Home Automation, Home Theater and Smart Home

FAQ

How Can I get music outside in the pool area


There is no problem installing speakers out by your pool, patio, deck or any other outdoor area. There are special speakers that are weather proof. You can mount the speakers to the house; get speakers that look like rocks for the landscape, or even speakers that look like planters that can be installed on the deck or patio. The planter speakers will actually hold dirt and plants. To control the speakers you can even put a volume control or keypad outside so you don’t have to run in the house to adjust the music!!




How Can I Store My Movie Collection Digitally


There are two ways to handle storing your DVD collection. First, there are devices that are like the music server mentioned in the previous question. You can “rip” your DVD to a hard drive and they will be categorized by movie title, genre, or rating. These are very costly servers but they are available. The more cost effective way to store your DVD collection is to use a DVD manager. This device will categorize your movies as the server does but you store the DVD movies in a mega changer, usually a 400-disc changer, instead of ripping them to a hard drive. A DVD manager will usually handle up to three changers or 1200 discs. As with the music server or DVD server, the cover art from the case, movie title, actors, genre, etc can be viewed on your television or touch screen. No more hunting for a title, just look through your library of DVDs from your seat and highlight the movie you want to watch; its that easy!!




How Can I convert My CD's to Digital Storage.


There is a device called a music server that will store all of your CDs. This device allows you to “rip” the CDs to its internal hard drive and it categorizes them by artist, genre, and even in your own play lists. Music servers are available in many different sizes to store different size music collections. A music server can even get music off your computer. If you are looking for extremely high quality, many music servers can store your CDs at lossless compression, called FLAC, or as WAVE files. When you want to recall a song or artist your entire CD library is viewed on your TV screen, your computer, or on a touch screen keypad either wireless or mounted in the wall. You can even recall music out by your pool to play through your pool speakers!! By storing all your CDs on a server you can locate your cases out of the way and you do not have to worry if the CD is in your car or your wife or kids have it in their systems!!




How can I view my computer on my TV screen.


There is no problem hooking up your computer to your TV as long as the TV resolution is high enough. Most HDTV models will accommodate a computer signal. A computer will usually connect using a HDMI/DVI cable, VGA cable, or component video cable. Audio is either a standard RCA cable or digital cable. Another way to accomplish this is to purchase a media center, which is a computer designed to work with an audio/video system. This computer will even connect to a standard definition television. It can be used to store music, record TV shows, play DVD’s, show slide shows from digital pictures, surf the internet, and much more. Whichever type of computer you connect make sure to also use a wireless keyboard and mouse so that you ca control all of your computer’s functions from your favorite chair with no wires!!




How Can I Control Music in Different Rooms of My House


There are many multi-room audio systems on the market that are designed to accomplish exactly what you are looking for. You can install keypads or touch screens in each room along with speakers. The most basic type of system will allow you to have four sources. Sources are items like a radio tuner, CD changer, or music server. The keypads will also allow you to turn rooms on and off and even turn the entire house on or off. More elaborate systems can control lights, heating/air conditioning, your pool equipment, or cameras. Each room in these types of systems can play any source at any time, totally independent. One room can play a CD and the other can play the radio. Depending on the system you can even control the sources. You can change radio stations or CD tracks no problem.




How can I make a home automation system simple for my entire family?


There are many devices on the market called universal remote controls or automation devices. These types of remotes have a substantial amount of memory to hold all of the commands for your various types of equipment. Some of the universal controls can be programmed by the consumer. Remotes of this type are generally for basic functions and can only operate a couple items in a system. For example, the way the cable company can program your TV power and volume on the cable box remote. A better universal control has to be programmed by a professional but it is well worth the extra expense. These remotes can be programmed for favorite channels; a touch screen style control can even have the channel icon on the screen so it is easy for the kids to pick out the Cartoon Network. This type of control device will operate most systems with a single button press. For example, there would be a button labeled “DVD”. If you press this button, the TV will turn on and go to the proper input, the DVD player will turn on and go into play mode, the surround sound receiver will turn on and go to the proper input and proper surround mode, and the remote will set itself up to operate the volume and the DVD players functions; all with a single button; like magic. You can even have the programmer make buttons for specific members of the family such as the nanny, kids, parents, etc. The nanny button may only have control over the basic TV with no surround sound, the kids may only have options for kid channels on cable television, the programming is totally your choice and tailored to your needs. Total automation solutions such as Crestron take the entire level of the system up a notch. These types of devices can control your audio/video system, your music around the house, the temperature of your pool, your thermostats for heating and cooling, the timer that controls your sprinklers, your lights around the house, and even your alarm system. This type of automation system can even be viewed from a computer that is totally off sight; like in your office or summerhouse. If you would like you can even control your entire automation system from that computer that is off sight. If you forgot to turn the air conditioning on in the summer house you can do so from your primary residence from your computer; you can even set the lights to the mood you would like when you arrive at the house!! Universal controls and automation devices have endless possibilities, which can be tailored to your needs by a qualified profession so you and your entire family can enjoy your home entertainment system and all of its features.




I would like to hang my TV in a piece of furniture and hide as much of my equipment as possible. Does this type of furniture exist without going totally custom?


