Frequently Asked Questions

I have been told that using apps to control my home will be confusing?

My response is simple; do you have trouble making a phone call AND responding to an email? It's ok to click in and out of apps.

Why would anyone invest in a Control4 or Savant system?

No idea. If I told you that your iPhone needed my "Control System X" app so that you could make a phone call, email , get directions, take a picture and text in a less confusing way, would you invest? It's the same with your home, if you would like distributed audio, lighting control , universal remotes, HVAC, shades, surveillance etc. I don't need to sell you a Savant or Control4 system to do it

Can I use Nest?

Yes, limit for thermostats (zones) is 10 per account at the moment.

Can't I just run everything wirelessly? Both AV and network

  • No
  • Wireless has limited bandwidth
  • Wireless isn't as fast as you think
  • Wireless is 30% slower than fixed Ethernet connections
  • Wireless networks suffer from interference (cordless phones, microwaves, EMI etc.)
  • Wireless bandwidth is limited to start, so if you load up your "slice" of wireless with several devices your performance suffers exponentially
  • Wireless uses up your batteries quicker (Laptop using wireless will run out of juice before a laptop that's plugged in)
  • It's not uncommon for a wireless device to just drop out
  • Wireless networks can create security challenges

What is the difference between Control systems? (Control4, Crestron, Savant, etc.)

  • The simple answer is the user interface and cost
  • Nowadays most control systems can control whatever you want reliably.
  • Some have a better aesthetic and feel than others
  • All can monitor energy consumption
  • All are good products when installed by a qualified AV company; however each one is tailored for a slightly different audience.
  • Key points for Crestron
    • Been around for more than 40 years
    • Crestron's approach has always been "best in class"
    • Focus is on product reliability and hardware built to control anything you throw at it
    • Fully customizable user interface (Literally anything you want)
    • Crestron produces thousands of products which reduces the need for third party electronics and devices
    • Featured in Microsoft headquarters, Government and military agencies throughout the world
  • Key points for Control4
    • Geared toward being an affordable integration solution
    • Started in 2005
    • Featured in hotel ARIA, Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Does not require a sophisticated programmer
  • Key points for Savant
    • The only control system based in and around Apple products (Is not affiliated or endorsed by Apple)
    • Founded in 2005
    • Hardware priced similar to Crestron
    • Newest home automation system in our the industry
    • Remotes and controls are based on Apple products (iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone)
    • Award winning user interface

Which is better Plasma or LED?

  • Plasma's have always had the best picture and continue to have the best picture
  • Plasma has the smoothest and most natural motion available
  • Plasma's are Ideal for sports and video gaming
  • Plasma's have warm color and deep black levels
  • LED's have caught up significantly and the average viewer cannot tell the difference between either technology
  • LED's tend to be thinner
  • LED's are better tailored for rooms with excessive light
  • LED's consume less power

What should I budget for AV?

  • Considering a 10,000 square foot home as an average approximately 15-40 dollars a square foot.
  • The number skews slightly higher for smaller homes around 2500+ square feet
  • The number skews slightly lower for larger homes around 20,000+ square feet
  • True dedicated theaters and listening rooms can range from 800 dollars a square foot up to 2500 dollars a square foot

In what rooms should I put speakers?

  • The better question is; are there any rooms I should not be installing speakers in?
  • Bedrooms and bathrooms with the exception of master and master bath
  • All other rooms including outdoors are great candidates for house audio

Where should I have surround sound systems?

  • Family Rooms
  • Great Rooms
  • Media Rooms
  • Game Rooms

Where and when should I use a projector?

  • In Dedicated Screening Rooms
  • Rooms where ambient light can be reduced significantly

Do I really need a universal remote?

