Farrell, one of our service and installation technicians.

According to CEDIA, there were more than 470 exhibitors and 17,900 attendees representing 84 countries. Although not as large as the Consumer Electronics Show, it’s specifically geared towards custom home electronics dealers and showcases products from audio, video, computer networking, lighting, automated window treatments, A/V specific furniture such as seating and cabinets, and home automation and control manufacturers. It’s a good opportunity for dealers to interact with manufacturers and their representatives, attend training classes, and keep up with the latest product offerings.

On our first day in Colorado prior to the start of the Expo, we enjoyed a little sightseeing outside the city, and visited the Red Rocks Concert Pavilion and some friends in Evergreen, CO.   While in Evergreen, we even saw a large bear run across the road!    We went to a Colorado Rockies vs. Red Sox baseball game, which our Red Sox won.   It was funny how a Rockies fan was telling me how cool their ballpark was because they have an old-style scoreboard with people inside that move the numbers manually.   Wow!   I wonder where they go that idea?   Partied a little with the nice folks from Sonos, and heard some good music. Oh, and we ate too much.

So what were the trends and products at the CEDIA Expo that caught my eye?

  • Savant Systems announced several new controllers, including a new system bundle that will make their technology available at a competitive price point, sort of a Savant starter package that still offers a lot of bang for the buck.  Savant, located in Hyannis, MA, also introduced a number of additions to their smart lighting control products.    To see more about Savant’s lighting control options, click here for a short video from Savant, filmed at the CEDIA Expo.
  • Stewart Filmscreens – One of the coolest demos I saw was at the Stewart Filmscreen booth, specifically showcasing the Director’s Choice 100 screen system.   This screen is a true “shape-shifter” and allows an amazing amount of flexibility with the well-designed masking options, and up to a 14 foot wide image!   Lately there has been news about IMAX home theaters at prices in the 2 million dollar minimum range.  For that price, you end up with many limitations ranging from content availability to requiring a massive amount of space – not to mention the cash.  At $50k, this Stewart Director’s Choice Screen is a bargain for those desiring a spectacular theater with unmatched flexibility.    Even after adding other top-notch components,  a homeowner will spend a fraction of what an IMAX home theater will cost, and have many more ways to enjoy the investment.      Click here to see a short video of a demo on the Director’s Choice Screen.
  • Sonance Loudspeakers – Sonance has been our “go to” company for in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, and their line of outdoor speakers including the Sonnarray and the Landscape Series are nothing short of amazing.    The Sonance booth was rocking and showing off their new and improved in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, along with their re-designed invisible series that are installed completely in a wall, and then plastered over.    The first time I heard these speakers, I was prepared to be unimpressed, but I was wrong.   The performance and engineering of Sonance products is impressive, and we’ll be upgrading some of our showroom speakers to the newer Sonance models in the near future.   Interested in learning a little more about the invisible series speakers?  Just click here for a video from the Expo showcasing these hi-tech and hi-performing speakers from Sonance.
  • Yamaha Corporation introduced the CX-A5000 and the MX-A5000, separate pre-amplifier and amplifier, respectively.   I checked out both of these units and listened to them as well.   The build-quality seemed great and they sounded fantastic.  This would be a great step-up for a system from an all-in-one audio visual receiver.   Separates have many benefits, as explained in this short video from the Yamaha booth at CEDIA!   I’m going to try to be extra good for the rest of this year so Santa will bring me this set-up.
  • KEF Loudspeakers – Regular readers of the Elite Media Solutions website and blog know we are fans of KEF Loudspeakers.   KEF had a great booth, and probably the most comfortable floor, which is always a welcome after being on your feet for many days in a row.   KEF was demonstrating a number of their products, including their amazing M500 headphones.   After listening to these headphones, we immediately bought a case of them for the store!   KEF was also playing their new in-wall series of speakers boasting aluminum fronts, THX Certification, and the well-regarded Uni-Q driver.   KEF’s line of CI (custom installation) speakers was also impressive, and we’ve enjoyed the sound and build-quality of the KEF products for years and they continue to impress.   Here is a video courtesy of Rave Publications featuring Johann form KEF doing a walk through of some of the highlights at the KEF booth.  
  • Planar showed a brand-new 84″ Ultra-Res (4k ultra-high definition display) that looked fantastic, and allows the proud owner to show up to four different images at once!    Some of the models offer touch screen capability, and 3D content is handled without a problem.   This was probably the coolest display at CEDIA in my opinion  Planar has been around since 1983, and although not quite a household name, they make great products.  Come on in to Elite Media Solutions in Wellesley, MA to see this amazing display.  We ordered two at the show, and they should be arriving soon.   To schedule a demo, just call Steve at (781) 237-2929, but for now you can check out this video on the Planar Ultra-Res thanks to Rave Publications shot at CEDIA.

