Media Room

Entertainment Distribution Through the House, what is the best way?

HOME MEDIA SERVERS AND PLAYERS

Distributing your entertainment throughout the house is slowly growing in popularity. Any type of media can be distributed. The main ones include Blu-ray or DVD movie and music, but doing it correctly is important otherwise there could be major interruptions or unnecessary upgrades due to poor equipment choice. Although there are many ways of distributing your entertainment, the most practical way is the building being completely cabled for data. Getting the infrastructure completed correctly is extremely important, almost every piece of equipment today will in one way or another use data cabling and use internet connectivity for many reasons. Of course there are many ways of distribution, from the cheap to the expense ways, so lets dive straight in.

NAS (Network Attached Storage)

A NAS (network attached storage) system is the heart of any system, we won’t go on too much about this as our previous blog goes into depth about it, but basically its where all the data sits waiting for you, a NAS will hold all your music and movie (depending on size of the NAS), using a NAS can be difficult when it comes to storing all you DVD and Blu-ray movie as extra equipment is needed to put them on there, as well as some computer and software knowledge is also a requirement. A NAS will in a way act like a server and distribute the media to more than one device.

Media Player

One of the cheapest ways to play back your movies throughout the home is using the TV’s DLNA function (plug the data cable straight into the back of the TV, the only problem is audio coming through the TV. Most TV’s will only decode stereo and not surround sound, so if your playing something in your home theatre room, this option will give excellent picture but only stereo sound, another option is to us a if your TV is a bit older, in some cases it will output the audio in surround sound, but this will also depend how that file was made, if it was made in stereo, that’s all you get, but if the file was made in surround sound, only then will you get the full benefit from it.

Dedicated media servers

This option is of course the best and theMedia Server Display on TV easiest to use but the most expensive. A dedicated server will have the all the component in it to store your movies and music on the hard drive and with dedicated players, it is then possible to playback your movies in full HD with surround sound. A media server will also give you professionally looking movie cover artwork when browsing your movie collection, where as a standard media player will only give the file name of the movie.

Price

A NAS system can vary in price, from a few hundred to a few thousand, depending on how big the hard drive is. To playback using your TV is of course free as your TV already has the software built in, but there are external media players that can be connected if your TV is a bit older for a few hundred dollars.  A dedicated media server (the best of the best) can cost from a few thousand and up, and then there are the media plays that attach to the server as well, they can cost up to a few thousand dollars each.

Some products can be seen at

http://www.kaleidescape.com/products/

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=1270

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos, what is it all about? part 2

… so the more speakers you have, the better and more realistic the 3D sound will be. The information on the blu-ray disc is not in channels anymore but now it is called a “sound object”, so for example a car driving past, a child yelling, wind blowing are all different “sound objects”, and all the objects put together is called a “bed”, each object has height, width and depth information in a 3D field (x, y, z coordinates) built in. But how does the system know what speakers the sound needs to come out of? Well, this is where things get interesting, when all the speakers are installed along with the new amplifier, when running a blu-ray movie, the amplifier will receive each “object” and from the build in x, y, z coordinates, the amplifier will then send that sound to the correct speaker/s and move the sound around to give the 3D sound effect.

There is some good news in regards to equipment. In your current system, all that you’ll need to do is replace your receiver with a Dolby Atmos enabled receiver and purchase the extra speakers, this is also assuming your existing system was installed properly as well. As every installation is different, each existing system will need to be examined so as to only purchase the extra speakers that are needed. Now a lot of people may already have speakers in the ceiling, the only speakers that will need to be purchased are the floor standing speakers (speakers at ear level) or visa versa… Your current Blu-ray player will stay the same, it will pass all the information for Dolby Atmos to work with your new receiver.

Dolby Atmos is scalable, so what this means is you can add as many speakers as you like, and the amplifier will process all the blu-ray information and send it to the correct speakers, regardless of how many speakers you have the amplifier will try to make the same sound at a specific area of the room, and form now on, gone are the days of a movie being in 5.1 or 7.1TrueHD ect ect, 99% of new release blu-ray movies will be in Dolby Atmos so you don’t need to worry about your speaker configuration and older blu-rays that are not in Dolby Atmos as it can be simulated in that format so you will still get some 3D effect from the movie.

Dolby Atmos SpeakersA last note that needs to be made, if you like the idea of purchasing the Dolby Atmos enabled speakers, the system will of course work best on a flat ceiling, if you have a cathedral type ceiling, this won’t work as good, you should purchase the extra speakers and have then installed, it is ok though if the ceiling is pitched in a single direction for example the front low and the back is high but only as long as the pitch is not too steep. Also if the ceiling is too low, again the reflection will not work as good. And with the Atmos enabled speakers there are two sets of speaker terminals so a wire will need to run to each speaker terminals, this basically means doubling up on speaker cable as compared to a regular home theatre system.

