Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PMI Engineers Indoor Treehouse Screening Room in Atlanta

A few years ago, PMI partnered with Triad to launch three new home theater audio packages for customers desiring complete turnkey design + product solutions. Each package includes a fully engineered design, a set of loudspeakers appropriate for the room, and an acoustical treatment package that takes control of the speaker-room-listener interface. 

This project in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, Georgia, started off as a PMI/Triad Cinema Plus project, working with Design Media Group. The brief was to add a room into the upper area of a high-ceilinged condo penthouse - literally hanging from the roof structure! PMI designed the layout of the room architecture and specified the audio/video system. We supported the construction process and calibrated the system in its final stages.
"Sonically, this room is quite spectacular, and the client is very happy," says Peter Chakales with Design Media Group. "We recently played a virgin vinyl copy of Steely Dan's Gaucho and it was just beautiful!"
For more info and photos on PMI portfolio projects, visit our website.

Monday, October 31, 2011

PMI Takes the Gold (and Bronze) and 2011 CEDIA Lifestyle Awards

In October, PMI was recognized as the specialty consultant for technical excellence on six winning design rooms in CEDIA's 2011 Electronic Lifestyles® Awards. For each of these projects, PMI created engineering plans and specifications to ensure optimized sound and picture performance for best return on the client's investment. Read on for descriptions and photos.  

LEVEL V GOLD AWARD
PMI partnered with Sublime Integration to remodel this space from a playroom into a world-class theater. The walls were rebuilt to improve sound isolation, especially from a very noisy boiler room next door. The ventilation was re-engineered to make the HVAC systems more quiet and efficient. The bathroom was converted into an equipment room at the back of the theater. This is a great sounding room with state-of-the-art electronics and loudspeakers.

LEVEL VI GOLD AWARD
In Mexico, this new dedicated theater was made entirely of solid concrete. Working with IteliKsa, PMI turned what would have sounded like a hard, slappy space into a room with all the finesses expected from a high-end theater. MSR Acoustics supplied the acoustical tuning system which, along with the large display screen and high-end audio gear, demonstrates that high-end A/V is alive and well outside the U.S. borders!

LEVEL VI BRONZE AWARD
This is a very high style room with a beautiful colonnade walkway around the back and sides of the cinema, with dramatic cove lighting, and curves galore! Partnered with Audio Images, we overcame the acoustical challenge of a semi-circular back wall by using combinations of 6" thick rockwool and deep diffusion columns. The ceiling looks like a traditional plaster process, but in fact is made of microscopic crushed glass beads troweled over rockwool absorption. 

All of the panels, speakers, and equipment are invisible for a stunning old-world look. The high-end Triad speaker systems is custom-tuned to work with the room's challenging shapes for a high-impact sonic result. The acoustically transparent screen sits squarely inside a shadow box stage, complete with a green room entrance for performances by the grand-kids!

LEVEL VII GOLD AWARD
In the L.A. area, this project was a remodel from what was originally an ill-conceived home theater with a bar and large sliding glass windows. Working with integrator DSI Entertainment, PMI engineered the sound isolation walls, re-purposed the risers, developed a huge 4-way PMI 2.0 constant area acoustically transparent screen, and specified a high impact JBL Synthesis speaker package. Custom slider acoustical panels now conceal the 10-foot wide glass patio doors, and a soffit added into the bathroom behind the theater conceals the projector. We isolated the bar out of the room to create a separate entrance/ lobby/bar area, for a more dedicated home theater experience. 
Photo on right shows how the space was split and the bar moved outside the theater. Photos courtesy of DSI Entertainment.
The Level VII Gold Award theater also won for Best Documentation and People's Pick Home Theater. Congrats to DSI for multiple award wins!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

PMI Engineers Practice & Recording Studio

PMI designed and engineered a practice and recording studio in a luxury home in Northern California. The dedicated space inside the home needed complete sound isolation so the client could play, practice and record music without sound leaking into the rest of the house. PMI specified suspended walls, a sound door, and a range of acoustical panels and treatments to make the room sound great for its many uses.

