SoundVision

Why is this remote so &!;!!?? complicated!!!! – The power of macros

Now that we know what a macro is, let me give you an example of how powerful a macro can be.  Remember, a macro is only limited to our or your imagination!

Below is a screen shot of a macro I use in our home every day.  The idea behind this macro is when we turn off the TV at night and are headed to bed (from between the hours of 8:30pm and 11pm on the weekdays and midnight on the weekends) the following sequence of events happens.  The reason I have chosen to have specific ending times, is I have recognized that if someone is up extra late, and other folks are sleeping, I don’t want lights or TVs coming on and waking them up.

Spoiler alert!!!  This one is VERY long and detailed.

The macro starts simply enough by turning off some audio / video devices.  This is a very common use of a macro (i.e. to turn off (or on) any number of devices from TVs to audio video receivers (AVRs) to anything you can think of).  After turning these off, things get a bit interesting.  You can see a lighting scene, called Intermission is activated.  What this does is slowly bring up the lights to a level that allows us to see and take up and dishes or glasses or else we might have (as the lights were probably off while we were watching a movie).  Yes, that would be another macro.

Macros also allow for you to select certain times they can be run.  Here, you see that if it’s between 7pm and 12:30am, ANOTHER macro (called a nested macro (which, in English means one macro inside another macro)) is run for the thermostats to go to specific “sleeping” temperatures.  After a few delays, another “nested macro” runs a Bedtime series of steps.

As an aside, you might be asking, why have a macro inside a macro?  Why not just list all the steps under one main macro.  The reason is, this way, you can change things associated with one and use it in different places or instances.  Let’s say I want the temperature to change when I go to bed and be executed EITHER when I press the off button on the TV remote OR when I press a button on a lighting keypad in our bedroom.  I can insert the same Temperature Night macro under both buttons.  Now, let’s say I want to change the temperature from, say 68 degrees to 70 degrees, every time I press either button.  I can change this in ONE place, the Temperature Night macro, and it will change the action when I turn off the TV or when I press the button on the lighting keypad.

This is one the first step in a long series of this one macro that we live with every day.  I will go more in depth, next time, showing you alarm arming, door locking, lighting changes, ceiling fans, TVs turning on and off, delayed lighting scenes and more.  For now, just remember that macros are intended to do anything action you normally do, over and over, and automate that action to happen how and when you want it to.

If you have any questions, give us a shot at 704-696-2792 or email me at [email protected]  We LOVE talking about this stuff!

Why is this remote so &!;!!?? complicated!!!! – Macros demystified

Over the past few days, I have been explaining some of the challenges we have regarding making your system more consistent and reliable so that it just works when you want it to.

I have tried to explain why sometimes remotes seem complicated and why, if not programmed correctly, using discrete codes, remotes will not function reliably.  These discrete codes were defined as independent commands for each function that you have (e.g. Power On and Power Off versus simply Power that toggles between on and off on each push).

There is another reason discrete codes are so important and that is because, with them, we can develop macros.  When we go to continuing education (yes, we do that), instructors tell us never to use the word “macro” around a customers.  The reason is, if you are not in the information technology (IT) field, it will just sound like a fancy word that means nothing to a customer.  And they are right.

However, macros are the secret to making the magic happen.  Ever wonder how ALL your equipment turns on, the input changes on the TV and your AVR (audio video receiver), the channel changes to your favorite or the movie starts playing with the touch of one button?  Of course you haven’t!  But, that’s a macro.

Simply put, a macro is a series of steps that are programmed in a particular sequence after a something else happens first.  The most common of these is after the Power On button is pressed.

Once this “trigger” happens, the system can process the event (pressing the Power On button) and then tell other components to turn on, go to particular  inputs, change channels, dim the lights, lower the shades, change the volume or any other host of things you might want to happen.  The amount of things that can happen are infinite and only limited by your imagination.

