You May Never Want to Go Back Inside With These High-Performance Solutions
The Rocky Mountain spring is here in Aspen, and we get to spend even more time outdoors in our slice of mountain paradise. Of course, spring might feel like winter one day and summer the next, but that never stops us from enjoying all the nature that our area has to offer.
The great thing about Aspen is we can enjoy the outdoors any time of year. Even in winter, what feels better than a soak in the hot tub after a day of skiing or snowboarding? With all that we can do outside, why not make that time even more enjoyable with an outdoor audio-video system? We can relax to favorite tunes in the hot tub, and with an outdoor TV, we can cheer on the Nuggets in the NBA playoffs. Come summer; we can enjoy a great movie night under the stars in the cool mountain air.
Sound tempting? Read on to learn about some great outdoor audio-video solutions for your Aspen abode.
Music can enhance any experience. Whether you're lounging on the patio, soaking in the hot tub, or grilling the perfect steak in the outdoor kitchen, your music can set the right mood and ambiance.
Campbell Audio-video is proud to work with Sonance, a pioneer in architectural and outdoor speakers. The Sonance Landscape Series employs buried subwoofers and satellite speakers to deliver punchy, full range sound that is heard but not seen. The SonArray line is another series that can hide in your landscape and blanket an area up to 2000 square feet with rich sound. Other models can be hung under eaves or mounted on outside walls in a covered patio area. Speakers can be mixed to ensure even coverage with quality audio for your entire outdoor space. Of course, Sonance speakers are fully weatherized to withstand the harshest extremes of the mountain climate.
While we might like to enjoy summer movie nights in the home theater or media room, a fun option is to do it outside. With the swings in Aspen mountain weather, indoor TVs don’t cut it outdoors. You need TVs with housing and electronics that are designed and built to be outside. Seura TVs fit that bill, with screens that can get wet, and sealing that keeps out humidity, water, and protects electronics from hot to cold extremes.
Seura outdoor TVs are offered in a range of sizes to fit most any installation. The 86-inch size would make the perfect outdoor theater for summer movie nights. Seura has models that can go from full shade to full sunlight, which requires special screen coatings and ultra-high brightness and contrast capability. If you enjoy 4K and HDR content from Netflix, Amazon, or movie rentals, the Seura models are ready for it.
Campbell works with Savant Systems for audio-video distribution, control, and home automation. The ideal outdoor audio-video setup is controlled by an intuitive Savant automation system. It can tie all your video content sources into your outdoor installation, whether it’s satellite, cable, streaming, or from your own media server. It can do the same for music, making all your music available from an IPad or iPhone on your outdoor system. And if you’re soaking in the hot tub, you can just tell Alexa to change the channel or the music with just your voice through the Savant system. Can relaxing outdoors get better than that?
Let us show you all the options for outdoor audio-video entertainment for your Aspen property. Just click here to connect with us! We look forward to working with you.
The Mark Levinson 515 Turntable is Audiophile Nirvana
When you get auto enthusiasts together, heated conversations may ensue. It happens at every level. Whether it's Ford vs. Chevy, BMW vs. Mercedes, or Porsche vs. Jaguar, each camp knows how to defend their marque's turf. Then there are the technology purists. For some, only manual transmissions can deliver an authentic driving experience. For others, no 4-cylinder engine, no matter how powerful, could compete with a V-8.
When it comes to audio, much the same disputes might ensue. And in audio circles, enthusiasts of the technological camps of analog and digital will wax eloquently over the superiority of each. Digiphiles will say that digital audio has greater dynamic range, and that digital stuff doesn't wear out like a vinyl record. On the analog side, aficionados will note that no digital recording can replicate the rich, warm sound of a vinyl record.
We can say that almost everyone is right. The Fords, Chevys, Porsches, and Jaguars are all fine cars, and they all have their strengths. Digital audio has its distinct advantages over analog. And there's a reason that turntable sales are resurgent, as their warm analog sound delivers a tactile and aural musical experience that might be akin to driving a fine sports car from yesteryear - one with a manual transmission, of course.
If you fall into that analog camp - and even if you don’t, but simply appreciate superior engineering and craftsmanship - we have a turntable for you - the Mark Levinson 515. This beautifully constructed work of audio art makes the perfect centerpiece to your high-end audio listening room in Snowmass, CO.
