Archive for Home Theater

Forty-five years after its release, The Sound of Music is still attracting audiences and bringing in the cash. If you didn’t get your copy on blu-ray for Christmas, you may want to order yours today.

You can purchase this and other movies on Blu-ray at this link:

Categories : Home Movies
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Home Theater Plasma TV in Family Room or DenIf you ask a home theater installer the differences between their products versus a name-brand TV or stereo system that you can pick up off a shelf at Best Buy, most are going to claim a huge difference in quality.

I tend to be a bit more open with my reply: As a rule of thumb, there are very subtle quality differences between, say, a Samsung or Sony or other name brand that you can purchase at Best Buy versus the higher-end systems that we sell. Unless you’ve purchased a low-end, no-name brand piece of equipment, most people aren’t going to notice these differences.

But for the true audio junkie or videophile or a customer who wants the best quality entertainment available these subtleties are worth paying a little extra for.

Plus, there’s the installation side of this equation: Getting the components to work together and correctly, to ensure that all the cables and wires are best-in-class, and perhaps just as importantly making sure those ugly but important cables and wires are hidden from view.

The difference in going with a CEDIA-certified home theater installer comes down to sound and video clarity, greater dynamic range of sound, brighter colors, and customer service.

Higher-end home theater systems (for instance, Integra, which is to Onkyo what Cadillac is to General Motors) are more dependable and come with longer warranties. At Sound and Image, we’ve only had to use warranties a few times here and there. When we do activate a warranty, you wouldn’t believe how fast manufacturers react. We’re talking two-day air shipping directly to the customer. It’s an amazing degree of customer service.

And that�s the other part of what you pay for: Service.  The cost of any product you buy from us (generally only around 5 to 10 percent more than the store) includes our phone number for whenever you have issues (hopefully you won’t if we do our jobs right) or need questions answered.

Here’s a great piece from that we always give to customers when they ask about the benefits of hiring a pro. At Sound and Image Design, we strive to be as open and transparent as possible with you about service, cost or product quality. Drop me an email at [email protected] if you have questions. I love talking about this stuff!

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There’s a term for the people in our industry that you should probably keep away from when it comes to home theater systems: Trunk slammers.

These are the guys who mainly work out of their car, just doing what he needs to do to get by. Home installs are probably a side job for him.  You’re not really dealing with a company, per se.

With us, you are. And we can prove it, with the little icon you see in this post.  We’re CEDIA certified.  So what does being CEDIA certified mean to you?  Seeing the CEDIA stamp means you can trust that you’re dealing with proven experts who are committed to a higher standard of education, according to the organization.  You’ll not only get the finest in custom electronics design and installation, but you’ll also have peace of mind.

CEDIA Member Logo

Sound + Image Design, Richmond, are members of the trade association, CEDIA.

Our experience with CEDIA which stands for Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association is that this is a group that is extremely supportive of our industry and is serious about the work that comes out of it.  Sound + Image Design went through rigorous testing and training because we believe in CEDIA certification so much.

But let’s be serious for a moment: This is a fun job.  And we meet tons of fun people and get to play with all kinds of fun toys.  CEDIA’s annual Expo (see pics and a review here) gives us an idea of the latest and greatest (and the blah products) coming on the market.

We’re confident that we’re the company that will meet your unique needs. Talk to others who have been through the process. Read our testimonials.  If you’d like to talk to or see projects we’ve done, let us know.

We think you’ll realize: When it comes to home theater, audio and video installations in Central Virginia, we set the bar.

How can CEDIA help you as a homeowner?

Adding custom home theater, multi-room audio, or automation is a wonderful investment that will add to the enjoyment and value of your dream home. But an investment of this size shouldn’t be trusted to just any company. That’s why you should consider a CEDIA certified member.

CEDIA certified companies have met vigorous industry standards and have been formally educated and specially trained. These are critical steps to ensure that your investment in your home is not wasted. In addition, CEDIA member companies have agreed to the CEDIA Code of Ethics, perhaps the most highly regarded standard in the Electronic Lifestyles industry.

For a free home theater consultation in the Greater Richmond or surrounding areas, simply call our office at 804.741.5816.

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Control4 Lifestyle

Knowing your home media lifestyle helps us to design a system just for you. And Control4 makes it easy for everyone in the family to operate.

