The Home-Field Advantage

The Home-Field Advantage

Why go out to the sports bar, when you could build one in your own home?

If a crowded sports bar or the image of your friends and family all fighting to see the same television screen come to mind when you think of college football season, it’s time for you to consider bringing the stadium to your home. With the right system, the best seat for the Florida State, University of Miami, or University of Florida game is in-house.

When it comes to designing the ultimate in-home experience for game day viewing, most people think immediately of a bar-like atmosphere, with comfy furniture and lots of entertaining space. But what really puts your guests in a game mood is the immersive experience set by the sights and sounds of game day, brought to you via a large projection screen with high-definition projector and a complete surround sound system.

You’ll never have to worry about finding a good seat at the only bar in town playing your game; nor will you have to look at the opposing team’s fans sitting next to you. Your personal stadium can be customized around your favorite Gators, Seminoles, or Hurricanes colors and memorabilia to create an “ultra-engaging sports experience,” complete with color-coded acoustic paneling and complementary comfy theater seating. This level of personalization paired with the best in audio and video, can make every Saturday game, a game to remember.

And if fantasy sports are more of a “high-stakes pursuit” than just a hobby for you, consider integrating multiple screens so you can view multiple games at once – ensuring you never miss a play. Toggle between audio and screen views at the touch of a button, and have the advantage of tracking stats as the game broadcasts live.

For those that are more like sports fanatics than sports enthusiasts, the options aren’t just limited to your stationary home. Consider taking your dedication on the road and deck out a mobile home like these Auburn football fans, so that you always have the home-field advantage. Or if traveling isn’t your thing, consider building the epitome of fandom, like this Cubs fan did.

Luxury Trends in Home Automation

Luxury Trends in Home Automation

Luxury Trends in Home Automation

If you thought luxury in home automation ended with fancy shades, think again!

The South Florida lifestyle is nothing if not luxurious, and your home should be no exception. Design and lifestyle no longer have to be compromised when it comes to implementing home automation technology. In fact, luxury living is merging with smart tech to provide the epitome of style and comfort.

From a decked-out summer kitchen by the pool, to an audio system outside on the dock, to in-home theatre – the options are endless. Luxury automation can be implemented throughout your home, whether you want a high-tech wine cellar, fine-tuned air quality, or a serious security system.

Home automation technology provides the epitome of luxury when combined with your own design style. The right technology will allow you to have complete control of everything in your home – from the window shades and lighting, to the temperature, and even your security system. Improvements in this technology provide you access to your entire home from your phone or tablet at the touch of a finger or a simple voice command.

Whether you want a top-of-the-line smart kitchen or an over-the-top outdoor movie theatre in your Oceanside retreat – there is a perfect mix of home automation technology for you, which can be designed to suit your individual design style.

It's time for women to get their "Woman Cave"- Move over Man Cave!!

It's time for women to get their "Woman Cave"- Move over Man Cave!!

Technology and Space That Lets Her “disconnect”- move over Man Cave!

Seems ironic. In this hurried, hyper-connected world, how can technology help you disconnect? It’s all about making things simpler and under control.  Where can you go to disappear? How about your own little corner of the world, a space all of your own – the She Shed. Men aren’t the only ones to enjoy their personal space. 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. Amid all the talk of disconnecting though, many technologies actually add convenience, comfort and fun to the “girls only” space.  Here are some things to keep in mind as you ponder your personal corner of the world.

Choose your space

This is where the creativity 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 charming, relaxing oasis, while an outdoor she-shed (literally, a converted utility shed) may suit the crafter or artist quite well.  A poolside cabana could become the perfect hideaway for the creative writer or some quiet me-time on the yoga mat. Even a generously-sized walk-in closet or dressing area can be transformed into a cozy reading nook.  With a little creativity and maybe minor renovations, a patio or porch could be enclosed or a portion of the garage could be carved out to become the ultimate gal-pal hangout, complete with wine frig and big screen.