Mark Levinson is a brand well-known to audiophiles for over 45 years. Today the brand is part of Harman’s Luxury Audio group that also includes Revel speakers and Lexicon components. Despite its rich history, the 515 is the first turntable to carry the Mark Levinson name. The 515 was built in partnership with VPI, whose American-made turntables are well-known to audio enthusiasts.
With the 515, Mark Levinson set out to build no ordinary turntable. The substantial 20-pound aluminum platter and 3D-printed tonearm indicate that it is designed to deliver maximum performance. Utilizing classic belt-driven design and weighing a total of 58 pounds, this $10,000 paragon of audio engineering will unearth every nuance of sound in your record collection.
All the construction of the 515 is designed to deliver the sound without any added or unwanted noise. The belt drive is a triple one with a precision machined pulley for smoothness. The synchronous motor is powered by an analog oscillator and discrete class AB amplifier for perfect current supply. The chassis is aluminum sandwiched with a highly damped composite material. Everything about this component shouts the same attention to detail and quality you would see in a Bentley automobile.
Pair It with Mark Levinson Components
The 515 needs preamp and amp componentry that is a match for its superb quality. Why not go with Mark Levinson? The No. 52 preamplifier, according to the company, is the best it has ever made. The 52 keeps digital and analog circuitry separate for the best possible sound through pure signal paths. The No. 536 amplifier pumps out 400 watts per channel of pure Class A current and is stable to 2-ohm loads. There is almost no speaker that it cannot drive effortlessly. In both performance and aesthetics, these components would form the perfect complement to the 515.
Are you ready for high-end audio bliss in Snowmass? Let Campbell Audio-Video build the ultimate listening rig for you. Contact us; we look forward to working with you.
Home automation technology continues to march onward, and it seems that every month there's a new smart device to control something in your house. Everything is getting smart, with software connected to the Internet that allows unprecedented control and features that would be a dream just a few short years ago. Smart thermostats, smart TVs, smart speakers, and smart appliances are all available to make daily life more comfortable in the home.
The real power of all these intelligent devices is when they start working together, doing things for you with very little or no input. While having an app to control a device is good, it's even better when you have a system to coordinate all those things. That's what Savant home automation is all about, integrating your myriad of smart devices and home functionality into a cohesive whole in your Aspen home. Effortless control is about more than reaching for your smartphone to turn on a light. True home automation integrated a variety of functions to accomplish a goal - be it for convenience, increasing safety, or managing energy more wisely.
Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant has become extremely popular because it brings easy voice control to many smart devices. As Alexa employs sophisticated voice recognition technology to provide information, answer questions, and many other functions, Savant has brought that advanced technology to its home automation solutions to add a new dimension in home control.
Read on to learn more about what Savant and Alexa can do in your home.
Even with apps, screens, and buttons, sometimes your hands get tied up. Often while in the middle of a making a recipe, your hands may not be clean and you need more light. A quick voice command to "turn on under-counter lights" will illuminate your space. If you have a kitchen TV, you could even instruct your Savant system to turn on a specific channel or program to help you with your recipe. Voice control gives you the ability to multitask efficiently; your voice becomes the remote control for almost anything automated.
One of Savant home automation system’s greatest strengths is the ease with which you can design your own automation scenes without professional programming. For example, if you want to set the stage for watching a movie, you can record all the commands for that activity and save them as “movie night.” The whole sequence of turning on the TV, setting the right input, turning on the audio system to the right input and sound format, dimming the lights, and maybe even lowering your motorized shades can become triggered from one command. And you can tinker with that sequence as much as you like, having different ones for watching sports versus movies. When you have Alexa voice control to go with it, it’s as simple as saying “Alexa, movie night” to start it all off.
More Voice Power
Let’s say you have a hot tub or spa on your back patio, where you enjoy relaxing after skiing Ajax in the winter or a vigorous hike on Ute trail in summer. You also have outdoor speakers for some music by your spa, as well as soft lighting in the patio and landscape. In winter, you can have one command to turn on the spa to the right temperature, start a music playlist, and turn on lights just the way you want them. In summer, you might have that water temperature a bit cooler than 105 degrees. One voice command through Alexa can activate either one with just the right setting for the season. Better yet? Install an Amazon Echo dot speaker on your patio and tell your Savant system to change the music or adjust the spa temperature, or dim the lights more with just your voice. Even in the water, you’re always in control.