I could go on about the CEDIA 2013 Expo, as their was a lot of great stuff to see.  I didn’t even get to the cool shading and draperies displayed by QMotion and MechoShade, and some of the new video projectors, so I will lover those in future posts.   Other interesting products I saw were from JVC, Sony (new 4k displays), and some nice new cabinets and seating from our friends at Salamander Designs.    Bose and Sonos booths were also busy with activity.

So, thank you Denver and CEDIA for a good show.   See you in 2014!

If you would like information on any of the products covered in this post, or any thing else, please just get in touch with Elite Media Solutions of Wellesley, MA.   We provide custom video, music, home networks and wi-fi, automated shades and drapes, lighting control, and home automation and control throughout Massachusetts, including the Needham, Dover, Sherborn, Weston, Wayland, Natick, Newton, Bedford, Brookline, Boston, Norfolk, Medfield, Walpole, Canton, Westwood, Hingham, Cape Cod, Stow, Concord, Lincoln, and Acton areas.

 

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The Seura booth at the CEDIA Expo 2013, makers of high-end displays for indoors and out

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The Denver Convention Center – CEDIA Expo 2013 – our only cloudy day

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Revel Performa Series speakers at the CEDIA Expo! You can hear these at our store in Wellesley, MA.

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Keeping it Reel: Sound City Film Review

sound-city-f3a03baa9c650c6338a8fa8b51331094Sound City is a 2013 documentary produced and directed by Dave Grohl of Nirvana and later The Foo Fighters.   It’s his first film, and tells the story of Sound City, a recording studio in LA that operated from 1969 to 2011.  The film is about much more than the history of the recording studio however.   As a musician and a fan of a number of the musicians and bands featured in the movie, I absolutely loved it.  Anyone that cares about how music is created and then captured, and how it is important to keep the human element at the forefront of creativity should be moved by this film.  For those of you not sure why you should trust my opinion, it was well-received by real movie critics!

The history of the recording studio is astounding, even more so if you’re a music fan.  A long list of  iconic albums were recorded there over several decades.  Located in an alley in Van Nuys, CA, the studio was dumpy and some artists stayed away because of it.  The first tracks recorded on site were by Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.   A short time later, they met Mick Fleetwood at the studio who searching for a replacement guitar player, and formed a little band called Fleetwood Mac.  The list of artists that created great music at Sound City is a ‘Who’s Who” of rock and roll, including Tom Petty, Grateful Dead, Foreigner, Elton John, Neil Young, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Rick Springfield, Santana, Pat Benatar, and Johnny Cash.

What was the secret sauce of Sound City?

The movie focuses on the analog recording console at Sound City, designed by Rupert Neve from England. The Neve 8028 Console was an enormous investment, but proved well-worth it.  Rupert Neve’s design and use of specific electronic components made for a killer recording console that was a large part of the magic.  Rupert Neve is the man.  The board was considered to be especially adept at recording amazing drum sounds, something not easy to accomplish and even more difficult in 1970.   Rupert’s company is still in business, now in Texas, and he continues to make some of the finest analog recording equipment in the world.  Although his name is unknown to most, Rupert is pure genius and considered to be one of the most important people in the history of audio.  The Neve website is interesting, and I love the quote on the main page.  Click here to visit the Neve website.

Besides the recording console, the film features entertaining snippets from the staff at Sound City and interesting information about the acoustical properties of the recording studio, but this is good stuff and not technical at all for those thinking the movie is only for music and sound geeks. Interestingly, the properties of the main studio should not have have resulted in a great room for recording, but it just was and nobody really knew why.   The preferred method to record at Sound City was to put talented people together in a large room, and then capture the magic on analog tape.  Of course, many variables come together to make great records, including talented musicians, producers, and expert sound engineers.   Interestingly, there was no shortage of these things at other studios, so something really must have been special about Sound City.

