The Benefits of Smart Speakers

Many of us are no stranger to the ‘smart’ label that gets slapped in front of various pieces of tech these days. From smart homes to smart cars, all aspects of our daily lives are getting an AI boost.

Smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home are becoming an increasingly more commonplace addition to many of our homes, but are they worth the hype? For those that are still not convinced about adding a smart speaker to their tech repertoire, we consider the various benefits.

If you want to discover how our audio system installation experts can boost your sound experience and take your home audio system to the next level, get in touch or browse our services today!

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What is a Smart Speaker?

The thing that sets smart speakers apart from regular speakers is the inclusion of a built-in artificially intelligent virtual assistant that connects to the internet.

This allows you to essentially talk to your speaker and ask it to perform tasks or facilitate other features.

Convenience With Voice Controls

A big draw of these kinds of speakers is the added convenience they can give you. As your speaker has the capability to understand you, you can control it with just your voice, asking it to play certain songs or specific playlists.

Once your speaker is hooked up to your Spotify or Amazon Music account, you can ask your speaker to play your favourite tunes without the need to scroll through your phone.

However, if you prefer to connect your phone, you can do that via Bluetooth – smart speakers give you plenty of options!

A glowing Amazon smart speaker

Multi-Room Audio Potential

If you have multiple smart speakers dotted around your house, you can easily play the same music in various rooms without the need to manually connect the separate speakers.

Provided they are connected to the same internet network and are on the same account, you’ll have an effortless, multi-room sound system ready to go!

Increased Sound Quality

When connecting your phone to a regular Bluetooth speaker, you might experience crackling or poor quality sound if you move your phone too far away. That is not the case with a smart speaker that relies on your Wi-Fi connection.

As they’re already a fairly advanced piece of kit, it comes as no surprise that the actual sound quality of smart speakers is not to be sneered at. Most smart speakers will allow for a powerful bass and clear vocals, allowing you to listen to a versatile collection of tracks with consistent quality.

A Google Home by an Apple and a pile of books

Additional Features

Another big bonus of smart speakers is the additional functions they have – they are not simply confined to playing music.

Through a smart speaker, you can set up alarms and reminders to help you stay organised. You can also ask your speaker’s assistant about a particular query or ask for a news readout.

When integrated into your home, you can also use smart speakers to control other smart devices like lightbulbs or thermostats.

We think that with all these benefits, you’re set to make a pretty sound investment!

To find out how our team at JL Audio Visual can provide you with a range of home audio solutions, get in touch today.

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Why Invest in Quality Audio For Your Home Cinema

For many, the term ‘home cinema’ will conjure up thoughts of amazing visuals and unparalleled screen quality. However, it is just as important to think about good quality audio when setting up your home theatre.

As audio system installation experts, we are interested in how superior audio can elevate your home cinema experience to new levels. Here, we look at why investing in your sound system will be beneficial and help you get the most out of your entertainment system.

Realistic Sound

Systems that rely on poor-quality, internal speakers are not going to be adequate if you are trying to reach an authentic sound experience.

A top-quality system, whether this is full surround sound or more moderate speakers, will offer you an authentic audio experience with clearer, more realistic sound.

One big draw of installing a full home cinema in your house is the transportive quality of film. From the comfort of your own theatre room, you can go anywhere – this transportive element is enhanced immeasurably when you invest in quality audio.

Next-level audio will take a relatively mundane viewing experience and make it more engaging, adding to the exhilaration and suspense that movies can bring.

Increased Audio Clarity

Also adding to this realistic element of your sound, increased clarity is something to watch out for.

These days many sound systems will do a decent job at projecting clear, loud audio, but for an extra layer of clarity, it is worth seeking out a quality system that would work well in your space.

Choosing higher-end audio will allow for a multi-layered sound that doesn’t become muddy or confused. You will be able to hear distinctions in delicate dialogue and swells of music, enhancing the overall quality and experience.

The volume button on a stereo system

Mixing Options

When you opt for a higher-quality surround sound system, you will be able to control each channel and its output.

This will give you more control over the level of bass or treble settings. You will be able to customise an amazing sound to suit you. If you prefer deep rumblings or rich tones, you can achieve these preferences through one audio system.

Achieving a Cinema Experience At Home

The purpose of a home theatre is, of course, to bring the magic of a commercial cinema home.

This simply cannot be achieved fully without investing in a sound system that is capable of matching your visuals. To get the full cinematic experience, powerful audio is a must!

A commercial cinema room with people watching a film

Choosing an Audio System

Surround sound is one of the best ways to attain this kind of authentic soundscape. The multiple speakers and channels will provide all-encompassing audio that allows for a more immersive viewing experience.

Although surround sound can be quite an expensive investment, many find that it is well worth paying that little bit extra. For a more in-depth look at the benefits of surround sound, check out our blog below.

For more guidance on what kind of audio system would best suit your home cinema space and what your installation options are, why not get in touch with our team here at JL Audio Visual?

Best Tech Podcasts to Listen to

The continual popularity of podcasts means that there are a plethora of quality podcasts on every possible subject! Technology podcasts make great audio content because the industry changes so rapidly; there’s always a new gadget or upcoming release to talk about.