There is so much more you can do with the power of Savant home automation and Alexa voice control. Just click here to connect with us!
You love home cinema. But is it the luxury of having a huge screen at home or the lack of sticky floors and overpriced concessions? Most likely both of these are highly desirable. Is there a better pleasure than settling into your own custom theater for a movie at home in Snowmass after a hard day of skiing? We think not, although a soak in the hot tub is up there too.
If you already have that home theater, you may be lacking the latest technology. Perhaps your mountain chalet came with an existing home theater. Maybe you put the theater in yourself some years ago, before the latest 4K HDR and immersive sound formats were available. Your setup is great, but you'd really like to upgrade to 4K to take advantage of the new high resolution streaming shows on Netflix and Ultra HD Blu-ray movies, with their much higher contrast and detail. While you have a full surround sound setup, you may have been looking into Dolby Atmos and how that can provide an even more immersive cinema experience.
If you’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on a 4K projector to upgrade your theater – and perhaps take the next step to an even more engrossing sound experience - we have good news. Both 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos are widely available in a variety of equipment. What’s more, the amount of 4K content has increased exponentially since the early days of the formats, with streaming movies and shows from iTunes, Vudu, Netflix, and Amazon, as well as many movie releases on Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.
A projector provides a huge picture, and 4K and HDR technology are even better for super large screen sizes as you will see so much detail. HDR (high dynamic range) is almost as important as the higher resolution in picture quality. The higher contrast and deeper color gamut will simply produce a picture that is more three dimensional than ever. We're not talking about the 3D technology using glasses that never really became mainstream; we are talking about a much more natural picture that makes you feel like you are part of the action. Today's projectors have true 4K resolution, as earlier models employed 1080P HD LCDs and some clever “pixel shifting” technology to give the appearance of higher resolution. While those were capable of displaying modern 4K and HDR (High Dynamic Range) content, they were not true 4K, and the difference is visible with very high-quality material such as an Ultra HD Blu-ray movie disc.
Sony’s ES line of projectors features full 4K resolution and HDR technology and can display a screen as large as 300 inches. At the top of the line is the VPL-VW5000ES, a laser projector that is specifically designed for home theater. With 5000 lumens of brightness and a 20,000-hour laser lamp, you have a projector built to last your theater for a long time. Many other Sony models offer exceptional performance at price points to fit most home theater budgets.
Immersive Dolby Atmos Surround Sound
Dolby Atmos – and its competitor DTS:X – is the biggest thing to happen to surround sound in years. It is called object-based surround sound because it lets movie sound engineers place sounds very precisely in space, making surround sound more natural and immersive. If there is a helicopter overhead, bullets flying from different directions, and sirens wailing, you will hear them more distinctly than ever before, as if you were in the scene.
For 4K video switching capabilities and Dolby Atmos, your sound system will likely need an upgrade. If you prize the ultimate in sound quality, Lexicon's MC-10 will make a great choice. It supports the latest Atmos and DTS:X formats, has decoding for 11 channels of surround sound, advanced Dirac room correction software, and features Lexicon's legendary construction and sound quality.
There are many more choices in projectors, large flat panel displays, receivers and surround processors, and other equipment to upgrade your Snowmass home theater to the latest technology. Just click here connect with us!
Music consumption has always been a function of the available technology. Before recorded music became possible with Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877 (yes, over a century ago), there was no music business as we know it today. The phonograph begat vinyl records and the modern recording industry. Vinyl records, using the same underlying technology as the first phonograph, are still with us, and are, in fact, enjoying a nostalgic resurgence in the past few years. After several decades, vinyl gave way to the convenience and resilience of digital CDs, and they are still with us too. Today, the most convenient way of accessing a vast library of music and listening to it anywhere – in our cars, our portable devices, and our homes – is music streaming over the Internet.
