Video and Audio Center Blog



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WATCH THE BIGGEST FIGHT OF THE YEAR ON THE BIGGEST SCREEN HDTV!

So youre going to have your friends over to watch the biggest fight of the year the battle between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Watching sports at home is fun, but its even more fun when you have a bunch of friends over to watch with you.

But what good is doing that when everybody has to crowd in because the TV is too small sports demand a BIG SCREEN HDTV so that every action is right up in your face big time; and if your TV is too small for this BIG EVENT, Video & Audio Center has an economical answer to your problem that's sure to impress and give everyone at your party the best seat in the house...rent a giant screen HDTV—in sizes up to an amazing 85"—from Video & Audio Center for your viewing party!
 
THE BIG SCREEN
Sports is all about fast moving action be that a basketball going for the hoop, a football flying through the air as players race to catch it or fist flying during a championship match. Having a big picture puts you right in the front, no make that the middle of the action and often this is many times better than being there in person because on the TV you can be up close and personal. And when others are watching with you, theres no shifting around to try and get the best seat for the TV the big picture is wide enough to accommodate everyone.

THE BIG COLORS
An HDTV has the kind of colors you want to see when watching sports bright and realistic and strong. Contrast levels, which play an important part in the realm between light and dark areas are also well defined with the 1080p image. Some big screen TVs even have exceptional levels of contrast that make what is being watched seem more lifelike than ever before.

THE BIG RESOLUTION
An HDTV puts out a FULL HD image thats 1920 x 1080 pixels and its miles above what the old tube-TVs used to be able to do. This is a digital image that pulls in all the detail so you can see the sweat on a soccer players brow, the name on the ball, even the scowls of the referee with exacting detail. Why is this important? Because watching sports is more than just seeing an overall view of the field its about being able to see the details that are happening, as if you were seated there watching.
A big screen HDTV will make the difference when watching sports, regardless of what is being seen. And the same goes for watching movies and TV shows. Theres even big screen HDTVs that you can watch outside. And after everyone has gone home, then its your time to sit back and enjoy your big screen TV. So whether you are going to rent a big screen HDTV for that special event or looking to get a big screen HDTV to have at home for watching all the time theres never been a better time for watching sports at home.

Scheduling YOUR big screen HDTV rental—in sizes up to 85"—is as easy as making one phone call and letting the experts from Video & Audio Center find the best TV for your needs and arrange for delivery and professional set-up, it's as simple as that!

To schedule a big screen HDTV rental in time for the big match, or for any special event, call the Video & Audio Center Superstore nearest you.

Santa Monica Superstore
1426 Wilshire Blvd.
(310) 451-6200

South Bay Superstore
17124 Hawthorne Blvd.
(310) 214-0081

Agoura Hills Superstore
28501 Canwood St.
(818) 735-9400

Thursday, April 23, 2015

DON’T BE BLU — GET A BLU-RAY PLAYER



Blu-ray players were once expensive but now are accessible to anyone looking to play high resolution movies. But lost in the obvious HD value of Blu-ray discs are the many other features that a Blu-ray player can have. For those looking to get a player, its important to know about these features since they are built-in and cant be added later on.So lets examine four features that BD players have hidden inside and which can affect their performance in your home.

Internet Connection

Almost all Blu-ray players have wireless Wi-Fi for connecting to the router of your home network. But some also come with an Internet-connecting port in the back for plugging in an Ethernet cable. There are times when a wired connection may be the best, if not only, way to connect to the Internet for example if the Blu-ray players antennas (often found in the back of the chassis) are blocked by the players positioning in a cabinet or proximity to interference causing devices like refrigerators and microwave ovens. So a Blu-ray player having the wired choice can make all the difference between a good WiFi signal and a mediocre one something that can affect the quality of video being seen from a streaming service like Netflix.

