Audio Visual Blog
Sonos has been around since 2002, and re-invented home audio for the digital age. Whilst their components are quite expensive, it is of audiophile quality, and worth every cent. If one of the worlds largest DJ’s - DeadMau5 has Sonos in his home - it should be fine for yours.
So what are the benefits of choosing Sonos for your project?
Having a party in the garage or in the gazebo? - Move all your Sonos speakers to a specific area for added sound.
Setup - Sonos is completely wireless, and can easily be deployed within an hour, once setup, move your speakers around freely and it will reconfigure. Another benefit of the Sonos system, is if you ever move, you can pack the system up in minutes, and take it to your new home.
How does it work?
Very simple - you start with a Sonos Bridge. You will plug a network cable from the bridge into your home wireless router.
Then you need players - one for each room that you would like music that doesn’t already have speakers.
Use a Play3 for bedroom, or smaller rooms, and a Play5 for larger rooms or everywhere the budget allows.
You will simply plug the Play3, or Play5 into power and you are ready to go - there is no further cabling.
If your room already has an existing amplifier, such as your TV room then you will need a Sonos Connect. You will wire an RCA cable (red white cable), or digital audio cable (orange or Toslink cable) to your amplifier or receiver.
Or if you have speakers you would like to use - then add a Sonos Connect Amp - which has a built in 2 channel amplifier, your speakers will wire straight into the Sonos Connect Amp.
Sonos uses each device to repeat signal, but should a room be out of range, add another bridge which will just need to be plugged in somewhere central to the far zone.
If you don’t already have a “home theatre system” - consider adding a Sonos Playbar and sub to your main TV for some massive home theatre sound.
You could even add 2 x Sonos Play 1's or Play 3's for surround channels. Making a wireless 5.1 surround sound system.
Budgets for Sonos - based on 4 rooms
Bridge - R890
Play3 for main bedroom and kitchen - R5490 each = R10 980
Play5 for the patio - R7 290
Connect for the TV room with exisiting amplifier - R6390
TOTAL - R25 550
Budget for Sonos - based on 4 rooms + home theatre
Bridge - R890
Play3 for main bedroom and kitchen - R5490 each = R10 980
Play5 for the patio - R7 290
Playbar + Sub - Home Theatre
TOTAL - R44 940
Right, I have purchased my Sonos system - how do I set it up?
Firstly, download the app for your smartphone:
Follow the easy setup steps - should take you less than 5 minutes to setup your home.
What can I now listen to in each zone?
You can listen to your iTunes library, any music stored on your network, and any source that is plugged into the connect, and or playbar. Streaming music - like TuneIn radio which has over 40 000 music streams, Pandora, Sirius and or locally available Simfy music service.
Downloading music is a thing of the past as you quickly get bored of your playlists. A more popular way of listening to music is to stream it from internet radio - choose a genre or station, sit back and enjoy.
Streaming music uses on average 1Mb a minute.
How a Digital-to-Analog Converter Impacts Your Audio System's Performance
Digital music formats are ubiquitous — even the staunchest vinyl supporter can admit that there's a lot of appeal to holding your entire music catalog in the palm of your hand or hosted on a server.
Without a high-quality digital-to-analog converter (DAC), however, music aficionados will notice a considerable drop in audio fidelity when listening to their favorite tracks, albums and artists. And if you’re serious about music, maintaining pristine quality is non-negotiable.
How DAC technology works
In its simplest terms, DAC hardware converts digital data into sound that can be heard and enjoyed. When you break digital files and music streams down into their base components, you get a bunch of binary code. A DAC transforms that data into an analog signal, which is then sent through an amplifier and finally transmitted through the listener's headphones or speakers.
Aside from vinyl records, just about any music format used today relies on this process to create sound: streaming services, digital music files, compact discs, etc.
Not all DAC equipment is made equally — or meant to be, for that matter. The DAC in your smartphone doesn't need to convert data streams with the same fidelity and quality as a high-end speaker, for instance. No one expects their phone to provide audio playback with 100-percent accuracy and hi-res sound quality. If you want to get the best sound quality from various digital audio formats, you need a DAC that's up to the task of providing the best audio fidelity possible.
Choose the right DAC solution for your audio system
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering your DAC options: First, does it support a wide variety of data file rates? If the timing of the bitstream conversion isn't absolutely precise, you're going to experience jitter, which means poor sound quality. Second, what level of craftsmanship went into the design of the device? Bad circuitry can introduce unwanted noise, marring the listening experience.
There are standalone, external DAC units available to act as a go-between for your music source and speakers or headphones, but you can cut out the middleman by using audio equipment with high-quality built-in DAC technology.
