Distributing Audio in Every Room of Your House

February 26th, 2007 |
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Convenience. That’s the big benefit of having all your music and video entertainment at your fingertips. Control4‘s Ed Ryan and Jeff Thomas discuss the benefits of every-room entertainment with Brad Baldwin. Using something called “scenes,” Control4 allows you to integrate audio and video with your lighting and more to create moods and sound in different rooms in your home. And with all your music available with a quick tap on your visual remote that shows album art, allows for playlists, and offers searching, finding the right song is more fun than ever.

This podcast is brought to you by Rocky Mountain Voices.

Transcript:

Host: Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

Guest: Ed Ryan – Control4

Guest: Jeff Thomas – Control4

Announcer

This is Rocky Mountain Voices, powered by PodTech.

Speaker – Control4

Our baby-sitter when the kid watch the kids we point it to my four year old son and say he can show you how to do all this because he can, he has got the remote, he knows how to do everything, he knows how to listen to music, he knows how to pick movie he wants, very easy and gone are the days of wiping the pop tart frosting off the DVDs.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

This is Brad Baldwin from Rocky Mountain Voices, I am here today with Ed Ryan and Jeff Thomas from Control4, welcome to the podcast today.

Speaker – Control4

Thank you.

Speaker – Control4

Glad to be here.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

Today I thought it would be fun if we could learn a little bit more about distributed audio, fact home automation one of the things, get to have is a lot better access to digital content and I wanted to hear a little bit about your approach to that and tell us a little bit about how Control4 works with audio in the home?

Speaker – Control4

Well, there are two major ways to do distributed audio, one is the traditional way, which we call analog, where you have your sources in the central place, say you have a tape deck or a CD changer or something and then you have an amplifier and you home run, what we call home run, running all the speaker wire from the different rooms, all down into that one central amp, and we offer that as well, but with the iPod and the digital revolution of music with MP3s and all the digital formats, people have started wanting to distribute that content across, and being digital it gives us a lot of ways to do that. We can actually use a standard PC network, an Ethernet network, wirelessly or wired and capture all those sources be there on your PCs, stored on a hard drive somewhere, or our products. We have a media controller that store content and you can play that throughout the home as well. So, those are the two major ways to it and we support both those ways, or a combination of both of those ways.

Speaker – Control4

An advantage to that also is that when you go in and build the home you can run wires all over. After the home is build, you are stuck you did not run the wires unless you love the reducing rock work and so now I can go and I can now add speakers to the room and I can have the same audio all throughout the house using the Control4 products without having to diminish the rock work I can add — have a full house sound system and listen to my digital music throughout the house in any room.

Speaker – Control4

One of the cool things for me personally that journey I went through with digital music I had all my music on vinyl and then I bought all new CDs and so when the iPod started coming along and do they play music off your PC. I had this thing I was going to rip all my CDs on to the PC and have it on my iPod and one of the things I discovered was that I can only listen to that music when I had my iPod or if I am in my in my office with my PC and the speakers coming on my PC were not the greatest, if I really wanted to listen to music on my stereo and have some nice speakers and a better sound I was trapped, I could not do that and one of the cool things about digital music and distributed digital music in your home, is that it unlocks all that music off your PC, or your laptop, or your iPod and it makes it accessible to you all throughout your home.

So, with our products, you can actually pump that music through your very expensive surround system, through all seven speakers. You can have it simultaneously placed throughout all the rooms in your house, so when you are walking through your house, you are just enveloped in music. That was one of the coolest experiences when I put distributed audio into my house. It is not just coming out of that boombox or of that stereo, it just envelops you wherever you are in the home. So, it is really a life style enhancement that people do not realize until you really experience it.

Speaker – Control4

Yeah, I was think about one of my favorite from Men in Black, where Agent walks through and says, ‘Looks like I am going to have to buy the light (Inaudible) again.” This once you get it in a digital format; you are going to be able to use it over and over again without having to worry about anther format coming out.

Speaker – Control4

Yeah, losing it, or having it scratched, not having it where you want, oh crap that CD is in my car I wanted to listen to it in my house. You have access to your music wherever you are in the house. That other that we have is media scenes, which is a really cool thing.

