The industry is moving at a blistering pace. Streaming is everywhere and we are relying more and more on networks to provide our home entertainment. We can now control most of, if not all of our home from a hand-held device, in a relatively affordable fashion, should we choose to do so.
To those of you who sell and install. Please remember that not everyone is as comfortable as we are with technology. That means that when you answer a question or explain something, you should check to see whether or not the message was actually received in whole. Be patient, and re-explain if you need to.
To consumers who are shopping. Feel free to contact me with questions and request advice. Please give your local specialist a chance, and do not assume that he or she is simply trying to sell you something. Steve Jobs realized a long time ago, that people do not necessarily know what they want, and sometimes have to be led down the path...
For years I, and others in the industry have been preaching the benefits of uncompressed sound. Fact is, not enough of us are talking about it. This 22 minute film does, and I hope that people see it, and listen to the message. Yes it is sponsored by a manufacturer, one whom I do not represent, but the content steers clear of brands, and focuses on musicians imploring you to listen to something better. Please watch and...LISTEN!
I was at a dinner party last week when my new friend Ella asked for a suggestion of something that she could draw. Ever the marketing machine, I handed her my Zm phone case, and this is what she came up with. I was so touched that I thought it should be displayed on my site!
What is a lot of money? It is different things to different people. Should basketball shoes cost $50, $150, or $300? It depends on who you speak to, and the importance level that they assign to them. Audio/Video and automation are no different. I sometimes laugh when a customer tells me that they just paid $75,000 to renovate their kitchen, but $500 for a good pair of speakers to enjoy, while in that kitchen is "expensive." Expensive is a relative term. Good is not expensive, it is good. We need to teach people how to compare performance and value. Good, may cost just a few bucks more, and be well worth it.
I am an audiophile. I do not just enjoy good sound, I demand it for myself, as it improves my enjoyment of the music or film. That said, I do not force my views on others, ...BUT... there is a negative trend that has been permeating the ideas of sound. Far too often I hear people say that they do not need anything good. If you have not experienced good or great sound, how do you know that you do not need or want it? If you are selling audio gear, why would you allow someone to sell themselves short, and not even listen to something better? Perhaps people have stopped listening... to ideas, each other and quality. Perhaps everything has become background noise. It should not be.
I often hear people say that they do not listen to music, even though they claim to love it. This usually ends up being due to the fact that their listening took place on gear that was so awful, it was better not to listen at all. When given access to good or great sound, they often begin listening again. When buying a car, or wine, or whatever, you must experience it, and others, and then judge which is right for you. I suggest that the next time you want to buy or sell something audio related, that some listening occur. You may find out that what you thought was good enough, just isn't.
In a recent interview, the sound engineer of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, Alan Parsons, offered this observation about audiophiles: "I do think in the domestic environment, the people that have sufficient equipment don't pay enough attention to room acoustics. The pro audio guy will prioritize room acoustics and do the necessary treatments to make the room sound right. The hi-fi world attaches less importance to room acoustics, and prioritizes equipment; they are looking more at brand names and reputation."
Without treating a room's acoustics audiophiles continue to spend on equipment, only to remain dissatisfied with the results.
It is not about the gear, even though we love it. It is about the music or the film. The goal is to get closer to the original. Most people do not understand how to shop. More bass? That is easy. Less highs, that is easy too. Make the piano sound more like a piano? That is harder. That is where you must listen. Sing or speak in your head. Compare what your head tells you, to what you hear. The one that sounds like the real thing playing in your mind, is the one to go for. More on this later...
Spring and Summer are finally here. For those who do not snowboard or partake in other winter sports, it is time to go outside. Don't just spend SOME time outdoors, you need to LIVE it, ENJOY it. To help you do that, take your music outside. You will find yourself spending more time out there.
You can take a bluetooth speaker outside, and stream your music, then take it back in when you are done. OR, you can get serious and drop in an Acoustascape or Landscape System which sound better than many people's living rooms. Cool.
Check these out:
Acoustic Landscape: Click for Acoustic Landscape
Landscape: Click for Seasons Landscape
Outdoor box Speakers: Click for traditional outdoor speakers
Rule of thumb for stereo: I like to start with a triangle. That means, set the speakers up so that they are the same distance from each other, that they are from you. Room acoustics will dictate that you may need more or less spacing, but this is a good place to start. Many people lose imaging by sitting too close or too far.
Speakers usually need to breath. When translated from audiophile geek speak, this means that they usually perform best when not stuck up against the back wall. or side wall. Do not give them the same distance from the back, as you do from the side, mix it up. This will prevent sound waves from bouncing back to each other at the same time.
Try a Tune Dem. Start with a basic placement, based on the instructions above. Then make small changes such as moving the speakers forward or back an inch, or side to side an inch. If it sounds better...it is.
Angle of the left and right speaker is open to much debate. Some people say they should point straight and others do not. Different brands perform in different ways, so check with the manufacturer as to what they suggest. I like to use a bit of "toe in," with certain brands, which means that I angle the speakers toward my listening position. To start, sit in your sweet spot and look at one speaker at a time. Adjust the toe in until the inside side of the cabinet seems to disappear. This is a good place to start.
Rule of thumb for Home Theatre: Left , Center and Right speaker in front of you, following the stereo guidelines if possible. Effect speakers can be placed on the side or in back of you. Back speakers must, as the name suggests, be in back of you. I enjoy subwoofer arguments. If you have only one sub, I suggest placing it on the front wall or close to it. If someone tells you that bass is not directional, try this test. Sit in the seat that you would use to watch your movie. Have someone stomp on the floor in back of you. If you hear and feel something in back you, then my point is made. Yes, some bass frequencies cannot be localized, but when you have crash, bang, boom coming from a subwoofer in back of you, or off to the side, you will know that it is there. If the action is happening on the screen, the sound will be out of phase with the action, and not seem right. That is why, if you have one sub, you will be better served by placing it in front.
The iPHONE, iPAD, etc, are great, and I love having music with me. That said, there are low quality recordings, and hi quality recordings. If you are going to listen to a good sound system, or have never done so, be sure to have a good recording, and/or a good rip. 128 or 256Kbps bit rate is ~OK for listening to on headphones, but does not let a good system shine. Look into lossless, such as FLAC or ALAC if you want to hear what you've been missing.