The old Apple iPod slogan of 30,000 songs in your pocket has given way to 40 million songs in the cloud that you can hear anytime, anywhere - as long as you have an Internet connection. As we know, several popular music services that offer the capability of hearing your favorite tunes on demand. But are they all just different peas in the same pod?
The short answer is that there are many similarities but also sharp differences between the popular streaming services. If you are looking to invest in a whole-house audio system in Aspen, you might want to know a little more about how they differ. The streaming technology built into most smartphones and tablets give you different options for directing music to different parts of your house, and whole house systems like those from our partner Savant make it especially easy to have the endless variety of streamed music in high-fidelity throughout your home.
Without further ado, let’s do a brief overview of five of the most popular services and some of their distinguishing traits and wrinkles.
Pandora is the granddaddy of music streaming, initially launching as a website in 2005. It is effortless to get started with it, requiring only an artist name or album to create a custom radio station that provides hours of music listening. Signaling thumbs up or down on tracks and skipping helps the service customize the station and learn more about your musical tastes. Pandora is still free if you don’t mind listening to ads, but there are quite a few of them in the free tier, approximating what you might hear on an FM radio station. Pandora has two paid tiers; Plus and Premium. Plus removes ads, allows unlimited skips, and increases the streaming bitrate for better sound quality. Premium is their answer to services like Spotify, building on the features of Plus with a more extensive music library, offline capability, custom playlists, and the ability to listen to almost any song or album on demand. Pandora’s strengths are its simplicity, usability with a wide variety of devices, and integration into products and systems from our partners like Integra and Savant, making it easy to use in a whole house system.
Spotify is the biggest music streaming service in the world, with some 87 million subscribers at last count. While it can also be enjoyed for free with ads, it has the most paying members as well. Paying for the service removes ads, unlocks premium features, and allows for the highest tier of streaming quality. Spotify boasts a broad and deep music library and feature set. It has most music that you’d want to listen to, excellent music discovery and recommendation, good audio quality, and compatibility with many devices, whole house systems, and audio components. If there’s any downside, it may be that it’s a bit more complicated for the very casual user and takes more work to get it optimized for your tastes. One great feature of Spotify is Spotify Connect, which is a way to use your smartphone or tablet to control playback on any Spotify Connect device, which can be a smart speaker, a receiver, or whole house audio system. The difference is your phone is not doing the streaming, just the remote control.
Apple Music recently passed the 56 million subscriber mark and continues to grow quickly, chasing Spotify’s lead. The service is primarily geared to Apple users, and if you are all in on Apple devices, like iPads, iPhones, Apple Watch, and Macintosh computers, it might be the best choice for you. However, Apple Music is also available on iTunes on Windows computers and as an Android app as well. It matches Spotify with the size of the music library and extensive customization capabilities and sometimes features exclusive music releases. A unique feature is live DJ radio (Beats1) which features an eclectic collection of new music. One of the service’s main advantages is its deep integration with Apple products like the standard music app on iPhones and iPads, and of course the ubiquitous iTunes on a computer. Being an Apple product, it is not natively integrated into many other systems; however, Apple’s Airplay and Airplay2 technologies are licensed to audio companies and device makers, which is a wireless method of taking music from any app on Apple devices into audio systems. If you’re an Apple fan, it may be the right service for you, and it integrates well with our Savant Music whole house systems.
Amazon Music is an excellent service for people that subscribe to the Amazon Prime shopping service. For Prime members, the base level of the service is free. While it is not as extensive in features and library size as Spotify or Apple Music, it provides a Pandora-like simplicity with good quality streams without ads. A step up to Amazon Music Unlimited increases the library to the levels of Spotify and Apple and adds similar features. One of the best advantages of Amazon Music is its native integration with Amazon Alexa voice assistant. You could tell Alexa to “play Ed Sheeran,” and Alexa will immediately start playing his music. We could show you how to integrate Alexa with your whole house music system to enable easy voice control. Alexa voice control also can work with Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora as well, which makes it easy for different family members to use voice control on their favorite streaming service.