The answer to your question is yes. Several manufacturers build cabinets that allow you to hang a plasma on a back board and the cabinet then surrounds the plasma with shelving or a bookcase. In this type of application, the stereo equipment will typically be installed behind boors on the bottom of the bookcase or shelving unit; this is commonly called a credenza. The type of cabinet I have described above will usually have areas that will accommodate speakers behind speaker grill cloth or there will be enough room to hang the speakers around the plasma. If you would like to get a bit more elegant, you can even purchase a cabinet where the plasma is on a lift. This allows the plasma to “pop-up” out of the cabinet using a motorized mechanism. When it is not in use it disappears into the cabinet and is out of sight. These types of cabinets also offer areas for equipment, media storage, and speaker enclosures behind grill cloth. Another cabinet is available that will actually allow you to mount the plasma on the back side of a bookcase along with your speakers, as long as they are small. The bookcase then spins around to reveal the plasma or spins again so all you see is the bookcase. This is like a revolving secret door you see in the movies!! The equipment is installed under the bookcase, behind door, in a credenza with this type of cabinet. To look at and experience these types of cabinets, visit an audio/video showroom like Hi-DEF in Red Bank NJ.




How can I Hide My Electronics and Control Them?


You can use your current remotes but you will need a device called an infrared repeater system. This consists of a sensor or “eye” which you would install in an open space where you would point the remote, a connecting block which allows the infrared signal from the remote to devices called emitters which, you attach to each piece of equipment. The remote signal now travels through wire and to the equipment. You can leave the wood doors closed and operate your equipment




What do I need to build a surround sound system?


A surround sound system is comprised of a video display, a surround sound A/V receiver or A/V preamplifier/amplifier combination, five to seven speakers plus a subwoofer, and sources such as a DVD player, VCR, compact disc player, or cable box. The video display will provide you with the visual impact. In a family room this will usually be a regular tube television, flat panel plasma or LCD, or a rear projection LCD or DLP television. In a dedicated theater room or area it will usually be a front projector and projection screen. A surround sound receiver is a device that combines your amplification, radio tuner, surround sound processing, and audio/video switching. This is the main hub for the system and every part of the system is connected to the surround sound A/V receiver. A surround sound preamplifier/amplifier combination separates the amplifier from the radio tuner, surround sound processor, and audio/video switching. These devices are usually used in a very high performance home theater and music system. The speaker system is comprised of a left and right main speaker usually symmetrical to the video display, a center channel speaker over or under the video display, two surround channels mounted either to the side or behind the listening area, and a powered subwoofer that is located on the floor and can go just about anywhere in the room. If a seven channel surround system is what you desire, you will have two surround speakers left and right of the listening position and two behind the listening position. The center channel above or below the video display will produce the dialogue for the system, the surround and surround back speakers will produce effect noises that make you feel like you are part of the movie, the subwoofer produces low frequencies such as an explosion in a movie or a bass guitar when you listen to music, the mains speakers produce both effects and dialogue. This helps to support the center speaker, produce clear musical passages, and motion of the sound. For example, if a truck drives across your screen the sound will travel from on main speaker to the center speaker to the other main speaker. Again, this helps draw you into the movie. A surround sound system is also used to play music from sources like a compact disc player. If a surround sound system is set up properly, it should be used as your stereo system and surround sound audio/video system. If you are not comfortable with all the different technology involved in setting up a surround sound system you can consult an audio/video store like Hi-DEF and have a professional design a system to meet your needs and budget and also have it professionally installed and set-up.




  1. I want to install a home theater in my main family room, but my significant other does not want to see the speakers, wires, or equipment, what can I do?


This is a very common objection. At Hi-DEF we can install very special speakers flush into the walls or ceiling so that they can be painted and camouflaged. All of the speaker wires and video feeds can be custom installed by Hi-DEF to run through the walls so that they cannot be seen. There are a couple of options to conceal the equipment. First, Hi-DEF can install the equipment into a piece of furniture behind wood doors, or as an alternative we can even install the equipment outside the room in an unused closet or cabinet area. Hi-DEF will even make your remote operate all the equipment without being able to see it. Finally, if you purchase a television from Hi-DEF we have special pictures that can cover the TV with decorative frames and when you turn the plasma or LCD on the picture rolls up into the frame to reveal the display. Hi-DEF offers total custom installation to provide all the items I listed above and more and our expert salesman can even perform a free in-home consultation to help you chose the correct equipment for your situation and to help you with the integration of the system to your décor. Hi-DEF also sells all types of furniture to help accommodate our customers’.




Do in-wall/in-ceiling speakers provide good sound quality or do they only look good?


  1. Can I put all the speakers including the subwoofer in the wall?

n-wall/ceiling speakers have come a long way in the last several years. They provide excellent performance and there is an in-wall/ceiling speaker for every budget and situation. At Hi-DEF our expert sales staff can help you choose the proper speaker for your system and our expert installation staff can install them in your home. These types of speakers can be retrofit or installed into new construction. The expert installation staff at Hi-DEF can even retrofit these speakers without damaging your walls, ceiling, or wall covering such as paint or wall paper; ITS LIKE MAGIC flush speakers and hidden wires. In-wall/ceiling speakers are also paintable to perfectly blend into your décor.




Can I put all the speakers including the subwoofer in the wall?


All the speakers in a surround sound or home theater system including the subwoofer can be installed into the walls or ceiling. This includes the left and right main speakers, center speaker, surround, and surround back speakers along with the subwoofer. At Hi-DEF we even have aimable speakers that can be installed totally flush in the ceiling and the sound is directed toward the listening area. In-wall speakers and subwoofers will fit into a standard 2”x4” stud wall. This is the normal type of construction found in our area.





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