The Marantz HD-AMP1, for instance, features hi-res conversion and is compatible with numerous audio formats, including FLAC, AIFF, WAV and ALAC. The digital integrated amplifier also has advanced noise isolation capabilities to prevent digital noise from negatively impacting the overall sound quality. It also comes equipped with a dedicated headphone amplifier block, so music lovers can completely immerse themselves in their favorite albums.
The best equipment makes for the best audio system. Browse the entire line of Marantz AV receivers, wireless music systems and Hi-Fi components to lay the foundation for your setup.
CAMBRIDGE AUDIO’S NEW MUSIC PICKS – AUGUST 2018
Another month, another set of music recommendations from Cambridge Audio HQ.
As Summer fades into Fall and the world begins to offer a more comfortable feel with a cooler breeze and lack of torturous humidity, we connected with these great new releases from August 2018. A variety of genres are hosted in this month's blog, so try some new music with us, and hopefully, you will discover something you love.
Bayside – "It Don’t Exist"
With the announcement of Acoustic Volume 2, the follow-up to its predecessor back in 2006, New York rock band Bayside have treated our ears to a brand new track, “It Don’t Exist”. The rest of the album is said to feature completely reimagined acoustic versions of tracks spanning the bands back catalogue, rather than simply trading electric for acoustic instruments. “It Don’t Exist” looks to spearhead this direction with a fuller experience, featuring keys, drums, and plenty of atmospheric lead guitar lines to relax to. It’s a dreamy song that’s perfect to soon see in the Autumn/Fall season.
Ariana Grande- "REM"/Beyoncé- "Wake Up"
Before Beyoncé released her self-titled album in 2014, she was trying to curate a doo-wop album, believe or not. She would eventually scrap that concept in exchange for a neo-soul-focused sound, but one of the demos from that now-defunct project, "Wake Up", has been revived thanks to Ariana Grande. It's rumored that Pharrell Williams has some production credit on the track and introduced it to Grande for her latest album, Sweetener, resulting in "R.E.M". Grande recycles Queen B's "wake up" chorus hook but reworks the demo's lyrics to display an undying affection for her lover. Both tracks are worthy of celebration, at the very least.
(True story- The center channel in my best friend's ten-year-old car blew out a bit after listening to Beyonce's "Wake Up". It wasn't because the track was played too loud though- it was just the straw that broke the camel's back. Still, proceed with caution.)
Young Thug- "Audemar"
Just like we said about the genius of Playboi Carti, soak in Young Thug's ballistic energy on "Audemar" instead of focusing on the lyrics. While Thug impressively sprinkles diamond-studded, high-end brands in the track's lyrics, he only flaunts the objects that accent his wardrobe and lifestyle. What impresses us most is his myriad of delivery styles, from screaming the lyrics to chanting "skrrt" like he's imitating a broken wheel. Thugger's swagger is revitalizing.
Travis Scott- ASTROWORLD
ASTROWORLD is the name of a newly-revived theme park in Houston, TX and title of Travis Scott's best album. The album is loaded with complex beat transitions, bold and pristine production, and a kaleidoscope of vibes, from serene to hard-hitting intensity. What makes it stand out more than any other release this year is its impressive roster of guest artists. The all-star team of the album is featured on one track, "Stop Trying To Be God", including Stevie Wonder, James Blake, Kid Cudi, and Earth, Wind & Fire's Phillip Bailey. The combination of everything feels like an adventure of adrenaline-loaded bangers and spacey adventures, and at the center of it all is Travis Scott. While he doesn't flex the most thought-provoking bars throughout the album, he did hit one on the head- "Who put this shit together? I'm the glue."
Foxing – Nearer My God
The St Louis band have released their third album last month, and it’s probably going to be their masterpiece. Not only that, but it nearly didn’t happen. Unsure about the direction they were taking and how it would be received by fans, it took ex-Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla to take on the production role and turn the band's ambition into an album. Facing the band’s fears, Nearer My God oozes in skyward-soaring vocals (“Nearer My God”) and raw energy (“Gameshark”) with plenty of daring ideas and experimentation tackled brilliantly (“Heartbeats”). We’ve seen similar bands successfully step up to bring modern emo to the forefront (Manchester Orchestra, Brand New, The Hotelier, etc.), and with Foxing doing the same, it’s certainly here to stay.
Sabrina Claudio- No Rain, No Flowers
This album is perfect for a summer night while the sun sets. Sabrina Claudio felt like she was at the height of her R&B songstress powers when she knocked out her latest surprise project, No Rain, No Flowers, in less than two months with producer SadBoyMusic. All of the songs here are down-tempo, reflective, and sexy, and Sabrina's whispered vocals sound as confident and lush as ever over every cool instrumental. If you have someone to throw your arm around while spinning this as the sun disappears, channel the desire that Sabrina breathes into these tracks into your connection and feel the romance move with a seductive bounce.