Tidal’s claim to fame is a higher quality of streaming – lossless. All streaming services currently compress music to some extent to save on the cost of bandwidth and to ensure audio quality over varying connections. Depending on the bitrate of the stream and the format the service uses, you might hear the difference. Tidal streams at uncompressed CD quality, and over the right equipment, you really can hear the difference. The library is about as extensive as those from Apple and Spotify, but the music discovery and recommendation is not yet on par with the leaders like Spotify. Tidal is also more expensive than the others due to the lossless streaming, but if audio quality is your most important criteria, it might be the best choice for you. Another plus is that Tidal continues to gain traction and is integrated into a variety of higher-end audio components and whole-home systems, like Mark Levinson’s streaming audio player.
While there are many choices – more than the ones we presented here - the good news is you don’t have to pick just one service through your whole house system; you can use multiple services if you want. Just click here to get started with whole house audio in Aspen!
Explore the Top Features of Integrated Lighting Controls
The famous tagline "There's an App for That!" has never been more accurate. For better or worse, every year there are more devices you can manage from an app. Until now, did you even know you needed one for your air freshener? Like with most technology, it can be hard to figure out which are novelties, and which have an actual impact on your life.
As home technology experts, we’re here to help! Not only do we help you figure out which smart devices are best for your Snowmass, CO home, but we'll also help you group them together for streamlined control. Deciding which to buy will be easier once you have the right information.
Lighting is at the center of the smart home revolution and can sometimes be the most difficult to maneuver. There are a variety of bulbs and even smart plugs that let you manage individual lights from an app. In this blog, however, we're going to discuss integrated lighting controls from Lutron that give you access to ALL your lights from one device.
Many people gravitate to integrated lighting controls for their convenience. Using a mobile app, turn lights on and off throughout the house without even having to leave the couch. Pull out your phone to see which lights are turned on and turn them off at once to save energy. Lutron has some one-room solutions like their wireless Casetta systems, but we recommend their RadioRa 2 or HomeworksQS for whole-home control.
You can choose from a variety of elegant dimmers if you go with Lutron integrated lighting control, but you'll be able to get the most significant control using their app. Adjust lighting intensity from 0-100 percent to find the ideal setting for any room or occasion. Once you’ve found the perfect level for reading a book, watching movies, or illuminating your driveway, save it directly into your app.
Find these settings easily through the use of smart scenes. Through your app, save scenes that outline which fixtures to turn on and off and at what level to dim them if needed. Activate these scenes using your app whenever you want.
The app even lets you schedule those you expect to use on a regular basis. Have a “Good Morning” scene go off each day at 7 a.m. that slowly opens the shades and turn lights on when it’s time to get up.
Don't worry about leaving lights off when you head out to work or coming back to a dark house. Every feature of your mobile app is accessible no matter where you are as long as you have an internet connection. Turn off any lights you left on while you're at work. On your way back, start turning on the lights in the foyer and kitchen, so everything's ready when you get there.
Looking to take your lighting to the next level with Lutron’s intuitive app? We help you find the integrated lighting control solution that makes the most sense for your home. Just call us at (970) 510-5489 or fill out our online contact form.
For a long time, the high-end audio world resisted the move toward digital formats. When the CD ushered in the first wave of digital music, purists initially waved it off as not as warm and nuanced as analog sources, like vinyl records. Over time, high-end audio vendors created precisely engineered and crafted CD transports that matched the nature of the preamplifiers, amplifiers, and speakers in enthusiasts’ hi-fi setups.
Streaming music is now mainstream, and even die-hard audiophiles can’t deny the convenience of calling up almost any music track on a smartphone or other digital device. Initially, the hi-fi world also dismissed streaming and downloaded audio as inferior quality sound. But with the advent of high-resolution music tracks also available for download and streaming, it is now easy to get the highest quality of playback ever available.
The high-end audio market has responded to this shift. New gear from the best names in high-end audio now combines the best in digital technology with the best in audio electronics engineering to deliver incredible hi-fi sound from all types of digital sources. And while some audiophiles insist on all separate components for their system – preamplifiers, amplifiers, and even DACs (digital audio converters) – there are high-end systems that conveniently combine all those into one unit that still provides audiophile-class performance.
In this blog, we want to cover our partner Mark Levinson’s latest line of integrated amplifiers – uncompromising components that combine the best of digital audio convenience with top-tier performance. Read on to see how to upgrade your high-end audio setup in Aspen with the latest in digital audio technology.