The plan drawing below shows one of the walls where we specified SõN™ Acoustic System Modules by MSR Acoustics - and to the right of that is the finished space showing the same wall in its final state, complete with Pete Townshend decorated acoustically transparent curtain using the high-quality printing process from the Salon Acoustics line of decorative acoustical panels.

For more information on PMI projects and services, please visit our website.
For information on acoustical tuning systems and treatments from MSR Acoustics, click here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

PMI Engineers Screening Room at Martis Camp in Lake Tahoe

Martis Camp is the pinnacle of private, residential communities located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, California. Comprised of 2177 acres, this community offers an abundance of amenities and year-round activities. The 18,000 square foot Family Barn was built for a wide range of uses - with a bowling alley, art studio, concert stage, and screening room.

The compact 50-seat community screening room - designed and engineered by PMI - includes state-of-the-art picture and sound. While the project had some obvious limitations and compromises, it turned out to be a great-sounding room for this family-oriented community. 

For more info and photos on PMI portfolio projects, visit our website

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Custom Home Theater Experience - Part 1


Sigmund Freud
If you’ve been around custom home theater long, you’ve probably heard someone say that you should be all about the home theater experience, rather than just buying products and services. That‘s a nice platitude, but what exactly does it mean, and how do you put it into practice?

For starters, to achieve an experience, you must delve into your psyche to meet the basic desires that drive everything we human beings do. It has been said that all our actions are based on seven main desires: Self Preservation, Freedom of Body and Mind, Material Gain, Recognition and Exclusivity, Love, Sex, and Absence of Fear. Of these, the most relevant to home theater are Recognition and Exclusivity and the Absence of Fear, which in this case would be apprehension toward undertaking a home theater project in the first place! In less-Freudian terms, you want to enjoy movies, music, etc., in your home and have something impressive to show your friends with as little worry and hassle as possible.

Practically speaking, there are definitely some things you can do to make sure your basic desires are met, but these things change as you move through the four distinct phases of a home theater project: Sales, Design (including engineering), Installation, and Calibration. In this article, I would like to share some thoughts on phase one – how you actually buy the home theater experience.

Start with a good demonstration. Smooth, professional demonstrations are absolutely the best way to prove to yourself that you can achieve an exclusive experience that your friends will recognize and remember. Search out a showroom of the highest quality workmanship. Be sure to focus on the performance of the room as a complete unit.  Don’t get hung up on individual equipment and accessories unless absolutely necessary. It will distract from the concept that what you really want is a means to personally enjoy media material…and impress a few friends here and there.  


Select appropriate program material for your demonstration. Keep each selection short, and resist the temptation to only use loud, frenetic passages to demonstrate the sound system. Those clips may be impressive, but remember that the people who are supposed to be impressed are your friends. You are supposed to enjoy the experience, and there are many more facets to enjoyment than being impressed by bombastic sound. In fact, over-the-top aural spectaculars often have the opposite of their desired effect. Most people don’t like being pounded by sound no matter how good it is. Carefully pick out clips that demonstrate the clarity and precise placement of sounds and the subtle details in the picture. It’s also important to decide what to listen and look for before you start. For example, listen for a particular line of dialog or subtle surround effect, and then try to describe what you heard. Take a similar approach with something like shadow detail in the picture. Decide what to look for, and then describe what you saw.

