Here at Sound Designs we often get new technology to try out and today is no different. Chris couldn’t wait to open this one when it arrived through the door. The Soundcast VG7 is a high-end outdoor Bluetooth speaker that is rechargeable as well as portable. It boasts 360 degree sound using four 3″ speakers, one on each face of the unit that provide the mids and highs. There is also one 7″ long-throw sub-woofer at the bottom of the unit that provides the lows. All of this is well presented in an excellent looking bit of kit, I think you’ll agree!
Our first impressions of the Soundcast VG7 are very good. We are still currently undergoing more thorough testing, but initial thoughts from all of us in the office are that it’s a fantastic bit of kit. For it’s size it’s surprisingly loud but not only that it sounds very good as well. No matter what position it is placed in it fills the room very well thanks to its 360 degree sound. Bluetooth pairing was incredibly easy and works pretty flawlessly. We still haven’t had to charge it since it came out of the box even after multiple hours of testing. We will write a more detailed update once we have finished testing but for now check out our unboxing video below.
For any enquiries please don’t hesitate to contact us either through the contact page or call us on 01604 211200
In this blog post we look at the very latest in speech recognition technology and how it can improve smart home systems such as Control 4.
Speech recognition and voice control is nothing new. In fact here at Sound Designs, we have experimented with various forms of it for years!
The earlier version of this was using Siri on an Apple iPhone. We have had success in controlling our office systems by simply speaking commands. Turning on the office lights being one example.
A computer running specialist software sat in between the phone and the control system interprets commands on Siri. This command is then forwarded onto the control system so that it can carryout the programmed function. This system worked and worked pretty well! However we didn’t feel it was a solution that could be rolled out to any customer systems.
It felt just a little too ‘clunky’ and basic to install on a customers Control4 system. Also with it being a little too cutting edge and DIY it would no doubt have reliability issues. So until recently the ideas of voice controlling a smart home installation were that ‘it’s possible’ but it’s not a solution to roll out to clients homes.
With the introduction of Google Home and Amazon Echo, voice control has suddenly sprung back to the forefront with real promise.
We have drivers available for both products to work with Control 4. We even have it fully operational in our office. The speech recognition of both of these devices is light years ahead of previous voice control technology and they are beginning to introduce real intelligence and interactivity.
So far in our office we only have some basic commands operating but it has proven to be very reliable and the scope of what’s possible is huge. So much so, that we will be trialing voice control on a customer’s system very soon.
This trial installation is quite large with a cinema room, lighting and heating control, automated curtains and blinds etc.
The future of this technology is very exciting! Having such big players leading the way will mean that advancements in the technology will come thick and fast.
Sound Designs Ltd have been installing smart home systems and audio visual technology for residential and commercial clients since 2005. We are based in Northamptonshire but work all over the UK. Providing practical and high performing installations all specifically designed for each application.
For any enquiries please don’t hesitate to contact us either through the contact page or call us on 01604 211200
With the recent terrible tragedy in London where a fire ripped through a block of flats. It got us thinking about how the smart home technology we install can help with home safety.
Sound Designs Ltd has installed smart home technology and audio visual systems in residential homes since 2005. And while early systems tended to focus mainly on the entertainment aspect of home life. More modern systems are much more capable and are able to carryout a much wider range of functions.
In fact even what we would class as low level smart home technology can have some really nice safety features.
For example the Nest range of products, if you combine their intelligent heating control with their smoke detectors they are able to interact and prevent the boiler from firing in the event of a smoke alarm activation.
This is a really simple form of interaction but if a boiler developed a fault. This simple interaction could have an incredibly effective influence on the course of events and possibly save lives.
As mentioned, historically a smart home system has mainly focused on AV (Audio visual) equipment as a way of creating a convenient and high performing entertainment system for the home.
However the custom install industry has increasingly expanded into other elements of technology and home life. We have been a part of this over the last 12 years, installing ever more capable and intelligent systems.
We would be the first to admit that there have been painful periods where systems try to be too intelligent and don’t end up doing as good a job as perhaps the manufacturers portrayed. At times emerging technology has caught out the whole industry (The introduction of HDMI signals springs to mind!).
