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Category : Home Automation

Nothing provides an aural treat better than high quality surround sound. Ever since surround sound systems have been available to the average Joe, they have proved worthy additions to home entertainment systems. Often times they are part of a home theater but if you’re not into buying the system, you can still enjoy surround sound. More important than selecting the right system is having it professionally installed. Here are the benefits of professional surround sound installation.

Installation Can Be Complicated

Depending on the size and make of the surround sound system you purchase, the installation process could be complicated. There are several technical considerations involved when installing surround sound in your living room. First of all, there are the wires of the speakers, if you aren’t using a wireless system. Secondly, the difficult part is sorting out the electronic issues which may arise. Handling these problems is difficult for a person not well-versed with the ins and outs of surround sound installation.

Positioning the Speakers

Another mistake which rookies can make is positioning the speakers wrongly. The surround sound experience can be diluted if you don’t place the speakers the way they are supposed to be placed. It is a common sight to see people with couches pushed back against the wall and the speakers lined up in front. The whole purpose of surround sound is to create an environment where you feel you are part of what is going on onscreen. The professionals know the best way to place the speakers.

No Static Interference

Problems with the wiring or power supply can cause interference in your speakers. No one is fond of the all-familiar static sound which greets you if you get something wrong. The chances of that happening are high because there are at least five speakers with long wires. Any interference in the system can ruin the whole experience of surround sound for you. However, professionals are well-equipped to deal with such problems and remove the interference.

Future Assurance

When you have the surround sound system installed by a professional, you will get a guarantee or warranty for at least one year. That means you can call up the technicians should you face any problems with your speakers or system. In some ways, this gives you some assurance for the future in the sense that the professionals are responsible for the quality of installation. Since you are paying them, you can only expect the best quality installation.

These are some of the benefits of having a professional install your surround sound system. It makes sense for you to get proper installation done as you have spent your hard-earned money on buying the system. Hire a professional to remove the risk of any problems during installation and in the future.

Professional installation of surround sound systems removes interference and other issues allowing you to enjoy a great audio experience. Call Houston Custom Installers (www.houstoncustominstallers.com) for perfect installation.

Nowadays, many homes comprise of high quality audio and video systems. All these high class equipments have been designed to give optimal performance, but that is only possible when the transmitting signals are retained. For this purpose, the structured wiring approach is most suitable because it transmits signal without potential loss and prevents noise interference.

Cables

Every cable is connected to a central designated head – end location, which is usually in the basement. The cables must be far from other high voltage wiring in the house to minimize interference. Moreover, none of the cables must be bent sharply, nor should a large force be exerted on them. The cables should also be terminated properly as a prevention measure. In addition, they should also be labeled.

Types of Wires

The two main types of wire used in structural cabling are coaxial cable and Cat 5 or Cat 6. The former is used for transmitting video, and the latter is used for transmitting data.

Central Unit

The place, where the head – end location is set up, should have waterproof walls. This is a requirement because these walls have no moisture and keep dust particles down. Both humidity and dirt can damage the equipment. Plywood should also be installed to serve as a mount, it must be painted black. Moreover, a 2 to 3 inches wide PVC pipe should also be fixed from basement to attic for future cabling.

Basic Design

Phones

Today, the multi line and multi function speaker phones are normally used. It is recommended to run one Cat 5e phone line from each bedroom and multipurpose room so that the wiring becomes capable of supporting a reliable phone system.  A weatherproof phone jack should also be installed at the porch or deck if the family loves spending time under the skies.

Computers

The computer cables must be connected to each room with a computer. The cable used is CAT 5e supporting frequencies up to 350 MHz. A separate cable will be needed if a printer has to be shared on the network. The CAT 6 cables can also be used for connecting computers to improve the transmission capacity but the cost will also rise.

Video Distribution

Video distribution uses an RG6 cable. However, video services like TIVO or Replay TV need the CAT 5e cable.  A separate RG6 cable will be needed for satellite.

Quality speakers are one of the most important parts of any sound system, but quite a few installers tend to ignore this. However, Houston Customs Installers consider this to be their topmost priority. Their speaker wires are superb in terms of performance. The prime reason behind this is that they carefully plan design and implementation. After all, quality equipment and wiring is all that is needed for minimum signal distortion.

If the cables have not been designed properly, a great deal of noise can affect the output. The material, gauge, length and shield are important factors to consider when designing a cable.

Purpose

The purpose of speaker wires is to transmit electrical signals from the amplifier to the speaker.

Construction

Speaker wires comprise of many electrical conductors which have been insulated from each other. A jacket encloses all of them. One group of conductors is positive (red) and the other is negative (black). Usually, copper is used as the conducting material. The insulators and jackets are composed of PVC.