This is another reason that discrete codes are SO important.  Think about it, one series of events can happen when the Power On button is pressed and another series of events can happen when the Power Off button is pressed.  Macros are not limited to power commands either.  They can be “triggered” by any button press, time event (think dawn or dusk or midnight or when you wake up), motion from security sensors, doors opening or closing, and the list goes on and on.  Essentially, anything that is tied to your system’s brain, can trigger anything else tied to the system.

This is one reason why, at SoundVision, we implemented the 30 day “live in” program.  We will, AT NO CHARGE, come back out to your home and make programming changes and RE-TRAIN YOUR FAMILY.  This give you the opportunity to live with the system for a period of time and actually figure out what you would like these magical macros to do.  

Next time, I’ll elaborate a bit more on macros and actually show you some from our projects that will give you some ideas on how we can make your home or place of business smarter.  It’s just another way we are trying to Simplify Your Life Through Technology.

If you have ANY questions, or want more information, please feel free to reach out at [email protected] or give us a call at 704-696-2792.  We are here and happy to talk with you.

 

Why is this remote so &!;!!?? complicated!!!! Switching sources

Last time we talked about why remotes seem to be so difficult.  We said that, if not designed correctly in a system that incorporates equipment that is new enough to have “discrete” codes, telling the remote if the TV, or any other piece of equipment, is on or off, for example, could create a big problem.

The second biggest PITA (pain in the -_- (you know)), is changing from one source to another.  Let’s say you are watching your Spectrum cable box and you want to switch to Apple TV (or Roku, a Sony Blu-Ray player, an Amazon Firestick, or any other source you can think of).  How do you do that?

To further complicate matters, there are three words used by manufacturers to make this happen.  Some call it a “Source” button, some “TV/Video” and still others “Input.”  Regardless, what this means is the ability to switch from one source of content to another.

Much like we said in the last blog post regarding the importance of having a true POWER ON and POWER OFF command, having direct access to EACH input is what’s important.  Whether you have a television or an audio video receiver (AVR), being able to access Input 1 versus Input 4 (or TV / Sat versus Blu-Ray, for example on an AVR) is critical so everything works smoothly.

We are back to our old friend, the “discrete code.”  The products we recommend and use, all have codes for EACH INDIVIDUAL INPUT so that we can access them quickly, directly, and consistently EVERY TIME.  This makes your experience consistent and reliable.  What’s great is that, regardless of the brand of equipment used, we can mix and match so that when you press the WATCH ROKU button, everything happens behind the scenes in a “macro” (more on that word next time),  and you get to watch and hear your Roku player.

Oh, yeah, we subscribe to the Watch and Listen nomenclature.  This means, on the remotes we work with, most notably the Control 4 SR260 and Control 4 OS3 app, when you want to “watch” something you press the “Watch” button and when you want to “listen” to something, you press the “Listen” button.  The main difference being, if you listen to something, we typically don’t turn on the TV.

So, now you get the jist of why these discrete codes are so important.  Next time, we will show you a little behind the scenes trick on how we do a bunch of things in succession and further cement why these codes are so important.  We will enter the world of macros….  Next time….

In the meantime, if you have a question, give us a call at 704-696-2792 or email us at [email protected]

Why is this remote so &!;!!?? complicated!!!!

Have a remote like this one? It’s crazy, right. Too many buttons, to hard to read.

Quick question, how do you turn on the TV? Stumped, don’t feel bad. I was too.

We hear all to often that today’s audio video systems are just to hard to use and the remotes are even worse.

The thing to remember is that the remote and the equipment are, like I said before, a SYSTEM. For them to work in concert, they have to be able to “talk” to one another.

Simply put, the remote needs to know what “state,” on or off, the system is. This is the first problem. With older equipment, and even some of today’s cable boxes, there is no way for the remote to know if they are on or off.

That’s because they don’t use “discrete” codes. Now, that’s a fancy way of saying, either on or off. Meaning, you could press the power on 100 times and it would never turn the TV off; conversely, you could press the power off command 100 times and the TV would never turn on. Now we are getting somewhere!

