Video: Working With Partners to Provide the Best Client Experience

When a client is looking for a custom job that fits all of his or her needs, it’s important that all the vendors working to make this happen are in harmony. Is this the experience you are having with the team making upgrades to your home?

 This brief video explains our philosophy at Elite Media Solutions, focusing on our working relationship with Bevilacqua Builders in Wellesley.

 

 

Apple Watch & Home Automation

apple-watch-selling-points

Controlling your home’s temperature, lights, and audio from your wrist? If it’s a technology that’s available, Elite Media will be the ones to find out and let you know what’s possible.

Because we wanted to be sure we had the potential answers to our customers’ questions, we set our own watches for an early alarm on Friday, April 3rd. How early? 3:00 a.m., the moment that pre-sales for the Apple Watch began.

With bleary eyes, we placed an order for two watches to ensure that we’d have them delivered on Friday, April 24th, the first day that the watches would be available to the public. Having the latest technology options — and understanding how they can best be used by our customers — is the type of extra step we like to take for customer service.

And yes, if you ask nicely, we’ll be happy to show off the bells and whistles of our new acquisitions. We’ll even give you the time if needed.

Save Energy with an Automated Energy Management System

Savant Systems

Photo Credit: Savant Systems

Let’s face it – caring for your home is already a lot of work, but a complete automated home energy management system – like a system from Savant Systems – can take much of that concern away.

Home automation and automated home energy management comes with many benefits and energy savings might just be the most beneficial. Tools such as these provide users with complete control of their homes through an easy-to-use smartphone app. Forgot to shut off the lights? Not a problem! Want to turn the heat up a few notches while on your way home? Go for it!

Savant Systems

Photo Credit: Savant Systems

Home automation may sound expensive at first, but the savings really do add up. According to Energy Star, a programmable/automated thermostat can save approximately $180 annually. Your thermostat is only part of it, though. Appliances can be programmed to run during non-peak hours. Lights can be set to turn off when no one is in the room. Sprinklers can be set to run at night. All of this in an effort to control costs and save precious natural resources by operating on an efficient schedule. Homeowners may also find savings through their homeowner’s insurance for installing such systems. It’s recommended to check with your insurer to see what discounts are available.

In addition to the energy savings, home automation provides peace-of-mind. Your home can be controlled via a convenient smartphone app, meaning you can control the locks, lights, garage door, everything from wherever you are. Many home automation systems include security cameras that can also be viewed and controlled from your smartphone. Many of these tools are key in deterring thieves by making it appear someone is home.

Whatever your motivation is for installing home automation tools in your home, we can help develop the right systems or you.

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.

 

Complete Your Home Theater Experience with the Proper Seating

After installing a home theater, the perfect addition to complete the theater experience is home theater seating. After all, you should enjoy your entertainment in utmost comfort. Installing comfortable, functional seating has its benefits and is easier than you might think.

Photo Credit: Fortress Seating

Photo Credit: Fortress Seating

Theater seating is fully customizable to fit your needs. If you’re working with a small space, seating can be built to your space’s specifications with zero-clearance and yet still fully recline – even when placed directly against a wall. Seating can be built with manual or motorized reclining functions and can also include a leg rest if desired.

Think of the seats at a deluxe cinema. Now think of those seats in your home and you have the ultimate theater experience. Theater seating is built to help you withstand long periods of binge watching your favorite movies. To discover more about home theater seating, visit our showroom at 9 Forest Street in Wellesley Hills and spend a few minutes in our home theater.

Trend: Outdoor Living

More and more homeowners are taking advantage of their outdoor space by bringing traditionally indoor activities — cooking, entertaining, even family movie night — to their backyards. Yes, even in New England’s climate, these “rooms without walls” are a growing trend in home redesign, and a great way to add tremendous value to your property as well.

No longer do you need to stop at a deck and gas grill; if you want to do it outside, there’s probably and option for you. It’s like going on vacation except it’s only steps away.

outdoor kitchen

If the kitchen is the heart of your home, it can also be the heart of your yard as well, and the sky is the limit in terms of how simple or complex you want to make it. Because of the explosion in demand for these types of appliances, manufacturers now offer an outdoor version of nearly any item you’d find in an indoor kitchen. Love pizza? Get a brick oven. Host large family gatherings? Get a 12 burner stove top with grill top, warming rack, and even a deep fryer.

Let your inner Emeril out and consider adding to your home’s charm and entertaining options with more than just an expanded outdoor cooking space; add a sink, dishwasher, granite counters, and more.

Backyard-spa-web

Want to bring family movie night outdoors? Just add a high-def TV, but be sure and use one specifically suited for outdoor conditions and is triple-sealed for weather protection. Make sure any mount you use is also meant for outdoor use and won’t rust or fall apart. These mounts are also designed to handle the added weight of outdoor sets as well. You may also want to consider a rotating mount as well to provide multiple viewing angle options as well as perform better in windy conditions.

Now it’s time to consider location. While outdoor televisions do deliver a brighter image than their indoor counterparts, you may want to consider a spot that is fully or partially shaded for a better viewing experience. Finally, think about the type of content you’ll likely be watching. Will you be tapping into your cable or satellite service to watch the game live or more likely streaming online content to binge watch shows or your favorite movies? This will be an important consideration to make as part of the installation process.

outdoor fire pit 2

But is an “outdoor room” investment worth your while in a climate like New England’s where you can only count on Mother Nature for warm weather four to five months a year? This is where the hottest trend in outdoor living — pun intended — comes into play: fire pits and outdoor fireplaces. Nothing will increase the amount of time families spend outside than adding one of  these options to the yard, perfect for those cooler evenings in the spring or fall. Better Homes & Gardens magazine just released a report saying nearly half of all millennials now have an open fire feature in their outdoor space.

Create the outside oasis that’s perfect for you and join the outdoor room trend this summer.

Changing Providers? Take These Steps Before the Service Call

According to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index survey, the least popular industries in the U.S. last year were internet service providers and subscription television services. Customers get fed up and decide to switch providers, figuring another option has got to be better than their current service.

Photo Credit: fios.verizon.com

Photo Credit: fios.verizon.com

If you’re planning to switch providers, be sure and contact Elite Media first. One of the most common calls we get from our clients is that their universal remote isn’t working any longer or the home network is acting funny. And far too often the reason is the homeowner has changed providers and needs us to re-program their remote or system.

How can you avoid this happening to you?

Call us before you schedule your service call. We can plan to have one of our technicians on hand as soon as your new service is up and running so you’re never sitting at home with a remote that isn’t working and unable to access your favorite programs.

Don’t be reactive. Be proactive!

Elite Media Receives ProSource MVP Award

Elite Media Solutions was honored to receive the ProSource MVP 2014 Award at the company’s annual ProSource Summit in March in Orlando, Florida. ProSource is the largest specialty and consumer electronics purchasing group in the United States.

Elite Media ProSource MVP Award

Brian Gibson, our Founder and President, received the MVP Award, which is presented to an individual that exhibits loyalty and commitment to the group as a true advocate for the company. As stated by ProSource in handing out the honor, “[Brian Gibson] is consistent in his support of the initiatives, vendors, programs, and actively promotes the group to other dealers and vendors in the industry (without asking). Gibson is also a resource for other group members in his area; they call him for advice and direction.”

This recognition by his peers for his hard work and dedication is also recognized by his customers in his approach to servicing the particular needs of each job.

All I Have to Do is Stream – Streaming Music Basics

What is streaming music? 

sonos rack

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 viagrapill.com 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 Buy generic viagra online over the counter without any problems with use. 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.