Founded in 1972, Mark Levinson has always been known as a purveyor of the finest electronics in home audio. Today they continue the tradition with a line of preamplifiers, amplifiers, integrated amps, and a turntable which all exemplify the finest in audio engineering.
Mark Levinson’s line of integrated amplifiers, from the 5802 to the 585, combine the best in analog and digital componentry. They feature pure signal paths, proper isolation from analog and digital sections, and dual monaural class AB amplifiers to deliver exceptional power to the most demanding speakers.
On the digital side, they feature a full complement of digital inputs, from standard optical and coaxial to AES and a USB input that can take digital sources directly from a computer. They all feature the latest generation of the 32-bit ESS Sabre DACs to extract the last detail from digital formats. For future proofing, they can also decode the MQA (Master Quality Audio) formats, which streaming and download services are adopting rapidly to efficiently distribute high-resolution audio. The DACs can also handle the latest DSD 5.6 formats for the utmost in musical detail and resolution. For streaming convenience from a smart device, Bluetooth audio is onboard with AptX-HD lossless capability.
Given Mark Levinson’s rich history with analog audio, the amplifier sections and power supplies are what one might expect in a hi-fi component. The 5802 delivers a conservatively rated 125 watts/channel, while the 585.5 can pump 200 watts/channel into 8 ohms. With power like this, you might never need external amplification, but the option is there with preamp outputs for future upgrades. Starting with the 5805 model, an audiophile class MM/MC phono stage is built in to connect the best turntables – like Mark Levinson’s own 515.
While this is a true audiophile 2-channel set of components, Mark Levinson has not neglected to provide simplified control of the system. They offer handheld IR control with a high-quality machined aluminum piece commensurate with the quality of the product. The integrated amps also provide an ethernet connection, enabling control and configuration from a web browser. Drivers are also available to integrate it with smart home systems, like the ones we recommend from our partner Savant. Other inputs like IR and 12-volt triggers ensure that these integrated amps can be easily incorporated into any home control setup.
Are you ready for a high-end audio upgrade in Aspen? Just click here to get started!
Do you own a vacation home in Snowmass or the Aspen area? Most people tend to use their second homes only a few weeks a year. Depending on their preferences, many rent them out on Airbnb or HomeAway, letting them recoup some of the considerable expense of property ownership. In fact, half of the properties in Pitkin County are seasonal homes.
Why would we suggest something like motorized shades for a vacation home? We have highlighted the many benefits of motorized shades before, but you might not have thought about it for a vacation property, especially if it’s one that you sometimes rent out.
Let’s look at a few reasons why motorized windows shades can be a smart investment for your Snowmass house or condo.
We know our Colorado mountain sun is intense. The thinner air makes the sun feel that much hotter. A sixty five-degree sunny mountain day in the sun might feel like 80 degrees at sea level. That sun warms up places in the mountains quickly even when it is not particularly hot outside.
As we also know, few properties have air conditioning in Snowmass, mostly because it is rarely needed. The cool mountain nights make things comfortable. However, interiors can get quite warm during summer and early fall days. Why not use motorized shades to mitigate the heat?
Automated shades can be programmed to lower during the sunny times of the day. They can be synchronized with sunrises and sunsets, and can automatically raise a window shade for morning sun and lower it to limit afternoon heat. If you rent your property out, it can create a more comfortable environment for guests which they will appreciate. You can even take advantage of the sun on cold winter days, raising the shades to warm your condo and use less heat.
Privacy and Security
If your property is unoccupied for extended periods, the ability to raise and lower shades remotely and automatically can provide benefits in security and privacy. Combine smart lighting control with motorized shades to make your home look occupied and discourage burglary or vandalism. Lowered shades can keep prying eyes from checking out what’s inside. If you have valuable artwork or prized furnishings, you want to keep that private.
Convenience and Safety
If you rent your place, guests will appreciate the convenience of automation. Pushing a button on a remote is easier than pulling on a string or twist controls. Remote control is much safer for high, hard to reach windows. For guests with smaller children, both you and they will appreciate the added safety of no hanging pulls which can be misused. And while your guests (and you) will enjoy the luxury of easy control, you can still maintain your automation sequences when your home is unoccupied for energy efficiency and security.