Speaker – Control4

Right, it allows to — so you have got all these zones in your house, these audio zones, one in the master bedroom, one in the kids bedroom, one in the den and it is very easy using media scenes, using the Control4 software and the User Interface to go and say, “I want to listen to Ed’s favorite John Denver son in the den and then I can go up to master bedroom and I can say, “Oh you know what I want to listen to it here,” why do not I just pump this through the whole house. It is very easy to do for many user interfaces, any Control4 user interface in the house.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

The interface to get to that audio, in today’s world little tiny remote controls and pushing the right buttons and all those kinds of things and then actually to find the music that you want to listen to. I love the way that iTunes has kind of put all pictures up of all my albums, which is the old vinyl thing that. We used to love looking at those big vinyl albums because it had such cool pictures on it.

Speaker – Control4

That’s true that was part of it.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

Tell about the UI experience and actually selection and choosing of the music?

Speaker – Control4

Well, one of the things that we have discovered because we have a done a lot research on UI, is that it really is a personal preference kind of thing. You talk about the remote, some people like to have a device small enough they can put in their pocket if they are walking around the house, they want to be able adjust volume, or switch songs, or whatever. Other people like something big in visual and graphic and what Control4 offers is a whole range of User Interfaces that are already consistent and how you interact with them. So, you do not really need to learn the remote versus a 10 inch touch panel that is in wall, or a four-and-half inch touch panel it is on you r desk or your night stand.

So, we offer a variety of interfaces that are very consistent and we do all the things that you have talked about, we have access to your entire catalogue of music, you can search by artist, by album, by cover art, by genre, and you get to put all this information in, or adjust it, if you want to. So, it really gives you the ability to have full control of your music with the kind of device that you personally are interested in using and comfortable using.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

You got kinds different age, teen teenagers, one is a rap lover, one is a classic rock lover, you personally are a classical music lover, can I control that music in different rooms in my house?

Speaker – Control4

It is very easy to do, I put this in each of my boy’s rooms and I found that — they are younger kids I did not know what kind of music they would like and I found that I had started hearing music from each of the rooms and what they were doing is the younger ones would recognize the picture of the cover art from the CD case on the User Interface and they pick it that way and choose the music. So, it is very easy for them, even the ones that do not read can actually navigate through pretty easily and listen to their favorite music. So, it just allows you to listen to music in any room, so much easier for everybody in the family.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

You have talked about kids who cannot read, my kids cannot read are more interested in watching DVDs or movies; does this same thing work with the visual element, the DVDs?

Speaker – Control4

Oh yeah. So, I have three-year-old so and he can se the system, he knows to press the red 4 on the remote and the video devices turn on and then he goes and he navigates and he can find all of his movies Toy Story, Curious Gorge, or whatever he has just by looking at the cover art and he can tell, which one it is and so he has access to the entire library of videos that we have and it is convenient because you do not have to go down and keep changing for him or and then he feels pretty proud to able to do it himself.

Speaker – Control4

That is how we told our baby-sitter when the kid watched the kids, we are going out of town for the weekend. We said, we pointed to my four-year-old son and said, “He can show you how to do all this,” because he can, he has got the remote, he know how to do everything, how to listen music, he know how to pick that movie he wants, it is very easy and gone are the days of wiping the pop tart frosting DVDs because you can put them all the 400 disc DVD changer, they are all catalogued, they are all presented on the screen for selection and it is just a very easy system, very convenient system to use for watching movies.

Speaker – Control4

One of the nice things is the paradigm for music and DVDs is identical, you can search music by artist, you search …

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

Oh so you can search, you do not have to just browse.

Speaker – Control4

Yeah absolutely. So, you can actually even on the remote, you can use the number keys to correspond to letters like you have on your phone keypad and you can just jump down to what ever artist or what ever title that you want, just cut right to it.

Speaker – Control4

If you just want to do a shuffle mix, like you have been doing on your iPod, able to do that.

