Is Your Current AV System an Embarrassment? Maybe It's Time for an AV Makeover
Let's face it, relationships are hard.
You fall in love and there's that sugary sweet honeymoon period where everything is just pure bliss. The relationship is all shiny and new. You can simply spend time in the presence of your beloved and all is right with the universe. Oh sure, there are the bumpy beginnings where you have to figure out each other's quirky habits but it's all part of the joy of getting to know one another, right?
It's the same with your AV system.
C'mon, admit it. Somewhere back there you decided to take the plunge and get into the world of home theater and/or smart home technology.
[Love at First Sight]
It might have been as simple as hanging a flat screen TV on the wall back when they first came out. You probably sat there staring at it in amazement without even turning it on wondering, 'How on earth is this thing actually going to work when it's only FOUR INCHES THICK (plus another five inches or so with those original wall mount brackets when 42" TVs weighed in at over 75 pounds) But still...
Then you turned it on and it was like, 'OMG!! This thing actually works and look at that picture!! High definition TV. Holy cow!! The future is here!'
Or maybe you built a whole house system with multiple TV's, speakers in all the various rooms, lighting control and motorized shades and a fancy control system to control all of it from the touch of one button. No more humongous "media armoirs" to hide thoose giant TVs and all that bulky equipment and tangled wiring.
[Getting to Know You]
Oh sure, there may have been those bumps in the road where things didn't quite work when you pushed that button the first time and you needed the AV guy to come back a few times to fix it. Or maybe the technology was a bit overwhelming at first and it took a minute to get used to and figure out how to "drive" this shiny new car that was your new smart home system. But that's to be expected in any relationship, right?
But eventually, you got the kinks worked out and you and your new smart home were getting along just fine. And thank God, considering the possibly substantial investment you made for all those modern conveniences, right?
Controlling the system ultimately became second nature. Like turning on the coffee machine. Your hi tech AV system simply became part of your life and for several years life was pretty good. It all worked just fine. No major hiccups. The occsasional power failure and something got out of whack. But the AV guy was usually there to set you straight if you couldn't figure it out yourself so you could get on with your life.
[When the Honeymoon Ends]
But as the years unfurled, things started getting a bit...well, tired. You wake up one day and realize that the honeymoon has ended. That sexy flat screen TV that was once the hottest thing out there back in the day doesn't look so sexy anymore. The picture doesn't wow you. In fact, it looks a little dull and uncrisp. After seeing all those fancy new razor thin Smart TVs in the newspaper ads or maybe at a friend's house, you look at yours and now it's looking...a little bloated around the edges?
And that really expensive control touch panel in the wall with the clunky graphics looks kind of dated and nowhere near as sexy as your flashy new iPad, which you were told could now control all this stuff and it only costs $399. You keep hearing about all the latest bells and whistles like 3D, 4KTV, Airplay and Smart TVs with their Smart apps and the like. But your stuff doesn't do any of that.
To add insult to injury, you go over to a friend's for dinner and they're changing the music playlist with their iPhone while tossing the salad! How did they do that? And you? Well, you're still staring at that monsterous 400 disc CD changer in the closet you haven't touched in ages.
Hmmm, looks like your "technology of the future" system is looking more and more "past tense". What to do?
[You Don't Have to Throw it All Away]
Well, the first thing to know is if you're thinking about upgrading your AV system, you're on the right path. Oh sure, be prepared to go through the whole anger, denial, acceptance curve when you start running the numbers through your head about how much you spent already when it's only been (fill in the unreasonably short amount of time) years since you made this big investment. And OMG! how much will it cost now for the upgrade!? Go ahead, get it all out. You're only human after all.
But you know what? Hopefully, you got some good years out of your system. Hopefully, you used it often and got some real joy, convenience and entertainment value out of it, not to mention making all those gizmos that would have been cluttering up your home disappear. That should help you work through the curve faster, no?
The good news here is that often times, when considering an upgrade to your existing AV system, many of your existing components can be reused. Like amplifiers, speakers, radio tuners, lighting control dimmers and control keypads, as well as your motorized shades too. Those are workhorse items that, unless you don't like your shade fabrics anymore, or you are just looking for some improved quality with your speakers, you can continue using or even repurpose, while upgrading certain components of the system. And btw, even if you don't like your shade fabrics, you could simply replace the fabric down the road and keep all the motors in place. That was easy :-)
[Consider Some of the Hot New Features for Your Makeover]
So what SHOULD you think about upgrading?
Well, first thing would be those bulky old (and really thick now) TVs. You just can't compete with the sleek new models. Further, the increased image resolution and added Smart app features are just too cool to ignore, especially if someone shows you all that you've been missing. Kind of cool that you can Skype your friends, family and even work associates right from your TV now.
Then you need to think about upgrading some of the front end components. If you have an AV receiver or video matrix switcher switching all your video sources, you'll likely need to upgrade it, depending on when it was purchased, in order to take advantage of the latest HDMI standards, 3D content and even 4K content that's on the way now.
If you have a control system in place like Crestron, AMX or Control 4, it's quite possible that the overall system is still functional but may need an upgrade on the processor (the brain that communicates with all the other AV equipment) so that you can take advantage of things like new graphics and metadata, as well as video and audio communication that you can utilize between the control devices, your equipment and the outside world.
You may want to consider looking into some of the new streaming media players to integrate into your system. Like Apple TV or Roku for movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, etc and audio streaming players like Sonos, Audio Request or Autonomic Mirage, all of which can stream music from your existing digital music library as well as stream all the various internet radio stations and streaming services out there like Pandora, Spotify or Rhapsody, among so many others, all controlled from your iPhone or Droid device.
[Can We Rebuild You? Yes We Can]
The once not so good news was that if you were considering an upgrade, you would have been limited by the type of wires that had been originally run in your home, connecting all the devices. You need certain wire types in place in order to take advantage of these new features. And while that used to signal massive headache when you are informed of this, like the expense of opening walls, running wires and the like, now there's good news.
The AV industry has come around to realize that people simply aren't going to incur the expense of ripping open their walls to run new wire and then all the patching and repainting that goes along with it. So they had to come up with solutions to make all this modern technology work with most typical existing wiring scenarios.
And while the dream of wireless everything hasn't quite arrived yet, the technology has come far enough that there are some really cool wireless solutions that could allow you in many instances to implement that upgrade even if you don't have the right wires in place. Pretty cool, right?
The best way to consider if it's time for an AV makeover is to speak with a qualified AV company that can assess your current situation and see what you have, where you are now with your needs and where you want to go. They can show you all the options available today and give you a sense of the expense it will cost you to implement an upgrade.
In this way, together you can come up with an upgrade path for your system that provides you all the great new features you're looking for while staying within your budget.
At Ultimate Sound & Installations, we've been helping our customers keep up with the latest and greatest AV technology for more than 29 years. And today there are so many cool and exciting new features to talk about in AV that only a few years ago, we would have thought impossible. So give us a call.
Have we got a makeover for you!