Video and Audio Center Blog



Friday, February 24, 2017

KEEPING YOUR HOME THEATER INVESTMENT SAFE AND SECURE


Putting together a home theater that suits your particular needs takes time and represents a significant investment. But whether you opt in for a professional installation service to do it all for you, like California’s #1 Custom Installation/Smart Home Integrators for the past 16 years, Just One Touch), or decide to set up the various components on your own, keeping them secure is sensible and necessary. And by making sure your home theater is safe, you're also ensuring the safety of your home (which is where the home theater “lives" after all). Here are a few suggestions:
Tethering
Many home theater's have computers or hard drives working as servers to stream content through the home network. Often there will be what is called a security slot on the computer/hard drive (or laptop). This allows for a security cable to be inserted that can then tether the device to an immovable object so it can't be taken. While such a security slot can not be found on the majority of the components that make up a home theater, there are security kits that can add locking capabilities to the devices (requiring an invasive gluing of a plate to the device first). 

Out Of Sight
Making the components of a home theater less obvious is another way to insure their safety; a 4K Blu-Ray player can be placed inside a cabinet, or an AV Receiver can be inside a shelf, rather than having the two exposed to sight. In these cases, this can make controlling them through an IR (infrared) control more difficult. The solution: kits that will extend the IR signal so that the devices "see" the IR signal coming from the remote. Mounting a TV onto the wall, while the opposite of hiding it, will also make it less attractive for being removed because of how its been mounted.

Security Systems and Cameras
There are portable and non-invasive home security systems that work through the WiFI home network, and which enable monitoring of the home theater, along with other areas of the home. At its simplest, a WiFi-enabled camera can be set up to monitor the home theater area and viewed remotely when the person is not at home. Other systems allow for automated reports and messages to be sent when the camera detects motion. Used singly, or in combination with WiFi-enabled home security systems, the home theater can be protected at a minimum cost compared to what the cost was for assembling the various components. And the safety of other areas of the home can now be protected as well.

The idea behind home theater security is not just to protect what has taken you so much time to put together, but to insure the piece of mind of your home as well. So the choice whether to do this or not is yours.


Friday, February 3, 2017

YOUR HOME THEATER NEEDS A 4K BLU-RAY PLAYER...AND SO DO YOU!


People have been pretty happy to have Blu-Ray players  as part of their home theaters over these last few years -- and you bet that there are lots and lots of Blu-Ray movies to watch. So why get a new 4K Blu-Ray player to replace what is already there? The answer is because a 4K Blu-Ray player does a lot more than just compliment a new 4K TV and is backwardly compatible with all the spinning video discs (Blu-Ray and DVD) and audio discs (CDs) that are already a part of your existing library. A 4K Blu-Ray player ups the game and brings you even closer to the vaunted "movie experience" that makes going to watch on a silver screen no longer such a big deal. So let's detail just what a 4K Blu-Ray player brings to your home theater. 

Higher Video Resolution
A Blu-Ray disc provides a Full HD, 1080p video signal that, unlike streaming, is stable and consistent. But that's peanuts compared to a 4K Blu-Ray disc: 108 Mbps is the speed at which the data is being sent from the 4K disc — so roughly that means you're getting a picture with 4X the resolution that was once your HD "standard." Obviously that also means you're getting more detail in what's flashing across the TV's display.
More Color 
Color can be described in all kinds of technical terms, but the fact is that a Blu-Ray disc could only approach the "reality" of the color palette that makes up real life. It did a good job, sure, but a 4K Blu-Ray disc does a lot better. The wider color gamut of billions of colors that can now be displayed is a lot closer to the “real world” and so makes for a much better viewing experience.

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range (HDR)  is a part of the video signal being put forth by the 4K disc in the 4K Blu-Ray player. What you see as a result is more color and light information being imparted into each pixel now displayed. With the TV now being able to process a HDR signal, as most now available can, the pixel is able to contain more "information" and so allow for a greater separation between light and dark, without light areas being "overblown" and washed out, or black areas turning into inky pools where nothing can be seen in them. 