Make it Your Own

So, what’s the plan? Your space may require some updates to make it comfortable and offer the amenities you wish. Disconnecting from the everyday “hectic” doesn’t necessarily mean a space void of any and all connectivity. If you’re a fitness fanatic or serious music lover, you’ll want your she-shack decked out with a nice sound system, lighting control and HVAC control (a South Florida must!). The work-from-home entrepreneur will need to rely on a solid and secure network, and the wine enthusiast may wish to access her favorite wine app.

Other technologies such as lighting and shade control, remote-controlled water features and user-friendly access to music or video streaming (yes, break out 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 needed - safety first! 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-cam – which is a comfort. 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 the theme or style 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 breathtaking framed artwork that lifts to reveal your on-wall LCD and speakers that disguise themselves into the ceiling or wall without detracting from the 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 retreat from the everyday and give us a call. Mom 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

How to Build the Audiophile Listening Room, Part 2

In Part 1, we talked about the importance of the speakers and speaker placement, as well as acoustics and make-up of the space itself. Now let’s dive into what drives the sound.

Components

At the heart of your system is amplification, driving sound to each channel.  Unlike a 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 and 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, converting signals from all audio sources such as streaming devices, tuners and turntable 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. All Digital can guide you through your choices.  One of our favorites is Marantz. They offer a diverse range of components and have recently launched a new line specifically for 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 environment.

Connections

We’ve learned 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 necessarily mean the most expensive, just of good quality and appropriately sized for the application. We can calculate the appropriate gauge cable that delivers the necessary wattage to the speaker as required based on the distance. Gold connectors are preferred over silver or other metallic. 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 remove artifacts from your power, filtering out spikes and dips. Insufficient power can make the amplifiers put out harmonics that will color the sound and create distortion, producing unclean sound.

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 “color” the sound.  As an audio pro, 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

“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 distortion that is perceived as warmth. The pops and crackles 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 yields 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 with that preference.

The higher the bit rate, the more accurate the audio. Analog is uncompressed and true to the original. Overly processed audio, on the other hand, can mask or cancel parts of the music, eliminating hearing 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, that transmitted sound 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 All Digital help design or retrofit your personal listening space and experience music as it was meant to be.

 

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

How to Build the Audiophile Listening Room, Part 1

I sat in the dark room and listened to a song I’d heard a thousand times before but heard more than I ever had. That’s the definition of a Listening Room. While our world of listening has transformed dramatically over the last several years, all that matters is what you want to hear. The science is real, as are the hi-end audio components. The rest is subject to the ear of the beholder.

The Speakers

Simply stated, 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 (not necessarily the widest range). Some audiophiles swear by 2-channel, with speakers positioned at a calculated distance apart and at an optimal distance from the listener, facing the listener for a true, 2 dimensional listening experience.  The 2-channel system creates a virtual sound stage.  When professionally set-up, 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. Its recognizable profile is more about sound, however, than inspirational art, although they are an art form all to themselves. 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.” Learn more about this incredible line of speakers.

The Space

Equally as important to the components is the room itself.  The ideal listening room will be free of ambient noise and any other distractions. Acoustic treatments will absorb the vibrations of the HVAC and rattling of water pipes.  The space will be free of harsh lighting, filled only with soft, relaxing light and there will be no capacity for 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. Glass coffee tables and even leather couches are not suitable as they will reflect sound. Fabric seating is preferred. 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 “money seat,” as determined by the engineer’s calculations. The calculations for the room itself are also of great importance.  To determine an acoustically accurate room for optimal listening, audio engineers employ the Bonello Graph, a method of calculating the ideal room ratio of dimension and volume, explained here by AcousticFields.com.  In the audiophile world, this is also referred to as the acoustic amoeba.

Whether a lover of classical, jazz, rock…are you an audiophile that wants to experience all that the music has to offer?  Hearing is believing! Let’s set up an in-home consultation and schedule a demo – you can even bring your own music. And stay-tuned. Part 2 will cover amplification, calibration, connectivity and content.  Listen to the music! Really listen.