More information can be found at

http://www.dolby.com/us/en/technologies/dolby-atmos.html

http://www.dolby.com/us/en/home/index.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXLQ4mIwyAk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3c295SyGQag

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos, what is it all about? part 1

There has been a lot of talk lately about a new soundDolby Atmos format coming out for home theatre systems, Dolby Atmos. Dolby Atmos has been in commercial movie theatres for last few years and finally it will be released to a select amount of 2015 home theatre receivers.

So to best describe what it is, Dolby Atmos basically adds a 3D aspect to the sound system with ceiling speaker added in specific locations to your current speaker configuration, the extra speakers is sound that is comes down from the ceiling that work in conjunction with your existing speaker 5.1 or 7.1 speaker configuration. The new Dolby Atmos speaker configuration can be configured in one of two different ways.

The first way and the easiest way is to purchase special Dolby Atmos enabled speakers. These speakers will look the same as normal speakers except there is an extra speaker on the top looking up to the ceiling on an angle, also on the back of the speaker there is a second set of speaker terminals especially for the up would looking speaker. The idea of this speaker is that it works off reflected surfaces, so the sound will be bounced off the ceiling, but this is said to be about 70% effective at its best and this will depend a lot to the ceiling construction as well.

Dolby Atmos LayoutA true representation would be to physically install the ceiling speakers, this will give you a true Dolby Atmos system. Currently Dolby Atmos home theatre specifications say it can handle up to 24 speakers at ear level and 10 on the ceiling (represented as 24.1.10) but this requires a lot of amplifiers to drive all the speaker and currently there are no domestic grade receivers that is capable of driving that many speakers yet, and of course this isn’t realistic in normal home theatre system either, so adding 2, 4 or 6 ceiling speakers would be more likely, so in a normal 5.1 home theatre system, if 4 ceiling speakers are added, this would be 5.1.4 now. To give you an idea, a commercial cinema will have up to 64 independent speakers.

How Dolby Atmos works is different to previous sound formats, but to put it into the most basic form, the format produces a 3D sound effect that moves around the room so it’s more realistic then ever before…

Have a look at part 2 of Dolby Atmos, what is it?

Home Distribution

What Can Be Mixed Into A TV Antenna System

TV Antenna Distribution

Antenna Distribution layout

A TV antenna system can be a simple single TV outlet system, all the way up to a complex commercial system with hundreds of outlet. Mixing the satellite dish in and FM radio with other in-house services is possible too. It is possible for other devices to be distributed through your TV antenna system. Things like a DVD player, Apple TV or even security cameras. Your current infrastructure can be used without having to install extra cables to other rooms. But this will depend on if you need things like remote control signals to go back to the source device.

Installing an external FM radio antenna is a superb idea if you enjoy listing to FM. Connecting an external FM radio antenna is best if your in an area where you have poor radio reception. Then mixing it into your TV antenna system, along with other devices can be done. At every point in the house, you’ll be able to plug in your FM radio and listen to FM stations much clearer than before. There is a noticeable difference if you have a two-story building, and your radio is downstairs.

Do you have a Blu-ray player or Foxtel that you would like to distribute throughout the house or business as well? With our wealth of knowledge, this is possible too. At the other end, you can potentially receive HD quality picture as well.

Conclusion

As a conclusion, if any antenna installer says it’s not possible, we would recommend you thank them for their services. Give us a call ASAP so we can sort you out and have things running the way you need it to be.

We source our equipment from the following suppliers;

http://online.laceys.tv/

http://www.matchmaster.com.au/

MHL

Acronyms, What do they mean? Part 3

MHL

(Mobile High-definition Link) via an MHL cable. MHL makes it possible to enjoy video, image, and audio files from mobile devices on your TV. However, MHL is only available through the TV’s HDMI (MHL) port and only when used in conjunction with an MHL-enabled mobile device.

PIP, PICTURE IN PICTURE

Picture in picture was used to display a second picture usually at the top right hand corner of the TV, this required a second tuner or a video input. This feature was more prevenient on analogue TV’s and rarely used. Where this feature would be handy would be a sports event where you would get a second view point of the event.

S/PDIF, SONY PHILIPS DIGITAL INTERFACE, FIBRE OPTICS

This is a fibre optics input on a home theatre system or an output on a TV or DVD player, it is used to carry digital audio only, no video. The reason why you would use the fibre optics port would be if you didn’t have access to a HDMI port. Let say your DVD player did not have HDMI, you could run either a video lead (yellow lead) or component lead (red, green blue leads) to the receiver and to still get digital surround sound you would then run the fibre optics as well.

