SoundVision

Throwing the Man Cave a “Curve”!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]woman-cave-she-shed-ideas-37_sebring-servicesIn this hurried, hyper-connected world, where can the woman-of-the-house go to disappear? How can she disconnect without being disconnected? It may seem ironic, but some technology, in a well thought out space, can actually help. It’s all about making things simpler and under control.

Enter the She Shed, your own little corner of the world, a space all to yourself (and maybe a dozen of your closest girlfriends). Men aren’t the only ones to enjoy their personal “cave”. Feeling a need to escape the chaos, disconnect from a disruptive, digital world and enter a space that soothes the soul, the woman cave continues to grow in popularity. Despite all the talk of disconnecting, many technologies actually add convenience, comfort and fun to the “for girls only” space.  Here are some things to keep in mind as you ponder your personal oasis.

Select your spot

This is where the fun begins. Lady caves are as varied as the women who occupy them. A spare bedroom with sunny windows and all the built-in comforts of home may serve as a relaxing retreat, while an outdoor she-shed (literally, a converted utility shed) may suit the crafter or artist quite well.  A poolside cabana or lakeside cottage could become the perfect hideaway for the creative. Even a generously-sized dressing area or walk-in closet can be transformed into a cozy reading nook.  With a little creativity, a patio or porch could be enclosed for some tranquil me-time on the yoga mat or the attic could become the perfect hideaway for the creative writer. And, of course, the basement can make the ultimate gal-pal hangout complete with wine frig.

Own it

So, what’s the plan? Your space may require some updates or renovations to make it comfortable and offer the amenities you wish. Disconnecting from everyday chaos, however, doesn’t necessarily mean a space void of connectivity. If you’re a fitness fanatic or serious music enthusiast, you’ll want your woman cave decked out with a nice sound system and HVAC control (a must for these Carolina summers!).  The work-from-home entrepreneur will need to rely on a solid, secure network and the wine enthusiast may wish to access her eSommelier or favorite Vivino app.

Other technologies such as lighting and shade control, remote-controlled water features or fireplaces, and user-friendly access to music or video streaming (oh yes, the Chic-flick!) can actually make the space simpler and more comfortable.  And, while you may not want disruptive emails in your sanctuary, you do want to be reached if you’re needed – safety first in the mom cave! And speaking of safety, nothing is more “glam” than security – both physically and digitally. Home technology can help you keep an eye on things – the front door, the crib – which is always a comfort. And automating tasks such as locking all the doors, lowering all the window shades and turning on the alarm can instill a sense of calm to your chaos.

Design

No matter your personal style or the theme of your space, properly planned technologies will not distract from your Zen. Whether working with your designer or putting the space together on your own, we can help by introducing you to stunning framed artwork that lifts to reveal your LCD and ceiling or wall speakers that disguise themselves without detracting from your décor. And imagine replacing that unsightly bank of light switches with an elegant touchscreen or keypad!

So, curl up on your chaise, grab your tablet or mirror your laptop on the big screen and scroll through these inspired spaces.  Imagine your perfect little paradise hideaway and give us a call. Lady cave, shabby chic she-shack…whatever suits you – let’s get started!

Additional Resources:

At Home: The “she-shed” – women’s answer to the man cave

“She Shed:” The Answer to the Man Cave, WSJ Video

Today: Introducing the “She-Shed”: Women’s answer to the man cave[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

How to Build a Hi-end Listening Room, Part 2

We’ve talked about speakers and the importance of proper speaker placement, as well as acoustics and dimensions of the space itself in our first installment. Part 2 delves into what drives the sound.

The Components

Amplification is at the heart of your system, driving sound to each channel.  Unlike your Home Theater’s AV Receiver that houses an all-in-one pre-amp, amplifier and processor for surround sound, hi-end audio systems have dedicated amplifiers, often one per channel. A more sophisticated set-up will have 2-way or 3-way amps that support each speaker. A pre-amp serves as the input device. It will convert signals from all audio sources such as a turntable, tuner and streaming devices to the signal that the amp wants. It’s imperative that the amplifier be matched to the specifications of the speaker to provide optimal output. SoundVision can guide you through your choices and design to your preferences and budget.  One of our favorite audio lines is Marantz. They offer an impressive range of components and have recently launched a new line aimed at the serious music lover, the Premium 10 Series. The design and engineering of the 10 Series is extraordinary and an excellent choice for a hi-end listening space.