After the demonstration is over, talk about the design and engineering capabilities of any firms that are working with or for you. Have plan sets and drawings on hand, and discuss design and engineering processes. Don’t dwell on these technical matters too long, though, or you may become bored. Think of documentation primarily as “eye candy” at this point, and pick what you use accordingly. Remember, your goal is simply to convince yourself that you have the technical expertise to achieve a very exclusive product. You’re not arguing the finer points of home theater design! Part and parcel with design and engineering should be a discussion about independent consulting firms. Simply put, you need to use them even if you don’t think you need them. You’re welcome to accuse me of self-promotion, but listen to me anyway! You may not be aware of this, but commercial sound and video contractors – who do for mega-churches, arenas, and performing arts centers what you are trying to do in your home – use outside design and engineering consultants in virtually every project. If they tried to bid on a job without expert consultants, they would be hard pressed to ink a single deal.

Finally, address your inherent apprehension toward venturing into a big project like a home theater by answering one question. “Am I making a good investment?” Your demonstration should be a big help on this one, but be sure to also consider the advantages of having a home theater. Think about all the cool stuff you and your family can do together in the room. Money spent on family time is always money well spent. 


Buying into the custom home theater experience is important, but it’s only the first piece in the puzzle. In a subsequent article, I will offer some thoughts on how to design a home theater experience. See you then!

To read parts 2, 3, and 4 of this series,    please visit our website.
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This article is based on a column published by A. Grimani in Residential Systems magazine December 2006. Chase Walton contributed to this article.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Importance of Diffusion

by Anthony Grimani

“Um, what’s diffusion, and why do I need it?” is the question from my client. Slowly, I take a breath, count to ten, and consider my options. First, I could scream, stomp around the room, and pull out my hair. Second, I could suddenly remember that I’m terribly late for another meeting (which is probably true) and beg to be excused. Third, I could remain calmly in my seat, smile, and politely explain the answer. Considering the nature of this client and his job, it looks like it’s option number three.

Here’s the sad thing. You might think that this client is a novice end user – the type whose digital clocks all blink 12:00. But he or she could just as easily be a custom integrator! I see it all the time: People who design home theaters for a living don’t know what diffusion is or why they need it. What’s particularly frustrating is that I have spent many hours over that past two decades doing my best to educate them.

So let’s make this real. Do you know why diffusion is important in home theaters? 

Small Room Acoustics 101
I’m going to assume you know a little about room acoustics. After sound leaves the speakers, some of it goes directly to your ears, and a lot of it reflects off the walls before going to your ears (Figure 1). 
 

It is this reflected sound that can cause problems if it’s not tamed. I’m also going to assume that you know about absorption – that it’s an effective way to treat problematic reflections. You put an absorber on the wall where a strong reflection occurs, as in the case where a speaker or listener is really close to the wall (Figure 2). Hopefully, you know, too, that acoustically treating a room is not as simple as putting absorption everywhere. If only it were that easy.
Every room has a specific balance of direct to reflected sound that will make the room feel
natural to listeners. You need some absorption, yes, but also some reflections. Typically, you
should only cover about 25% of wall surfaces with absorption. Exceed that amount and the
room will start to sound too dead. 25% absorption means that 75% of the wall surfaces will still be hard, leading to reflections that could cause errors in sound clarity. You can simply break up these reflections with diffusers (Figure 3). They generate uncorrelated and random acoustic energy that sounds more like the pleasant reverberation of a concert hall and less like the annoying hard reflections you often hear in small rooms. The right balance of absorption, reflection, and diffusion results in a more pleasing sound field, with better envelopment, better imaging, and a wider sweet spot.
All Things Wild and Scary
If you have your thinking cap on, you may have realized why diffusers are very often weird and bizarre shapes. Their purpose is to create as many uncorrelated reflections as possible. The most efficient way to accomplish this is a “panel” with wildly undulating surfaces. Believe it or not, there are actually many different kinds of diffusers, officially categorized according to the scientific way in which they scatter sound. However, for your purposes in designing a home theater, you need to be familiar with two major types: those that scatter sound in a two-dimensional plane, and those that scatter sound in a three-dimensional hemisphere (Figures 4 & 5). It’s not always easy to tell just by looking at a diffuser which type it is, but here’s a clue. If it is cylindrical, or it appears to have lots of long and skinny slots or wells, it’s probably two-dimensional. If it is really crazy, with totally random-looking surfaces, it’s probably three-dimensional.Like with absorbers, a diffuser’s depth affects the bandwidth over which it scatters sound. Deeper is better. Six inches is ideal; four inches is OK; two inches is almost not worth the effort.