Let’s talk about client process.  You’ve obviously heard the customer is always right.  The only way to make sure that happens is to get to know you and your needs.  If you’re in the market for a home audio and/or video system and the service that goes along with it here’s what you can expect from Sound and Image Design.

When and why do our clients come to us?  Two reasons mainly:

  • Many times, they’re building a new home, putting on an addition, or landscaping their property and want to install a new home theater system.
  • Other times, the house, room or yard is already there, and the client wants a quality entertainment system.

We work with builders, architects and interior designers, but ultimately, our duty is to the client the person, couple, or family that is going to be using the products we install and the services that we offer.

But before there can be entertainment, there must be ascertainment. We have to get an idea of your lifestyle goals and needs.

It begins with the Sound and Image Design Meet & Greet (aka the Discovery Phase).

This is where you get to know us, and perhaps more importantly, we get to know you. What are your priorities? What’s your lifestyle? Are you more into music or movies? Is this system going into one room, two, or all of them? How many TVs will you have? Do you want electronics indoors and out, or just one or the other?

We’ll look around the blueprints or your home take a site survey, as it were and write down notes of the challenges or obstacles we’ll face while installing.  Retrofits are a bit more difficult than installing in a home under construction, but we love doing both.

And here’s a little fun fact: You won’t see wiring on any system we install. It’s all concealed in your walls or cabinets.

I’ll be honest: Most clients don’t have an idea of their budget, and for most, their needs are more expensive than what they were expecting.  Not because of our cost, but because of the equipment involved. It’s not cheap stuff; but it’s high-quality. We know the equipment we’re installing or recommending we’ve tested it and use it ourselves.  And, of course, we’ll discuss options with you.

Bottom line: We won’t put a box into your house that we don’t believe to be the best in class of its kind.

For a free consultation, give us a ring: (804) 741-5816 to make an appointment at a time that is convenient for you.

Control4 Woman in Kitchen with Home Audio ControlYou’d think men, with their love of big screen TVs for football watching, would be the one to be in the market for a high-tech home theater system, wouldn’t you?

We’ll, you’d be surprised.

In my 20 or so years of installing home theater systems, I’ve discovered primarily two types of customers that are split across the sexes: The man of the house, typically a husband, who is big into the technology and wants an awesome home theater installed for his castle.  That’s the main type of customer you probably think of, too.

But then you have the woman of the house.  She’s typically tired of having 30 remotes on the coffee table.  She’s tired of wires, of seeing different black boxes that do different things and DVD or CD cases cluttering up the TV stand or living room.

Typically, he wants performance and she wants aesthetics.

And men think they can do it all, too. From one survey:

When it comes to installing a home theater, nearly half of men say they are very confident they can do it themselves while just three in 10 women say the same. In fact, the majority of women surveyed (51%) say they are not at all confident about installing a home theater themselves.

Typical of us guys, right?

Control4 Home Theater On Screen

Control4's Home Theater Simple Remote Control

When it comes to performance and looks, at Sound and Image Design, we make sure to meet the needs of everyone in the house. We create home theater systems that work reliably and sound great, but also look good within the home’s decor.

You won’t see the boxes if you don’t want to. We hide speakers in the walls of your entertainment room  literally, invisible speakers. You will not see anything. We whittle all your remotes down into a single easy-to-use device, from Control4 (now compatible with the iPad).

So, no matter who is in the household and no matter what the technology or design concerns are, we have a solution for you. Give us a ring at 804.741.5816 to find out more.

Categories : Home Theater
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You probably don’t get too excited over cables for home theater and entertainment systems, but we certainly do. In fact, the latest development in this segment of our industry (that being home electronics) has us pretty pumped up.

HDBaseT CableYou may have heard of HDMI cables, which essentially get rid of the standard red, blue, yellow, green and other colored cables that have long been used for connecting stereos, set-top boxes, TVs, video game systems and the like. HDMI cables combined all those cords into one, and were optimized for high-definition devices and TVs.

Enter HDBaseT.

Now, let’s cut past the jargon. This new home theater technology uses the same Ethernet cord that you plug from your computer into an Internet jack. It looks like a phone cord, but is a little thicker. HDBaseT is a standard that will be built into many new TVs, stereo systems, high-definition Blu-ray players, and more consumer electronic devices. Provided the device is built with the HDBaseT standard, you’ll be able to connect everything with a typical Ethernet cord (expect really pricey ones to come on the market that’ll try to take your wallet for a spin).