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KEF Loudspeakers – Product Spotlight

Product Spotlight – KEF Loudspeakers

KEF Muon pair

The KEF Muon Loudspeakers

KEF’s tagline is “innovators in sound.”  Although certainly known for their advanced engineering and design, KEF has a rich history in the loudspeaker industry dating back to 1961.

Founded by former BBC electrical engineer Raymond Cooke (1925-1995), KEF was initially located upon the premises of the Kent Engineering & Foundry (KEF), located on the banks of the River Medway in Kent, England.

Throughout the years, KEF has earned a solid reputation for their high-performing loudspeakers and advancing technology in loudspeaker design.  The list of KEF’s technological innovations is long and significant, and KEF was the first company to use computers in loudspeaker testing and design.   Dating back to the 1970s, KEF’s Reference Series Model 105 featured three drive units, the top two being mounted in separate housings above the main enclosure.  These speakers, like many of KEF’s products, received excellent reviews for their natural sound quality and stereo imaging.  Today, their Reference Series speakers, updated and refined, continue to offer an exceptional listening experience.

Another major technology milestone developed by KEF is the Uni-Q driver.  Not be confused with a Unicorn, the Uni-Q driver incorporated a neodymium/iron/boron magnetic material developed by NASA that had ten times the power of standard speaker magnets.  As explained on the KEF website, “this advancement was a giant step for mankind as KEF engineers could make a tweeter small enough to be mounted at the acoustic heart of the bass unit coil, providing for the first time a single point source of sound.”  This design allowed the optimum listening area in any room to be significantly expanded.

If you are interested in speaker design or reading more about KEF, they have an informative website at www.kef.com which includes many images of their past designs.

Today, innovation at KEF remains strong as evidenced by their top two offerings for audiophiles – especially audiophiles with some spare cash.  The Muon is made from aluminum, and frankly, it has a curvy shape that makes we want to take one, or perhaps the pair,  out on a date.  The Muon was built to be the best you can get, and only 100 pairs were produced, with a price tag of $140,000.00.   They are about 6.5 feet tall and combine the ultimate in design and performance.   Please ship mine to my house, thank you very much.

Speakers

The KEF Blades, shown in white

KEF also produces the Blade, which consistently gets rave reviews and is marketed as the world’s first single apparent source loudspeaker.  The Blade was made to commemorate KEF’s 50th anniversary, and creates stunning stereo imaging and natural sound reproduction.  Although not inexpensive, many experts feel that performance of these speakers more than justifies the price tag of $30,000.00.   Click here to learn more about the Blade, and see a nifty video on the KEF website!   The Blades are available in traditional finishes, and custom colors are available.

Next in the current KEF line-up is the Reference series, one of my personal favorites.   The R Series sound fantastic, and are quite versatile, performing admirably in a home theater setting.  In my media room, I use R500s for the mains, an R200 for the center channel, and R100s for my surround speakers.  Following the R Series are the Q and C lines, which include floor standing models,  bookshelf and/or stand mounted speakers, and a center channel for home theater applications.   The Qs, are moderately priced, yet offer a rich sound.

KEF also produces quality home theater systems, including the T series which is a low profile design with high-profile performance.

If you would like to hear KEF speakers for yourself, please contact me directly at smcdonough@elitemediasolutions.com to schedule an appointment at our Wellesley, MA showroom.   We have a variety of KEF speakers in stock, including a beautiful pair of Reference Series floor standing speakers and a variety of speakers from the R series.

KEF dealer in Massachusetts, stereo speakers, audiophile speakers, hi-fi, serving Wellesley, Weston, Wayland, Newton. Brookline, Medfield, Boston, Concord, Lexington, Bedford, Lincoln, Sudbury, Carlisle, and the Metrowest MA areas.  Stereo, hi-fi, 2 channel audio dealer in Wellesley, MA.

All I Have to Do is Stream – Streaming Music Basics

What is streaming music? 

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18 music zones installed as part of a recent project featuring Sonos devices.

All the cool people are streaming these days.  When you stream music, you don’t download a file to your computer or other device so you can access it again later, but the media content is delivered to you by a provider, or from your own music library.   For this post, I’ll focus on streaming music from a service, such as Pandora or Wolfgang’s Vault.

Instead of purchasing a single song or album, content is delivered through music services.   Some are free while others are subscription-based.  While many services provide free content, a paid subscription adds features and sometimes higher quality formats, and you won’t have to interrupt your music with advertising.