A Word on Placement
While it is possible to use the two types of diffusers interchangeably (after all, they both create lots of uncorrelated reflections), you’ll get better results if you use two-dimensional units on the left and right walls toward the front of the room and three-dimensional units toward the back. It’s also a good idea to mix absorption and diffusion together in all parts of the room. That being said, you’ll probably want to weight the average so that there is a bit more absorption in the front and more diffusion in the back.

One common argument against proper diffuser placement (or using them at all) is aesthetics. The things aren’t pretty, unless you have an uncommon take on what looks attractive. So, cover them with a stretched fabric wall, or use diffusers that are already covered with fabric! My company does one or the other all the time – we even manufacture some fabric-covered diffusers that we sell at very good prices – and we have lots of really, really happy clients. It is possible. 

Diffusers or Confusers?
A friend and colleague of mine, Floyd Toole, makes a very good point about diffusers, and it should serve as a caution to all of us. You can load a room with so many diffusers that it becomes a wash of random acoustic energy that confuses imaging. This is not what you want at all, but it is avoidable. Just don’t get too heavy-handed with the diffusers. It’s the same concept as too much absorption, except with a different acoustic result. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. 

Application Time
For those of you who may be wondering, the anecdote at the top of this column is not an actual event. However, it is indicative of the way many people think or feel about diffusers. Hopefully, you now understand what they do and why they’re so important. Take this message to heart, and design your room accordingly.

*  *  *
This article is based on a column published by A. Grimani in Residential Systems magazine November 2007. Chase Walton contributed to this article.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Home Theater Audio Standards - What Are We Trying To Do?

By Anthony Grimani

So you claim that you’re putting together a high performance home theater. But do you fully understand what that comprises? Do you know all the little ins and outs of why some products work better than others in selected applications? I know that it’s hard to take time to read through technology reports, research papers, and product reviews to learn how to design the best possible theaters. So I’m going to help: I’ll give you some facts along with my honest unbiased opinion of what a home theater is supposed to be. And of course everyone reading this will agree with me… NOT! I know there will be tons of hate mail criticizing this or that position, but we gotta start somewhere; shoot now – we’ll talk later.

Let’s first cover what the theater is supposed to do. It is supposed to reproduce sound and pictures as closely as possible to those intended by the creators of the program material. If the creator was good at it, you can get a realistic representation of naturally occurring soundscapes and landscapes. All it takes is for the playback system to do the same thing to the program material as what the creator’s system was doing. Then presumably you will hear and see the program the same way as he or she did. 

The good news is that there actually are standards and specifications for the audio-visual monitoring system used by program creators. For films the standards are pretty ironclad, and are outlined in documents from several organizations (SMPTE, ISO, BBC, AES, etc.). In some cases the standards don’t translate directly because they are made for large room sound and picture perception. There are ways in which we experience these things differently in small rooms, but a sufficient amount of research out there documents the differences. Some of the research is hard to read (unless you have serious insomnia), and may even be in a different language (lots of it in German, ya). I have spent some time with the issue over the last 15 years and I feel that it is possible to produce home theater sound and picture that would make even the pickiest film director agree to the translation.

As for music production standards, things are a little more slippery, especially for multichannel music. There are less clear standards in the industry, but there are plenty of de-facto practices established by the movers and shakers. Usually the guy who gets the most Grammy awards gets to have a say on what’s the right monitoring approach this month…

Trade publications like Mix Magazine, Surround Professional, and more, are filled with articles on the right layout and calibration methods for multichannel audio monitoring systems. They tend to be in the same direction as those established for film monitoring systems, with the exception of occasional differences in locations of the surround speakers. That doesn’t matter too much after all because surrounds are usually much less important to the soundfield story than the front speakers, so we don’t have to go all hoopy over the differences.