Typically, stranded cables are used because of their flexibility, which makes it easier to connect components.

Improving the Quality

The following factors play an important role in the performance of any audio equipment. They are all related to wiring.

Copper

Copper is available in different levels in term of performance and costs.  Low quality speakers make use of tough-pitch copper. This is not a great choice for audio when compared to other types.  Higher purity copper wires, which contain a lower percentage of other metals, must be used. These wires are manufactured in a controlled environment and contain less oxygen. This also makes them resistant to corrosion, and they have a longer life. This oxygen free metal is often termed as oxygen free copper (OFC) or high conductivity oxygen free copper (HC-OFC).

A corroded copper serves as an obstacle for electrical signals, and cannot be tolerated at any cost. So OFC and HC-OFC should be used for cables so that distortion is minimized.

Cable Twist

Poor cables are made in the zip-cord manner. A twisted conductor is a much better option because noise interference is reduced and inductance is lowered which makes it easy for the amplifier to transmit an undistorted signal.

Star Quad

Sound quality is greatly improved if separate cables are used for the right and left speakers. This is referred to as the star quad design. It also reduces the inductance, and thus, the distortion.

Low voltage data transmission wires are normally referred to as LAN cables or networking wires. However, their generic name is Unshielded Twisted Pair or UTP. Low voltage wires have many applications such as telephone lines, interconnecting computers on a network, and DSS.

ISO / IEC have divided low voltage wires into different categories based on how much shielding they can provide from outside interferences. The higher the category number, the greater the shielding level and data transfer rate.

The categories of low voltage wires are as follows:

  • Grade 1, Grade 2, Category 3 and Category 4: These wires are now obsolete, so no discussion is necessary.
  • Category 5:  This category comprises of unshielded twisted pairs of wires which offer an impedance of 100 Ohm and support frequencies less than 100 MHz.
  • Category 5e or Enhanced Category 5: This category is better than Category 5 in terms of performance. The specifications have also been improved for Near End Cross Talk (NEXT), Power Sum Equal Level Far End Cross Talk (PSELFEXT) and attenuation.
  • Category 6: This class is similar to Category 5e because it supports the same networking standards. Its advantage lies in the fact that it is compatible with lower category grades.
  • Category 7: This category supports frequencies up to 600 MHz and offers an impedance of 100 Ohm.
  • 10 Gig: This type has not been classified officially. It supports up to 10 GB transmission speeds.

The standard wires used in computer and telecom applications belong to category 5, 5E and 6 because they reject more interference and support faster data transmission equipments. Each cable consists of four twisted pairs of insulated copper wire which is further enclosed in thick plastic. One cable can support 4 telephone lines or a single network connection. The ratings of category 5, 5E and 6 wires are 100 MHz, 350 MHz and 550 MHz, respectively.

A few standards have been set with low voltage wires. These are:

  • The cabling has been restricted to 100 meters or 328 feet.
  • The minimum grade for structured wiring is Category 5e.
  • When installing, all components used must be compatible with that category to achieve optimal performance.

Loudspeakers are a type of a transducer which converts electrical signals into sound. This is done by forcing a diaphragm to vibrate and transmit these vibrations into the air, which serves as sound or acoustic waves.

Types on the Basis of Location

  • Freestanding:  These speakers are just set up on the floor. They are not mounted or fixed on any wall. They are normally used with a 2 channel stereo, but can also be used for surround sound systems.
  • Architectural: These speakers are further classified on the basis of their placement.
  • In wall: In wall loudspeakers are fixed in the walls. Their depth is usually less than four inches so they can easily be fixed. However, if the depth can be extended to 6 inches, then a much better design is possible.
  • In ceiling: Just as the name implies, in ceiling speakers are located in the ceiling. The depth of these speakers can be as much as 8 inches. This increases the design possibilities, and so these speakers have a wide variety.
  • On wall: These speakers are just mounted externally on the walls. These are used when certain components are already enclosed in the wall such as HVAC systems.
  • Outdoor: Outdoor speakers are further categorized into rocks and wall types. The former category resembles a rock, and is placed on the floor. The latter category is just mounted on the outside walls of houses.
  • Wireless: Wireless speakers are not really wireless. They have to be connected to an AC source through a cord to turn on the power. The only thing is that music is transmitted to them wirelessly. Batteries may be used to power speakers, but this is not feasible because the sound quality is extremely poor.