4K Upscaling

A Blu-ray player can play on a 4K TV, but the image being sent is that of a Full HD 1080p image. But if the player has 4K upscaling, then the image being presented on the 4K TV will look better because the video being sent matches the native resolution of the TV. This includes streaming services too. Its a way to enjoy your existing Blu-ray library in a superior fashion on the 4K TV through a 4K upscaling-compatible Blu-ray player.

Dual-Core Processing

A Blu-ray player is as much a computer as any other high-end electronic device today (like smartphones, tablets and others). Playing discs isnt all the player does theres menus to choose from and a variety of services to activate on command (from streaming services to ways to enhance the video and audio being played). All this is controlled through a graphical interface that hides the tech so as to make choices simple. But simplicity comes with a price, in that the speed at which the player handles commands can seem slow. This is solved by giving more power to the Blu-ray players computer processor (i.e., dual-core processing). You wont see it if its there, but you will notice a lack of zippiness of the player if its not. And if the player doesnt have it, theres no way to add it later.

Quick-Start Capability

Unlike a CD player, a Blu-ray player doesnt immediately start up when its first turned on there is a certain amount of time required for the player to get its act together (i.e., organize and line up the electronics needed for it to perform). The amount of time varies and so must be put up with unless the Blu-ray player has been designed to start up quickly or, as is the case with some players, has the option to enable a quick start feature. Either way, this will speed up the initial time needed by the player so that the time being spent can be on watching the movie, not waiting for it. As this must be built into the player, checking the specs will tell you right away whether its there or not.

The purpose of a Blu-ray player is to make what youre watching appear as close to the movie theater experience as possible. Making an informed decision as to the Blu-ray player that you get is your first step.

Friday, April 10, 2015

SPINNING THE VINYL AT HOME


CDs came on like gangbusters over 20 years ago and sent record players packing in favor of digital playback. But vinyl is making a comeback among those who gave up playing LPs as well as those who never played LPs before. What does one need to know in order to get the best music from vinyl in ones home theater? Eric Smith, National Trainer for Pioneer Home Entertainment USA is spinning the answers.
First, what do you see as being the reason for the resurgence of vinyl?

Eric Smith: Vinyl has indeed been seeing a resurgence recently.  According to a Wall Street Journal article nearly 8 million vinyl records were sold in 2014, which is up 47% from 2013.  There are multiple reasons why this has been happening, but if I had to point to one reason with the largest impact I would say that vinyl is selling better because of its reach to a new younger audience.  Previously the vinyl you could buy was primarily classical and jazz for audiophiles and dance for DJs.  Now we are getting releases in vinyl from groups like Daft Punk, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire bringing vinyl to the attention of a wider audience.
There is a pride of ownership with vinyl as well.  It has a larger 12 x 12 canvas for artwork and liner notes and  many releases are collectable as well.  Jack White released vinyl in limited batches in different colors.  There is also a certain cool factor with being able to say Ive got that on vinyl.
While vinyl arguably does sound better than CD, sound quality may not be the primary reason the new audience is buying vinyl.  For audiophiles sound quality is of course of paramount importance.  For the new younger generation sound quality is still important but it may not be number one.  They are still streaming or downloading music as well as buying vinyl.  The portability of digital music is great for in the car or listening on your phone, but dropping a needle on a record and letting an entire side play is a different matter.  Rather than just hearing the sound, you are listening to the music as the artist originally intended.  It is a completely different experience. 


What do you need in order to properly integrate a turntable into your home theater?