Additional Resources:

Ideal Room Size Dimensions and Ratios for Audiophile Listening

Ideal Room Size Ratios & How To Apply The Bonello Graph

A Room to Listen In

You’re in Control with Control4

You’re in Control with Control4

Control4 really gets it.  Not only do they develop cutting-edge technology for you, today’s tech-savvy homeowners, but they enable you to integrate your own upgrades. Now 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 home, allowing voice-activated commands for every automated “smarthome” feature. What’s really cool is that current clients can add Alexa-enabled devices to their C4 system without needing their Electronics Systems Contractor (us) to perform a service call. You’ll be able to discover lights, lighting scenes and your thermostat. You can then customize the name on your customer portal.

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

That’s it! Now, don’t forget to lock the door behind you – oh, wait – Alexa already did! Give us a call today to get started! New to Control4, call us to learn more about making your home smarter!

Smart Home Basics: Locks 101

Smart Home Basics: Locks 101

Smart Home Basics: Locks 101

Smart locks and smart garages are a great place to start when implementing tech into your home.

If you’re one of the 70 percent of people who use their garage as a primary entrance, or if you’re prone to forgetting to lock the door behind you on the way to work, smart locks or a smart garage are a perfect place to begin with smart home technology.

There are several apps available that allow you to have, give and remove access to your home, whether you’re in the driveway or across town. Smart locks are a great alternative to the age-old trick of leaving a spare key under the mat, and it allows you more peace of mind.

When purchasing a smart lock, the three key things to look for are keyless entry, remote locking and alert options. We suggest assigning different codes to each member of your family and visitors, which trigger alerts sent to your smart code whenever used. Should someone forget their code, rest assured you’ll be able to both lock and unlock your door remotely. Some locks also come with added technology, including reminders to lock your door and close the garage, or even a video doorbell. 

Style is no longer a compromise when selecting smart locks. Kwikset and Yale, for example, offer a luxurious selection of keyed and keyless entry options, complete with all the bells and whistles including, you guessed it, a slick feature-rich app. Baldwin, a trusted name in luxury door hardware, has launched its “Evolved” line claiming “Evolved is the perfect blend of smart lock technology and luxurious architectural design. Pick your perfect style.” And did we mention their app is called an “Augmented Reality App”? That IS evolved!

Want more? Integrate your smart locks and smart garage into a Control4 smart home system. By using your automated apps to lock up, you can automatically trigger your security system to turn on and turn the lights off.

With top-notch surveillance system, such as Luma Surveillance, you can even access remote playback and view live feed via their app. Accompany this tech with a professionally-monitored security system, and you can rest assured that your belongings (and family) are safe.  Call us today to get started!

What are the Advantages of Motorized Window Shades?

What are the Advantages of Motorized Window Shades?

Motorized window treatments provide elegance and convenience to any space and today’s designs are as chic as they are functional, harvesting natural daylight with sleek, sophisticated styles.  Simply put, motorized window coverings integrated into your home’s automated system make life easier, especially since many can now be controlled with your smartphone.  And, as they have become more and more popular in recent years, an added benefit is the increased value they bring to your home or office space.  But that’s just scratching the surface.

Design-centric

There are an array of styles and custom solutions available that will complement any setting.  Aside from the huge variety of colors, patterns and weaves, the types of coverings are also extensive, ranging from pleated to honeycomb and roman shades to automated draperies.  Motorized treatments are even available for skylights, vertical and bottom-up applications for a unified design across all openings.

A 2017 trend is “clean”, multi-layered window treatments, pairing simple drapery panels or sheers with blinds or shades for the perfect combination of light and privacy.  As a CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) professional, we’ll partner with your Interior Designer to create an expert blend of technology and design, pairing the right combination of weave and color with exquisite patterns and luxurious textures.

Another design-friendly benefit is the prevention of fading of fine furnishings through the UV protection properties of the shades. Aside from the practical aspects, the design applications seem endless! Window treatments no longer rely on wired connectivity and power. Battery-operated units allow for use on doors and other applications where wiring is not possible such as floor to ceiling hi-rise windows where concrete ceilings and marble floors won’t allow access.  Motorized shades and draperies are not confined to windows either. Imagine the drama of elegant draperies parting at the touch of a button to reveal your home theater screen!  Or being able to install a hidden drop-down projection screen in front of a window thanks to having black-out shades! For more ideas, check out the brochure.