Let’s talk about sound monitoring standards in film studio production environments, as that’s what most of our clients are looking to emulate.
  1. Front Channels: There are three or five identical loudspeakers across the front stage, behind the screen. Their tweeters are 5/8th of the way up the screen. The Left/Right pair forms a 45-degree angle to the main seating area of the auditorium (two-thirds of the way back in the room). The speakers cover the frequency range of 40 Hz to 1 6kHz. The gains of the electronics are calibrated so as to produce 85 dB SPL when playing a reference level test signal. The Frequency response of the system is calibrated through equalization to yield a specified curve in the main seating area. The curve is a flat response up to 2kHz then - 3 dB per octave slope above that up to 10 kHz, then –6 dB per octave slope above that (known as the X-Curve). This is not the response curve of the signal sent to the speakers, but the resulting electro-acoustic response in the auditorium, far from the screen. The picture screen is reasonably acoustically transparent, and any losses are compensated by electronic correction. The speakers should be able to play up to 105 dB SPL in the auditorium, which is 20 dB above the calibrated reference level. The front speakers cover the audience area with uniform sound so that all the listeners get the same experience. At the same time, those front speakers have built-in directivity so that they don’t send too much useless sound energy towards the walls and ceiling of the room, where it would just bounce around and cause excessive reverberation. The front speakers produce good intelligibility and clear localization of sounds accompanying the on-screen action. There are more details to the practices, but we’ll stick to broad strokes here!
  2. Surround Channels: There are up to three line arrays of smallish speakers placed on the left, right and rear walls of the auditorium. In fact the rear array is split into two halves so that the room can be switched between 5.1 and 5.1 EX sound reproduction. Each array has anywhere from four to more than 20 speakers in it. The surrounds are placed high enough in the room to cover the listening area with uniform sound energy. There are enough surround speakers to produce 105dB peak sound pressure levels. The speakers cover the frequency range of 40 Hz to 16 kHz. The gains of the electronics are calibrated so that each array produces 83 dB SPL when playing a reference level test signal. The Frequency response of the system is calibrated through equalization to yield the specified X-curve in the main seating area. The surround speakers usually have broad dispersion for smoothest coverage of the audience and to enhance envelopment. These speakers are clearly different to the front speakers, and they fulfill a different role: that of presenting enveloping, diffused sound fields with general directionality towards the left, right, or rear areas of the room. Sound engineers are usually under strict scrutiny to build sound fields that never pull the audience’s attention away from the screen, so the speaker array solution works well in providing surround sound energy without distracting localization.
  3. LFE Channel (Low Frequency Effects): There are as many subwoofers as needed to reproduce the content of the LFE track. The sound levels can be up to 115dB SPL in the 20 Hz to 80 Hz region so these units need to be pretty darned ballsy! The gains of the electronics are calibrated so as to produce 95dB SPL when playing a reference level test signal in the subwoofer’s pass-band. The frequency response of the subwoofer is calibrated through equalization to yieled a flat curve from 20 Hz to 80 Hz in the main seating area. Note that in most studios and theaters the subwoofers play the LFE track only, and don’t play back the bass from the main channels. That’s OK because the main channels make it down to 40 Hz. Also, since the rooms are fairly large, the bass standing-wave resonances are at such low frequencies that they aren’t usually audible; so the subwoofers can be placed along the front wall without particular location optimization. This is all quite different in home theaters, and we will talk about it all later.
  4. General Acoustic Characteristics: The auditorium is very quiet, with a noise floor below NC25. The sound isolation is complete so that there are no distractions from the outside world. Sound reflections, echoes, and reverberation are all controlled so that you hear primarily the speakers and not the room around them. There are actually guideline reverberation times based on room size, so that your auditory senses are best matched to the environment. Ultimately, the place where the direct sound from the speakers and the total reflected sound energy from the room are equal falls somewhere in the middle of the audience area (that’s known in acousticians’ circles as the Critical Distance).
So there you have the basic specifications for audio monitoring in film studios. If you want to hear the movie right, your home theaters should yield the same sonic experience as those studios. The tricky part is that the specs can’t be used directly in smaller rooms with consumer speakers. You need to translate the standards to account for the inherent electro-acoustic differences, and I will cover that in another paper.