Eric Smith: Unlike a CD player where you can plug the left and right analog audio cables into just about any input on a receiver, a turntable usually requires a special phono input.  If you plug a turntable into a CD or AUX input on a receiver the volume output will be very low.  Some receivers such as the Pioneer Elite SC-87 and SC-89 have a dedicated phono input to compensate for this low level.  If your receiver does not have a phono input you need an external phono preamp in between the turntable and the receiver which will boost the level so you can get the volume you need.  Some turntables like the Pioneer PL-30-K have a phono preamp built in as well.  If you have a receiver with a phono input great, if not, its a matter of flipping a switch to utilize the built in phono preamp in the turntable.
What should you look for when youre buying a turntable?
Eric Smith: Here is a short list of what to look for when buying a turntable.
       Solid construction with a good amount of weight- 
o      This is important to minimize vibration.  Vibration of the turntable can result in muddy bass and overall poor performance.
o      In our Pioneer PL-30-K turntable, for example, we have a dual layer chassis with a 4mm-thick metal plate and low center of gravity to help minimize vibration.  On top of the platter is a 5mm thick rubber matt to further isolate vibration.  It is also over 12 lbs,  over 4 times what most current Blu-ray players weigh. 
       A solid and weighty platter
o      Good weight in the platter helps maintain a consistent speed providing better audio.
o      The Pioneer PL-30-K uses a cast aluminum platter.
       A quality motor
o      For consistent speed and low noise.
o      The Pioneer PL-30-K uses a DC servo controlled motor for precision
       Adjustable tone arm counter weight and anti-skate control
o      Every good turntable needs to be set up before you play a record.  Setting the tone arm weight or tracking force as well as the anti-skate will make sure the stylus follows the record groove correctly, providing the best sound without skipping or damaging your record.
       Replaceable cartridge
o      Audio quality of any turntable can be improved by upgrading the cartridge
       Do you need a phono preamp?
o      Having it built into the turntable allows you to plug it into any device with analog inputs.
The needle isn’t something you can ignore either, correct?

Eric Smith: The stylus (commonly called the needle) is the part that physically rests in the groove of the record as it spins.  The cartridge is what coverts the mechanical vibrations from the stylus into an electrical signal that your electronics can play.  The Pioneer PL-30-K comes with a high quality cartridge installed, however if you want to improve the audio quality you can upgrade the cartridge.  I would recommend talking to your audio salesperson if you wish to do this for two reasons.  Number one, they can ask you questions about your listening habits and recommend the correct cartridge to match with your turntable and level of sound quality you are looking for.  The second reason is that most cartridge salespeople will also be able to properly mount a new cartridge on your tone arm
There are two types of cartridges available.  The most common is MM or moving magnet.  These can be entry level or high end.  Another type is MC or moving coil.  These are usually quite expensive and provide superior sound.  Keep in mind most phono inputs on receivers only handle MM cartridges and you would need a separate phono preamp for a MC cartridge.
Keeping the stylus and records clean and the cartridge and tone arm properly aligned will make your records last longer.  Over time the stylus will eventually wear down and need to be replaced, but if properly set up and take good care of it,  you should get good long life out of your stylus
How should you treat the records themselves?
Eric Smith: Store your records in a clean dry environment and do not expose them to excessive heat.  Records can warp if they become too hot.  Leaving a record in a hot car on a sunny summer day has ruined many an album.
Before playing a record, clean it first.  There are a wide variety of products available to help keep your records clean.  You can buy automatic record cleaning machines if you wish, but the most common method is a record cleaning brush or pad with a special record cleaning liquid.  There are also dry cleaning brushes available if you dont want to mess with record cleaning solutions every time you play a record.  Also periodically check the condition of the stylus to make sure it isnt holding any dust.  There are of course special stylus cleaners that clean the stylus without damage. 
Any final tips on how to get the best sound out of your turntable?
Eric Smith: Setting the tracking force and anti-skate of a tonearm are critical in having a well-tuned turntable.  Not only will it provide the best audio, but it will provide better longevity of your stylus and records.  When you set up the tracking force of a tone arm you balance the tone arm using the weight at the back.  You then look at the recommended tracking force of the cartridge and dial that number into the tone arm weight.  Set the anti-skate to the same number.  Instructions are included in most turntable manuals, or your salesperson can do this for you.  Now you need to listen.  If the sound is a bit muddy or muffled there may be too much tracking force.  Ease up a bit and listen again.  If there is too little tracking force it may sound like vocals or cymbals are too sibilant.  Once properly set up you will get the best sound quality and longevity out of your turntable and records.