Quick, look at the remote above. You only see a POWER button, NOT a power on and power off button. Even the system on / off does not know whether the components are on or off. And, therein lies the problem.

Without knowing for sure if the TV is on or off, the remote doesn’t know what command to send when you push the power button. Worse yet, some older TVs internally don’t even have a power on and power off command. Whew, that’s a lot to take in.

One of the things we do when we program all our remotes is to make sure that the equipment we are working with always has these “discrete” codes so our systems work all the time. In fact, if we work with a client that has older equipment, we check to make sure it works. Otherwise, we tell them that they need to have newer equipment so their system will work consistently and efficiently ALL THE TIME, EVERY TIME!

And all this is just for power. Wait til I tell you how we take charge of multiple services, like cable TV, DirecTV, Dish Network, Apple TV, Roku, and any other video source you can think of. We can even cut the cord.

But that’s for next time….Until then, check is out on Instagram at soundvisionllc

Captivate Your Audience with Digital Signage

What does your potential new client or all-star candidate see when they enter your lobby? Imagine presenting them with a stunning videowall that conveys your brand, piques their interest or entices them to interact! Make an impact by greeting them with a digital signage display, dynamic video wall or interactive wayfinding display. You’ll be setting your brand apart from the competition! And you’re just getting started…

The Dynamic Digital Marketplace

With its ever-changing content that can hold the interest of viewers, digital signage plays a very important part in digital marketing whether a corporate environment, retail store, educational institution or healthcare facility. Static signage is a “one and done” experience for the viewer, whereas constantly changing content on a display keeps viewers engaged longer and decreases perceived wait times.

What is Digital Signage?

There are two basic elements of a successful digital signage application; hardware and software. The hardware component, which may be a projection system or, more commonly, a display such as an OLED or Direct View LED, and a Media Player. The software provides the platform for the content. On more sophisticated deployments there may be sensors that provide metrics on content engagement or Bluetooth connectivity for a more interactive experience.

The display is a critical component of a digital signage application. The display needs to be large enough for viewers to comfortably view the content and bright enough to overcome the light levels in the space. Since the typical digital signage display is in use an average of 12 hours a day (with some commercial applications requiring 24×7 uptime), consumer TV’s should not be used as they are not rated or warranted for this type of application.

Digital signage players provide a way to show dynamic video content. A player can show multiple video “windows” on the screen that translates into multiple messaging (or advertising!) opportunities. Additionally, they can receive real-time streams from weather channels, stock markets, traffic reports and more. As a signage system designer, we will work with you to understand the type of content you need and the software you use to provide the best signage player for your applications.

Sony created a great resource on digital signage. Check out “A Handbook on digital signage.”

Content, Content, Content

Captivating content is key to attracting viewers. It is recommended that new signage deployments not rely on basic applications such as “power point” or a built-in picture player that may be included with the display. Content delivered in this manner is stagnant and viewers do not stay engaged. Instead, content software allows you to take full advantage of the media player, while providing real time tools for announcements and other “ad-hoc” content applications.

The pros at SoundVision can help navigate the various applications and display choices and determine what you need to effectively communicate your message to your customers, students, parishioners, patients or staff. Call us today and let’s get started!

Bringing the Immersive Movie Theater Experience to Your Home Theater

Blown away. You’ve just watched, no, experienced, the summer’s blockbuster action film at your favorite movie theater. Your heart is pounding, your head is spinning. For the past 2.15 hours you were completely immersed in the film. Every sight, every sound, perfectly orchestrated to put you at the center of the action. So, how did they do it? And, more importantly, how can you replicate this immersive experience in your home theater?

The sharp, Ultra HD imagery was certainly a factor, providing details that would previously have gone unseen. The same holds true for the audio. Whether DTS:X technology, Auro 3D or Dolby Atmos, 3D sound systems are bringing a new dimension to movies, gaming, television and music by adding a multi-dimensional level of realism.

