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Author Archives: Murray Steve

Owned and operated by Steve Murray, Birmingham Whole House Audio & Video Systems is located in Birmingham, Alabama. Steve Murray, an icon in the Audio & Video industry has been serving the people of Birmingham for over forty years. Whatever your needs may be, large or small, we will be there for you. Our belief is there’s only one way to do the job, the right way.

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Can You Hear Me Now? Advancements in Home Theater Audio

Can You Hear Me Now? Advancements in Home Theater Audio

It’s been a while since the consumer electronics industry has had anything exciting to talk about when it comes to home theater audio. Video has dominated headlines for years as Birmingham Whole House Audio & Video Systems seen resolution, contrast ratios, pixel counts and many others display technologies make advancements. So it’s with some excitement that we have seen our first real progression in home theater audio since the invention of 5.1 surround sound.

Surround sound’s first documented use was Disney’s 1940 failed experiment with “Flight of the Bumblebee” in the movie Fantasia. Although unsuccessful, it represented the first step in multichannel sound. During the 1950’s the Europeans had several ground-breaking experiments in sound channel separation, but it wasn’t until 1978 when Max Bell at Dolby Laboratories implemented “split-surround” for the movie Superman. The first formal deployment in cinema of 3 channels in the front and 2 in the rear came shortly after with the release of Apocalypse Now. Dolby Digital was first used in 1992 with the release of Batman Returns where the audio was optically recorded at a consistent bit rate and once decoded provided 5.1 audio. There have since been many variations of Dolby Digital using separate channels of audio with some form of matrix audio processing to create different surround sound technologies. The commercial theater has always been the driving factor for advancements in surround sound and it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that these technologies starting making their way into the home with the laserdisc release of Clear and Present Danger being the first available for the consumer.

Historically in the home, 5.1 and 7.1 audio (and their many variations) work in a single horizontal plane. While providing an engaging audio presentation, home theater designers have always been challenged with speaker layout since audio was sent to different channels (i.e. speakers) rather than a completely immersive experience. Even though it’s limiting, Birmingham Whole House Audio & Video Systems has had a lot of fun over the years bringing the full cinema experience home…and it’s about to get a whole lot better.

In 2012, Dolby introduced the world to Atmos surround technology with Pixar’s animated movie Brave at its theater in Hollywood California. For the first time since the creation of surround sound this new technology allows for multidimensional audio on an unlimited number of tracks providing optimal rendering based on the theater design and capabilities. With the addition of more speakers, audio engineers have developed a process, in conjunction with new hardware, which works in real-time directing audio to locations in the room which extends beyond speaker placement. The result is a home theater experience which is very natural and fully engaging.

Humans hear in all directions and the concept of sending audio to channels has been limited. Dolby Atmos uses audio objects to overcome previous home theater limitations and provide the listener with a truly immersive three-dimensional sound. The key to an Atmos theater is going beyond the horizontal plane by add overhead audio. The good news is existing 5.1 and 7.1 home theater systems do not have to be redesigned. Replacing an existing receiver with an Atmos AVR and adding overhead speakers is all it takes to get started and the number of speakers added directly relates to the increased precision of the audio objects. If adding speakers overhead is not possible, thanks to Dolby’s psychoacoustics knowledge, the audio can be reflected off the ceiling resulting in the desired overhead sound.

Earlier this year, Transformers – Age of Extinction was the first blu-ray to be released with Dolby Atmos. Several more titles will be available before the end of the year and 2015 will see many more titles available. There are already a number of home theater receivers available taking advantage of Dolby Atmos. It’s definitely worth a trip to your local cinemaplex to experience Dolby Atmos firsthand and then decide if it’s something that makes sense in your home theater (hint: it makes perfect sense).

Historically, home theaters have always presented a number of design challenges and adding Dolby Atmos is no different. Fortunately, this new technology provides a number of great options to bring this amazing opportunity to any movie lover. Here are a couple of tips as you are preparing for your home theater upgrade:

You can purchase Atmos add-on speakers to compliment your existing speaker system

Flat ceilings, rather than vaulted or angled, are best if you choose to reflect floor speakers

If possible, four overhead speakers are the recommended starting point

If you have low ceilings, it is recommended to reflect floor speakers rather than use in-ceiling speakers

If your application limits you to two speakers, it is recommended to reflect the audio from floor speakers

Existing HDMI specifications (v1.4 and later) are compatible with Atmos

Of course, you can always contact Birmingham Whole House Audio & Video Systems for expert advice regarding Dolby Atmos. Our technology advisers and system engineers are more than happy to assist you in creating the best in-home theater possible!

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The Benefits of a Surround Sound System

The Benefits of a Surround Sound System

A surround sound system is one of the most popular additions to homes these days. Having surround sound is just like being there, better than the movies, and makes home entertainment much more enjoyable and exciting.