IPTV, INTERNET PROTOCOL TV

IPTV is basically TV sent via the internet rather then your TV antenna. All the smart TV’s are able to access IPTV but not all stations are broadcasting via the internet, at the moment it’s only the odd TV show that is available. Freeview Plus is like a hybrid technology and uses your TV antenna as well as the internet. More information about Freeview Plus can be found on our Freeview Plus blog. Bigponds T-box and Apple tv are other forms of IPTV.

THD, TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION

THD is the measure of noise or distortion a receiver makes, the lower the number the less noise the receiver makes and this will make for a cleaner sound. High end home theatre systems will usually have the best THD so the will produce the best sound/home theatre experence

UPNP, UNIVERSAL PLUG AND PLAY

UPnP is a system where there is no software to load to make a newUniversal Plug and Play Logo piece of hardware to work. An easy example would be plugging in a dvd recorder to a TC using a HDMI lead, as a HDMI lead is digital (like a computer), there is no software to load, just plug it in and away you go.

EDID, EXTENDED DISPLAY IDENTIFICATION DATA

EDID will be very rarely seen, if ever for consumers. It’s used for manufactures to transmit data structure provided by a digital display to describe its capabilities to a video source (e.g. graphics card or set-top box) through a HDMI lead. It is what enables a PC to know what kinds of monitors it is connected to it. The EDID includes manufacturer name and serial number, product type, phosphor or filter type, timings supported by the display, display size, luminance data and (for digital displays only) pixel mapping data, all the important stuff that you don’t need to worry about.

Part 2 is right here

screen cleaning kit

Screen Cleaning Kits, Which is the right one to use

When we walk into a retail store, we are all conditioned to think we need to buy a screen cleaning kit when we buy a new TV. Some HDMI lead manufactures actually bundle it in with their leads to make a package “deal” out of it, but what’s the right way to clean your new TV screen.

First off, don’t worry about buying that screen cleaning kit, it’ll be $15 you’ll never see again, secondly NEVER use and cleaning product as the corrosive solution with-in can damage the protective coating on the screen.

So what’s the best way to clean a screen? The only way you should clean your screen is with a microfibre type of cloth and softly wipe it down, NEVER rub hard as pushing down on the screen can damage the pixels on the screen. If there is a stubborn spot that won’t come off, wet the cloth with some water and wipe it down again. If the spot is still being stubborn, use a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar and then wipe it again, NEVER use a paper towel or tissue paper as it’s not designed to wipe down sensitive devices, those products were only ever designed to wipe down a kitchen bench and liquid spills, ONLY ever use a microfibre cloth, that’s it, cheap and easy.

Sourced from the following sites

http://pcsupport.about.com/od/maintenance/ht/cleanflatscreen.htm

http://m.wikihow.com/Clean-a-Laptop-Screen-with-Household-Products

http://www.howtogeek.com/170080/the-how-to-geek-guide-to-cleaning-your-lcd-monitor-screen/

We never have and never will sell a screen kit but if you still feel you need to buy one, just walk into any retail store and open up your wallet and ask that sales person to help them self to your money, that’s what your doing if you feel you need a screen cleaning kit.

iPad remote

Single Remote or Ipad/Android control for home theatre or home automation

With technology all around us we have a remote control for just about everything, it’s only a matter of time that manufactures come out with a remote control for a fridge… But since technology is the course of our complicated lives, can technology make our lives easier as well? The simple answer is yes. Controlling a home theatre system from a single remote has never been so easy as it is now, how would you like to turn on your home theatre system, TV and Foxtel box all with single button and the same with turning it off too? That’s one less headache to worry about learning to use and not to mention the less technology orientated people will love these devices and will start to love their home theatre system instead of being scared of using it.

A remote control can consist of many different devices from a smart remote control that can look like any other remote control, to an iPad, iPhone and any Android device. There will be two manufactures we will be talking about in this blog, but not all manufactures will make a remote for all devices so you’ll need to check it out first before purchasing it. The two we’ll be talking about is Logitech and URC.

LOGITECH AND HOW IT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE (AND SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE)

Logitech make great products, there is no doubt about that, and there range of remote controls on offer are no exception. To complement the range of remote controls, what Logitech have come up with is an easy to follow program for your computer to program up the remote control yourself. Basically all you need to do is enter the product brand and model number into the program as each device you have and the Logitech program will sort out all the buttons for you, all you need to do is follow the prompts, easy!