Hear the pin drop and pinpoint where it was dropped from

Close your eyes and listen to all the sounds around you; your HVAC system, a slamming door, a barking dog or the wind whistling through an open window. You’re able to determine exactly where that sound is coming from. For a movie or game to simulate a real-life experience, it must recreate that same multi-sensory experience.  Surround sound systems, having made a comeback in 1976 with the introduction of Dolby Stereo, ushered in a new era for audio. Popularity for the new technology exploded in 1977 with the release of Star Wars and its engaging rear-channel effects. By the early 90’s we were enjoying 5.1 surround systems and who could forget 1999’s famous Matrix Lobby shootout in 5.1 HDR? Eventually, the 7.1 surround sound system brought audio to the rear of the room.  By 2004 we were enthralled with the breathtaking precision of the blind dancer in House of Flying Daggers as she meticulously replicates the strike of each surrounding drum with her scarves. And do you remember watching in awe as the Star Ship Enterprise navigated to the space dock in 2009 or being charmed as Wall-E catapulted himself through space using a fire extinguisher? Audio places a dimension to the event.

How 3D audio is achieved

There are distinct differences between DTS and Dolby Atmos technologies, but each accomplishes an immersive audio experience by routing sounds to their place of origin. DTS:X adds a height element to a surround sound system which improves sound accuracy. Without the need for additional speakers, and irrespective of the channel assignment or speaker placement, a compatible receiver can interpret and isolate an object’s location and direct its movement and volume.  

In contract, Dolby Atmos creates the realistic effect through the use of multiple speakers. In a commercial movie theater, 64 speakers are used but the technology may be replicated in your home theater using only 14. Essentially, Dolby Atmos avoids the constraints of sounds being routed to specific channels. Instead, they are routed to particular speakers.  This demo video explains it well: Dolby Atmos Demo Sound Test.  

Legendary performance

The blockbuster sensation “Bohemian Rhapsody” took full advantage of Dolby Atmos technology and, in addition to a 4K image, provides a number of scenes showcasing Atmos on its UltraHD Blu-ray. The clearly defined sounds take you in and out of a recording booth and have you feeling like you’re a part of Live Aid 1985 singing along with “We are the Champions.”

According to Dolby, manufacturers can embed Atmos in both hardware and software, so that your game console, laptop, soundbar and even your smartphone, can support the technology. Are you ready to make immersive audio part of your home theater? Call SoundVision for a demo or in-home consultation and we’ll make your theater legendary!

Additional Resources:

Dolby Atmos Explained: What It Is, How It Works and Where to Get ItSurround Sound – The Audio Side of Home Theater

What is Dolby Atmos? All you need to know

The Immersive Audio You’ve Never Heard that could Revolutionize Virtual Reality

Top 10 Most Cliché Home Theater Demos

The Home Theater, Lake Norman Style


Reinvent movie night by taking it outdoors! With warm weather headed our way, we just can’t wait to get outside and enjoy every minute of Lake Norman Living! And family movie is no exception – take it outside!  Do you enjoy hosting your friends to watch the Panthers and Hornet games, gathering around the big screen in your media room? Picture instead catching the game from the comfort of your covered deck or while floating on a lounge chair in the pool! The best seat in the house may very well not be in the house at all!

While you may already be streaming your music through waterproof outdoor speakers or watching your weatherproof LED while cooking your famous Carolina barbeque, you may not have thought about enhancing your outdoor entrainment space by adding a theater under the stars!

Memorable Nights Under the Stars

An outdoor theater adds elegance and entertainment value to your outdoor living space and creates memories that last a lifetime. Your theater can boast an exceptional image as well as uncompromised sound. And the sound system can be multi-use, filling the space with music during the day and heart-thumping theater drama at night.  You can either stream from your favorite movie service or share content directly from your media room system or home theater. But unlike your indoor theater, you won’t need to paint a constellation on the ceiling!