As audio system installation experts, we are fans of all things technology; the following podcasts are some of the best that discuss tech news and innovation.

Back to Work

Hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin, this podcast humorously blends topics of technology, work and communication.

The podcast discusses a range of topics, covering app recommendations, tech events and recent TV shows. There is a focus on work-life balance and how technology can be used to improve our lives and productivity.

This one is for listeners looking for an entertaining but informative podcast experience!

This Week in Tech

This podcast is a staple in the genre and has been running for over ten years, making it one of the central hubs for reliable tech news.

Every week, presenter Leo Laporte and his various guests and co-hosts take part in a roundtable discussion where they investigate the latest tech trends and developments.

This Week in Tech has episodes that span for over two hours, so it’s not one for beginners! If you decide to give it a go, it’s probably best to start with the most recent episode rather than trawling through a backlog of over ten years’ worth of content.

People sat around a table laden with laptops and tech

Technology Untangled

This podcast, as its name suggests, aims to untangle the implications of the future of technology and speculates how the tech industry is going to continue shaping the world.

Host, Michael Bird guides the listener through interviews and stories that tease out questions about digital ethics, sustainability in technology and hyper-converged infrastructure.

With half-hour episodes and simplistic explanations, this is the perfect podcast for those with a casual interest who are looking to learn more and become better informed.

Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole is more of a documentary, rather than a tech talk show like those previously mentioned.

Some might not consider it a tech podcast in a traditional sense, but it does deal with the emerging effects of the internet and how the online world begins to bleed into the real one.

The Times tech columnist Kevin Roose asks how the internet and online culture are beginning to change who we are and how we think.

This binge-worthy audio series is perfect for podcast beginners and true tech enthusiasts alike.

A man using a laptop at sunset

Note to Self

Note to Self’s host, Manoush Zomorodi considers how we can go about preserving humanity in the ever-evolving digital age.

The podcast mainly examines how daily and family life are affected by an increased technological presence.

Where other tech talk shows focus on reviews or news, Note to Self looks at the human perspective and our direct interactions with social media, screen time and the invasion of smart devices, among numerous other topics.

As you can see from our selection here, there is a wide variety when it comes to tech podcasts, whether this refers to format, direction or topic. There is a lot to take from each of these podcasts for both budding tech enthusiasts and seasoned experts.

As professionals specialising in quality home audio and home cinema installation, we can help upgrade your home tech to the next level; why not contact our experienced team today?

A Guide to Quality Home Audio

Whether you want an amazing multi-room audio system to blast your favourite tunes or an immersive home cinema sound experience, good quality audio is something you will need to consider.

Most of us will often focus on screen quality and leave audio as an afterthought. However, to get the best experience from your home theatre, a decent sound system is essential.

Why Invest in High-Quality Audio?

Investing in good quality audio does not necessarily have to mean breaking the bank. Finding what is right for your space and needs is more important than just buying the biggest, most expensive speakers.

Excellent audio can elevate a mundane viewing experience to cinema quality. Investing in a brilliant audio system will give you a new appreciation of sound.

What Makes ‘Good’ Audio?

A room with two tower speakers

What sounds ‘good’ is subjective, but there are certain things to be aware of and look out for when on the hunt for a next-level audio system.

Clarity

Good speakers will have an impeccable level of clarity. This means that as the speaker runs, it will produce no sound itself, leaving you to get the full-bodied, crisp audio from the music or film alone.

Bass

Bass will contribute to the clarity of low, rich sounds. A speaker system with a good bass output won’t sound muddy or wobbly when putting out those booming notes. Well-defined bass will contribute to the overall soundscape and increase listening quality.

Resolution

Resolution goes hand-in-hand with clarity and will add to the immersive experience. High-resolution audio will allow you to hear every layer of sound; you will be able to hear the distinction between different instruments and movie dialogue will be crisp.

Soundstage

Quality audio systems will be able to create a realistic soundstage, where depth and width are considered. This is another feature that will enhance the immersive nature of your audio.

Speaker Size

As previously mentioned, the speakers do not necessarily have to be the biggest to produce the best sound. If you are unsure about what kind of qualities would work best in your space, a home cinema installation professional will be able to give you some guidance.

Which Speakers are Right for You?

A closeup shot of a speaker

Nowadays, there are countless brands and speaker types to choose from that provide excellent quality. 

Before deciding on what is right for you, you must consider budget, what the speakers will be used for and the space they will be projecting audio into. 

Soundbars

This can often be one of the cheapest options and is preferred by many that don’t want to invest in surround sound yet.

A long horizontal speaker is placed under the television and can provide a boost in audio quality for TVs that have poor internal speakers.

Soundbars will provide better quality audio than internal speakers, but they cannot reach the same levels as more extensive systems.

Tower Speakers

Tower or floor-standing speakers can offer complete overall sound from one unit. The units will usually come in pairs to be set up together. They have a box-like structure and cannot easily be hidden, but many choose to make the speakers a feature of the room.

These kinds of speakers are generally used in rooms dedicated to listening to music, but could also be useful in a home cinema space.

