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Grand Home Automation’s CEDIA EXPO 2019 Experience

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This year, CEDIA brought more than just new technology to the Denver Convention Center. With nearly 20,000 attendees and 500 exhibitors, the expo continues to grow and develop each year. Our Project Manager, Tim Imrick, has been attending CEDIA since 1998 and feels that each year the expo offers valuable developments.

Last Year’s Comparison

Compared to last year’s event in San Diego, Tim feels that this year’s location was more cohesive and had a better turn-out. Of the 5 days of the expo, our team attended 3; allotted to training and the show floor. Tim explained that many of the integrators only spend Friday and Saturday at CEDIA. He feels that having 3 days on-site plus travel is a great opportunity to maximize time with Vendors and our team.

How is CEDIA Unique?

CEDIA is unique in that the attendees are all very similar in their approach to technology. There is a comradery among the dealers that may be miles form each other in their day to day operations, but only get to meet up once a year 1000’s of miles from their home office. The manufacturers put on a real show; something you cannot get from an office visit or often from attending a training. They spend 6-9 months planning to cater to existing dealers and interest new dealers alike.

The Best Part of the Expo and Biggest Takeaway

The best part of CEDIA 2019 for Tim, was to have time with members of our team outside of day to day operations to focus on technology and project discussions. The first day of the show was spent discussing current projects, ideas for internal growth, advancement and sharing our goals for the next few days in Denver. Tim explained that the layout of CEDIA has changed multiple times and the current format offers the best structure and flexibility to meet with Vendors, take technical classes and spend time planning with team members.

Tim’s biggest takeaway from CEDIA 2019 is that the convergence between audio, video, networking, electrical and security is always tightening. Having a company positioned to assist in the design, installation and ongoing management and maintenance of all residential and commercial technologies, will be even more essential as we continue to depend on these systems to simplify our way of life.

The Overall Goal of CEDIA Each Year

Each year there is a new segment that tries to break out – such as outdoor audio, energy management, or health care in the home. This year, some new technologies that inspired Tim were the Micro Chrystal displays, Clear OLED and lighting control. Micro Chrystal displays will allow screens to become the size of walls with great resolution. Clear OLED from LG for digital signage allows for imaging to be applied to glass windows and doors. Lastly, lighting control in the form factor of circuit breakers from Savant has been introduced.

Overall, CEDIA 2019 highlighted many of the new-to-market brands and trending discussions within the industry. Tim continues to have a great experience every year that he attends.

Highlights from CEDIA Expo 08, Denver Colorado

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Once a year, we integrators gather for professional training and an industry trade show. The acronym CEDIA stands for Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. I’ve enjoyed attending since 1994, and here are a few highlights from this year’s event that I thought were worth sharing:

Audio

While there were no earth shattering changes in the audio world, everything is improving. Audio processors continue to add features, such as digital room correction that is automated, yet still fine-tunable by pro’s for super-precise adjustment. The Integra separate processor stood out as an astounding bang for the buck unit, laden with features such as balanced outputs, on-board HDMI processing, and pretty much every surround decoding format known to man.

Interestingly, subwoofers are getting much smarter. Triad’s new line of subwoofer amplifiers carry an impressive on-board DSP processor with multiple bands of digital parametric equalization, delay, phase, and adjustable crossover frequency for both the woofer itself, the line outs for satellite speakers, and line outs for custom multi-way sub setups (VERY cool – I’m still geeked about that one).

For loudspeakers, we’re seeing more line-array arrangements from companies like McIntosh and Artison which are very appropriate for rooms with poor acoustics such as tile floors and plaster ceilings. And for those theaters that are extremely large, or even perhaps sporting pavilions, there are companies such as PHC that are producing commercial cinema grade systems that have enough output to power these oversize spaces. Yes, these speakers are quite large.