Taking on Mother Nature

Like other specialized outdoor AV gear, weather-resistant options are available for projectors and projection screens. Projectors can be housed in a climate-controlled mounting box or cleverly mounted for quick set-up on movie night. Screens can cleverly roll down from beneath your home’s eaves, pop-up from custom enclosures or occupy an outdoor wall. With limited to no “ceilings” to mount from however, determining where the projector can be installed can require some creativity. And added throw distance and lumens may be required to achieve exceptional picture quality. Fortunately, we at SoundVision are experts and always up for the challenge!

Stay in Control

For uninterrupted enjoyment you’ll want a robust network and remote control to access your home’s system. Several waterproof remotes are available, giving you the ability to control everything -even when you’re in the pool! Control of elegantly designed landscape and patio lighting completes the outdoor living space. Lighting can accent feature areas and walkways for drama and safety while allowing separate control of zones surrounding the screen area.

Interested in exploring your choices in an outdoor theater? Warm weather is on its way! Now’s the time to start planning so give us a call us today!

Is Wireless the Way?

Wired or wireless. Which is the right solution for your meeting space? Each offers distinct advantages, so how do you decide? It depends on 3 key factors: who will be using the space, what collaborative tools will be used, and your level of network security.

Wireless Networks

Whether a small huddle space or executive board room, enabling your team with the right tools, connectivity and capabilities is essential for creating a productive space. With your team and network in mind, let’s take a look at the three types of wireless solutions:  

  • Business Wi-Fi network – A dedicated Wi-Fi network provides exceptional, reliable coverage to anyone on the business’s network. It allows seamless access to all server files however it restricts access to guests. This presents challenges. One advantage though is that the system can be located anywhere on premise, eliminating the need to store it locally in the room.
  • Local Network – A device-specific local wireless network creates its own WiFi network that provides direct connectivity. This method offers heightened security since the company’s network doesn’t need to be accessed in order to connect to a device. The local network is the popular choice among IT Administrators due to the secure nature of standalone devices not accessing the network. The downside however, is that files outside of that network cannot be accessed and that the devices need to be located in the room.
  • Plug-n-Play Network – A plug-n-play network uses wireless USB dongles to connect directly to a dedicated network. Once connected, the dongles automatically download a widget that allows the users to connect to the system. At the press of a button, many of these dongles include “show me” functionality which allows the user’s desktop to be shown on the display. The USB dongles can be a supplement to either of the two other types of wireless systems as described earlier, providing connectivity for users who either can’t connect to the WiFi network or who are unable to download or access the necessary software.

On many of the wireless presentation platforms, content can also be streamed so others can pick up the stream off-site. This is great for employees who work remotely or are traveling as well as for sharing content across a corporate network to a satellite location. Additionally, many systems can also provide the ability to present multiple desktops simultaneously, providing an enhanced collaborative experience.

Plan B

Providing at least one “hardwired” connection is recommended for every meeting space as wireless access is not always available for all users. Some systems require an app or software suite which can be problematic for guest presenters who don’t have the ability or system rights to install software on their laptop, and others have severely locked down laptops where even the USB ports are not able to upload or download data which would include the widgets that the wireless USB dongles provide. Unforeseen network issues or outages can also render a wireless system inoperable if the system relies on the Client Wi-Fi, so the hardwired connection provides a suitable backup.

Safe, Secure and Successful

So, wired or wireless? Which is the right solution for you? Give us a call and let’s explore the options. We’ll discover your wants, guide you through your choices and work with your IT pro to ensure safe connectivity. And bear in mind, wireless doesn’t mean wire free. There’s still equipment that needs to live either in the room or in an equipment rack elsewhere and there’s still a need to provide power to the tabletop connectivity. It all starts with the infrastructure. Let’s get started, shall we?