Streaming music is just one aspect of the digital music universe. Some people love digital music formats such as streaming and downloads.  Others predict the end of civilization as we know it.  Like most things, there are pros and cons to streaming music.

Bandwidth On The Run

Generally speaking almost all streaming music files from services such as Pandora, Spotify, and internet radio suffer in quality due to the format itself.  It is all about bandwidth, so just remember there’s a trade-off in music quality for convenience.  When I want to listen to music, as opposed to having music playing in the background, I much prefer CDs, including SACDs, played from on a quality disc player.

Will streaming music quality continue to improve with time?  Sure – and improvements are already happening, with some services offering better quality streams (more bits of data means less missing music).  It is important not to confuse bits of data with Kibbles & Bits, or naughty bits for you Monty Python fans out there.  So, a bit is simply the packets of data (bits) that are processed over a specific amount of time. In audio, this is usually kilobits per second (kbps).

MOG for instance, offers 320 kbps. iTunes allows people to “upgrade” to 256 kpbs AAC.  A standard CD is 1,411 kbps.  Thus, there is a significant difference in the format quality.    Almost everyday, a potential client will tell me “Well, I’m not an audiophile…”  This statement is usually made to justify purchasing one thing over another.  That’s fine, but you definitely DO NOT need to be an audiophile to appreciate the difference between something that sounds good and something else that is much better.

Why Should You Care A Bit About Bits?

Not having enough bits means missing music, and that bites. Remember when you thought the $12.00 bottle of wine tasted good, and then you tried the $25.00 bottle, and it was sooo much better?   At first, you were probably fine with the less expensive wine. Although it lacked complexity, it was OK.

Streaming music for the masses is not unlike like an inexpensive bottle of wine.  The music is missing parts, so we don’t experience all of the sounds as intended by the performers and the recording engineers.

In terms of how the music actually sounds to our ears, the equipment you are listening to is obviously another big link in the chain.  So, when people say “well, I’m not an audiophile or anything…”   it is a lot like assuming you cannot tell the difference between a good bottle of wine and a mediocre one, or a good cup of coffee versus a lousy, bitter cup of mud.

True, if you are listening on inexpensive headphones or speakers you may not notice the difference in compression.  If you are using decent equipment  – even just moderately priced components and speakers – then  music with low bitrate streams can sound somewhat lifeless, but still OK.

For instance, when we install distributed home audio systems, using a quality amplifier and a digital to analog converter will improve the listening experience quite a bit. (Ha!   “a bit” – get it?)

The Good News

So now that you understand a little about compression due to lower amounts of data being sent (in downloaded music, a file is compressed so not to take up as much storage space on your hard drive) and how your source material can impact your listening experience, let’s consider the many positives of streaming your music!

  • Convenience – as long as you have access to the internet you can access music through one or more of the many services out there.  Thank you Mr. Gore.
  • You can easily find a variety of music, and set up your own playlists or “stations” based upon your input through your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • You don’t need to take up a lot of space with a large CD collection (hey, that’s me!)
  • Variety – You might hear an artist that you were unfamiliar with that you really enjoy.  If you  like it, then you might want to get the CD so you can hear what the artist really wanted it to sound like?!
  • No waxy build-up or added preservatives!
  • From a music industry and performer stand-point, more musicians may be able to get exposure, and lower expenses make independent music releases less burdensome.

In a future blog post, I’ll look at some of the different streaming services in more detail.

Streaming music (and video for that matter) is here to stay. My advice is to make use of it when convenience outweighs the potential negatives, but try to make time to enjoy your music in higher quality formats, such as CD, SACD, or high quality downloads, which could be an entire article to itself!

If you want to learn more about enjoying music in your home, including systems such as Sonos, Nuvo, Autonomic Mirage System, Kaleidescape and others, and you live in the greater Boston area, including Wellesley, Weston, Wayland, Dover, Sherborn, Needham, Natick, Brookline, Boston, Norfolk, Medfield, and Newton areas, please call Elite Media Solutions at (781) 237-2929.    Later in 2013, many manufacturers will be rolling out new products with enhanced music streaming capabilities.

By Steve McDonough of Elite Media Solutions.  Elite Media Solutions provides music, video, home theater, automated shades and control systems to clients in and around Boston.  Please visit us online at EliteMediaSolutions.com, or visit our showroom in Wellesley, MA. 