The Connections 

We know from setting up our home theater or media room that HDMI Cables are required to pass 4K. Audio has similar requirements and, like video, quality cables are recommended for a solid, clean connection.  That doesn’t always mean the most expensive, just of good quality and appropriately sized for the application. We can calculate the appropriate gauge cable that will deliver the necessary wattage to the speaker as required, based on the distance. For connectors, gold connectors are preferred over silver or other metallic and locking connectors are a good choice where equipment is not to be moved frequently.

Having clean and sufficient power is critical. Every system needs a name brand, purposely built, surge protector. Surge protection will filter out spikes and dips, removing artifacts from your power. Insufficient power can make the amplifiers put out harmonics that will “color” the sound and create distortion, producing an unclean sound.

The Critical Commissioning

Once the system has been designed and components selected, the next step is installation and commissioning. The system will be “tuned” to the room so that the room does not distort the sound.  As audio pros, we will test the room’s characteristics, reverb, etc.  We aim for a flat frequency response by adjusting equalization (EQ), gain structure and speaker placement.

The Content Controversy

“Old-School” tells us that a turntable’s needle against vinyl is the purest form of music. It can be argued that the harmonic distortion created introduces a mild alteration that is perceived as warmth. The pops and crackles the needle yields evoke a “vintage” sense that some find pleasing and authentic. However, according to Mark Slee of Facebook, “In terms of fidelity and accuracy of sonic reproduction, CDs outperform vinyl in significant ways. With that said, there are sonic artifacts and emotional attachments with vinyl that many people find pleasing. This creates a preference for vinyl – which some would describe as better, but this is a subjective quality as measured by the ear of the beholder.” With turntable sales up 16%, there’s apparently some ears out there that agree.

The higher the bit rate of the audio, the more accurate the audio. Analog is uncompressed and true to form. Overly processed audio, on the other hand, can mask or cancel parts of the music, eliminating the ability to hear everything as it was mastered.

All things being equal, the more information a format can transmit, the better the sound will be. For the best experience, the sound transmitted should pass through quality cabling and components and be listened to in a space that is purposefully designed to capture every nuance. Are you ready to hear what you’ve been missing? Let our team at SoundVision help design or retrofit your personal listening space and experience music as the artist intended.

Additional Resources:

What bitrate is needed to sound like analog FM?

Vinyl Vs CD/Mp3: Insights into Music Formats & the Metaphysics of Our Music

24/192 Music Downloads…and why they make no sense

Is the sound on vinyl records better than on CDs or DVDs?

Sony Music Goes Back to Vinyl Records[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

 

 

Control4 Puts You in Control

 

 

Control4 gets it.  Not only do they develop leading-edge technology for you, today’s tech-savvy homeowners, but they enable you to integrate your own upgrades. That’s smart! Actually, Control4 calls it a Smart Home Skill for Alexa and it’s available with their 4Sight subscription.

Control4 integrates Alexa voice control for your entire smart home, allowing voice-activated commands for every automated feature. What’s really cool is that current C4 clients can add Alexa-enabled devices to their system without needing their Electronics Systems Contractor (us) to perform a service call. You’ll be able to discover lights, lighting scenes and even your thermostat. You can then customize the name on your customer portal.

Set-up is a pretty straightforward process and they provide a step-by-step video to walk you through it.  That video, by the way, is about 2 minutes long. You can integrate an Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap or Fire TV with Voice Remote into your Control4 system with an OS2.82 or newer.  The video takes you step by step through connecting your Amazon device to your Amazon account, selecting the Control4 Smart Home skill feature, and you’re off!  You’ll set your voice commands for Lighting and HVAC.  For more sophisticated voice control of audio and video, well, we’re here to help.