Speaker – Control4

Yeah. The other cool thing with the audio, so we do all that same things that most distributed audio systems do, but you also get to integrate it with your automation system. So, for example, when the door bell rings you can have it play something different or make it part of wake-up scenes, when you wake up in the morning, have certain music play. You can program keypad buttons. My wife and I listen to different kinds of music. So, we have different keypad buttons, where she has got a playlist set up with the majority of music that she has and we need to press up buttons it joins the kitchen, the laundry room, our living room together into one zone using the media scene and then her playlist plays in shuffle, random shuffle mode.

So, whenever she feels like listen to music, she just presses one button. Now, for me I have a different button right underneath and if I want to use my music I do that. So, you can automate everything together into the home automation system. So, it is not just the distributed music system.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

You can customize and personalize this quite a bit, right?

Speaker – Control4

Absolutely.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

How hard is that the you required dealer for that, or is there any feedback I can put into it?

Speaker – Control4

The system allows a lot of configuration, a dealer can set it up to do basically anything that they want, the users experiences is more personalized by, how they use this system, in other words we talked about how you access music. You can access music different ways, if you are a visual person you want to look at cover art. You may like to search your music based on album name, you may like to search your music based on artist name, people like it — so, people do different things and so it is personalized in both ways. It can be personalized upon configuration and personalize in use.

Speaker – Control4

With our systems we give away or comes with system a composer, a media addition product, which really allows you to manage your music library and create new genres, sort things, edit the information about the metadata, the information about the new CDs that you put in or the new digital music, you can scan that. We go out to the Internet; we pull down all that information the cover art, information about the album. So, all kind of information you would read on the album cover now is part of the system. So, the user has the ability to customize that to whatever extent that they want.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

Let us talk for a moment at the end here about life style, I mean what does this really mean for the mother with children or the senior couple that is in their final dream home, what does this do for the people?

Speaker – Control4

To me it was really simple; it just made listening to music so much more enjoyable and you do it a lot more because it is just really easy. We have it now wherever we are in the house. When we had the dinner party the other night and put on Phantom of the Opera kind of in the background, it is a little classical music. We just would not do things before if you had to find the CD, put it in the boombox whatever, it is just so convenient, it incorporates music into your life style and you just use it so much more and if you enjoy music then you will be amazed that what a change this brings.

Speaker – Control4

And what we found the same thing, we listen to lot more music in the house, but in addition to that the other nice advantage is control. In our kitchen we have joint kitchen family room and the kids run into the family room, turn the TV on before school, we say, “No you got to come over and eat breakfast,” and they are over there goofing off, I just reach over and I press pause on the touch screen, pauses the DVR in the family room, they look at me, “Okay what now it is time to eat breakfast, you can go back and watch that later.” So, just at your fingertips you are able to adjust lights, you are able to adjust the volume, you are able to mute your music, it is just very easy to use and gives control to all these things in your house in a very easy environment.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

So, it feels like it is really create a lot of mood in the home, it creates a lot of comfort, warmth, unless you want to list to some Bon Jovi like me then it kind of it is the hair down little bit or whatever it might be, so really I guess it makes your home much more friendly, much more fun.

Speaker – Control4

Yes a lot more fun and convenient too, having access to your entire music library at the touch of a finger, be able to sort through search as opposed to having to go out and find it and fumble around with CDs or whatever, it is just so much more convenient. So you use it more.

Speaker – Control4

It really is effortless entertainment, it is so easy to use everywhere and controls the lights. I walk up stairs, I hit one button all the light go off, make sure my TV is off everything, you have everything at your fingertips and it just makes life so much easier.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

Everyday easy. Well, it sounds like we have learned a lot about the distributed audio in the home again you have made envious I have got to talk to you some pricing, got to get this home automation. I could see my wife, she loves music, but I will tell you the biggest challenge is getting to the CD open it up, put it into the tray and then it is — 60 minutes later it is time for another one, what a hassle. So, I really like what you are doing.

Speaker – Control4

And once have it you would not live without it.

Brad Baldwin – Rocky Mountain Voices

I am going to have to chat with you a little bit later at. Thank you guys, appreciate the feedback, it has been exciting.

Speaker – Control4

Great, it is fun to talk about

Announcer

This has been a Rocky Mountain Voices podcast; visit us on the Internet at www.rockymountainvoices.com.

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