Resale Value and Appeal
For a vacation home that’s not always occupied, automation features like motorized shades can be a marketing feature. Couple that with other home automation technology like smart thermostats and lighting control, and your property will have a leg up on others when it’s time to part with your second home.
Make your vacation home even more ideal with motorized window shades. Contact us to get started today!
It used to be that a home theater evoked thoughts of a scaled-down movie theater. Or perhaps a mini-version of the small town Strand or Bijou movie theater from a bygone era. While we maintain that small town atmosphere here in Aspen, most of those nostalgic theaters have all but disappeared. Much of our rustic Colorado architecture and our active, outdoor-oriented lifestyle lean toward a more relaxed approach to home theater design. Today, we do more than watch movies in our home theaters – we’re binge-watching Netflix shows, multiple college and NFL games on weekends and playing music videos as background in a multipurpose media/game room.
Home theater design is evolving to meet today’s evolving entertainment purposes. Of course, you can still build that traditional theater in the lower level of your Red Mountain retreat with movie-themed décor and comfortable theater seating. But now, the theater can be in practically any room you want to make it, and today’s technology allows more flexibility than ever in designing the perfect media room.
Let’s explore current trends in home theater and media room design to make any room into a state-of-the-art entertainment oasis at your Aspen-area house.
Many traditional home theaters were purpose-built or remodeled rooms, with outside light blocked out by heavy window treatments. Some even had no windows at all. Given our beautiful Rocky Mountain views, we might want to enjoy the view and our media too. Today, families often like a media room that can also host games or other entertainment.
Less-restrictive media room layouts open up possibilities for a broader range of experiences. Watching sports, live music events, major news coverage, or the Oscars might be on tap for an evening instead of a movie. With a multipurpose media space, your family and guests can enjoy multiple media sources in conjunction with food, drinks, and conversation. And If you have the room, why not add a dance floor, too?
A typical home theater setup used to call for a projector and screen to get the desired cinematic effect. While today’s projectors are better than ever – and increasingly cost-effective – by no means is that the only choice.
The newest flat-panel technologies – OLED at the high end and zone-dimming LED panels at a variety of price points – zoom up to 80 inches or more in size, making an excellent option for smaller rooms. HDR (high dynamic range) capability is the latest technology which makes the picture really “pop” with higher contrast and more vibrant colors, offering a big-screen experience perfect for dark room movie-watching and daytime viewing alike.
Ultra-short-throw projectors – those that project a wide screen from a short distance – are also now becoming available at price points to fit many budgets and spaces. They are easier to set up than traditional projectors and can project screens up to 120 inches onto regular walls or wall-mounted screens.
The latest trend in media and theater rooms is a combination of screens. This type of room might have one or more flat panels for casual viewing and a drop-down screen paired with a projector for movies and events. It’s perfect for such hybrid rooms.
With the right home automation system, homeowners can have their own version of a sports bar or movie theater with a few taps on a tablet or remote – or even a voice command.
4K TVs and projectors are now mainstream, and streaming devices like Roku and Apple TV are capable of the high resolution along with HDR capability. Ultra HD Blu-ray is the best quality format for movies, but the streaming services from Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Vudu, and others are offering ever-increasing numbers of movies and shows available in 4K resolution.
Sound Bars and Dolby Atmos
Introduced in 2015, Dolby Atmos is a surround sound format that adds increased height and breadth to movie sound. Most new home theater receivers and processors support the format, and any future-proof media or theater room would be wise to include it. Don’t forget to pay attention to ceiling height in designing or remodeling, as height matters for the best Dolby Atmos experience. Also, DTS:X (a Dolby Atmos competitor) compatibility is important for those that want to watch 4K Blu-ray movies, as that is increasingly popular on new Blu-ray releases.
Soundbars initially became popular as a way to achieving a better sound experience to accompany flat screen TVs, whose speakers generally have poor audio quality. They also offer simplified setup and superior surround sound performance in the right rooms. Soundbars have now evolved to the point where the highest end models can rival systems with separate speakers. For certain multipurpose media rooms, a soundbar may be the right fit to combine powerful audio, design, and simplicity.
