Tag: Blog

AmpliFi Mesh Wi-Fi System For Your Home

In this blog post we look at AmpliFi Wi-Fi from Ubiquiti and how it can help solve your home Wi-Fi troubles.

The Problem:

Most households use just their ISP provided router to serve Wi-Fi around their home.  And as a result often suffer poor performance, slow speeds and black spots.

The main problem is that the routers supplied by internet service providers are cheap.  They are designed to cater for the masses whilst maintaining the lowest possible cost to the provider. It’s fair to say that this means they are usually not the best especially when it comes to Wi-Fi. We have found that they usually struggle to provide a decent wireless service to even a modest UK home, let alone a larger home. Problems are not always immediately present or obvious.

Sometimes they present themselves as blackspots within the home where reception of Wi-Fi is simply impossible.  But more often than not the problems are much more subtle and intermittent.  Problems such as slow connection speeds, buffering of audio or video streams, connections dropping out etc are all very commonplace.  Often people just accept it as normal.  However it’s usually a very easy thing to correct by using better performing equipment.


The Answer – AmpliFi:


AmpliFi from Ubiquiti

This is where the likes of Ubiquiti’s new Amplifi mesh Wi-Fi system come in.  Designed for incredible ease of use allowing end user to install and set up in minutes.

We have lots of experience with Ubiquiti products and have been installing their enterprise class Wi-Fi solutions for years.  This however opens up professional Wi-Fi services to the masses by making it really easy to self install.

AmpliFi Router

The AmpliFi Wi-Fi Controller/Router


Being a mesh system means that each part of the system is capable of relaying it’s connection via any other part of the system.  So for example if you purchase the three device pack with a router and two Wi-Fi extenders and the second extender is out of range of the router. The Wi-Fi passes to the second extender via the first extender.


AmpliFi Mesh Multi-hop

AmpliFi Mesh Multi-hop Example


The AmpliFi system is capable of all modern Wi-Fi standards including the latest 802.11AC and has a maximum speed of 1750Mb/s.

Setting up the system is incredibly easy.  The main router can be set-up via a smartphone app, or it’s built in touchscreen display.  The extenders are simply plugged into a mains socket around the home.

The router unit also has ethernet ports built in to connect local wired devices such as printers, computers or games consoles.

AmpliFi Router Rear

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Rear view


In summary, if you are one of the many that suffers endless problems and niggles with your home Wi-Fi service, you need to install the new Ubiquiti AmpliFi system!

For any enquiries please don’t hesitate to contact us either through the contact page or call us on 01604 211200

Introduction to Control4

Control4 EA Series Controllers

If you like the idea of a control system for your home and would like to know more about what is available from Control4, then please read on . . . . . . .

The heart of any Smart Home System will be the controller. This is the brain that receives instructions or inputs and causes things to happen depending on how it is programmed.

Typical inputs to a controller can be:

  • Touch panel, either wireless or wall mounted
  • Keypad. A wall mounted light switch size panel with configurable buttons
  • Mobile device such as a phone or tablet
  • A dedicated hand held remote similar to a TV remote control
  • Remote switches, door contacts or alarm inputs etc.

The controller can control:

  • Well, just about anything that is electrically powered!

Controller Line-up

Control4 EA Series Controllers

Control4 EA Series Controllers


The current line-up of Control4 controllers consists of the EA1, EA3 and EA5. EA stands for Entertainment Automation controller and the number represents the number of concurrent audio streams it can serve. All controllers have a number of control inputs and outputs consisting of relays, contacts and infra-red, the latter being used to control TV’s etc. In addition they all have wired and wireless network connections.

Some Control4 devices communicate with their controller using a wireless mesh network called Zigbee. The ‘mesh’ is a system that passes commands from one device to another if there is no direct connection between the device and the controller. This is a really useful feature particularly in large installations.

Bespoke firmware called Director runs on the controller. We then use a program called Composer to configure and program the system to do exactly what you want.

Examples of Control4 applications

A very simple installation could consist of an EA1 connected to a TV, surround sound audio video receiver and a satellite receiver. Therefore, with just one button push, the TV, AV receiver and Satellite receiver will turn on in the correct sequence and your favourite channel will appear at the appropriate volume.

What more could you want?

For any enquiries please don’t hesitate to contact us either through the contact page or call us on 01604 211200

First Look At The Soundcast VG7 Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker

We Look At Soundcast’s Latest Offering

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!

Features And Specifications


  • Pair Two VG7 Units for TWS (TrueWireless™ Stereo) Configuration
  • Indoor and Outdoor Audio Modes
  • Weather Resistant Enclosure
  • Stream High-Def Audio via Bluetooth® (+NFC Pairing) with aptX™ and AAC
  • On-Board Track and Volume Controls
  • External Auxillary Connection
  • 4 Discretely Enclosed Speakers for Immersive 360o Sound
  • 7″ Subwoofer
  • Long Life Rechargable Battery


  • One 7″ long-throw woofer in a downward-firing configuration withhigh efficiency BL ferrite motor design for increased battery life and high-performance IMPP cone with butyl rubber surround
  • Four 3″ full-range drivers in a stereo 360º array with high
  • SPL Neodymium motor design, aluminum cones and butyl
  • rubber surrounds
  • Acoustic frequency: 55-20kHz +/-3dB


  • Subwoofer Amp – 30W RMS, Class-D
  • Stereo Amp – 15 X 2 RMS, Class-D


  • Rechargeable internal battery with external AC power supply
  • Play audio via battery or while plugged into AC power
  • DC power via optional 12VDC power adapter
  • Power bank to charge USB devices


  • Built-in Bluetooth 4.2 technology with 8 memory slots
  • NFC auto device pairing (with Bluetooth)
  • Qualcomm
  • TrueWireless™ Stereo (TWS) Circuitry
  • Bluetooth hi-def AAC and aptX™ codecs
  • Proprietary 24-bit DSP
  • Auto muting


  • Aux input 1/8″ (3.5mm) mini jack
  • AC/DC power input
  • USB charging output

Weight & Dimensions:

  • Diameter: 28cm
  • Height: 48cm
  • Unit only weight: 9.5 kgs
  • Shipping weight: 11.8kgs

Our First Impressions

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

Speak To Me! – Google Home And Alexa

Using Google Home And Alexa To Control Your Smart Home With Control 4!

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.

Voice Control



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.


I Want Voice Control In My Home

With the introduction of Google Home and Amazon Echo, voice control has suddenly sprung back to the forefront with real promise.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo


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.

Google Home

Google Home

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

Smart Home Technology And Fire Safety

Smart Home Technology And Safety

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.

Fire call point for Smart Homes

A traditional fire alarm call point


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.


nest thermostat for Smart Homes    Nest Smoke alarm for Smart Homes


Home Automation In Current Times

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.


Give Me An Example?

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.


Can It Do More?

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.

For any enquiries please don’t hesitate to contact us either through the contact page or call us on 01604 211200