Video

Who says bigger isn’t better? New video projectors from companies such as Meridian Audio and JVC with resolutions over 4,000 horizontal pixels are absolutely stunning. These higher resolutions will allow us to dramatically increase screen size and still have an image that is watchable in the front row. Interestingly, rear projection is making a comeback in the form of high-end 16:9 and 2.35:1 aspect ratio high performance displays that show a phenomenal image even in extremely high ambient light conditions. While not inexpensive, custom rear projection may be the way to go for those who would otherwise be considering that $100k uber-giant plasma screen.

Remembering that our reference video systems are really just trying to faithfully reproduce the original film as created by the director and cinema photographer, why not just install a film projector? A new company called Wolfe Cinema is doing just that, producing true 35mm film projectors for the residential market at prices that may be less than you would imagine. About the size of your kitchen refrigerator, two are recommended, so each reel can be switched into place without interruption. Apparently, 35mm reels of up to date movies can be rented or even purchased for around $2,000 each.

Where’s my popcorn? When it comes to digital content delivery, there is a company about to begin digital distribution of very high bitrate (45mbps) movies directly from the studios by means a proprietary hard drive shipping system. Some serious encryption is no doubt taking place here to keep the hackers at bay.

Control

Improvements in control systems continue to flow, but you still have to choose between the less expensive systems with limited options and scalability, or go for the fully custom solution that while expensive, is virtually unlimited in accomplishing whatever a creative mind can conjure up.

The up and coming major application for home automation technology is energy management. Combine thorough energy monitoring with custom integration control, and some serious savings can be realized. While this level of ‘green’ won’t be widely available in homes for a few years, the top automations firms (yours truly) are doing it on projects right now. Call today, operators standing by…

Gaming

One of the training sessions I attended focused on video gaming, which turned out to be an eye-opener for me. I’m not a big gamer myself, though I do enjoy GT3 racing on an ancient Sony PS2 in my home theater once or twice a year (lame, I know). But it really got me to thinking about those families who may actually do a decent amount of gaming.

There are two primary forms of gaming: immersive, and social. The immersive style would be something like the racing I just mentioned or perhaps one of those first-person action games where you can play for hours and almost loose contact with your physical body. These immersive games require isolation, and a home theater may be just the spot.

Social gaming is a completely different beast. When you’re playing Guitar Hero, where do you stand? Are you blocking the projector from hitting the video screen? Do you have your back to your audience while looking at the big screen? And when playing Wii bowling, you need a lot of room, probably right where the sweet spot theater chairs are. If you plan on having your home theater pull double duty for video gaming these are just some of the important things to consider.

Come to think of it, maybe you should make an appointment to talk with your local CEDIA certified home theater design specialist / propeller-headed A/V geek. I wonder who?…
______________________
Sean Hotchkiss
shotchkiss@grandhome.com

GHA Launches Home Theater Website

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Grand Home Automation is proud to announce the launch of this website dedicated to assiting people with Home theater and media room installation related issues. As the primary contributor to this blog, I hope to cover topics that are of concern to those who are contemplating the building of a new home theater, or wish to improve upon the one they already have. Harmonizing with Grand Home’s general philosophy, a strong emphasis will be placed on planning, design, and engineering. With so many factors to consider, it’s just too risky to buy a bunch of gear, wire it up, and hope everything works out alright.

As a CEDIA certified home theater design specialist, I will be stressing the importance of getting the room design right. Extremely expensive equipment will perform quite poorly in an uncontrolled environment, while even modest electronics can perform wonderfully under the right conditions with proper calibration. Some of the primary considerations for any home theater space that will be discussed here are:

  • Acoustic treatment – sound control inside the room
  • Acoustic isolation – keeping theater sounds in, and house sounds out
  • Audio processing and amplification
  • Video technologies
  • Visual formats and layout
  • Lighting control and effects
  • Climate control and ventillation
  • Interior furnishings and decor
  • Control systems – doesn’t matter how great it performs if you can’t turn it on

I’m looking forward to exploring and sharing my favorite topic – Home Theater!
______________________
Sean Hotchkiss
shotchkiss@grandhome.com