I am writing to ask for help with some questions I have relating to hiring a professional to install an AV system in my condo. (I hope I am posting in the correct forum.)
I live in Miami in a 2,000 square foot condo. The condo will be completely renovated. I would like to determine what type of AV system will be installed. I would like to make sure that the technology that is installed is reasonable and appropriate. I would like to know how I can find a qualified installer who does high quality work. I am willing to pay a reasonable price for expertise. I would like the pricing to be crystal clear and would like the installer be totally upfront about pricing. I do not want costs hidden inside of other costs and I would like pricing, where appropriate, to be unit pricing. I would like a professional who understands newer technologies like wireless. Where possible and appropriate, I would prefer that wireless connectivity be used. Should I be hiring someone to determine what I need and write the specs and then bid it out? Or should I find a company to handle all phases of the process? My career is in technology and I am very knowledgeable about wiring for computer networks, servers, routers, computers, etc. However, my knowledge of audio-visual is limited.
Thank you very much. I appreciate any advice that anyone is willing to provide.
I have tried to include as much detail as I can so I apologize in advance for the excessive amount of text.
We would like to have audio installed through the apartment.
-- We currently have a Niles ZR8630-AV multizone receiver with keypads installed throughout the apartment. This system was installed about ten years ago. We have never really used it because the only thing that works at this point is the sound of radio stations and TV channels. When it was first installed, it was connected to a CD player, but then came the iPod and we stopped buying CDs.
-- We would like to be able to play music stored on my computer over the home audio system. I would like to be able to hear the music in only one room or in all rooms depending on the situation\who is listening.
-- We would like to be able to connect a iPhone or iPod and play music from the iPhone over the home audio system. This feature would probably be used when friends come over and want to listen to music that they have on their iPhones. When we are here, would probably want to play music that is in iTunes on our iMac computer.
-- We would like to be able to hear the TV over the audio system so that we can hear what is happening on a show if we are walking around. This is not a critical thing, but a nice to have.
-- We would like to be able to play music using wireless speaker(s) on the balcony when we have parties. We do not want to run any cabling to the balcony.
-- The current speakers are big rectangles mounted high on the walls. In the bathrooms, the speakers are in the ceiling. There are too many speakers in the walls. For example, there are eight speakers in a room that is about 25 x 17.
-- Ideally, we would use wireless speakers in the house so we do not have to worry about wiring.
-- We would like to have speakers that can be used to listen to classical music. These speakers would, I assume, need to be at ear level rather than high in the walls. In terms of our floor plan, finding a place to install speakers at ear level in front of the sofas will be a challenge. I need advice about this. We may have to forgo this idea of have the interior designer consider some changes.
I work in the technology field and, years ago, when we had the first system installed, I had the installers run coax to almost every room and speaker cable everywhere. There is also Cat5e run to about six or seven points in the apartment. This cabling was done by an installer recommended by a friend and was put in conduit because the walls were existing. The amount of wiring has long been a sore spot with my partner who, about once a year, mentions that we paid thousand of dollars just for wiring. Yet, we have no ability to play music when people come over.
-- Right now, we only have one television. Tt is in the living room mounted on a wall. In the new design, there will be a TV in a cabinet in the middle of the room. The TV will raise\lower using a motor mechanism. Originally, we were going to have the TV swivel because there will be a sofas on either side of the room and we would like to be able to watch TV from either sofa. Now we think that we would like two TVs installed on the lift, back-to-back ,so that we could watch television from both sofas at once. The TVs would both be displaying the same program.
-- In the second bedroom, which will be used an office and guest bedroom, I would like to have the iMac serve as a television. Guests rarely stay here so I don't want to junk up the room with a TV so I hope that TV can be watched using the iMac. If this is a problem, we will probably just drop the idea of a TV in this room.
-- We have a Tivo. The model is called a Premiere. In the new design, I would like the TV to push the picture to both of the television in the living room at the same time. (Is this possible?)
-- Our current TV is a Sony 46" LCD flatscreen that we bought years ago. We will be replacing this with new technology.
-- We have the first model of Blu-Ray player that Sony made, a model BDP-S1. I have updated the firmware a few times over the years, but it works fine. Because it was the first Blu-Ray model ever, I am sort of attached to it. However, I am sure the newer models are better so I will need to let go...
-- We are not going to install a TV in the bedroom but we would like the wall cabled for possible future use. We just don't watch TV in the bedroom and see no reason to install a TV there.
We have an old inexpensive Sony surround sound receiver, model STR DE675. We never use it. Because we live in a condo, we think that surround sound would make too much bass noise and perhaps bother people downstairs. We don't have bass speakers now so we have no basis for the idea that the bass would penetrate the floors, but we think it might. We are actually ripping out our marble floor and putting in a new wood floor. There will be new sound installation so maybe that would prevent bass being a problem. However, in that in the new design our sofas will be right against the wall, we won't have a way to put rear speakers behind us anyway so I don't think we can have surround sound even is we wanted it. Actually, the idea of surround sound is not something we even care about. But we would like to make sure that we can clearly hear people speaking when we are watching movies. Right now, the Sony TV sometimes makes it a little hard to hear people talking in some movies and I have to adjust the sound settings. Even then, speaking voices are not crystal clear. Hopefully, the new televisions will solve this issue.
-- The lighting will need a control system. We have a lighting designer who has suggested that we use Lutron. (Is Lutron the way to go?) The lighting designer can handle getting someone to design the lighting control. I cannot imagine lighting control will be that complicated because we only have a 2,000 square foot condo.
-- We would like the blinds in the main area of the house to open and close at preset times and\or based on sensing the amount of sunlight entering the apartment. Most of areas of the apartment get no direct sunlight except in winter. However, the walls are basically all windows so the light outside makes it feel warm sometimes during the day if one is sitting reading etc. It is odd actually. The temperature in the house can be fine on the thermostat, but the light makes it feel warm. Is there any Lutron sensor than can sense the heat that light creates rather than just the light? Maybe we just need to tind the windows more than the tint that came with the hurricane doors.
-- We would like the thermostat to be linked to be linked to the lighting system so that at a certain time of day, the lights can go to certain levels and the temperature can change. For example, at about 11:00, the thermostat would drop from 75 degrees to 67 degrees and most of the lights would turn off or dim significantly to make use start winding down to go to sleep. Then in the morning, the lights come on in the kitchen and the temperature goes back up to 75.