Higher Audio Resolution
Lost in all the talk about the video is just how in proved the audio becomes on a 4K Blu-Ray disc. Besides the expected Dolby Digital and DTS, a 4K Blu-Ray disc supports the Dolby Atmos standard as well as DTS-X surround sound formats. These audio formats add overhead audio to the now standard surround sound  and work to create a much more convincing and immersive sound experience. 

Up-scaling Your Existing Library

One of the big selling points when Blu-Ray players first came out was that playing a DVD on them would result in a better picture than if using a DVD player. This was because the newer and enhanced technologies of the Blu-Ray player could increase the overall perception as to how a DVD looked when played. This is even more true with a 4K Blu-Ray player, only now it's a Blu-Ray disc that gets the enhancements so as to improve on how it looks. And as mentioned earlier, the 4K Blu-Ray player doesn't discriminate against the past and so plays all the popular disc formats prevalent today.

As is now obvious, a 4K Blu-Ray player has technology built into it that a Blu-Ray player can only dream of. And because this technology is "transparent" to the user -- all you need do is pop in a 4K disc, start it spinning and sit back to enjoy the show. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

AMP UP YOUR HOME THEATER AUDIO


When it comes to being entertained in a home theater, audio seems to always be standing behind video: it's the TV picture, never the sound that gets touted. But having a really great home theater means that the audio is also dynamic and just as high in resolution as the picture is. And while a big screen TV also has stereo speakers built-in, the quality of the audio can be improved immensely by having separate audio components providing the sound. So what are the choices?
Sound Bar
A sound bar is a self-contained audio device that contains audio speakers (more colloquial described as "drivers") as well as an digital amplifier to take the audio from the TV and "send" it to the speakers. The sound bar doesn't require lots of cables to be properly attached, and more often than not includes "smart features" that go beyond providing a simple menu, like Bluetooth audio streaming capabilities and apps for playing music and videos from off the Internet. The size of the sound bar can vary, as can its ability to provide stereo sound or surround sound. And the sound bar can even be curved to match your curved TV. Most sound bars will include a subwoofer to provide for bass to enhance the overall sound -- in many cases the subwoofer is wireless and so eliminates a connection and just needs to be placed in a corner and plugged into a wall outlet for power. There is also the advantage in that, if the TV is wall mounted, the sound bar can be wall mounted below the TV also.


Surround Sound Audio System
The traditional way to have a surround sound system is by placing a set of speakers throughout the area where the home theater is located. This consists, in general, of front left and right speakers for stereo, a center channel for dialogue, left and right speakers to the side or behind the listeners for surround effects and a subwoofer to handle the bass. In almost all cases the speakers must be physically wired to the AV Receiver (i..e, the amplifier) which typically is placed in front of the listener, often in a cabinet on which the TV stands. The AV Receiver is able to handle the chores of being a video switcher as well as a full throated audio device for controlling the audio streams -- giving much more personalized control (and greater volume and clarity in most cases) for the listener. Features also abound in the AV Receiver -- automated matching of the various speakers to one another being just one of the many.

Personal Listening
For those who wish to listen in private, headphones become the "audio system" for the home theater. Headphones can be personalized in many ways but only when bought: you can get over the ear headphones or on the ear, headphones using moderate or large audio "drivers" and a variety of features that affect their placement and comfort level. In addition, while running a physical connection from the AV Receiver to the headphones is possible, being able to wirelessly connect a headphones is possible as well using either a wireless device that attaches to the headphones or having this wireless capability built in. Additionally many AV Receivers will have special audio systems built in to take advantage of the pros and cons of a headphone so as to provide the best sound to it (with multichannel surround sound capabilities existing as well).

Having great sound in your home theater shouldn't be a hope but something realized. Making an educated decision as to how to have the sound delivered will guarantee that what you are hearing will be just as exciting as what you are watching.
 