Surround sound systems are for more than just watching television shows and playing DVD’s. When the big game is on, you have a better seat, and the true sounds of the stadium or arena, right in the comfort of your own home. Music is alive when you play it with surround sound. If you are listening to classical music, it sounds and feels like you are in the concert hall and the orchestra is there with you. And if you prefer more contemporary sounds, the clarity is incredible. You can almost hear each individual instrument.

Surround sound provides richer tone, treble and bass are more easily adjusted to your liking, and you get transported out of the living room without having to go anywhere.

The installation of a surround sound system is really best done by a professional. They can assess the room’s requirements, what equipment will best suit your needs, and what will fit your budget.

Installing a surround sound system on your own could take you the weekend or longer, while in just a couple of hours, a professional can get you up and running. Also, even if you have some electrical understanding, the pros really have the expertise to get the installation done correctly and quickly and will know where in the room to place each component. And for a system that is wireless, even more technical know-how is necessary.

Surround sound systems make you feel that you are a part of the action, whether you are watching sports, television dramas, or listening to music. Investing in one is an investment in your quality family time. And letting the professionals help you just makes good sense.

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Important Facts about Surveillance Cameras

Important Facts about Surveillance Cameras

Surveillance cameras have been around since 1942 when the first one, invented by Walter Burch, was installed at a rocket launch site in Peenemunde, Germany. It wasn’t long after that that banks installed them to help prevent and solve crime. Since then, the growth of the surveillance industry has been fast and furious, and they are now used in all government buildings and offices, as well as in high traffic areas in cities.

avs-3For businesses, including retail stores, and restaurants, surveillance cameras are necessary. Most shoppers and diners know that there is surveillance nowadays, and so crime prevention has been much better. But surveillance also helps in solving crimes by providing images of robberies, assaults, traffic accidents, and murders.

Surveillance cameras are also used in public places like airports, and train and bus stations. It is said that in the UK, for every 14 persons, there is 1 surveillance camera. Cameras are monitored in special monitoring stations 24/7 so there are images in real time of potential crimes.

Many times, surveillance cameras are used in industrial complexes, in places where it is not safe to enter, or entry is forbidden, like nuclear plants and chemical plants. In some of these environments thermographic cameras are also used to monitor the temperatures in these high-risk areas.

Unfortunately, criminals also use surveillance cameras to track the comings and goings of people in businesses, restaurants, convenience stores, and residential areas. So those businesses, homeowners, and industries have to do their utmost to stay several steps ahead of potential crime.

Surveillance is here to stay. Those who cry “invasion of privacy” will have to make their peace with this truth. The world’s emotional and political climates have forced this fact upon us. For businesses, due diligence is absolutely necessary for the prevention of crime.

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How Surround Sound Makes You Feel Like You’re Really There

How Surround Sound Makes You Feel Like You’re Really There

Going to the movies is one of the world’s favorite pastimes. Thanks to the availability of better and more affordable technology, it’s now easier to recreate that theater experience in your own home. But buying a great TV is just half the battle — you need to invest in great audio as well. It’s the audio that delivers theater-quality sound that makes you feel like you’re in the movie when you’re actually on your couch.

Surround sound is great because it offers a more realistic viewing experience. Home audio and theater audio have come a long way in the last century. In the 1930s, movie theaters had just one single large speaker to deliver audio, and it was recorded for movies as a single channel. It would be a while before we broke away from monophonic sound.

The real precursor to surround sound was the introduction of two-channel stereophonic sound, where audio would differentiate depending if it was coming from the left or right channels. All modern headphones and computers can output at least stereo sound, and it’s what we generally expect for the base level of television watching these days.

Surround sound is the next step in that evolution. Here our audio isn’t just set within two channels, but is presented with a minimum with a five different channels of audio.

How A Home Theater Set Up Works

To achieve surround sound audio at home, you’ll need a piece of technology known as a receiver. All of your devices route their audio into the receiver, including your cable box, DVD player and game consoles. The receiver also connects to the speaker system placed around the room.

To get the full audio effects of multi-channel sound, the receiver amplifies the power of the selected audio source. It then uses the internal decoder to separate the multiple tracks encoded in the movie or show and sends that signal to the correct speakers. These speaker directions are encoded in to the audio signal by those who made the movie or television show.

Getting booming sound that envelopes the viewers requires a lot of speakers, and to make things more complicated, there isn’t just one setup possibility out there. You’ve probably seen numbers next to surround sound designations like 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 or even 10.2. These refer to the number of speakers needed, and their position around the room.

5.1 surround sound is the most common, and the type most receivers support. The 5 represents the five speakers required: the left, center, right, right surround and left surround.

The Home Theater Setup

setupThe left and right speakers sit on their respective sides of the television, and project the audio from each side of the screen. These sit next to the center speaker, which is necessary for grounding the audio and plays all the same sounds from the left and right channels. These three speakers play the main audio tracks, like dialogue, from the movie.