But technology isn’t 100% bullet proof and problem can occur during programming, if this ever happens to you, Logitech have a great backup service to help you with any difficult buttons or codes that can come along from time to time, at times even we have had problems when programming a remotes for customers, but Logitech have always come through for us.

Logitech make a large range of remote controls, all the way from a basic 3 device control all the way up to 15 device remote control with iPad and android control via Bluetooth, so basically choose the remote control the suits you the best or the one that looks the most appealing.

THE ULTIMATE IN REMOTE CONTROLS, URC

Home Automation

everything that Logitech can do, but can also control multiple rooms in a house all from one app. The next level up is the URC remote control range, what makes this product great is URC not only can do p. All though URC still makes a range of remotes for a single room that is a simple solution, URC takes it to the next level and can control lights, blinds, air conditioning, security systems, security cameras, multi-room sound systems including Sonos as well as full home theatre systems, Xbox and Apple TV. URC is all modular so we build it up to your requirements and we can also add to it later on if required. From a consumers stand point this system is not programmable yourself, a technician that has been trained in programming URC devices is required, and anyway with a complicated system like this, would you even want to program it yourself? URC can look like a complex system if your not familiar with it but at the same time it is a very easy system to use, it is by far a superior and advanced that can be very helpful for you when setup and used in the right way.

So regardless of what your situation is, there is a remote control solution for every situation regardless of whether it’s controlling a TV and DVD player to a full home theatre system to your entire home.

More information about these great product can be found at

http://www.universalremote.com/home_theater_entertainment.php

http://www.logitech.com/en-au/universal-remotes#

And http://www.universalremote.com/

HDMI

Acronyms, What do they mean? part 1

We all hate them but it was designed to make our lives easier and unfortunately we have to live with that, but hey, if you have little to no knowledge of what all the acronyms are in a home theatre system, and what they mean, we’ll run you through some of them now.

DTV, DIGITAL TVDigital TV logo

The current TV standards everybody uses in Australia, typical the aspect ratio of DTV is 16:9 (wide screen), but of course it depends on the type of camera being used to record the TV show. If it’s an older show, it will be 4:3, you’ll see two black lines down both sides of the show whereas with a newer TV show, it will be in 16:9 like the news, it will fill up the TV screen. DTV is also giving us a clearer picture with more information embedded in the signal like the TV guide (EPG, Electronics Program Guide). Digital TV works differently to Analogue TV as well, when the signal drops below a certain level, your TV will display “no signal”, with analogue the picture will get grainy until the signal is so low you will only see “white noise”.

ATV, ANALOGUE TELEVISION

The old standards before digital TV was introduced, analogue TV was always in 4:3. A lot of TV’s still have an analogue tuner and at times it is still used, for example, distributing analogue video around the house or commercial building on a TV channel.

HD & SD, HIGH DEFINITION & STANDARD DEFINITION

High Definition TV

We’ll start with Standard Definition, SD is picture around 480i, this was where analogue TV use to be at, whereas HD is 720p and up, the most popular HD we talk about today is 1080i, this is the current standards. Then there is 2k and the more popular 4K which is 4 x HD TV’s and will be known as ultra-high definition (UHD).

HDMI, HIGH DEFINITION MULTIMEDIA INTERFACE

HDMI is a cable and has been around for about the last 10 years, current version is 1.4 but version 2.0 will soon be available. The reason for different versions of HDMI cable (and there has been many) is easiest explained to compare analogue to digital, as technologies has improved over time, there was a need to transfer more data, and the changers have been big, so to be able to keep up with the technology, improvements in cable technology was important so everything was compatible to the current standards.

HDMI logo

In its basic form HDMI carries HD picture and surround sound audio, current cables carry 1080p and will also carry the up and coming 4k. All home theatre systems use HDMI cables, you can read more about HDMI cable more in depth in our HDMI blog.

PVR, PERSONAL VIDEO RECORDER

PVR is personal video recorder, just like the old VCR a PVR records digitally onto either a built in hard drive of a recordable DVD.

Part 2, more acronyms you need to know.

If you need further clarification on any of these acronyms, please leave us a message below and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

HDMI over co-ax

HDMI home or office distribution, the different solutions avalible part 2

HDMI OVER CO-AX

HDMI over co-ax, onto a digital TV channel device

Our third option for you is a solution that has the least amount of cables to run, it maybe the best system for the home and would be the easiest for a motel club of pub. So how does this work? Well what we are doing here is change HDMI to a digital TV channel and then mixing it in with the TV antenna system, sounds like a great idea doesn’t it? Simple. Any building can benefit from this solution where there are a few Foxtel boxes and Blu-ray players that need to be distributed around the building. As there are a few different manufactures, there are a few different types out there that either will or will not have an IR extender system built in. of course for a home we would recommend an IR extender built-in.