Friday, January 13, 2017

CREATING A STABLE AND SECURE HOME NETWORK

Setting up a home theater isn't a chore because there's good times waiting once done. But lost in today's "Internet of Things" (iOT) is that almost all of the components making up the home theater are now linked to the "Cloud" and able to go online. That bodes well for being able to stream video, do updates in a simple manner and enjoy tons of content, but how good a signal is being received? And what about the security of that signal? Just because that new 4K Blu-ray player or that new BIG SCREEN 4K TV isn’t a computer doesn’t mean there can’t be issues. So while there’s no reason to fear your home theater being connected to the Internet, there is a need to take simple precautions to ensure that nothing bad happens through the home network they use. This starts with getting the most stable and secure signal possible.

Stable and Secure Signal

The single most important thing for any component of your home theater is that it can receive a strong and stable signal from the home network. This necessitates noting where the modem is connected relative to where the home theater is located. In some cases the easiest results will come from "hard wiring" an Ethernet cable between the router and the home theater component (for example, an AV Receiver or a media streaming device), but for most going wireless makes for more convenience. But for some, having the Wi-Fi enabled router in close proximity to the home theater might not be possible due to where the modem is located. Should that be the case, the best results will come from physically moving the router to a closer location so it can service the home theater better (obviously, there will have to be a cable connected between the modem and the router). To check signal strength, most home theater components will display the signal strength as they are set up for using the home networks Wi-F. It’s also just as easy to use a smartphone to see its Wi-Fi signal strength and proceed accordingly.


Gateway Security

All your home theater components that have Internet access (wired or wireless) are connecting through a home network which uses a router — which itself connects to the Internet. The router, a.k.a. "Gateway" is the intermediary between the Internet and the devices and the first wall of defense against intrusions. Besides having a very hard password unlike anything else that you use for your home network, be sure that those safeguards built-into the router's software are activated -- the default settings might be too lax for your tastes and needn't be left as they are.

Different Passwords

It may be convenient to have the same password for every log-in screen, but it's not necessarily the safest thing to do. So if your login password gets compromised for a website on your smartphone, the same thing will happen when you go to the site on your TV or other home theater component, with the possibility of all the other places you are using that password being affected. One way to avoid this is by having different password being in effect when going through your home theater as opposed to your computer or phone (although in some cases this might necessitate a different user name).

Having a secure and stable iOT for your home theater might take a bit of effort at first, but once done you can sit back and enjoy all that it can provide. 


Thursday, December 29, 2016

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION - A NEW HOME THEATER!


Everybody talks about having New Year’s resolutions that are supposed to make life better. But if you want your home theater to really shine in 2017, then it’s time to make a New Year’s resolution to update how you watch and how you listen so as to have the best experience possible.

The Television

The flat panel TV changed how we watched television by bringing a widescreen image into the home. This was later accompanied by the Full HD resolution that blew away ordinary tube-based TVs to add detail and more colors to the images being displayed. Now there are 4K televisions which have 4X HDs resolution to really bring the movie theater home. Add being able to have a curved 4K TV or an OLED 4K TV and the choices for which television will best suit your needs and decor are huge. As is the ability to get a really big TV that can take over a wall, if you don’t want it standing on a cabinet in the living room or bedroom.


The Sound System

Sound always accompanies a picture, and to make the home theater experience exciting the sound has to be vibrant and loud. The bad old days forced viewers to listen to their TV’s speakers and that was that. But today there are many more choices: you can set up a sound bar in front of the TV which has all of the speakers inside a single chassis or which combines with a wireless subwoofer or which has new technologies to enhance the sound even further; you can connect an AV Receiver to a series of stand-alone speakers to create surround sound; you can even connect a pair of wireless headphones for private listening for those times when having it loud just won’t fly. Any of these choices will provide a powerful sound field to make watching even more enjoyable.