 Usage and Applications

  • Multi Room Audio: These speakers are placed in almost every room in the house so that high quality music can be listened to anywhere on the premise.
  • Surround Sound: These speakers are placed in a single room and recreate the audio track of movies. Generally, a media room has five speakers and a subwoofer. This configuration is called the 5.1 surround sound. The speakers have been named left, center, right and the last two are side – surround speakers. Additionally, two more speakers can also be put up at the back of the room, but this is not necessary. If back speakers are used, the configuration is called 7.1 surround sound.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the light you left on when you went to sleep led to energy wastage and added a few cents to your electricity bill. Such oversights and mistakes are commonly seen in households everywhere. With the economy in recession and the earth battling global warming, higher utility bills and heat emissions are two things you cannot afford. There is a way you can control the lighting in your home and make it environment-friendly: house lighting control.

As the name clearly states, house lighting control helps you manage and regulate the lighting in your home. It covers the entire span of your home, from the basement to the garage. You can control all the lights in your home, indoors and outdoors with a remote. The remote is customized specially according to your needs providing you better control. Not only does it allow you to prevent wastage but to create a perfect ambience by manipulating the lighting.

The biggest benefit of house lighting control is that you save energy. A system is installed in your home and the lights are programmed according to it. You can set the specific time at which you want certain lights to turn on or off. That way, you can have minimal lights on during the daylight hours and more lights when it is dark outside. Most importantly, there are occupancy sensors installed in the system. If a room is unoccupied, the lights there would turn off automatically.

What this means is that you no longer need to worry about lights being left on after you have gone to bed. You can control the lights in your home while lying in your bed. Wouldn’t you love to turn the light on the porch off without having to get up from the bed? Of course, it is a highly convenient option that saves much of the hassle associated with managing the lights in your home.

There are some other benefits of home lighting control apart from the eco-friendliness.

  • You can leave the home empty with the lighting programmed to a sequence. Depending on your programming, the lights in certain parts of the home will go on and off as you wish. That way, you can create the illusion that the house is occupied even if you are on a different continent!
  • The energy savings translate to cost savings. House lighting control not only allows you to turn the lights on and off but to dim them when low intensity lighting is required. That way, the power consumed is minimized as is the heat produced by the lights.
  • Preventing the lights in your home from being on uselessly lengthens their life. You can use the same lights for a longer time period providing you greater value for money.

The only obvious drawback is that the house lighting control system might be incompatible with older homes. Yet, it is the best way for any homeowner to go green. Get a professional to install house lighting control and give you the remote that turns lights on and off!

House lighting control is the best way to keep your house well lighted in an eco-friendly manner. Houston Custom Installers (www.houstoncustominstallers) are experts at installing lighting control systems.

A coaxial cable comprises of two conductors with a common axis. The conductor on the inner side is just a straight wire which can be stranded or solid. The conductor on the outer side is braided or foiled so that it can act like a shield.

The following layers are found in a coaxial cable. The first layer discussed takes up the centre spot and the last layer is the outermost layer. All other layers are found in between these two.

  • As mentioned above, the central layer comprises of a conducting material. The preferred choice for the core is solid copper. This layer transmits the baseband video signal. During transmission, a certain amount of signal is lost due to long distance. The main reason for this is resistance, so a bigger conductor should be used. Resistance is inversely proportional to area so it is decreased this way, and most of the signal is retained.
  • The dielectric layer surrounds the centre copper core. This is basically the waxy, opaque part of the cable, and is made up of hydrocarbons such as polyolefins, polystyrene and polypropylenes. At times, air is also used as dielectric, but in this case, spacers are used to support the inner wire and to prevent it with from coming in contact with the shield. The function of the dielectric is to separate the inner conductor from the shield and provide physical support.
  • The next layer is the metallic shield, generally composed of braided copper. It has two main purposes:  to protect the conductor from noise or other unwanted signals, referred to as ingress, and to retain the transmitted signal in the conductor, referred to as egress. On this basis, coaxial cables can also be classified as dual and quad. Dual cables have two layers of shielding and quad cables have four.
  • The last layer is the outside insulation which encloses all the inner layers. This is called a jacket and is usually made from PVC.

Attenuation or Insertion Loss:

Attenuation is the process of losing a signal when it is being transmitted. It is caused by long cables, humidity, temperature and excess return loss. Insertion loss is not only present in the coaxial cable, but is also seen in devices connected to the cable such as amplifiers and splitters.

Systems are design such that attenuation is minimized.

Blu-ray Disc or just Blu-ray or even BD is a format of the optical disc, which has been developed for recording, playing and rewriting high definition (HD) audios and videos. It is also used to store massive amounts of data since its capacity is five times more than traditional DVDs. Over the years to come, Blu-ray will eventually replace DVDs completely.

Reasons for Upgrading to Blu-Ray

You might be wondering why you should upgrade to Blu-ray when your DVD player is doing fine. The answer to this is very simple. It is because of High Definition TV that you should make the switch. If you have seen an HD video, then you have probably noticed that the picture is of superb quality with vivid colors and incredible sharpness. This is because HD allows more details to be put in than DVD, hence the improved quality. The need for more storage was this very reason in fact, and led to the development of Blu-ray.