Voice control is currently all the rage. Whether it’s Siri on Apple products, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant or other variants, voice control has arrived, and new ways that you can use voice commands appear every day. The latest streaming devices from Apple, Google, Amazon, and Roku – as well as smart TVs from major manufacturers like Samsung and Sony – have varying degrees of voice capability for content search and control functions. Home automation systems like Savant can extend voice control over a variety of other functions like lights, motorized shades, and thermostats while also working well with the popular voice assistants from Amazon and Google.
Are you ready to upgrade or build a new media room? Let us show you the latest options. Just click here to get started!
As smart devices proliferate and become more mainstream, the ability to tie them together into smart home systems has become increasingly popular. As you may know, many consumer products exist to brings increased levels of automation and control to functions like lighting, entertainment systems, and thermostats. But getting all those devices to work together, consistently, is sometimes a challenge, especially in more sophisticated larger homes.
For more complex home automation applications, several well-known vendors offer the types of systems that can integrate the functions of a sophisticated smart home and make it easy to manage and automate. All of the major systems provide similar functionality, automating things like lighting, entertainment, climate, security, and window treatments. You might ask, what are the real differences?
The truth is, the functionality is quite similar. But dig down to another level, and there are significant features that can make a difference. Those differences can manifest themselves in the ease of setting up and programming the system, expanding it in the future, and the ability to integrate new devices and capabilities that are emerging every year.
Campbell Audio-Video works with Savant Systems for our smart home automation projects. It is a technically advanced, complete, and easy to use home automation solution that can scale from small projects to very largest properties in Aspen.
Read on for three features that make Savant a superb choice for all your smart home automation needs.
Voice control is the newest frontier in home control. What could be more natural than turning on lights or specifying what music you want to hear with just the sound of your voice? While voice may not be the easiest way to control something in every situation, the option is there when your hands and eyes are otherwise occupied.
Savant has invested in deep compatibility with the two most advanced voice assistant platforms, Google’s Home and Amazon’s Alexa. They have made voice commands available through their custom remotes as well as the control apps that run on the Apple iPhone and iPad.
Savant’s Pro remote originally came out in 2015, and in keeping with their elegant design, is a remote control Apple might have designed. It incorporates simple, intuitive buttons for AV control, and also deftly blends a high-resolution touchscreen that combines the best of both worlds – tactile, eyes-free control for media, and touch capabilities for lights, shades, automated scenes, and custom controls.
Distributed Audio Over IP
Savant takes a unique approach for whole home audio systems. Built around the latest technology, they route audio in digital form around the house and keep the amplifiers that power the speakers close to the speakers themselves. The advantages to this method are the ability to use low-cost network wiring for music distribution, as opposed to more expensive speaker wire with long runs from a central source that can affect sound quality. It also allows for a cleaner, interference-free digital path for audio to each location, with compact amplifiers used to drive the speakers at each zone. The result of this approach? Better sound quality, scalability to many rooms and outdoor areas, and flexibility.
Speaking of speakers, Savant works closely with Artison, a maker of high-performance architectural speakers. The speakers feature audiophile quality drivers and electronics and are designed to blend seamlessly or almost disappear in a room. The Sound Surface series offers the ability to be mudded into sheetrock, installed under wallpaper, and even installed outdoors in stucco, for superb audio that is heard but not seen.
Power and Scalability
Savant’s home controllers span a range that can cover smaller installations to the very high-end. The company’s Pro Host controllers are actually based on Apple Macintosh computer hardware. The Pro Host is based on the Mac Mini, and the newer Super Pro Host is based on the Apple Mac Pro. The Mac Pro is a workstation that many engineers and designers use for complex, compute-intensive applications.
Applying this type of computing power to home automation applications has some distinct advantages. First, the powerful hardware allows for incredible scalability. For example, with Pro Host, there are virtually no limits to audio and video streaming to multiple locations; the system can control up to 64 thermostats, and there are no limits on the number of security cameras that can be installed. Second, powerful general-purpose computing hardware has a long life, as new features and functionality can be added via software updates without requiring hardware changes.
Are you ready for smart home automation that is intuitive, powerful, and will stand the test of time? Let us show you what Savant Systems can do for your home. Just click here to get started!