SoundVision Audio Video Shades

Upgrading To Smart Home Audio

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If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your home’s audio and entertainment systems, there’s no better time than now. Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking for a system you can easily integrate into the rest of your smart home, there are great solutions for any music library.

 

Entertainment that’s music to your ears

When you think about home entertainment, chances are you stop at home theater. While the home theater has undeniably become the standard for smart home entertainment, it seems like home audio has taken a back seat – and what a shame! There’s no reason why your music library can’t provide that same value when done correctly. Whether it’s a dedicated listening room you’re after or you’d like to integrate sound throughout your entire home – there’s a perfect smart home solution for your needs.

 

Choosing the right setup

An important factor to consider when you’re integrating any kind of home audio system into your space is your media type. Old-school vinyl needs a little bit different tech than a completely streamed music library – and you want to hear every note as it was intended, right? Right. Not only will you want to consider speaker type and placement in addition to your media player, but you’ll also want the best accessibility, whether that’s built-in storage for all your records or the latest touch screen display and controls for your digital library.

 

The pros know best

The best way to ensure you’re getting the best setup for your sound is to ask the people who know. Instead of making your best guess, consult the pros at SoundVision who can optimize all of your spaces for the best listening experience possible, whether inside or outside your home. With a whole-home audio system, entertaining is easy and casual listening is an immersive experience.

 

 

 

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]

 

 

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

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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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