We also need to talk about the picture standards they use around Hollywood. That’s also a topic for a separate document.

*  *  *

This paper is based on an article published by A. Grimani in Residential Systems magazine, February 2003.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Don't Spread It Too Thin - Making The Case for Using Thicker Acoustical Wall Treatments

by Anthony Grimani
Home theater acoustical treatments need to be at least two inches thick, and preferably four inches thick for decent audio quality. Why? Because one-inch materials only treat sounds down to 1 kHz. Everything down below that is freely bouncing around the walls of the room. 
For proper audio imaging and articulation, you need to control sound reflections down to at least 500 Hz, and preferably down to 250 Hz. Remember that the Middle A on a piano keyboard is 440 Hz, and you want to go down to that, at least.

Just as bad, however, is creating an acoustically "dead" room. It is convenient to go in with one of the franchised stretched fabric wall systems to cover up all of the walls in a theater. They are simple, quick, clean, cost-predictable, but very wrong.  Read more - full article published in Residential Systems Magazine.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spec It First

A Job Specification Document Can Help You Avoid Headaches
I find that, more often than not, the best way to avoid project problems is by spending time up front creating a job specification document. This should be a multi-page paper that describes what the client is going to get, what the performance specifications are, who is responsible for what portions of the work, who will sign off on proper delivery of each portion, what each portion is going to cost, and what the deliverable deadlines are going to be.

Keeping You Out of Trouble
The mere process of having to take a time out to sit down and reflect on the all these issues will help you clarify the planning in your own mind. Once the document is written, it will help your staff in comprehending the intent of the work. It will help your client, the builder, the architect, and the interior designer, understand the degree of detail that goes into doing a properly integrated theater, whole-house audio/video/lighting system, etc. The process of memorializing the key point of a project will act as an anchor for the work, and will serve to untangle misunderstandings when they happen.

Preparing Your ‘Sheet Music’
Here are some ideas for what a spec document for a high-class home cinema should contain.
  • Room uses: Is this a dedicated room, or is a multi-purpose space? Is the room to be used for live performances, karaoke, gaming, etc?
  • Seating standards: How many seats, what type of seating, and seat dimensions?
  • Room dimensions: A textual as well as graphical representation of the room boundaries. Include the latest architectural plans and shop drawings from the builder. Clarify whether the dimensions are per plan, or as built, and whether they are rough, or finished dimensions?
  • Architectural specifications. What does the room look like, what are the color schemes, what is the overall style or theme, what are the finishes, and who is responsible for the design work?
  • Sound isolation requirements: Described in both plain language terms, and in STC values.
  • Background noise levels: Described in both plain language terms, and in NC (or RC) values.
  • Ventilation system: How is the heating and cooling handled? How is fresh air supplied into he system? How noisy is the system. How many people will it handle?
  • Acoustical treatments: What is the target reflection decay time, are the treatments visible, or concealed behind the decorative fabric dress of the room, how thick are the treatments, if visible what color and texture are they?
  • Sound system performance: How many channels, how loud the system plays, how smooth is the response, what’s the intelligibility, what is the directivity, what is the audience coverage consistency, how loud is the bass, and a whole host of more esoteric objective measures of performance.
  • Sound system placement: Are all the speakers concealed behind a decorative fabric dress, are they flush mounted, who supplies the mounting hardware?
  • Picture system performance: Resolution, screen illumination levels, screen dispersion widths, target visible contrast ratios, and a whole host of more esoteric objective measures of performance. What is the screen aspect ratio, and does it include masking for the various film formats?
  • Picture system location: Where is the projector, how is it hidden, how is it ventilated, where is the screen, and how is it concealed?
  • Lighting systems: Describe the ambient lights, the task lights, and the seating lights, the security lights, and how they are controlled.
  • Miscellaneous features: Describe whatever doesn’t fit into one of the above categories…!
  • Budgets: Total room cost, equipment costs, installation costs, construction costs, finish material costs, automation programming, commissioning and calibration, etc.
  • Labor responsibilities: Who is handling what portions of the work? Some of it is the building contractor, some of it the electrical contractor, the ventilation contractor, the lighting contractor, the architect, the interior designer, outside consultants, some of it is yours, and several other trades involved.
  • Deadlines: List out the scheduled times for he various phases of the construction, and for when each party needs to be in and out of the work site.
To download a copy of the questionnaire that we use to start a project, click here