SoundVision Develops Service Memberships, an Unprecedented Approach to Customer Service

SoundVision Develops Service Memberships, an Unprecedented Approach to Customer Service

Leading technologies integrator enhances client experience by focusing on service and satisfaction of their residential and commercial customers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Mooresville, NC, February 18, 2019 –Following extensive client research, technology integrator SoundVision, LLC has created, and successfully implemented, an innovative service program to support their clients. Recognizing that access to responsive and proficient technical support is foundational for today’s technology-driven environments, SoundVision developed membership levels to solve issues quickly and, with advanced OvrC capability, remotely.

Mark DiPietro, Managing Partner states, “Service is the backbone of our business.  We provide solutions with the idea of ‘Simplifying Life Through Technology’ however, we know that sometimes things happen that can cause frustration. Service after the sale is what separates us from every other technology professional in the area.”   ist Table  

Beyond manufacturer warranties, membership plans are offered in tiers and billed month-to-month with no contract required. “Our goal is to give options to our customers so they can have the ability to have any level of service that fits their lives,” DiPietro adds. “Whether it’s our free one-hour call-backs during business hours and best efforts in taking care of the problem, to one-hour response, seven day-a-week in-home service options and twice a year in-home system checkup and update through our memberships.  We have spent a great deal of time talking with customers and developing options that address all our customers’ needs. We even have a custom plan, should either a residential or commercial customer require a level of service that we don’t currently offer.”

DiPietro and the SoundVision team are excited to be on the leading edge of this exceptional service offering and to be able to extend these memberships to their clients. For more information on support memberships, visit https://www.svavnc.com/membership/ or call them at 704-696-2792.  

About SoundVision, LLC

SoundVision is a technology systems integrator, providing design, integration, installation and service of audio visual solutions, lighting & shade control, networking and security systems for homes and businesses. With a rich portfolio of successful interior and outdoor projects, as well as national recognition for outstanding customer service, SoundVision is the leading technologies integration firm in the Greater Charlotte and Lake Norman area.  Striving to provide the ultimate customer experience and enhanced enjoyment of their residential or commercial systems, SoundVision believes in “Simplifying Life through Technology.” A member of NC Home Builders Association, NC Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NC Electronic Security Association), CEDIA (Consumer Electronics Design Industry Association) and certified as a Registered Outreach Instructor, SoundVision offers continuing education for the Building, Interior Design, and Architectural Communities.www.svavnc.com

How to Create a Smart Home Gym

We all know the gym gets more popular early in the year after everyone has set their New Year’s Resolutions to get more fit or lose weight. But why pay for a pricey membership at a crowded gym when you could have the ultimate workout space in the comfort of your own home?

A gym designed for YOU

Gyms are great, but they’re one-size-fits-all. Whether you have a dedicated room for working out or just a designated space you like to roll out your yoga mat, there are endless audio, lighting and climate control solutions to help you create the ultimate, immersive experience you’re after. Whether you want natural light and your Zen playlist for your afternoon yoga, or need lights-out and your favorite high-powered beats to get through your streamed early-morning spinning class, you can have the gym that inspires you to reach your fitness goals (or just have fun working out).

A gym that fits your busy life

If you’re a working adult, gym hours (not to mention group class schedules) almost never seem to fit. If you’re a parent, you know how hard it is to squeeze in 30 minutes of exercise each day or find childcare. Having your own dedicated space at home takes care of that. Give yourself the flexibility of a home gym so you can work out when you find the time – without worrying about childcare, schedules, or missing a delivery you’ve been waiting for. You can even add in technology that enables you to answer the doorbell, adjust your thermostat, preheat the oven or change your workout mood with just your voice – ensuring you don’t miss a beat or interrupt your workout.

Let us help

If you’ve been dreaming of a smart space in your home to work out, we’re here to help. Whether you want a decked-out, dedicated space or just need a few pieces to get you started, we have the pros and the resources to help you create an immersive workout experience in your own home.

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.