We’re excited to introduce the sixth iteration of our 600 Series speaker range, delivering exceptional performance at an accessible price point.
Since 1966, we’ve made continued technical advancements to design the perfect loudspeaker and today we bring that heritage to vinyl enthusiasts and movie lovers alike with the new 600 Series. This range turns movie night into an immersive experience, and brings the music you love to life, as if the performer is standing in front of you.
You can hear the engineering excellence and passion, and that is why our speakers are used in leading recording studios around the world, such as the legendary Abbey Road Studios, due to the accuracy they provide. Bowers & Wilkins is a global leader in bringing music and sound to your ears – and your experience – the way it was meant to be heard.
The groundbreaking feature of our latest 600 Series is the integration of our cutting-edge Continuum™ cone, which creates layered midrange sound with a pristine soundscape. The human ear is naturally tuned into sound in this frequency, and we’ve understood the power of the perfect midrange presentation for over a generation.
Developed over an eight-year period, the Continuum cone was first featured on our flagship 800 Series Diamond models, including the 800 D3, now in use in Abbey Road Studios. It truly makes your music come alive, delivering the crucial sounds fundamental to any great music experience. The new 600 Series also features our patented and ultra-low-distortion Decoupled Double Dome tweeter to reveal astonishing levels of detail in your music. Whether you immerse yourself in stereo or surround sound, the 600 Series brings you closer to hearing Bowers & Wilkins True Sound.
True audiophiles understand that to create a rich audio environment and capture a cinematic experience in the comfort of your own home, you need a high-quality AV receiver.
However, picking the ideal AV receiver can be challenging since there are so many subtle nuances to consider. Eliminate any guesswork and get the best AV receiver possible for your home theatre by following this checklist:
HDMI inputs - Your AV receiver needs to support every media player in your home theatre, and HDMI provides the best video and audio quality possible. Be sure that your AV receiver has enough HDMI inputs to support every device you plan to use.
Optical inputs - Optical digital audio cables may not be able to carry video signals like HDMI. However, according to CNET, their support for more sophisticated 7.1 channel setups make them just as relevant today as they were when first introduced over 30 years ago.
USB input - the easiest and most convenient way to store and take your audio files anywhere is a USB mass storage device. A USB input conveniently located at the front of the AVR allows you to play nearly any audio file, from 2-channel playback to full multi-channel surround using the AVR's upmixing function.
Phono inputs - If you want to include a turntable model in your home theatre setup, then phono inputs are a must-have feature.
4K Ultra HD - 4K is the new standard for top-of-the-line video playback, providing more clarity and crisper visuals than standard 1080p HD resolution. Even if you don't have a 4K-enabled TV today, you may want to plan for the future.
Component video inputs - Nothing beats HDMI in terms of video quality, but component cables come as close as any other analog format.
Composite video inputs - Not to be confused with the far-superior component cable format, composite inputs are still important if you want to use older media players that were intended for use with CRT TVs.
5.1 channel support (or above) - The number of channels your AV receiver contains refers to the number of speakers it can drive in order to create the surround experience. Your basic home theatre surround sound system will feature a 5.1 channel configuration - centre, front left, front right, surround left, surround right and subwoofer. 7.1 channel systems split the rear and surround channels to provide a more lush and engrossing soundscape. You can even go up to 9.1 or 11.1, or 13.1 channel receivers to add height and further depth to your audio playback.
Economy mode - You don't necessarily want your AV receiver consuming high power if not needed. A clever ECO mode helps you to reduce power consumption when listening on moderate volume level without sacrificing the audio performance. However, once the volume goes up the ECO mode should change seamlessly to full power automatically so as not to miss any action.
Bluetooth - Wireless support is an absolute must to play music from your smartphone or tablet using popular platforms like YouTube and Spotify. There are some aftermarket external devices that add Bluetooth support, but they can't beat an AV receiver with built-in Bluetooth capabilities.
Wi-Fi - Wi-Fi connectivity gives you additional options for streaming music through your AV receiver such as Apple AirPlay2 music streaming.
With HEOS built-in you can stream from your favourite cloud services such as Spotify®, Amazon Music, Deezer, Tidal and many more effortlessly via the free HEOS app. Multi-room support - Wireless playback is great, but being able to stream music simultaneously from any room in the house is next-level stuff. HEOS-enabled AV receivers support true multiroom playback, allowing you to listen to your favourite music wherever you go.