Eco-friendly

Energy-saving is a prime function of shades in South Florida, especially when paired with a lighting control system. They are designed to both harvest daylight and block generated heat, offering substantial reduction in costs. Here’s a calculator to demonstrate potential cost savings in your home or in a commercial setting.

People-friendly

Window shades promote biophilic design, maximizing sunlight while reducing glare and fatigue.  While natural light is often sought to fill space however, according to a recent blog in ASID’s icon, “…sometimes natural light is just too bright. Blocking it out can be as important as letting it in. New innovations and technologies in shading are making it easier for designers to obtain the optimal balance of highly sought natural light and much needed light control.”

Another people-friendly feature is serving as nature’s alarm clock.  Imagine the peaceful, subtle awakening to the natural glow of sunrise.  Shades can be set to open gradually in the morning and close again at sunset.         

Safety & Security

A big advantage to motorization is the lack of chains or cord pulls that seem to entice children and pets, which pose a serious safety hazard.  And for your home’s security, just like programming lights to go on and off throughout the day while you’re away, shades opening and closing give your home a lived in look, deterring break-ins.

Privacy

Shades are an elegant solution for privacy throughout your home.  They are perfect for hard-to-reach windows such as those surrounding your garden tub or in an elevated vaulted ceiling area.  In a space with multiple windows and French doors, this is a tremendous convenience and time-saver. And some fabrics even offer a one-way weave, blocking visibility into your house or hi-rise without interrupting your view to the outside.

In an office environment, shades are a simple solution to transforming glass-enclosed conference rooms into private meeting spaces.  Coupled with their acoustic properties, they also contribute toward HIPPA compliance.

If you’re considering updating your window treatments, consider not only integrating them into your home’s design, but into your home.  Let’s get started!

Additional Resources:

Houzz: Small Luxuries: Motorized Window Coverings Offer Benefits to All

Electronics House: 10 Things to Know About Motorized Shades

http://www.lutron.com/en-US/Residential-Commercial-Solutions/Pages/Residential-Solutions/ShadingSolutions.aspx

https://www.lutronfabrics.com/fabrics/shade-type/roller-shades and check out inspiration gallery

Smart tech: Trend or trade standard?

Smart tech: Trend or trade standard?

Control4_Lifestyle_104 (1).jpeg

Millennials are purchasing their own homes – and they’re impacting smart tech in a big way.

A recent survey by Houzz found that first-time home buyers – millennials especially - are prioritizing smart home technology in new home construction and renovations.

Throughout the country, new developments are being built with the latest and greatest features. This new development in Texas, for example, is considering how smart technology decades from now could impact its construction. Faster internet speeds powered by fiber networks, interactive outdoor technology and entertainment and neighborhood safety and infrastructure features have become staples in residential construction – and it seems to be at the top of the millennial wish list.

Houzz also discovered an interesting trend in the prioritization of smart technology during home renovations, for those who don’t want completely new construction. As many as one-third of recent home buyers surveyed are investing in some form of smart technology in their homes, and most are hiring the pros to do so.

This is good news for both home buyers and integration professionals, because automation technology is more available now than ever, and the increase in demand only allows for more innovative and creative tech. With home owners spending more money to get the most out of their space, smart home technology has the opportunity to provide the epitome of style, comfort and safety.

Security is still a huge factor, however, when homeowners consider the safety of having so many connected-home devices. According to Twice, customers who purchase smart technology consistently seek out support services to protect themselves from hackers. Consult with the pros who can offer you a consultation on what will best fit your needs and optimize your tech’s potential, without compromising safety, whenever you’re integrating technology into your home.

Presentation Systems for Huddle Spaces and Conference Rooms

Presentation Systems for Huddle Spaces and Conference Rooms

It’s a pretty basic expectation. You want to be able to walk into a meeting room, connect your laptop, and make a presentation.  And you can.  Your conference room or huddle space system can be a simple plug-and-present. It can be a wireless solution or one that is controlled by your smart phone. Like all good designs however, desirable outcomes depend on great input.  While each of those solutions provide effective collaborative capabilities, if it doesn’t suit the needs of the user, it will fall short.  An effective presentation system is not as much about the technology as it is the user experience, and that starts with a few simple questions.