At Sound + Image Design, it’s our belief that HDBaseT will usher in a new era of Internet-connected devices that will plug straight into your high-definition TV and make browsing the Web on your tube much easier (see Google TV). And because the wires can extend up to 328 feet, you can connect a PC in your home office directly into your TV in the living room (Our company can hide that cable in your walls, too).

As the NewTeeVee blog puts it: There’s really no more excuses for not connecting your PC to your TV, even if the two devices are located in different rooms of your house.

Plus, HDBaseT could eventually declutter the bird’s nest of cables you may have underneath your home theater system, streamlining them all into one. The standard is supported by LG, Samsung, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Valens Semiconductor. You should start seeing devices from these consumer electronics makers (and certainly others) later this year before being adopted heavily in 2011.

If you’d like more information on HDBaseT or want to develop a plan for integrating it into your Richmond home, call our Richmond Home Theater Showroom today 804.741.5816.

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Home Theater Question: Is there an ideal distance (or maximum/minimum distance) that a person should sit from their television for optimal viewing? Also, is there an ideal height to hang a TV if you’re putting it up on a wall? What are the guidelines you give customers?

Control4 Home Theater ImageThe ideal viewing distance depends on 2 main factors; screen size and resolution of the TV or display.

Most displays manufactured today have a resolution of 1080P, so we’ll use this as our reference. Although there are varying opinions and methods to calculate this, two of the most common viewing distance guidelines are 1.5 – 2.5 times the diagonal measurement of the display or 3-5 times the screen height (preferred). If you sit any closer than 3 times the height of the screen you will start to notice the display’s pixel structure. As viewing distance increases beyond 5 times the screen’s height, you will lose the benefit of the display’s high resolution.

In other words, you’ll miss some of the detail of high definition content. The higher a display’s resolution is, the closer you may sit to it. As resolution decreases, you’ll want to sit farther away to avoid seeing any imperfections.

There are exceptions to every rule, but the general guideline is to mount your TV at a height that allows viewing to be natural and comfortable. It should be mounted allowing you to view the screen head on with the center of the screen being at eye level. This is generally at a height of around 48 inches for the average person. You don’t want it mounted at a height that forces you to tilt your head back. If circumstances require that the TV be mounted higher, make sure that the bottom of the screen is no higher than eye level.

Sound and Image Design helps homeowners simplify and enjoy their lives with easy-to-use home technology systems such as home theaters, whole house music systems, and home automation.  For more information or to receive a free estimate, please call your Richmond home theater experts at 804.741.5816.

Categories : Home Theater Q&A
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Inner Ear Hair Cells

Electron Microscope view of hair cells embedded in the basilar membrane of the inner ear

As we age, even the little hairs in our inner ear lose some of their function which means we begin to lose our hearing in the very high frequency ranges and even some of the low frequency ranges.

The average range of hearing for children is from a low of 20 Hz to a high of 20 kHz. By the time a person hits the age of 20, years of attending loud concerts may already have killed off the ‘high tones’. Studies show that the high range for an average young adult is about 16,000 Hertz (16 kHz). In another 10 years, a 30-year-old is often down to a mere 12,000 Hertz (12 kHz). Such a person would simply not be able to detect the presence of, say, a 14 kHz squeal in an audio track.

Loss of hearing as a result of the aging process is called presbycusis. The process involves degeneration of the inner ear (cochlea). Presbycusis can also involve other parts of the auditory system. The hearing loss is progressive in nature with the high frequencies affected first. While the process begins after age 20, it is typically at ages 55 to 65 that the high frequencies in the speech range begin to be affected.

So why is this so important? Well, knowing how people hear high and low frequencies in music and knowing what type of music the family listens to most – rock-n-roll versus classical, for example — is critical to designing a home media room for that family to truly enjoy.

This is just one of the many hundreds of considerations that Sound + Image Design takes into account when working with their Clients to tailor a custom-built home media room for their Clients’ listening pleasure.

If you’re ready to take the next step in building your home theater room or perhaps your looking to build a whole house audio and video integration system, simply call our Richmond showroom at 804.741.5816.