Ceiling Speakers

If discretion is a concern, ceiling speakers are something to consider. They can provide better audio while being hidden away and won’t compromise the layout or design of your room.

Although they can be preferable for this reason, ceiling speakers are often unable to provide the full range of audio functions like the smooth bass or breadth that other systems can provide.

Unlike soundbars which can usually be a DIY job, ceiling speakers will usually require expert installation as fire regulations and safety need to be taken into account when these speakers are fitted.

Subwoofers

If you are focused on achieving a powerful sound full of depth, subwoofer speakers will be essential for your setup.

Subwoofers give clear sound from the low end of the audio spectrum, making them important for high-quality movie viewings.

Surround Sound Systems

Two speakers

Opting for a surround sound system can be the preferred option for people whose priority is audio for a home cinema rather than listening to music.

Essentially, surround sound will ‘surround’ you in audio through multiple channels. Different categories of sound are distributed between a number of speakers positioned around the room; this provides a super-immersive experience with clear, realistic audio.

One potential downside is that surround sound systems can land on the more expensive side of all the audio options. However, you get what you pay for, and it can be worth considering if you’re looking to take your home theatre to the next level and create an authentic cinema experience.

For a more in-depth look at the benefits of surround sound, check out our blog below!

Speaker Positioning

Positioning can be vital in getting the best from your audio system, whether this refers to surround sound or an individual speaker.

For some, it can be tempting to position speakers where they are hidden out of sight, but showcasing the speaker’s audio quality is advised. Hiding speakers too intently can cover them and prevent them from projecting audio as well as they would when unobstructed.

You must assess the room acoustics and seating positions before settling on speaker position. Installation professionals will help with this if you are unsure.

Considering the Space

The size and configuration of your space will also come into play when deciding on positioning and speaker selection.

As with the positioning of speakers, professional AV technicians will be able to advise you on the kind of speakers that will benefit the room. Large speakers placed all around the room will be inappropriate and wasteful in a small room where a soundbar or slim tower speakers would work better.

If your current home audio system is lacking, why not get in touch to see how our experienced team could help?

The Benefits of Surround Sound

Setting up a fully equipped home cinema means including a quality sound system. Many homeowners opt for surround sound for enhanced sound quality.

Here at JL Audio Visual, we have years of experience when it comes to surround sound and multi-room speaker systems; we know how important they are to an all-encompassing home cinema experience.

Audio is just as important as visual when it comes to achieving the best possible home theatre setup. We look at the benefits of surround sound and how it could take your at-home experience to the max!

What is Surround Sound?

The term gets thrown around a lot, but what exactly do we mean by surround sound?

The name is fairly indicative; surround sound means you are essentially ‘surrounded’ by audio. Having more than two available audio channels means that sound comes from multiple directions. Different types of sounds are categorised by mixers and distributed between speakers. One speaker’s output might focus on a film’s dialogue while another will emit the musical score.

A 5.1 audio system is touted as the best for domestic use. This means the system is split into five main speaker components, including:

• Center channel speaker
• Left and right front speakers
• Bipole speakers
• Dipole speakers
• Subwoofer

By splitting the sound like this, audio can be of a higher quality and will give a 360-degree feel.

Authentic Audio Experience

The isolated audio elements mean that sound is less muddy and more realistic. With a combination of quality visuals and audio, you can become fully immersed in a film. You’ll feel like you’re really there!

With speakers positioned at optimal points around the room, viewing experiences can feel more engaging. When audio is coming from behind you and either side of you, it can add to the overall excitement or suspense of the movie.

Increased Overall Quality

Surround sound can provide richer and more pristine tones. There is a very noticeable sound difference when compared to a basic speaker system.

This kind of system will mean the clarity of your audio is better than ever. Hearing overlapping dialogue clearly will be no issue and you will get the full impact of explosive or audibly dynamic scenes.

Customisation Options

With more audio channels, there are more opportunities for custom sound levels. You will be able to adjust each speaker to suit your tastes and specifications.

Bass or treble settings can easily be adjusted; mono or stereo speakers may not have the same kind of scope when it comes to customisation. If you are investing in a full home cinema experience, you will want it to be on your terms and to your specifications!

Closer to Real Cinema Experience

Going to the cinema is enjoyable because you are receiving a heightened viewing experience. But what if you could bring this kind of next-level experience home?

Surround sound can help you achieve this. The true cinema experience does not just involve a big screen. Film aficionados will want to be blown away by sound as well as on-screen action! The ability to clearly hear the deep rumbles of the bass and clarity of dialogue will help you achieve this cinematic effect from the comfort of your own home.

Someone watching a movie from behind a pillow

Other Options

Surround sound is by no means the only audio option despite its many benefits. The downside is that surround sound systems can be quite pricey, but if you are willing to invest in them, it can be well worth the cost!

If you’re biding your time and evaluating your options, a soundbar may be something to consider. These speakers can be much cheaper and will provide better sound than a TV’s internal speakers. They will not provide the all-encompassing experience that surround sound can, but they can be effective at giving high-quality audio before deciding to invest in something more extensive.

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If you are thinking about taking your at-home cinema to the next level, why not get in touch with our experienced team to see how we could help?