Define and design

The first step in designing a system is to define the desired user experience for all users.  The right solution will depend on:

·       Who will be using the system?

·       What is their experience level?

·       Are you wanting audio conferencing, video conferencing, content sharing, whiteboarding, etc?

·       What are your company’s workflows?

·       Is there a company standard such as Skype for Business?

·       What is the desired interface?  Minimal interaction, single button press or plug-n-play? Do you want to avoid the use of small, uninstalled units such as a hand-held remote control that may disappear in a huddle room?

·       Will users be mobile – on phones and tablets? And how many connections?

·       Are you wanting to create a standardized solution that will be replicated companywide?

Effective Communication – Are we speaking the same language?

In this era of rapidly evolving technologies, new terms and acronyms abound. VTC, VC, VMR and UC, for example, can mean different things to different people.  One person’s definition of video conferencing may mean a traditional conference room setting with dual screen monitors that display far-side participants as well as shared content, while another may be imagining a video call in the cloud with a completely remote or mobile staff of a few dozen.  Collaboration is another term that requires a clear definition.  To some it means simple screen sharing via Go-to-Meeting or Webex while others imagine a fully interactive experience that allows wireless sharing of multiple PCs.

BYOD and IT

Wireless presentations from a laptop, tablet or mobile phone (BYOD – bring your own device) can offer seamless, convenient connectivity to the shared display, but due to network security, not all IT departments embrace this access. Several solutions are available today offering point-to-point connectivity.  Accessing a self-contained Wi-Fi or presentation button, users can present without being on the network. Some companies require heightened security measures, restricting wireless and providing only a secure wired solution. 

Designed to Scale

Your communications, conferencing and presentation systems are a strategy, not a trend.  Be sure your system is based on your needs and desired outcomes and not a particular manufacturer’s product.  It should take into account your potential for future growth and needs and provide that scalability.  As you add spaces and staff, it is a clear cost advantage to standardize on a solution that can be replicated throughout the building, across a campus or across the country.  Not only will it save in design and installation costs, but users will be more likely to adopt and use the technology in the room if they are already familiar with it.  Employee training costs are significantly lower as well.

Scalability needs to meet technology. A well thought out strategy and design will provide IT infrastructure to support growth over the next 5 years. Network and data requirements, multiple VLANs and robust Wi-Fi can be implemented now, along with conduit and pre-wire for future expansion.  

The solution drives the best possible outcome. Partner with an AV/IT professional to create huddle spaces, meeting rooms and board rooms that are efficient, effective and impactful, for your users and for your bottom line.

Additional Resources:

PC Magazine’s “The Best Video Conferencing Software of 2017

Control4 provides one-touch control and easy-to-use interface

Tags: Video Conferencing, Teleconference, infrastructure, UC, BYOD, huddle room, conference room

How to get the best tech into the most important rooms of your home

How to get the best tech into the most important rooms of your home

Installing smart technologies into key rooms enhances comfort and style in any home.

Comfort and personal style are key to designing any home; and implementing smart technology into your design can provide a seamless, custom solution to give you full control of your favorite space. Equipping key rooms in your home with technology can provide the ultimate in accessibility, while still complementing your individual style.

As with any design, aesthetics are key. Seamless built-in panels, hidden television units and in-ceiling speakers are just a few ways you can customize your audio, video and lighting, without compromising the appearance of the room.

As selfbuilder & homemaker says, with the proper technology in your design plan, “you can have full control of the technology in your room, and around your house for that matter, from the convenience of your bed.” Discreetly enclosing television in a beautiful cabinet that matches your décor, for example, is an excellent was to hide bulky and aesthetically displeasing equipment. You can even hide in-wall speakers with wallpaper.

But the trend expands beyond just the bedroom. More and more, homeowners are deciding to add technology in their bathrooms and kitchens – ensuring that you never miss your favorite show. While having your favorite playlist and even your home’s surveillance at an arm’s length.