The right and left surround speakers are responsible for playing background noises, like cars passing, noise in a restaurant, and other noises that make you fee “surrounded” by the scene, thus making the movie feel more realistic.

The .1 in the name represents the low frequency effects (LFE); it’s the deep bass in movies that emanates from the subwoofer, usually also positioned in front of the television.

The variants in surround sound designation represent even more speakers. 6.1 surround sound adds an additional rear-center speaker for more “three dimensional” audio, and 7.1 splits that rear speaker into two channels.

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Home Theater Systems

Home Theater Systems

While the box stores are busy selling cheap HDTVs and receivers to the masses, we’re designing and installing top-end home theater systems in premium homes throughout Birmingham, Alabama. We work with top vendors in home theater equipment to create state of the art media rooms for your home.

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Setting Up A Home Theater System For A High Definition Super Bowl

Setting Up A Home Theater System For A High Definition Super Bowl

Celebrate Super Bowl Sunday in High Definition and Surround Sound

The annual Super Bowl is not only football’s big day, but it is also one of the best excuses to have a party. For 2015, the Big Game will be broadcast on Sunday, February 1st on the NBC Television Network.

Call Birmingham Whole House Audio & Video Systems to help you get your party started! Solutions are available for every income level and lifestyle. Simply choose the automation, energy management, and convenience features you desire that will fit within your budget.


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Four Key Trends in Video Surveillance for 2015

Four Key Trends in Video Surveillance for 2015

Video surveillance technology is evolving faster than ever before, and it’s difficult to know what to buy and when – it seems there’s always something new around the corner! However, there are a few key trends in video surveillance technology you can rely on to guide your purchase decisions and prepare your surveillance systems for the upcoming year and beyond.

1. As IP cameras become less expensive, more people will incorporate them into varied applications

Traditionally, HD megapixel cameras have been expensive, making it difficult for some businesses to make the jump to HD surveillance. But as the technology has improved, the cost of HD cameras has come down substantially, making HD cameras affordable to more businesses. We expect that prices will continue falling throughout 2015.

This means that HD cameras will be more common, and used in a wider variety of applications and situations.

2. All HD cameras are not equal, we are seeing poor image quality with minimal features

Convenience StoreWhile the cost of HD cameras will continue to decrease, we’ll also see more low-quality HD cameras entering the market that don’t have the feature set of previous models.

One key thing that is important to look for to ensure you’re getting a superior camera is the length of the warranty. Most low-quality cameras include one or two year warranties, while the higher-quality cameras from brands such as IQinVision, Sony and Axis include 5-year warranties. Considering the lifecycle of a system is usually 5 years, the 5-year warranty will often cover the entire lifespan of the system.

3. 360° technology is an interesting option for C Stores and QSR

When 360° video surveillance cameras entered the market, the concept was intriguing, but the price point and lack of integration slowed markets adoption. However, the technology has improved significantly and the price has decreased, making them more affordable and favorable in more situations.

360° cameras allow you to survey a larger field of view, as well as focus on multiple specific areas, with a single camera. You can put one 360° camera in the middle of your store and record everything within the full range of view. And with dewarping software built into the server, you can choose to focus on specific areas of interest.

As the technology continues to evolve with deeper integration by the NVR companies, we will see more 360° video surveillance cameras in more applications.

4. Businesses intelligence will provide business owners with a better ROI on their traditional video surveillance solution

Besides the improvements in cameras and network video recorders (NVRs), the biggest trend in 2014 is the integration of business intelligence software to the video surveillance system.

By utilizing your system to capture marketing and point of sale data, you’ll be able to realize far more value from your video surveillance. While increasing security and loss prevention, data captured by the cameras will also give you information you can use to improve other aspects of your business.

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Garage Man Cave Ideas

Garage Man Cave Ideas

The man cave decorating ideas are fresh concepts that are inspired by man need of private room. The man needs a personal space for relaxing and refreshing according to his hobby or penchant. The men cave idea can be set in spare spaces which may never touched before. This concept emphasizes basement utilization to be useful room. The basement man cave can entertain the man without hang the house out.

The basement was a space under the house that may be useless. The people thought that the basement couldn’t be useful space because it is sheltered. Moreover the light can’t entry the basement perfectly, so people worry it is not good for health. Now, the basement is not only household equipment storage. The basement can be accomplished into a beautiful and useful room. The basement will be worthwhile and convenient with fine man cave decorating ideas.

The man cave decorations can be inspired from the man’s imagination or some references about the man cave decoration. The rustic ideas are suitable for man who like relaxed ambiance. The sport theme decorations will be good choice for men who love sport, the gym equipment can be placed in the man cave too. The man also can call a decorator to find man cave decorating ideas.

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