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7 Great Christmas Ideas for 2017

#7: Headphones!

7 Great Christmas Ideas for 2017

Christmas is right around the corner, and now its time for everyone’s favorite brain teaser…What to put under the tree this year? Of course you can go to the old standbys, but why not make this year different - something you will be able to enjoy over and over again for years to come? To this end, here are some suggestions (in no particular order) that might make this Christmas season stand out among the memories you and your family are building together.

#7 Headphones!
In a world where everyone’s iPhone ear-buds are hanging out of their back pocket, its easy to forget that there was a time when manufacturers strove to make headphones that provided a serene audio experience you could lose yourself it, and ALSO comfortable to wear. Well, KEF- Porsche Design Labs still holds to those values and makes a complete line of such high quality headphones, and we have taken a look at some of them for your benefit.

KEF - Porsche Design Labs Motion One Earbuds
Today, we want to bring our music with us everywhere. On a quick trip to the store, jogging through the neighborhood, on the daily commute, even on long distance family vacations. But just because we are on the go, doesn’t mean that we want to sacrifice high fidelity sound. The KEF Motion One Earbuds offer all of this in a tiny, comfortable to wear, high-style package that you will be proud to wear.

To achieve this masterpiece of miniaturization, KEF combines precision engineering with high-grade materials. The stylish silicone neckband allows for delivery of exactly the audio balance you are looking for, whether its rich base, precision treble, or wide open midtones. The high-powered embedded antenna ensures accurate transmission of every digital sound.

You can broadcast from your smartphone, tablet, or computer to these headphones via Bluetooth Qualcom aptX, or connect directly with the included high-quality wired connection. Afraid of getting caught in the rain while jogging? No problem. The KEF Motion One earbuds are certified water resistant. We aren’t saying to go swimming in them, but getting rained on or splashed with water won’t cause any problems.

The advantages of these beauties over other earbuds on the market are substantial and complete - going all the way down to storage and ergonomics. They have a pivoting earpiece that helps you comfortably move with the earbuds in, and the backs of the buds are magnetized so they will stick together when not in use for easy storage. The shells are ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in the ears so that the wearer may actually forget they are wearing them after a while. This is due to the ultra-soft tipped silicone covers embedded on the tips of each piece.

These headphones are powered, so they will need to recharge, but they can offer up to 10 hours of play time between charges. Charging can be performed through any USB port, and can be performed while in operation if you wish.

These handy items can work as a wrapped gift or a stocking stuffer, depending on your mode of operation. They may be the last set of headphones you every need. They have set the standard for premium in-ear headphones in 2017, winning the RedDot Design Award, and earning the moniker of “Flawless” from BBC Music Magazine.


KEF - Porsche Design Labs Space One Headphones
First of all, lets get past the initial impressions. These Headphones just look cool. Sort of like the kind of headphones you would expect a Bond villain to wear. But despite their appearance, the Space One headphones are no movie prop. They really work. KEF uses a specially tuned Active Noice Cancellation process that eliminates external noise without compromising the quality or detail of the audio being delivered.

The crispness and vibrance of the sound that comes through is truly amazing delivering solid, spacious, and full sound in every register. If you close your eyes, you might think you are listening to live music - if it weren’t for the lack of mistakes being made by the band. The actual ear cups are remarkably comfortable using a soft, semi-porous memory foam that somehow doesn’t have the usual “gradual heating” effect that is usually associated with memory foam.

The key to the success of these spot-on headphones is the engineering. Each sports a 20mm neodymium magnet, a 40mm precision tuned driver, and a light weight CCAW voice coil for optimum performance. What does all that mean to you when you sit back on the couch to listen? It means you are going to get the full range of sound that was recorded when you plug in!

Unlike other active noise cancelling headphones, the Space One allows the user to switch off that function in the event that you might need to actually hear things going on around you. Of course, to achieve all of this, the phones need to be powered, and this is accomplished in the Space One with one triple A battery. All in all, this is a first class set of powered headphones that would be at home in any music studio in the world.

M100 View 7 smallKEF - Porsche Design Labs M100 Earphones
So, we led off with the Motion One earbuds, but what if you want that kind of high fidelity sound without spending quite as much money? What if you don’t need a neckband, you are just looking to replace the buds that came with your smartphone or laptop? In this case, you might want to look at KEF’s M100 Hi-Fi Earphones.

These earphones are designed with all the same attention to detail and precision audio technology as the Motion One, but without some of the extra features. The M100 gives a full range of high resolution sound, with a fuller, crisper, and accurate response that is expected to come from the live performance.

From a style standpoint, they are sleek and elegant, and come in a variety of colors (blue, orange, black, and white-with-champagne-highlights). The cord is plenty long enough to get the job done (1.3m) and of course, these earphones are unpowered for maximum portability.

Ergonomically speaking these are a great deal more comfortable than the standard iPhone headphones, and while they are lacking some of the Motion One’s features (no pivoting earpiece for instance), at the price, there might not be a better set of headphones on the market.

So in short, our first recommendation for a great 2017 Christmas Present, is a nice set of KEF Headphones.

Whole House Lighting Control

Whole House Lighting Control

The holidays are upon us - and that means lots of get togethers with family and friends. It takes time and dedication to present your home in its best light. Inside and outside, you must get every dimmer set just perfectly. Once you have it right, you take a picture so you can show people later how great it looked right before that party you threw that was such a success.