And while integrated lighting, video and audio technology are important in your indoor living spaces, it’s easy to do the same outside. Mood-lighting and discreet surround sound speakers can provide the same level of comfort and style outside as they do inside.

How to Play Music Outside

How to Play Music Outside

Your patio is an extension of your home’s living space.  It can also be a valuable addition to your seaside restaurant’s seating area.   Taking in all the South Florida lifestyle has to offer, we flock to the outdoors, gathering around the grill, relaxing poolside or enjoying an intimate dinner at an outdoor bistro.  Whether you’re engaged in an intense Bean Bag Toss Tournament, puttering in your garden, or sipping cocktails under your tiki, there’s one thing that could really add to your enjoyment: music. 

Choices in Outdoor Speakers

Outdoor audio comes in all shapes and sizes!  So, where do you start?  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, 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 – handy 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 and broadcast the big game in others.  You may also enjoy having separate volume controls in each area. Even if you elect not to do so now, it is easier and more cost-effective to wire for these future upgrades at the project’s inception.

·       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?  You can choose from simple remotes or waterproof styles, either independent to the system or integrated onto a whole house remote.  And, of course, your smart phone makes a reliable, familiar control device too!

What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor speakers?

Outdoor speakers are designed to endure the elements and to complement their environment.  They are durable, featuring specialized finishes and enclosures.  Speakers intended for interiors can’t brave the brutal, tropical conditions of sun, sand, sea, rain or even wind.  All-weather speakers also offer various installation locations. Speakers can be mounted under the eave or up in a tree, placed as an elegant patio planter, installed in your landscaping resembling a spotlight or rock (yes, they look real now! Check out the variety from Episode), or even buried underground as a subterranean subwoofer.

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 from yard to yard if no walls are there to obstruct it.  In fact, pools and waterways can actually help to amplify it. 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.  Or, while you may be listening at a comfortable level at your lanai, your neighbors may be subject to a rock concert!  This is where a few well-placed landscape speakers would serve well, allowing for background level audio to play evenly throughout. 

At the core

Control of the system requires connectivity.  You’ll want to make sure your Wi-Fi is 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 reliable 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 (and Florida!) 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.

Outdoor Music

Outsmarting Cyber Crimes Against Smart Technologies

Info Security for smart home

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 All Digital is staying ahead of the cyber criminals 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 simply 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 do-it-yourself 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 All Digital, 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.

●      Regardless of protocol, use only 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 use access by housekeepers, etc.

●      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, All Digital 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.

Seek Professional Help!  From a Certified Motorized Shade +/or Lighting Specialist, that is!

Seek Professional Help!  From a Certified Motorized Shade +/or Lighting Specialist, that is!

Resist!  It’s a beautiful South Florida afternoon and you find yourself in your favorite home improvement store.  You stroll down the electrical aisle in search of a replacement wall plate and, BAM, there it is, DIY lighting control.  Dimmers, outdoor lighting…Oh, just imagine…”Honey, did you turn off the patio lights? No? Ok [picks up remote], I got it.”  Bliss. Sigh. You round the corner and on the end-cap display, spotlighted as if the clouds have parted and sopranos are welcoming a new dawn….motorized window shades!  With a remote! Simple, elegant…You’ve been dreaming about blackouts for the Master Bedroom and Home Theater…maybe a lighter weave for the family room to protect the furniture, ease glare on the TV and block the heat…sounds perfect but….not so fast!

While DIY has its place, we caution you when it comes to automated lighting control and window shades.  We’ve recently experienced many homeowners calling to ask us to re-program their lighting and window treatments, integrating their weekend project into their system, only to find out that what they’ve installed is a single-room solution.  For us, the beauty of whole-home lighting and shade is just that – a whole-house integrated system.  Pre-set configurations; all-on/all-off, entertain, away, Good Morning!, Goodnight! modes– Portrait lights on with shades down, can lights on with shades at 50%....elegance, control and plenty of options! 

So, be tempted by that jaw-dropping display…be inspired…but before placing anything in your cart, please check with us to learn your options.  We want to be sure you’re happy with your investment.