The Playing of Content

Streaming a movie may seem convenient,  but for the confidence of being able to play what you want whenever you want, having your own movie library can’t be beat. DVD players and Blu-ray players are now commonplace. But should you want to watch 4K movies on your 4K TV, you’ll need a 4K Blu-ray player, which is backwardly compatible and able to up-convert non-4K discs to make them look even better.

The Seating

Piling up on the couch is an easy way to get everybody together to watch (and less a problem now since today’s TVs have wider viewing angles), but investing in studio seating chairs is worth considering if comfort is your goal. These seats are designed for home use and make a Lazy-Boy look weak. They even have cup holders. Another route is to look at specialized “gaming” chairs which are also designed to bring comfort to those planning to sit for hours at end. Having special chairs for your home theater also makes the time watching seem more special too, and to do this right it might be wise to get in touch with a professional installation company, for example Just One Touch, to help you get and set things up just right. 


The Lighting

Movie theaters may seem to be absolutely dark, but they’re not and your home theater shouldn’t be either. Look to small LED lights that can be placed strategically throughout the home theater so as to minimize glare while providing discrete pools of illumination. After all, people will need to get to the kitchen for more snacks during movie-time, so making sure there’s no accidents is important.

Making New Year’s resolutions is good, but making your home theater the go-to for you and your family is better. 





Friday, November 11, 2016

HOME THEATER MAINTENANCE MADE EASY

With the holidays approaching, there’s no better time to enjoy watching movies and TV shows on your home theater. But because today’s electronics are so dependable, many take it for granted that nothing else needs to be done once they’ve set up their home theater. But just as regularly vacuuming carpets and cleaning out the refrigerator now and then makes for a better home, so too does taking care of the various components and devices that make up your home theater so as to keep them working in tip-top shape. So with the holidays approaching, here’s a few tips on keeping your home theater working at its best.

Dusting Off The Components



Dust has a tendency to get everywhere, and most home theater components are not mounted on the wall but instead are on TV stands and cabinets (a flat-panel TV being the exception since their lightweight construction has made this more possible now than ever). Taking a anti-static and soft cloth works well as you lightly dust off the components, keeping in mind that removing the dust, not just moving it around is the goal here. A feather duster that has been sprayed with an anti-dust misting can help here too. Don’t even think about using a vacuum cleaner — just hand powered cleaning will do the trick. And maybe it’s time to check with the manufacturer as to how to best clean the speakers so that their natural beauty can shine through.

Cleaning the LCD Panels
It’s obvious that a flat-panel TVs screen will acquire dust and other fine particles over time, and that’s especially true when the area in which the TV is found is heavily trafficked. Add to that a nearby open window or pets moving freely in the area and there can end up being a fine layer over the screen that both diffuses the image as well as decreases the amount of brightness. Cleaning the TV screen doesn’t require a professional but it does require a proper cleaning kit (composed of a safe cleaning fluid and an even safer, soft chamois cloth). The basic procedure is to spray the fluid on the cloth (not the screen) and then move the cloth across the screen gently from one side to the other (not rubbing it in a circle up and down). As the cloth is moved down from the top of the screen to the bottom (with frequent reapplications of the fluid), it will become evident just how much detriment is being removed. And don’t pass up the opportunity to clean the LCD screens that are on other devices of your home theater; the DVD player or Blu-ray player can benefit from a cleaning, as can other components like the AV Receiver.

Checking the Cables
The advent of WiFi has meant the elimination of cables having to go to the WiFi router, but there’s still plenty of cables found in a home theater, such as the cables going from a cable box to the TV and others. Spend a few minutes removing cables and using a condensed air can to blow out the connections the cables were in, then reinsert the cables. It also doesn’t hurt to wipe off the connections at the end of the cables first too. And in the case of wiring that is going from an AV Receiver to speakers, there’s no reason not to remove, wipe off and then reinsert the wires also.

Keeping your home theater clean and “happy” will result in better viewing. That will make you happy too.