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Setting the Mood for Holiday Entertaining

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The holidays will arrive in no time at all, and we’ll be entertaining family and friends. Is your home ready? We love the festive spirit of the season here at AVD, and recommend two ways to prepare your home and welcome guests: set the mood with music and lighting.

The Sounds of Music

Music is a must for any kind of entertaining, and especially so at the holidays. With multiple streaming music services and many state-of-the-art products available, any and all musical tastes are easily shared with family and friends. There are so many services and platforms on which to curate playlists or simply listen to your holiday favorites. We like TuneIn for local radio broadcast stations via the Internet. We also like the iHeart Radio app. Perennial favorite Pandora was one of the early streaming music providers, which uses a complex algorithm to mix your favorite songs- essentially being your personal DJ. We enjoy Slacker Radio for a similar experience – all free but you can upgrade to more robust paid versions. Of course we’re fans of subscription-based Spotify and Tidal that give users access to millions of songs on-demand via their digital services, along with curated playlists.

What we like about Tidal is the option of a high-resolution audio subscription that works well with our compatible high definition audio products. These will bring you Destiny’s Child singing “Apple Pie A La Mode,” Gene Autry singing “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the Trans-Siberian Orchestra playing “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo,” or Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukkah Song” in a clarity not experienced previously. Most any song can be added to your streaming playlist, all you need to use is your imagination.

We know these services and platforms can be confusing, which is why our expert design team can guide you through the myriad of choices. We will make recommendations based on your objectives and balanced against your budget. All platforms and services work with many products, but we have our favorites, and give priority to best-in-class products that offer ease-of-use and excellent performance. And, like high definition video products (think 4K televisions), music technology keeps pushing the envelope for the best sound possible.

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Audio Video Design Honored with 2017 Gold PRISM Award

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Audio Video Design, a concierge firm for smart home technology, automation and integration, was recognized for professional excellence with a coveted Gold PRISM Award on October 12, 2017.

Hosted by the Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Boston (BRAGB), the PRISM Awards celebrate the finest projects and outstanding achievements of builders, developers, project owners, architects, land planners, marketing/advertising firms, interior designers, remodelers, and home technology contractors in the Greater Boston building industry.

AVD won a Gold PRISM in the category Best Use of Smart Home Technology  for their Cape Cod Cinematheque project. This year’s PRISM Awards Gala presented awards in nearly 80 different categories to honor accomplishments in the industry.

“We are delighted to have received a Gold PRISM Award from the Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Boston. In this business it is always a team that earns the honors. No one person can do this by himself. I thank my team here at Audio Video Design for the conscientious attention to detail and dedication to customer satisfaction,” said AVD President, Brad Smith. “We are grateful to our industry partners on this project: interior designer Barbara Kotzen, Kotzen Interiors; and Encore Construction. We enjoyed collaborating with them to create this spectacular home theater.”

BRAGB received almost 300 entries for the PRISM Awards this year, which is the highest number of entries in the program since 2007. A distinguished panel representing various segments of the building industry from across the country performed the judging. For more information about the PRISM Awards please visit www.prism-awards.com

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Networking 101

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Have you ever been frustrated at the poor reception your cell phone gets at home? Looking for the crispest resolution on your television while watching Netflix? Do you ever feel you have the slowest Wi-Fi in the world? Do you even understand how Wi-Fi works? When we talk about networking, we’re talking about:

  • Wi-Fi – accessing the local wireless network for your computer, telecommunication, gaming, printing, consoles and more
  • Connecting your devices within your home so they communicate with one another
  • Accessing the Internet for email and entertainment
  • Compatibility with the latest standards and upgrades

 

“People are upgrading mostly because the coverage of their wi-fi is not reaching areas of the home they use most, because their service is regularly interrupted, and because of slow speeds. They want their email to work when they want it, they want Netflix to work when in the mood for a movie, and they want to surf the web and do homework. Finally, they want their cell phones to work anywhere in their homes,” says Mike Dillon, AVD Computer & Networking Specialist. “We make that all happen via wi-fi calling.”

The difference between working with a firm like Audio Video Design and walking into Best Buy is quality. We have networking engineers and superior products that are comparable to what corporations use. We provide enterprise-grade networking. Why is this important? Three main factors: speed, reliability and security. You want the fastest connections that don’t buffer, and give you peace of mind for your information. And in this day of Equifax breaches and stolen identities, this is of paramount importance.

Our networking expertise provides the equipment you need, the configurations you want and the ability to grow your system as products evolve. Keeping up with the fast pace of changing technology is another advantage of working with us versus DIY. We work with all network providers like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Cox, MCI, RCN, Century Link and more to enhance coverage and usefulness. You have questions. We have answers.

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The Problem with Alexa…

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It seems as though everyone has gone crazy for voice command devices and applications, but we are exercising caution.  Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Assistant Allo all have flaws. That’s what we are hearing from you.  “Alexa won’t turn on the lights in my kitchen.” “Allo can’t open the garage door for my plumber while I’m at work.” “Siri can’t find anything!”

As home electronics, integration and automation experts, we feel your pain. We know you want to speak your mind and have your wishes granted: open the shades, change the music, pre-heat the oven, and on and on. This is life in the 21st Century. The good news is that eventually all of these devices will understand you clearly. In the not too distant future, they will communicate with you and one another!

These apps and devices are basic and limited in what they can do. So if you’re OK with that, go ahead and plunk down $129 for the Google Home device or $179 for the Amazon Echo, and then download the apps that make them work. Want to know the weather? The score of the Red Sox game? Change the temperature on your Nest? These will do that for you.

Name that skill

One of the issues is how the devices in your home are programmed. Let’s say you have multiple lighting sources and need to be very specific, for example, kitchen recessed lights. Your voice command will have to be equally specific, according to AVD Project Manager Glenn Middleton. You may know this but your guests may not. Another issue is that Alexa and counterparts “aren’t at full voice recognition capacity yet, which means they make a lot of mistakes understanding human speech. Eventually they will understand us 100 percent. At that time these will be great devices for interacting on some level with our systems,” says Kyle Tripp, AVD Systems Designer.

Currently Alexa and Allo do not communicate easily with any smart home systems. And they won’t necessarily be able to work the rest of the cool, high-tech stuff in your house. The latest versions from Control4Crestron and Savant have the capability to be “introduced” to Alexa and learn one another’s language. Alexa’s language is “name the skill” or “call the skill.” Once Alexa becomes more fluent, the skills it knows will be more easily understood by the home integration systems we install. For now you’ll still have to push buttons on your smart phone, tablet or wall touch panel, which in many cases is actually more convenient than voice control. The best smart home systems are now developing their own voice recognition technology.

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2022-07-07
     
Roy, the technician assigned to the work at my home, was simply amazing - so kind, smart, considerate and the utmost customer-oriented person.
2022-05-19
     
SimpleHome did a fantastic job for us. Helped us design, spec and install two relatively complex TV and A/V installations.
2022-01-10
     

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