Moreover, Blu-ray also has other special features such as interface and networking. The menus and graphics have been taken to an entire new level. You can also download content, update it via the internet and even watch live broadcasts. All this means a much better experience.

Buying a Blu-ray player does not mean that you need an additional DVD player as well. The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has set standards which make sure that every BD device is compatible with DVDs. This is also a surety of the fact that your DVD collection will not be rendered useless once you get a BD player.

Functioning

Blu-ray players read data using a blue colored laser beam, hence, the name. A blue laser has a better focus than a red laser, which is used in DVDs. This improved focus allows more data to be packed on a disc of the same standard size than when compared to a red laser. As already mentioned, the storage capacity is five times more, so you can imagine how much better a Blu-ray disc is.

Equipment

You need the following components to get started off with viewing the greatest quality videos to date.

  • BD player
  • HDTV
  • HDMI

If you are interested in purchasing a Blu-ray player, then Houston Customs Installer is a great choice. The organization has an expert technical team which deals with the design and installation, and ensures your Blu-ray player gives you optimal performance.

High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is the standard used to regulate the quality of connecting equipment for home electronics and computer-related paraphernalia. The importance of HDMI can be judged by the fact that your electronics are considered safe from voltage fluctuations and other common problems if you use HDMI-certified interface. With this in mind, you should ensure you check the HDMI certification when having your home entertainment system or computer installed.

The Key Factor

The main thing separating HDMI from the rest is that it sends digital signals. Different kinds of cables and wires are used to send the signals to the devices which need to be operated. Considering the fact that digital signals are considered the best, you are simply making sure you get the best quality on your high-definition equipment.

Of course, there is the possibility of some distortion and other issues with HDMI signals as well. There are several things which interfere with digital signals, any of which can cause problems for you. What you can do is make sure you eliminate the risk of faulty or substandard cabling by opting for tributaries’ cables, which the professionals recommended.

The Benefits

Why should you go digital when normal conduction can do the job for you? There are some great benefits of using HDMI instead of the conventional cabling options. Here are some of them:

  • The signals to your aural and visual devices are sent from the same source. You don’t need to set up multiple interfaces to do so.
  • With HDMI, you can go digital with your home entertainment system. The interface can be integrated seamlessly into your current system or you can upgrade it.
  • You can keep adding devices to the setup if you have already installed HDMI. You don’t have to get a new installation every time you buy a new device.
  • Obviously you enjoy the benefits of complete digital entertainment as there isn’t any compression or conversion involved.
  • You will enjoy a wonderful quality in picture and sound, thereby enhancing your experience of watching movies and playing games.
  • HDMI is constantly improving and upgrading hence it is modified to include any new device introduced into the market.
  • Perhaps the biggest advantage of all is that your devices interact with each other in a more ‘intelligent’ way. It reduces any excessive load while enabling you to enjoy the best possible experience.

If you want to get the best out of your home entertainment system, call Houston Custom Installers. The professional installers will provide HDMI to improve the performance of your devices.

When you purchase a home theatre system, you must be aware of several factors that can affect the performance of your equipment. It is really important to keep the following points in mind when you install and set up your home theatre system.

The Room

A home theatre system has been designed to give you a cinema-like performance. Cinemas usually comprise of rectangular rooms which are completely enclosed. The same goes for your home theatre system. The room where you install them should be rectangular, fairly big and have little to no sunlight. Outside light will reduce the picture quality and an open space will reduce the sound quality.

Go for curtained walls and carpeted floors if your budget permits you. These decrease disruptive echoes, and considerably improve performance.

The Display Screen

Set up the television in a place where it is easily visible, and where there is little or no outside glare. The best place for the screen is usually the far flung wall of the room.

The Sound System

Choosing a suitable place for the sound system is one of the most difficult parts. The front speakers must be set up at the same height and distance from each other. They should also be located near the screen so that it seems that the sound is coming from there. If you have ever been to a real theatre, then the speakers are usually not noticeable. The sound just appears to be coming from the screen itself. The same should go for your home theatre system.

The rear speakers can be positioned in many different ways. You can either place them on the sides or the back of the room whichever is the place farthest from the screen. Whatever their location, they must also be set up at the same height and be equidistant from each other.

The subwoofer can also be placed in any location in the room. The best place is, however, against a wall or on the floor so that you can get a rumbling sound effect.

The Lights

Lighting is one of the most important factors which affects performance. The room should be as dimly lit as possible so that there is no bright glare on the screen, but the light should be enough to prevent your eyes from straining. Too much light in a completely dark room often causes a strain on your eyes.