But now we are in a time where smart home technology has never been better, it’s more reliable, more powerful and manufacturers are much more open to collaboration of products making interactivity much easier to achieve.
So how does this help with home safety?
When it’s easier to make different systems interact with each other, it opens up the possibility to do some very clever things.
An example of this is a residential smart home system recently completed by us in Notting Hill, London. Due to the size of the property it required a full fire alarm system.
We installed a system that handled all of the home AV, lighting, heating and air conditioning. We were able to quite easily create a link between the fire alarm and our smart home system.
Upon fire alarm activation, the home cinema system automatically muted itself. In addition to this escape route lighting lit up all stairways and corridors which provided the safest exit possible. The last aspect of the interaction was to prevent boilers from firing.
The interaction on this project could have gone much further but the client decided to restrict it to the above. However we could have had the gates open up to give clear access for the fire brigade. Shut down air handling equipment to limit the amount of fresh oxygen entering the property. Light up further parts of the property and even contact key holders etc etc.
The possibilities are simply huge when you have a solid host system that is capable of linking together all of the systems of the home.
While disaster will never be stopped, it’s refreshing to know that it’s possible to make a real difference to peoples safety by implementing technology to take practical steps in the event of an emergency.
Sound Designs Ltd have been installing smart home systems and audio visual technology for residential and commercial clients since 2005. We are based in Northamptonshire but work all over the UK providing practical and high performing installations all designed specifically for each application.
We have maintained the emergency public address system at the home of Northampton Saints for many years.
In 2014, we began the process of updating the system. We needed to bring it in line with expected standards of performance for a modern stadium entertainment system.
This process is on-going and is due for completion during 2015.
We have installed Community loudspeakers and new class D amplification for their South Stand. A new North stand is to be built in 2015.
This build had a short time limit therefore the whole project happened very quickly. Located in a beautiful part of St Albans it required the very latest in home automation technology.
This high specification home required an audio visual installation that comprised of the following:
To control all of the above aspects of the system either the in wall touch screen panels, or the client’s mobile devices could be used.
Project value – £60k
This was a refurbishment project of a 4 story property in London, including a new basement dig and substantial internal alterations. Because of this our mission was to install a multi-room audio system that was as discreet as possible.
We designed, supplied and installed the following technologies:
The multi-room audio system installed is very minimalist with discrete loudspeakers in each room. Because the system is discrete, it’s controlled via the clients mobile devices so no remotes lying around.
Due to seamless WiFi installation the clients remained connected to the internet no matter where they are in their home.
Project Value – £25K
This was a refurbishment of one floor of a seven storey residential dwelling. The floor contained the master bedroom suite and was refurbished to an extremely high standard. Our main job for this project was lighting control.
We installed a 24 circuit Rako lighting system to cover the two rooms. On top of this there was a minor audio visual system.
We were able to provide some intelligent features on the lighting system. This really makes the difference between a conventional lighting installation and a ‘lighting system’.
Features such as an All off command, lighting scenes triggered by movement sensors that respond differently depending on the time of day and wireless control via the client’s iPhones or iPads all help to make the lighting in the master suite compliment their lives.
The audio visual installation was an extension to their existing Sonos system, but with the added feature of invisible plastered in Amina loudspeakers.
Project cost: – £15k
We were approached by a client based in a rural area. They were suffering with slow internet speeds which were having an adverse effect to their trading. The answer to this was a radio data link.
We carried out a survey and designed a long range data link. This could serve the office with high speed internet services.
The Data Link used a high speed fibre broadband connection installed in a nearby village. From here we were able to transmit the connection over a long range radio link approximately 1 mile to the client’s office. Consequently this resulted in an increase in internet speeds by a factor of 8.
The link was so successful that we later extended the same connection to a second property approximately 4.5miles away to carry the same fibre broadband to their second property.
Project cost: £2.5k
This project was for an existing client that we had installed several audio systems for. The brief was quite simple, provide a high quality, but invisible sound system for their Victorian dining hall.
Due to the requirements of this project we utilised Amina invisible loudspeakers bonded to the back of the antique oak paneling.
We hid the control and amplification equipment away in a cupboard. The only thing visible in the dining hall was a small rotary volume control.
The Amina loudspeakers provided outstandingly even coverage in what was a very acoustically challenging space.