The best way to take full advantage of a whole home audio system is to load it up with music streaming services. All of our favorite music services are available on a Savant system, through airplay, or natively on Sonos.
This one is a bit of a gimme, but those surrounded by technology (like us at Realm) sometimes take the magic of Pandora for granted. For listeners not yet in the know, Pandora is a music streaming service that creates customized radio stations based on the musical style of a specific artist or song. Pick your favorite artist or song, type it into Pandora's interface, and songs will play that are musically similar. Pandora has some other nice features too. Users can click "thumb's up" or "thumb's down" to tell Pandora whether they like or dislike the song and the station will be adjusted accordingly. After logging into the Pandora website, users can can also click "add variety" to diversify their favorite stations by adding additional artists or songs. These changes are global to user accounts, so they carry over to all of a user's devices including iPhone, Sonos, or a Savant media server.
In late 2014 Dolby announced it would be bringing Atmos technology to home theater systems. But without living in a major market area like New York or Los Angeles, It's still difficult to experience Atmos at a local theater, let alone decide if it's worth investing in a home system. There are two main premises of Atmos. The first is overheard sound, provided by adding between 2 and 4 additional speakers to today's common surround setups. The second is the focus on sound "objects." Channels like left, right, center, and surround become less important as sound is no longer directed to specific speakers. Instead Atmos uses a software model to place sounds (as objects) within a given 3D space, and speakers are activated accordingly. This results in more natural sounding surround effects, and seamless movement of sound through space.
Whether in a commercial or home setting, Dolby Atmos systems show their wow factor during moving overhead sound effects. Think of a helicopter flying around, or bullets whizzing over your head. To achieve this added realism, additional hardware is necessary on two fronts. First, is a surround processor capable of reading a Dolby Atmos audio stream. Next, are speakers designed to project overhead sound. Home users will need to upgrade to a new AV receiver that can decode Atmos sound, as well as source material that contains an Atmos audio track. Currently, there are around a dozen Bluray discs that are Atmos enabled (source: Big Picture Sound), as well as plans to bring Atmos to streaming services like VUDU and Netflix. If it isn't possible for home theater enthusiasts to add more speakers in their ceilings, they can take advantage of Atmos enabled floor standing speakers. These speakers have a traditional design on the front, but also add an upward facing driver for bouncing sound off the ceiling. When placed and tuned correctly, the effect from Atmos enabled speakers is very convincing. They approximate the motion based sound effects of commercial theaters quite well. Read More
As a manufacturer of industry leading residential control systems, Savant has made big strides with the release of it's new app, simply called "Savant." While It doesn't appear that the new app will replace Savant's older offering "TruControl II," it will definitely make adopting a Savant control system much easier and user friendly. With a near perfect rating on the iOS app store, and added android support, the new Savant app offers an impressive list of new features. Here are five of our favorites at Realm.
5: Remote Access
Remote access isn't anything new, but is the cornerstone of any decent home automation system. Controlling devices directly in front of you is nice, but issuing commands from anywhere in the world adds another level of convenience, customization, and power. Remote access in the new Savant app has been updated to be user login based. This means that after a user account is created with Savant and linked with a control system, remote access is immediately available (90 day trial included). Gone are the days of network wizardry and complicated port forwards. Because remote access is only useful when it performs consistently, Savant has eliminated a lot of the existing points of failure and streamlined the login process. Once you have provided Savant with your email address and password, controlling your system while away from home is easy and automatic. An added benefit is the ability to share your system with multiple user accounts. Have someone that you want to be able to keep tabs on your system? (Hint: think Realm.) Add their Savant login as an authorized user of your system and they'll be able to view or control it from anywhere. Read More
On Saturday, March 7th, Realm will host a very special fundraiser for A Child's Place. A Child's Place is a non-profit childcare and educational organization with a long tradition in the greater Westport community. Read More