Category Archives: Media Rooms

The Home-Field Advantage

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

What comes to mind when you think of college football in Canada? Does the image of a crowded sports bar, or your friends and family struggling to view the same television screen come to mind? What about the ultimate in-home sports bar? Now, finding the best seat for the University of British Columbia game means never leaving the comfort of your own home.

When it comes to designing the ultimate in-home experience for game day viewing, a personal sports bar, with comfy furniture and lots of space to entertain, is highly sought-after. But what really matters is creating an immersive experience, complete with a large projection screen and high-definition projector or a huge flat screen television, and a complete surround sound system to bring the sights and sounds of the stadium into your home.

With your own in-home football zone, you never have to worry if the bar will be playing the right game, or if you’ll be entering into enemy territory. Your space can be designed around your team’s colors and memorabilia. Just think: acoustic paneling, comfy theater seating and wall art tailored for the ultimate UBC fan. Integrating your memorabilia and colors with the best audio and video can transform game day into an ultra-engaging sports experience.

Are fantasy sports more than just a hobby for you? Consider opting for multiple screens and watch multiple games at once, so you never have to miss a play. The ability to view multiple games and toggle between audio at the touch of a button gives any fantasy player an advantage on tracking stats.

And the options aren’t just limited to your home. Consider taking your dedication on the road with you, and deck out a mobile home like these Auburn football fans did, so that you always have the home-team advantage. Regardless of where you wish to create your personal “home team advantage,” give us a call and we’ll get your project kicked-off!

How to Build the Ideal Audiophile Listening Room, Part 1

Hear the Music. Really Hear it. ‘I’ve listened to that song a thousand times and I’m hearing things I’ve never heard before.’ That’s the definition of your perfect Listening Room. While our world of listening has transformed dramatically over the last decade, all that matters is what you want to hear. The science and mathematics are real, as are the hi-end audio components. The rest is subjective.

The Speakers

Loudspeakers convert electrical impulses into sound. Depending on the dimensions of the room, as well as the listener’s preferences, a well-designed audio system will transmit the desired range of frequencies (note that it may not be the widest range). Some audiophiles swear by 2-channel, with speakers positioned a calculated distance apart and at an optimal distance from the listener, facing the listener for a 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 actually pick out exactly where, on the “stage”, that musician was positioned. Unlike viewing a movie, there is no need for various sounds (voice, music, effects) to “follow” around the room, so rear speakers or a full surround sound system are not 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 too.

An industry icon with a prestigious reputation built over 5 decades, Bowers & Wilkins touts its 800 Diamond Series as “the industry standard for accurate sound.” We couldn’t agree more.  The Diamond Dome tweeters of the iconic 802 D3 deliver natural treble while its Continuum cone and Aerofil cone provide amazing, subwoofer-free, midrange and bass, respectively.  Frequently the subject of audiophile reviews, the B&W Diamond Series does not disappoint. The D3 was unveiled last summer in Boston. Here’s a review featured in Audioholics that details the author’s experience of both the D3 as well as B&W’s flagship speaker, the $60k per pair Nautilus. The line’s CM Series, with its minimalist exterior and “tweeter on top” technology, also offers incredible audio performance. It is designed with the highest quality components and a “less is more” philosophy that ensures “nothing gets between you and the sound the artist intended you to hear.”

The Construction

Equally as important to the components is the environment.  The ideal listening room will be free of ambient noise and other distractions. Acoustic treatments will absorb the hum of the HVAC and rattling 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 – some will say that even a glass coffee table or leather couch is not suitable as they will reflect sound, opting instead for fabric seating. 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” or “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.

Are you an audiophile or serious music lover 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. Did you know Neil Young was launching a high-quality music streaming service?

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

OLED is Flexing its Muscles, and its Design Capabilities!

On-Wall displays, once avoided by the Interior Design Professional at all costs, 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 striking blacks and brilliant whites 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.

For example, 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 unit for AV control, connection ports or audio.  Their solution is an external shelf-like sound bar, mounted just below the video display which boasts Active HDR with Dolby Vision as well as spectacular Dolby Atmos for the sound.  You may imagine that professional installation is needed.  While some embrace the sleek design, others would prefer a less conspicuous solution: and perhaps it’s in the works.

Sony jumped back into the OLED arena, introducing its new 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 there’s no need for a traditional stand. Instead, it features a pop-out lean stand similar to that of a much smaller tablet.

Samsung deviated from OLED by developing QLED which features “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!

Mad About Your Media Room!

Content is king!  From subscription streaming to satellite, sources for content seem endless, and so are your options for viewing!  Whether you’re hosting a Sunday afternoon of sports, a night of gaming, or any other excuse to have friends over, here’s some tips to treat all your guests to their favorite team, game or conversation.

Multi-screen or Multiple Screens?

The popularity of picture-in-picture viewing has exploded with the recent, feature-rich 4K options available.  And video walls comprised of multiple displays are seeing a spike, taking full advantage of available content.  Configurations include a mix of flatscreens and projection, offering an endless range of size choices.  Some prefer one large, main viewing canvas, flanked by smaller screens, either symmetrically or asymmetrically placed.  Others prefer a massive video wall comprised of a grid of narrow-bezel displays that can be configured to toggle content across the entire grid or in a multi-screen matrix.

Another option is offering multiple screens throughout a space, providing viewing from several seating or entertainment areas.  This works well when incorporating spaces such a billiards table, bar area, casual seating nook, etc.  Mounting solutions for a video matrix is somewhat complex however.  Aside from a seamless installation, panels must be accessible for maintenance, allow for heat dispersion and more.

And keep in mind that any security feed, such as your front door camera or baby monitor, are sources that can be fed onto the screens as well. This is ideal when your media room is in the basement and you’re watching for the pizza guy!

Design 

As an Electronics System Contractor, we will help with space planning and AV design and work alongside your interior design professional to ensure the best possible outcome, the perfect blend of aesthetics and technology.  Once you’ve decided on entertaining and viewing areas, there are a number of things to consider.

Optimize your room’s viewing by creating multiple layers of seating.  Take the tiered home theater seating approach and apply it across your space to take advantage of line of sight from anywhere in the room.  A first tier could be a mix of sleek gaming chairs, multi-purpose seating/storage ottomans and kid-friendly bean bags that could be stowed away when not needed. For your main seating tier, modular sectionals offer terrific flexibility while some well-placed  swivel chairs keep viewers engaged and comfortable.  Hi-top tables and bar seating provide guests a clear shot across the room while offering spaces for intimate conversation or a competitive hand of poker. And don’t ignore design conveniences like installing drink rails and providing side tables for your guests.

Sound

Audio does not take a back seat to video!  Designing the room’s acoustics is essential for comfortable listening and conversation.  Thoughtful acoustic design and noise control reduces fatigue and allows guests in each area to enjoy content and conversation.

Seamless Audio Switching is also essential to content enjoyment.  As content is chosen or swapped across screens, the sound must follow without a distracting stutter.  We can program flawless source switching across your devices – no fumbling with multiple devices and no missed moments of the game!  No time here for amateurs!

Ready to host a party in your in-home sports bar?

Great! Call us!  We’ll walk you through your choices, then design the system of your dreams that’s robust but fun and simple to use. Better get stocked up on beer!

For more ideas, visit us on houzz. And check out our website gallery.