Don’t forget to lock the door behind you – oh, wait – Alexa already did!

Control 4 7 Amazon Alexa – Voice Control For your Entire Smart Home

 

How to Build a Hi-end Listening Room, Part 1

martin_logan_electrostat

I sat in a dark room.  I listened to a song I’d heard a hundred times before but heard things I’d never heard. That’s the definition of an Audiophile-quality Listening Room. While our world of listening has transformed dramatically over the last several years, all that matters is what you, the listener, wants to hear. The math and science are real, as are the hi-end audio components. The rest is personal.

The Speakers

Simply put, loudspeakers convert electrical impulses into sound. Depending on the dimensions of your room, as well as your listening preferences, a well-designed audio system will transmit the desired range of frequencies (note that this is not necessarily the widest range). Some swear by 2-channel, with speakers positioned at a calculated distance apart and at an optimal distance in front of and facing the listener for a true, 2-dimensional listening experience.  The 2-channel system creates a virtual sound stage.  When professionally set-up and calibrated, the listener is able to close his/her eyes and identify exactly where, on the “stage”, that musician was positioned. Unlike viewing a movie, there is no need for various sounds (music, voice, special effects) to “follow” around the room, so rear speakers or a full surround sound system are neither needed nor desired. In fact, some find it unnatural for instruments to be heard behind them. The perfect speaker system, in the perfect acoustically treated room, will reproduce the sound as authentically as possible. However, while science can measure all facets of sound, the listening experience is quite personal and our passion for particular brands is rather cult-like. We, of course, have our favorites.

Martin Logan sees audio as both real and imagined. Inspired by the art of emotion, like the Expressionist masterpieces, the Expression ESL 13A delivers a highly expressive audio experience.  While inspired by design, its recognizable profile is more about sound than art. The tall, slender “blade” of its MicroPerf stator technology allows for almost twice the exposed electrostatic diaphragm surface as a traditional panel.  Combined with the newly-designed rear-firing subwoofer and 13-inch wide XStat CLS Transducer, the result is a uniform, harmoniously blended audiophile-quality experience.  The American speaker manufacturer also receives rave reviews for its MartinLogan Motion 40 Floorstanding Speakers.  Hometheaterhifi.com concludes that it is a “luxury product for a modest price having a strong musical voice to go with a beautiful, well-made cabinet.” Check out these videos to learn more about this incredible line of speakers.

The Room

Equally as important to the components is the space.  The ideal listening room will be free of ambient noise and any other distractions. Acoustic treatments will absorb the noise of the HVAC and rattling of water pipes.  Doors can be acoustically treated as can floors and ceilings. The space will be free of harsh lighting, filled only with soft, relaxing light and there will be no video. This combination of exceptional components producing nearly flawless sound and the distraction-free environment, will allow the listener to hear subtle artifacts in the music that were previously unnoticed.

The room’s furnishings and physical dimensions are essential to the experience.  The proper room requires some soft surfaces, opting for fabric furnishings over sound-reflecting leather. The height of the seat back is recommended to be below the listener’s ear level, allowing unobstructed hearing without reflection. The single seat should be positioned in what will be known as the “sweet spot,” as determined by the engineer’s calculations. The calculations for the room itself are of the utmost importance.  To determine an acoustically accurate room for optimal listening, audio engineers employ the Bonello Graph, or acoustic amoeba, a method of calculating the ideal room ratio of dimension and volume, explained here by AcousticFields.com.

Do you want a dedicated space to experience all that the music has to offer?  Hearing is believing! Let’s set up an in-home consultation and schedule a demo. And stay-tuned. Part 2 will cover amplification, calibration, connectivity and content.  Listen to the music! Really….listen.

Additional Resources:

A Room to Listen In

Ideal Room Size Dimensions and Ratios for Audiophile Listening

Ideal Room Size Ratios & How To Apply The Bonello Graph[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

 

 

 

 

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