But then, normal life gets in the way and your home looks much more "lived in" for the rest of the year. But wouldn't it be great if you could save all those lighting settings and recapture them at will - with the touch of a single button? Even better - what if you could store dozens of such "scenes" or even hundreds of them and instantly switch between them?

The good news is, this capability is now available and at a surprisingly reasonable price. There are a number of companies that offer solutions in this market, ranging from simultaneous control of 50 to 10,000 devices. RTI, Lutron, Crestron, and the list goes on.

The market is moving at a blinding pace and keeping up with it is almost a full time job. For this reason, it is essential that you have a consultant on your side that can interpret your needs and apply them using the newest, most effective solution to your specific desires.

This amazing whole house automation may have started with lighting, but it certainly doesn't end there. Blinds, drapes, electronic fireplaces, audio systems, nearly anything with an on-off switch or dimmer can be automated and controlled remotely with a single touch. In fact, your "scenes" can be time-scheduled for even further control and automation! For those of us who are eco-conscious, these systems can be fitted with occupancy sensors so that unoccupied rooms will go dark - and instantly come back to the precision lighting plan for the scene selected once occupancy is detected.

Black Friday Sale!!!

Black Friday Sale!!!

(KEF Logo provided by brandsoftheworld.com under the creative commons license)

The holiday season is HERE! Celebrate Black Friday by scheduling your consultation today. Each consultation scheduled for Friday, November 24 through Friday, December 1st resulting in services sold of at least $1000 will receive a FREE pair of KEF Headphones.

Too Much To See on TV? Try Multi-Plexing!

Too Much To See on TV? Try Multi-Plexing!

QuadPlexerBowl season is almost here - not to mention the NFL season is heating up. So, what’s a guy supposed to do when there is more than one game on that you JUST - CAN’T - MISS?? You could always flip back and forth, use picture-in-picture, or move multiple TVs into the room. These are good work-arounds, but if we are being honest, life is too short for work-arounds. In 2017, there is no reason not to set up a quadplex so that you and your friends can watch 4 games at a time in vivid HD quality.

There are a lot of solutions to QuadPlexing today, and many are compatible with your typical home theater setup so you don’t have to choose between QuadPlexing and your crisp, clear surround sound. But choosing the right solution can be just as important as soundproofing your man-cave. Here are some things to look for.

The most important issue in QuadPlexing is resolution. There are a wide variety of low-end QuadPlexers that display at 1080p. At first glance one might think, “sure - I can live with that”. Don’t be fooled. 1080p is fine when you are watching a single screen, but remember, you are cutting that screen into 4 sections, making each section essentially half the resolution on both the X and Y axis. So if you select one of these low-end options, while in 4x mode, you will essentially be watching 540p resolution on each of your 4 screens. This is not ideal.

The better option is to select a solution including both a display and a QuadPlexer with resolution of at least 2160p (4k UHD). This way, each screen will be at true HD resolution.

When selecting TV products, many make the mistake of overlooking the audio aspect of their designed experience. When setting up your QuadPlexing solution, make sure you select an audio processor with enough audio channels to get the most out of your surround sound system. For instance, RGB Spectrum offers several QuadPlexing solutions that meet the desired video resolution, but only the QuadView UHD offers adequate audio support. It comes with 6 HDMI or DP embedded audio channels or 7 stereo 3.5mm analog channels. WyreStorm also offers a full line of excellent QuadPlexers with more than adequate audio support.

The control system, while of secondary importance, can make a big difference in the overall level of enjoyment. Try to select an option that has iPad control available. Ideally, you will want to establish control from a single device over the multiplexer, the TV, and your surround sound system. The iPad control option makes it easier to integrate the control of your theater lighting, and party-guest entry access system into your experience.

Invariably, you or one of your guests is going to make a run to the kitchen during the game, and if you are like many rabid football fans, the game will be on in the kitchen as well. Even a slightly noticeable latency can detract from the experience if the kitchen TV is a second or so ahead of the primary TV. It is essential that you keep your system latency down so that the reaction from the guest on the food run, or the instance score notification you get on your smartphone doesn’t ruin the moment at a crucial time during the game!


Of course, it doesn’t matter what resolution your QuadPlexer is if your actual display television is limited. Make sure your actual display is large enough for everyone in the room to see it clearly, and that your display’s resolution is high enough that its not a limiting factor. While this article is not about Curved tvs vs Flat tvs, for this application, a larger, higher resolution Flat TV is a better option than a curved screen with a potentially lower resolution. This is because the function of the curved TV is to provide an enhanced viewing experience when taking in the entire screen at once. By definition, while viewing a Quad-Plexed screen you will be focussed on only a portion of the screen at a time, thus eliminating the advantage of the curved screen, especially if the screen is being viewed from a large number of different angles as is customary in a Super Bowl party, or while watching the SEC Championship or National Championship for that matter!

All in all the most important thing is that your integration experts are well versed in all aspects of the technologies you are installing. This way, they will be able to answer all your questions and ensure that all of your technologies are functioning as smoothly as possible together.

TAGS: Home Theater | Multiplexing | Picture in Picture | Quadplex | Surround Sound