Ease of Use
Setup Assistant - To capture the best sound possible, your AV receiver should have calibration software and a built-in setup assistant to fine-tune settings to match your home theatre seating arrangement, according to TechRadar.
Voice control - With Amazon Alexa voice compatibility you can use your voice to control the AVR and online music services. This allows you to adjust the volume, skip to the next track, switch inputs for your different media players and more - "Just Ask."
Diagnostic tools - Diagnostic tools can save you a lot of potential headaches by identifying network connection problems and quickly addressing them.
All of these features are readily available in Denon's top-of-the-line AV receivers, so there's no reason to put off getting the home theatre of your dreams any longer.
Denon recently entered the WiFi speaker market with the release of their HEOS range. The WiFi speaker market has been dominated by Sonos for several years but competition seems to be heating up with the entry of the Samsung Shape range, and now Denon's latest offering of Heos.
The Denon Heos boasts 3 speakers at the launch, Denon Heos 3,5 and 7 - with I'm sure more to follow if they are to compete with Sonos.
The Heos range is not yet available to order, with an expected US/UK launch in August 2014 -
which means South Africans will need to put this on their Christmas list. COMING SEPTEMBER 2014. It's already on mine, and am being extra nice to head office : )
The range promises "Denon-quality audio", "state-of-the-art" smartphone control apps for Android and iOS and the ability to play "your favourite music from the world's leading online music services including top cloud sources, 'legacy' sources, and any smart device". As with Sonos you can stream your music to one room, or to multiple rooms giving the piped music effect or multi-room audio effect for what we hope will be a fraction of the price.
Whichever way you look at it, we are super excited to put the Heos system through it's paces, it is Denon, so we know it will be good - but will it be good enough for what is expected to be more expensive than it's competition. For now Audico are still Sonos soldiers until we hear differently.
One thing that is for sure - you will know as soon as we do what the verdict is - so make sure you are subscribed to our monthly newsletter to find out.
Monitor Audio's new silver speaker range has just reached South African shores.
The Silver range offers "an exceptional balance of performance, versatility, lifestyle appeal and value, and is the predacesor to the hugely popular Silver RX range.
The range amounts to two standmount models, the Silver 1 and 2; followed by three floorstanders, Silver 6, 8 and 10 as well as a dedicated centre, an 'FX' surround speaker and an active subwoofer model.
The new Monitor Audio Silver range has certain elemants from the bigger brothers - the Gold and Platinum series, and has a set of completely new drivers.
The new bass driver should offer a reduced distortion and offer a more dynamic and accurate response says Monitor Audio.
We personally cannot wait to give them a test drive, as the RX6's were our favourite speaker for balanced performance and budget.
September 4, 2014 3:20 AM PDT... Article Courtesy of CNET
Harman Kardon is taking on Sonos with its new multiroom streaming devices. The new Harman Kardon Omni speakers and Adapt wireless adapter put your phone at the heart of your home's music system, streaming tunes over Wi-Fi to speakers placed in different rooms -- and helping the music follow you as you move from room to room.
The first devices in the Omni range are the Omni 10 and Omni 20 wireless speakers. The Omni 10 packs two 25w speakers and the Omni 20 four 15W speakers to get the party started.
The speakers can be placed in different rooms, and you can play different music on each one or jump into party mode and play the same song everywhere. To keep the music following you as you move from room to room, all you have to do is press the link button on top of each speaker as you move into a new room.
STREAM ME UP
Alternatively you can put a couple of speakers together in one room for stereo sound. Or, hey, why not go crazy and buy several to create a full multi-channel speaker system -- handy for those HD movies with 5.1 surround sound.
One issue with wireless systems is that it's harder to send lots of data through the air than it is to send it down a cable. The Omni system, however, supports 24-bit, 96kHz audio streaming so your sounds don't lose any nuance when zapping through the air instead of along a wire.
The speakers are controlled by the Harman Kardon Controller app for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Simply drag and drop tunes from your library to play them on a particular speaker. The app also enables you to group speakers or control them individually, adjusting the master volume or the sound coming from specific speakers.
As well as Wi-Fi, the speakers have Bluetooth and auxiliary inputs so you can stream from sources other than your library or streaming services, like YouTube for example.
If you already have a home stereo setup you're pretty pleased with, the Harman Kardon Adapt is a wireless adapter that plugs into your existing kit and connects it to the wireless network. Once plugged in, you can wirelessly stream not just the downloads on your phone, but music from any source. That includes, as a f'instance, your vinyl record player, so you can combine the warmth and nuance of vinyl with the high-tech convenience of wireless streaming.