HDMI OVER WIRELESS

Our fourth option, and the only option if running cable is not possible, this is a last resort solution. It’s running HDMI via a wireless system. There are a few draw backs with this system and first off distance will play a big factor, just like a long HDMI lead – if the distance for the wireless system is too far, it just won’t work, and you will need to take in consideration about thewalls as well, what there contracted from, if the walls are too thick, it just won’t work. There are a few different manufactures about and each one will work a little bit different, so look into that before you put it in the too hard bracket. Our advice with a wireless system would be, it will only work into the next room, you may get away with putting it 2 rooms away from the main system but any further and you would be pushing its limits, the further away you put the receiver, the more walls it needs to work through which when all added up will make for one very think wall and this will also shorten the distance that it will work at.

HDMI OVER IP

HDMI over Cat5 data cable, through the data network

And not to forget our final solution, running HDMI over IP (through your home data network), it’s a great simple solution if your home and a professional look for the office if data cable has already been run to where the TV is or this maybe your only option if only it only has data cable running to the TV. Again there are a few different systems available but the one we’d recommend is a server type of system, it can be connected directly in the Ethernet port of some TV’s without any other extra equipment so it simple to use and there is no limit to the number of TVs that can be connected, so a pub, club, shopping mall, any large premises. Again there are many different IP solutions on the market so make sure you find a system that will meet your needs. There is only one down side with this system and that it unless the data network is 100% correctly configured previously, there maybe issues with the video transfer. Computer data/internet will all be carried on the same cable as HD video so there will be congestion in the network and quality maybe decreased so depending on the current infrastructure, this may not be an option until it’s investigated.
As you can see there are many solutions available so if there is something that you’re interested to know more about please email us, we’re more than happy to guide you on the right path or if you are looking to expand or start building up a new system and would like one of these systems installed, please send us a message below as we’d be more them happy install a solution for you.

Click here to go back to part 1

HDMI over Cat5

HDMI home or office distribution, the different solutions avalible part 1

We know you would like HD quality content distributed around the home or business from a single point like a blu-ray player and Foxtel box, so what’s the best way to do with or without a HDMI cable?

Renovating or building a new home or office can be expensive, these no doubt about that, setting up your equipment the right way also has no exception, but hey, there are ways to save a few dollars in the long run. Saving the expense of having multiple Blu-ray players or even Foxtel boxes and have it distributed throughout the house or office is the way to go. Equipment you’ll need will vary depending on your situation. There are a few different ways that this can be setup and we’ll run through all the different solutions for you based on performance rather than cost as performance is our main aim and result, all there option will also has a built in IR extender so you can start/stop/pause/change channel ect from the TV you’re watching to the piece of equipment you want to control in the other room.

First off you need to know that a HDMI lead by its self will not work at long lengths, anything over 15 meters and signal starts to drop off, at 20m to 25m you’ll see errors on the screen, check out of blog on HDMI cable for more information about HDMI leads.

direct HDMI over cat5

HDMI OVER CAT5

So the for our first option, if you want to go from one room to another only, if you want to run a HDMI signal to, let’s say a bedroom from the lounge room and the distance is not very far, a normal HDMI cable will work but then you’ll need an IR extender to work with it but for a much better solution we can use a HDMI to cat5 converter. Basically this is changing a HDMI lead to a Cat5 lead (computer data cable) and then back to HDMI, there are a few on market and the one we’d recommend is one that has an IR extender built in, yes you can get wireless IR extenders as if you were only running a normal HDMI lead, but a hardwired solutions is always best and plus having a wireless system alongside a hardwired system is an extra piece of equipment you don’t need to have and there are too many IF and BUTS that could happen with wireless.

HDMI OVER CAT5, MULTIPLE OUTLETS (DEDICATED SYSTEM)

HDMI over cat5

Our second option for you is if you want to run to more than one bedroom, let’s say 3 or 4 bedroom, and a games room for example, you have the option of using a HDMI to cat5 splitter system. So how this system works is basically the same as the first option but we’re splitting the signal to more TVs at the same time, the main unit, the brains of the system I guess you can say is physically bigger and all the data cables need to run back to this main unit. Again there is another little box at the TV to change to data cable back to HDMI, depending on which system you get, it can have an IR extender system built in as well which is what we’d recommend for simplicity.

This was part 1, part 2 is right here. We still have another 3 different solutions to show you about transmitting HDMI over a long distance.