And feel free to call us at PMI Engineering to ask questions about your specific project - we would be happy to help guide you through any challenges you may be having.


This article was originally published by Residential Systems, August 5, 2010.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Calibration the Right Way

Having designed over 400 pro, commercial, and residential projects, and tuned over 300 systems, we have a certain way of doing things that we consider "the right way." You'll hear us talk about the right way a lot because we just don't believe any client is going to get the best possible result from cutting corners. So here's a little primer from PMI.

Calibration is the last step in the design/build phase of a project. Once all of the gear is in place, the panels positioned, the decor defined, then it's time to calibrate. We believe the job of a calibrator is to check and validate that everything was built and installed properly before beginning to tune the room.

   Step 1:  Check that every piece of gear is installed and connected correctly
   Step 2:  Verify that every piece of gear is actually working
   Step 3:  Set up configurations and verify proper operation
   Step 4:  Tune the speaker system to the room

We find that in steps 1-3 there is almost always one piece (if not more) that is not connected, not installed properly, or just not working. We were recently called by a homeowner to check their new home cinema system which had already been tuned by a professional. The homeowner could tell something was still not right so they called us in. When we discovered the tweeter in the center speaker was not connected, we then checked the entire system's connections and configurations. We found countless other bugs, and painstakingly corrected each one before going through the tuning process.

Doing it the right way, you'll have a project to be proud of, and the client will be more likely call you again when they have another project in mind or want to refer you to their friends and colleagues.

For more information on this and other topics, please visit our website where you'll find a range of published articles and informative links.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Embracing Better Music - by Anthony Grimani

There is definitely a return to high-quality music in the works. If you don’t provide it to your clients, then they’ll get it somewhere else. You can sell high-quality, high-margin equipment if you just demonstrate it for them. Let them rekindle the emotion. Case in point: I was recently with a client in Las Vegas for whom we designed a high-end room. After the calibration, I played him a 5.1 music demo from the handy multi-channel sampler disc I’ve had for ages. He loved it, and he actually begged me to let him keep the disc. Music’s not for everyone, but some people will love it, so don’t miss the boat.  > READ MORE

Excerpted from article published February 2, 2011 by Residential Systems magazine. Chase Walton contributed to this article.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Creating Reliable Bass - by Anthony Grimani

Everyone loves bass (especially men, which is an interesting study that I will leave to someone with a PhD in somatic psychology). This is evidenced by the million ways that people have dreamed up to produce ultimate bass. There is everything from full-range speakers all around, to small speakers with one subwoofer stashed in a corner, to the unbelievable room-under-the-listening-room filled with a labyrinth of passages and transducers. If you are an enthusiast, you may have the time and resources to try (and discard) random solutions to your heart's content. But custom integrators need something a little more concrete--a more scientific approach that yields predictable and repeatable results.  > READ MORE

Excerpted from article published January 30, 2009 by Residential Systems magazine. Chase Walton contributed to this article.