SoundVision

How to combine smart technology and your home’s style

Home AV Lake Norman, NC

Outfitting your home with smart technology transforms any living space into the epitome of style and comfort.

Aesthetics and accessibility are critical to any home’s design; and incorporating smart technology into your design gives you full control of your favorite spaces. Equipping the most-used rooms in your home with technology provides endless comfort, while complementing your decor.

Seamless built-in panels, hidden television units and in-ceiling speakers are just a few ways you can customize your audio, video and lighting experience, without compromising your home’s style; because your style is key.

By implementing the right smart technology for your needs into your design, “you can have full control of the technology in your room, and around your house for that matter, from the convenience of your bed.” For instance, enclosing televisions in a unit that match your home’s décor, with in-wall speakers covered by your wallpaper, bulky and aesthetically unpleasant equipment are hidden discreetly.

The possibilities don’t just extend to your bedroom and living room, though. Imagine catching your favorite show while you’re in the shower, or listening to your favorite station while you’re making dinner. More often, homeowners are deciding to add technology in their bathrooms and kitchens, making constant accessibility within reach.

But the outside is just as important! Outdoor spaces benefit from smart lighting, video and audio technology just as the inside spaces do. Concealed surround sound speakers and personalized mood lighting provide comfort and style in any space. Let’s get started!

How To Have Music Outside

Origins Hiding it AllYour pool and patio is an extension of your home’s living space.  It can also be a seasonal seating addition for your restaurant.   More and more we’re taking to the outdoors, gathering around the fire pit, relaxing poolside or enjoying dinner at an outdoor bistro.  Whether you’re engaged in an intense Bean Bag Toss Tournament, sipping cocktails lakeside on Lake Norman, or just puttering in your garden, there’s one thing that could really add to your enjoyment: music.

Choices in Outdoor Speakers

Outdoor audio comes in all shapes and sizes!  Here are some things to consider:

  • • How would you like to use the system?  If you have an automated home control system, such as Control4 or Savant your outdoor entertaining space can be added as an audio zone, allowing you to select any of the available sources (streaming subscriptions, AV receiver, audio library or CD Player).  This integration also allows for signal interruption when the phone or doorbell rings – convenient when throwing a party!
  • • Where would you like to have the music play?  Your outdoor area may consist of one or multiple zones.  You may find that you enjoy the ability to play music in some areas while broadcasting the “big game” in others.  You may also enjoy having separate volume controls in each of those areas. Even if you elect not to do so right away, it is easier and more cost-effective to wire for these future upgrades now.
  • • Do you want to play the TV’s audio through the outdoor speakers?  The system can be set up so that you may select either a music source or audio from your outdoor LCD.
  • • How do you want to control it?  Of course, your smart phone makes a reliable, familiar control device.  You can also choose from simple remotes or waterproof styles, either independent to the system or integrated onto a whole house remote control.

What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor speakers?

Plenty! Outdoor speakers are designed to endure the elements and to complement their environment.  They are durable, featuring marine-grade finishes and water-tight enclosures.  Speakers intended for interiors can’t brave the brutal conditions of North Carolina’s sun, sand, snow, rain or even wind.  All-weather speakers also offer various installation locations. Speakers can be mounted under the eave or on a tree, placed as a planter on the patio, installed in your landscaping resembling a spotlight or rock (yes, they’ve come a long way! Check out the variety from Episode), or even buried underground as a subterranean subwoofer (that’ll get the ground shaking!).

System Design meets “Interior” Design

Outdoor speakers are sleek and aesthetically designed, but the most important part of designing an outdoor audio system is proper speaker placement.  Sound travels easily from yard to yard if no walls are there to obstruct it.  In fact, your pool or the lake can actually help to amplify it. So, while you may be listening at a comfortable level at your outdoor kitchen, your neighbors may be subject to a rock concert.  Speakers offer varying dispersion patterns that can be aimed and controlled within a specified area for smooth, consistent volume.  Here’s a great example from Martin Logan, Plan a Scalable System.  If you rely on having a pair mounted under the eave to cover a large area, the volume close to the source may be uncomfortable, while those at the edge of the patio can barely hear it.  This is where a few well-placed landscape speakers would serve well, allowing for background level audio to play evenly throughout your space.

outdoor-living-example-layout Martin Logan

At the core

Control of the system requires connectivity.  You’ll want to make sure your Wi-Fi is reliable and accessible. This may mean setting up a separate network (think about the conveniences of a guest network) or at least ensuring adequate antenna coverage for a strong signal from every corner of the space. 

Years of enjoyment

Your outdoor audio system will provide years of entertainment and enjoyment.  While it will endure everything Mother Nature has to throw at it, you can rest assured knowing that your high quality, professionally installed system will be supported by the manufacturer warranty and your integration specialist.

