How to create the perfect home entertainment space
October 4, 2018
Can you keep up with technology? Nobody really can, but it may be fun to investigate some of the home upgrades currently available.
"Technology is ever-evolving in our industry, and fast," explains Jay Stein, president of Audio-Visual Solutions out of Breckenridge.
As much as media rooms were the focus for television, movies and music in the past decade or so, Stein says it's multi-use spaces that are getting the attention now.
"Think a rec room with a billiards or shuffleboard table, and large motorized 120-inch screen, or even multiple TVs, to watch multiple sports events," Stein shares. "We are actually working on a room transformation right now in which we will have a 75-inch TV in the middle of the wall, with four 40-inch TVs surrounding it, two on each side."
Game day just got a little more exciting.
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"With the right equipment," he adds, "we could even matrix them to display one giant image."
Screen and projection technology has also come a long way and is getting some in-home attention.
"Now we can display large, high-resolution video, in rooms that have high ambient light levels," says Stein. "It used to be the norm that you had to make a movie theater room dark to get well-saturated picture with good black levels. But those days are gone."
That being said, there's nothing quite like watching a movie with the family in a dedicated media room with a giant screen. So, as Stein explains, it really depends on a homeowner and the desire of those that will be using the space.
If you do have a home theater, an improvement can begin with more comfortable chairs.
"We even have chairs with motorized recline, and heat and massage," shares Stein.
Newer, higher definition projection systems with brighter images and deeper black levels are also an easy upgrade, he says, as well as adding a streaming device to access Vudu and Netflix.
"Some customers are adding gaming systems to their theater," explains Stein. "And of course, automation to allow you to use an iPad as the remote for easy one-button theater operation. Acoustical treatment can make a once poor sounding room perform better and make dialogue more intelligible."
The at-home television and movie experience is at the top of its game (although the peak continues to rise), as additional audio and visual technology elements are always changing and improving.
"4K high-resolution video is hot. Dolby Atmos is hot. Movie servers are hot," Stein explains. "Home automation continues to evolve and become more encompassing."
What has become "standard" is homes with automated lights, shades, heating and cooling, surveillance and even door entry — all from a simple iPad app.
"We just install a wall-mounted iPad that has completely wireless charging," shares Stein, "usually in multiple locations."
The iPad magnetically attaches to the wall, and can easily be removed for portable control of all the smart features of the home.
"So that's hot," he says.
Wanting to bring the outside in is also a trend picking up momentum. With new technology, that can mean living rooms that have a door system that opens the room up to a patio or deck. Then add outdoor speakers and TVs and you're ready to roll.
Smaller upgrades can be a big difference. A wireless music streaming system, like Sonos, can easily add music in rooms where it was previously difficult to get wire to, not to mention all the other simple additions that can be implemented.
"A simple wireless stand-alone speaker can easily and inexpensively get your Pandora playlist into the bathroom or home office," Stein says. "4K Apple TV will make the most of a new 4K TV. And a remote control thermostat, like Nest, allows you to control the temperature of your home from afar, or easily create schedules, saving money right out of the box. Things like Google Home and Alexa allow you to integrate smart home technology with voice control, so that's fun."
But as technology continues to evolve, don't forget to appreciate your favorite "vintage" items that may still be useful.
"As we all know, the CD player, and now even DVD player, have gone the way of the cassette tape," Stein explained. "On-demand, streaming of audio and video is where it's at. However, vinyl has made a comeback!"
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