 

 

Sonos Music System – Part One

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The Sonos line. Frequently we use a zone player (pictured on left) in conjunction with in-ceiling or in-wall speakers.

The Sonos music system is a versatile way to enjoy music, and it is probably the product that people ask about the most right now.  Sonos definitely had a jump on other manufacturers in this growing segment  so it will be interesting to see what other products will be rolling out to compete.   I’ll add some additional posts on Sonos, but here is Part One, based upon a typical conversation with a potential client:

Client:  Do you sell that Sonos music stuff?

Me: Why yes, all the time.  Elite Media Solutions was recently designated as a Sonos Gold Dealer, and we have a nifty plaque from Sonos back at the showroom.  Would you like to see it, or have your picture taken with me and the award?

Client: Oh, wow! That would make me very happy.

Me: (Thinking – well, of course it would). So, what have you heard about Sonos?

Client: Well, it’s completely wireless, right?  So you could install some wireless speakers in my ceiling? That’s awesome!  I also want music in lots of different rooms. 

Me: It isn’t quite that simple.  For one thing, we have to be able to wire to your speakers.  So, in your living room we need to add speakers like we did in your kitchen and family room a few years back. Also, if you wanted to add some external Sonos players, such as the Play 5 or Play 3, they need electricity and then there is another piece that connects into your router.  There are different components we use depending what you want to be able to do. How is your wireless network here at the house?

Client:  Well, it is a little spotty actually (Note client quickly moves on to another topic…) Also, I would like to be able to listen to music outside. Can I do that with Sonos?

Me:  Absolutely that is something we could plan for you; but if your network is not solid or there are interference issues then you may not be able to enjoy your Sonos music system very well, but we can help with that.  

Client: Oh.  I’m sad now.   You made me feel sad Steve.  They didn’t mention any of this at (fill in the blank with a large retail chain store).

Me: Sometimes those stores just want to get a sale and move on to the next person.  I love Sonos, I use it as home, especially when entertaining, and we can help you get your network squared away if there are any issues, which is going to be well worth it for you and your family.  Depending on the level of performance that you want, there are also ways we can install Sonos to really improve the sound quality of your music system and make up for some of the compression in streaming music.

Client:  The only time my kids talk to me is when they can’t connect their iPhones or laptops to the network as a matter of fact!    I think you are right.  I do have depression.

Me: Not depression, compression. It has to do with digital music formatting. It can get a little involved, so we can chat more about that later if you like.  We can show you and your family how to easily use Sonos.  You can expose your kids to some different types of music and various artists.  Almost all the world’s music will be available to you by pressing a couple of buttons. Then when your kids hear a song on Glee later that you already played the original version of, your kids will think you are super-cool.   You can control the system easily from your computer, smartphone, or tablet. (Except for Nooks, Sonos does not support the Nook device as it is a different version of the Android Operating System).

Client: (Laughing at my witty humor no doubt) You are so funny Steve…and smart…and good looking.  Do you work out?

Me: Thanks. I haven’t exercised on purpose since the 90s and exist mainly on pizza, chicken wings, and adult beverages. I think the glare from that big window is impacting your vision. Did you know we also sell and install automated shades?   Do you have any pizza?

Client:  Oh. That’s nice Steve.  Would you like some yogurt or hummus? Or some Kale?  I can make you a delicious Kale smoothie.

Me:  Umm, no thanks.  Is it actually possible to use “kale” and “delicious” in the same sentence?   Anyway, let’s talk more about your system upgrades and the new addition to the house.

Client: I would like to learn more about the shades, and I’m excited about really enjoying music at home again. Sounds like it will be fun and that we will all enjoy it!  Here is a blank check for my Sonos music system, and an improved reliable network to make sure everything works as designed. (Client jumping up and down with unbridled excitement and anticipation).

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In Part Two, you’ll learn more about the Sonos music system and some typical deployments, as well as some tips for getting the most out of your Sonos or other streaming music system.

To experience the Sonos music system for yourself, please call Elite Media Solutions of Wellesley, Massachusetts at (781) 237-2929.  

Sonos music system dealer and installation pros in the Wellesley, Weston, Newton, Brookline, Boston, Cambridge, Wayland, Sudbury, Concord, Carlisle, Bedford, Medfield, Norfolk, and Lexington areas.