  • You can answer this with a few simple questions
    • Are you comfortable using multiple remotes?
    • Would you like to know the sequence of commands to watch TV or a movie?
    • Do you want to train your family, housekeeper, dog sitter, guests etc. how to use your system?
  • Benefits of Universal remote
    • One button push for all sources
    • Control beyond line of sight
    • No extensive training
    • Completely customizable for personal taste i.e. Favorite channels, Layout
    • Aesthetic value (Reduction of clutter from multiple remotes)

Do I really need a subwoofer?

  • For a surround system, yes
  • For house audio, probably not
  • There are many ways to hide subwoofers so they are heard and not seen
  • We use special techniques and custom designs to put in-floor and in-cabinet
  • A well placed, well designed and well set up subwoofer can add enjoyment to any set of modern speakers.

Am I going to need a day long training course on how to operate my system?

  • Depends on who designed, engineered and installed your system
  • If a system is designed and programmed correctly it should be intuitive with minimal training necessary. (On average 10 minutes, Highly complex systems with full integration 30 minutes)
  • The goal of any integrated system is to make your home more enjoyable
  • We have taken over projects that even we have trouble operating, and we do this for a living!

What sources would you recommend?

  • Typical system can include the following:
    • DirecTV or Comcast
    • BluRay player that streams content as well (Netflix, Pandora etc.)
    • Apple TV (Syncs with iTunes library)
    • SONOS

With streaming content do I need a DVD player anymore?

  • Not every movie is available for streaming
  • Do you have a BluRay collection?
  • Do you rent movies on a disc?
  • Do you have a CD music collection?

Which is better, Comcast, DirecTV or Uverse?

This is a complete toss up usually based on past and present experiences

Which is better, 7.1 or 5.1?

  • Size of room will dictate this
  • Large room 7.1
  • Smaller room 5.1

Can I use my iPad/iPhone for control?

  • Absolutely
  • Industry trends have forced companies to create applications running on these devices
  • If you don't have an app to incorporate these devices you will soon be out of business
  • Great devices for most things AV, the one exception seems to be with controlling TV's. The majority of clients prefer to control their TV's with a hard button remote.

My friend/co-worker/business partner told me to stay away from control system "X"

  • Be careful with this one
  • Most control systems aren't to blame
  • The majority of issues stem from poor system design, terrible installation, and awful programming
  • The last 10% can make or break your system; this is the hardest part to complete and requires the greatest amount of dexterity.
  • There are limitations with all systems and what might work great for your friend, might not work great for you.

Is there a way to wire my house for options down the road?

  • Yes
  • We wire the majority of our projects with this in mind (budget permitting). It can also be called "future proofing"
  • This involves strategic placement of flexible conduit, the right type of wire to the right locations, and a clear understanding of the history and direction our industry is headed.

What do you think of 3D?

  • We are taking a wait and see approach
  • A lot of questions, not a lot of interest
  • Not a tremendous amount of content shot in 3D

Do you still have to wear glasses to view 3D?

  • Yes
  • There are TV's that currently will do 3D without glasses, but they are absolutely terrible
  • Industry experts say we are at least 8-10 years away from developing the first high quality 3D display without glasses (As of 2011)

Can I just use the TV speakers?

  • Yes, but with TV's being so thin nowadays the sound is marginal at best
  • We would recommend having TV sound played through aftermarket speakers (In-Ceiling, In-Wall, Bookshelf etc.)

Why is there such a big price difference between AV companies?

  • Large companies have large overheads
    • Layers of management
    • They employ a sales team
    • They staff engineers
    • They staff full time programmers
    • Typically have an office building with an expensive demo space
  • You need to ask yourself this; if the company that's building or renovating your house is NOT structured like a large corporation, then why does your AV Company need to be?
  • On the flip side, there are several small companies here on the peninsula that we have stumbled across which have no overhead
    • No license
    • No insurance
    • They operate out of their personal vehicles
    • No employees
    • No liability
    • Most importantly, no knowledge of what they are doing
    • The one thing they do have is a low price
    • BEWARE; we have taken over many projects in the middle to late stages where the only alternative is to retro-fit, which can be very costly.