Additional Reading:

https://www.newhomesource.com/resourcecenter/articles/bring-it-outdoors-the-latest-in-sound-and-tv-for-your-deck-yard-or-patio

https://www.cepro.com/article/6_tips_for_tackling_outdoor_audio

https://www.electronichouse.com/home-theater/planning-your-outdoor-audio-and-video-system/

 

Outsmarting Cyber Crimes Against Smart Technologies

MOORESVILLE, N.C.—Adoption of new technologies is on the rise, and so are cybersecurity threats. Gartner reports that in five years our typical households could contain several hundred smart devices. While it’s important to be cognizant of cybersecurity issues, rest assured that home automation pros are staying ahead of the bad guys to keep you and your family safe. Let’s explore the potential vulnerabilities of smart devices and measures taken to make them secure.

We’ve all heard about baby monitors being hacked, but according to Fox News contributor and CyberGuy Kurt Knutsson, the leading causes for the hacks might surprise you. The simple, avoidable reasons include: parents not changing the default password, the home Wi-Fi network password being easily-guessed and security flaws with the monitoring device itself. Knutsson’s article goes on to share steps that parents can take to deter hackers, but there are dozens of other smart devices and appliances that may not immediately come to mind and are beyond the abilities of the average DIY homeowner to secure—such as cable boxes, video game consoles and even HVAC systems. Professional-level security measures should be taken to ensure that your network is secure and that the equipment is safe and up to standards.

At SoundVision, our clients’ security is critical. In addition to working in partnership with our manufacturers, we collaborate with fellow members across the country as a CEDIA (Consumer Electronics Design & Installation Association) Electronics Systems Contractor to ensure we stay current on threats, as well as trends, in technology. To keep your systems secure from hackers, here are some precautions we recommend.

Networks:

  • ● Have a certified automation/security pro set-up an encrypted network. Always change the SSID (network name) and use the most up-to-date encryption (WPA2 currently) with a custom, strong password.
  • ● Safeguard your guest network. Establish parameters such as controlling time-of-day access, MAC (Media Access Control) addresses of specific devices and restricting the number of devices allowed.
  • ● Use only Z-wave certified equipment.
  • ● Change all factory-set passwords.
  • ● While we do not recommend that you share passwords, we do suggest you record them in a secure place. We create a passcode document for our clients, should they forget or lose them.
  • ● Use temporary passwords for occasional access.
  • ● Set up a separate network for your automation system.
  • ● If you need to allow access to various devices from outside (typically called port forwarding) such as being able to control your security or automation system via an app, never use the same inbound and outbound port.
  • ● Set up “parent/child” relationships, allowing you to share a specific username and password with access to designated devices (like the music server so your friend can stream on your system) and at the times you specify to prevent people from having access to your system without your knowledge.
  • ● A VPN (Virtual Private Network), such as Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection, is another solution. This is a “private tunnel” to give you, or anyone you deem, access to your network from anywhere in the world.

Equipment:

  • ● Never leave the generic username and password on any network device. Devices include routers and access points, as well as camera DVRs (digital video recorders), NAS (network access server) drives and any other piece of gear that resides on the network.
  • ● Replace any outdated or incompatible components.
  • ● Buy only reputable brands, which are more likely to have a high level of security and regular updates. The National Security Alliance advises “Do your research: read reviews and learn about consumers’ experiences with the products from a security and privacy perspective.”
  • ● Keep all devices updated with the most current software, and download any patches to mitigate risk.
  • ● Turn off listening devices when not in use.

Mobile:

  • ● Install security software on mobile phones and tablets used to control IoT devices.
  • ● Restrict application access on your phone. Be aware of privacy settings and sharing capabilities on apps, such as calendars, email, location and photos.
  • ● We recommend passcode apps to keep passwords secure.

First and foremost, work with a known, trusted networked home/security provider. As a CEDIA Electronics Systems Contractor, SoundVision, LLC, along with the contributing integrators listed, has access to up-to-the-minute industry news and solutions. CEDIA leverages the expertise of global technology leaders and manufacturers to educate its membership on key topics such as cybersecurity and the connected home and have recently worked in collaboration with InfoComm International to present at ISE (Integrated Systems Europe) on the subject.

Be aware, be smart and count on trusted professionals when needed.

Contributors:

Juan Apraez, CEO, All Digital, Weston, FL

Mike Chorney, President, LaScala, Vancouver, British Columbia

Peter Cook, Owner/President, Automation Design + Entertainment, Kalamazoo, MI

Eric Crawford, The Loop Technologies, Boise, ID

Tom Stone, Principal, Stone-Glidden, King of Prussia, PA

SERVICE

Clients can expect a response to emails by noon the following business day. For more immediate support, please call (704) 696-2792 extension 2 for Service

Custom Membership

Send us your contact info and we will contact you to discuss our custom membership option.