THIS FEATURE IS FROM THE MOST RECENT ISSUE OF HOME SMART HOME MAGAZINE.
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First the bad news: Chances are, you could be getting a LOT more out of your home entertainment system. The good news? Today’s advances in AV will add some snap, sizzle, and pop to your movies and music, programs and sports, dinner parties and bashes. Get ready to boost the quality and resolution of your home AV and almost blow the ceiling off of your entertaining limitations.

GO 4K ULTRA

Want to see stunning and crisp you-are-there realism, from nature scenes to sports? Ultra HD—also known as “4K” because it delivers four times the resolution (in total pixels) of “full HD” 1080p— is available in flat-panel TVs, super-thin OLED TVs, projectors for home theater, and even video distribution systems for the whole house. (Control4 can deliver Ultra HD to up to 10 locations with it’s leaf branded 4K video distribution systems.) Here’s a nifty tip: 4K projectors with motorized lenses “shift and zoom” can be used to zoom in and fill a super-wide CinemaScope 2.35:1 screen. Just program your Control4 remote to use the lens memory on the projector, says Scott Varn of Harmony Interiors in Asheville, N.C. With the superior resolution of 4K, the zoomed image is still better than 1080p.

RAISE THE ROOF

The most exciting innovation to come to home theater in recent years is Dolby Atmos, which adds “height” effects to movie soundtracks. It seems to push the boundaries of a room skyward, so you can experience the sounds of a downpour in a tropical forest or airplanes whizzing by. Expect to witness more movies with height effects to take advantage of this. You’ll need an Atmos-capable audio processor or receiver, and additional ceiling speakers or those that bounce the sound off the ceiling for effects. And don’t forget a control system with an appropriate ‘Wow!’ button to floor your friends.

HIGHER FIDELITY

If you love hosting dinner and pool parties, try serving up your favorite tunes with high-quality, digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that brings out the richness and nuances in your music. Audiophiles love the dramatically improved sounds from quality DACs, which can vastly enhance streamed audio from services like Pandora, Rhapsody, SiriusXM, Slacker, Songza, Spotify, Tidal, and Beats (now owned by Apple Music)—all of which are supported by the latest Control4® Operating System, as well as music systems from Autonomic, Fusion Research, Sonos, and Video Storm.

LIGHTEN UP

Lighting is the finishing touch to a well-designed entertainment space, yet a lot of home theaters have controls with lighting presets that are either all on or all off. You want something in between if you’re going to get up in the middle of the movie. Add presets to bring LED rope or string lights on stairs or baseboards to a low level, allowing viewers to see where they’re going. Also include an entry mode that shows off your cool space, the wall art, interesting pieces and collections. And don’t forget a full-brightness cleaning mode for later.

HI-RES LOVER

Want to love music again? Last year wireless music system giant Sonos introduced “high-definition” audio from Deezer (it is CD-quality, which is better than most compressed music streaming). And now more and more high-resolution audio (better than CD quality) is available. You’ll need something that can play one of the “lossless” formats like FLAC, WAV, DSD and AIFF. Hi-res players are available, and you can choose from plenty of hi-res services including HDTracks, Naim, Linn, Tidal, Bowers & Wilkins Society of Sound, Neil Young’s PonoMusic, Technics Tracks, Super HiRez, Pro Studio Master, iTrax, Native DSD Music and more.