Transforming an Integrated System into Your Integrated Lifestyle

Integrated Lifestyle Mom.jpg

Transforming an Integrated System into Your Integrated Lifestyle

More than incorporating various electronic components, an electronics systems contractor integrates your lifestyle – in your home, in your office, at the gym, while you’re away.  In today’s digital world, it’s what we’ve come to expect.  Don’t let those expectations fall short.

Proven methods ensure positive outcomes

A true differentiator in the digital environment, as a CEDIA Designer we subscribe to a proven design-build process: Discovery, Systems Design, Engineering, Implementation, Service & Support.  This process begins with a thorough “discovery”, a conversation about your current and future needs and wants, along with your budget and anticipated timeline.  This is a critical step that develops your system design.  Equally as important however, is the documentation that communicates that design. 

More than a list of “gear”

When presented with a design, it is critical that you understand how the system will perform, not simply what products are included.  Too often a business or homeowner is presented with a list of components that adds up to the bottom line, but fails to describe what the system will do.  How will it function in each space and how can you trust it will perform as specified?  Along with expert system design and engineering, you should be presented with a comprehensive document package that demonstrates proven design; project drawings, schematics, easy-to-understand scope-of-work, hardware and labor requirements.  Once we get your approval, this package then communicates the design to the installation team, programmer, architect, interior designer, plumber, electrician, millwork carpenter, etc.

Lifecycle to Lifestyle

Once engaged, the scheduling and installation process begins.  We manage the project throughout its lifecycle, communicating during each phase to keep you informed and in charge! Designing your integrated lifestyle is more than a list of stuff.  Let us show you.  We want you to know what to expect. Expect to be blown away!

OLED is Flexing its Muscles, and its Design Capabilities

OLED is Flexing its Muscles, and its Design Capabilities

On-Wall television, once avoided by the Interior Design Professional, has thrust itself into the realm of stunning artwork, worthy of being featured, not hidden.  OLEDs of 2017, consuming less power than LED TVs, offer brilliant whites and striking blacks from surfaces that are no thicker than a credit card!  

While the video technology’s curved, flat or even “wallpaper” configurations allow for incredible flexibility in design options, audio solutions have become equally as creative.  LG’s newest OLED Wall-Paper, introduced at CES earlier this year, is so thin and light, it actually mounts to the wall with magnets, leaving no room within the display for AV control, connection ports or audio.  Their solution is an external sound bar, resembling a shelf, mounted just below the video display which houses Active HDR with Dolby Vision as well as spectacular Dolby Atmos for sound.  You can assume that that professional installation is required.  While some embrace the sleek design, others would prefer a less conspicuous solution, and perhaps that’s in the works.

Sony jumped back into the OLED arena, introducing the Bravia A1 OLED TV, which turns the glass-front into a speaker. The “Acoustic Surface” vibrates to create audio! The super-thin design also means that there is no need for a traditional stand. Instead, it features a pop-out lean-stand similar to that of a tablet.

Samsung deviated from OLED by developing QLED which features a “reinvented Quantum Dot technology.”  Truly designer-friendly, it comes with “invisible connection” for nearly undetectable cabling. For audio they’ve developed the Sound+ soundbar with subwoofer, complementing their line of flat and curved units both aesthetically and acoustically.

Interior Designers can now embrace technology in design with OLED TVs that are beautiful whether on or off.  So, which is right for you?  Give us a call – we’ll help you navigate OLED!

 

Tags: minimalism, Dolby Atmos, Active HDR, Dolby Vision, OLED, QLED

Building a New Home?

Building a New Home?

Make it the Smartest House On The Block

Building a new home? Why not make it a smart home? Control4 smart home solutions will make your new home both beautiful and brilliant. With Control4, you can coordinate virtually all the connected devices in your house to create a personalized experience with solutions that maximize your comfort, convenience, entertainment and peace of mind. Do something special for your new home and give it the smart it deserves!


WHAT WE DO

ALL DIGITAL is a full service custom integration company. We specialize in designing and installing a full range of electronic systems including automation and control, home cinemas, lighting controls, multi-room audio and video, networking, smart racks, media rooms, and integration for your home or business.