Have Your Surround Sound and Hide it Too

Everyone loves the benefit of surround sound but hates the cluttered sight of wires, lights and knobs. Here’s how you can streamline your surround sound without sacrificing your decor.

I, too, have had to fight my wife on many occasions to get my way with electronics in the house… I don’t always win either! However, one of the biggest questions that comes up regularly is “what will it look like?” My wife hates the look of electronics in general—although she is fine with the flat screen TV and paintable in-wall speakers (thankfully) because they are minimal and don’t have any lights, knobs or visible wires.

Whether you are planning a surround sound entertainment system in the family room or somewhere else in the house, there is no reason why you have to see the electronic components. The only piece of equipment you physically need to touch these days is either the Blu-Ray player to load a disc into the machine or possibly a video gaming system. These couple of items could stay local with HDMI cables, which can be hidden in a cabinet or a game system, which could be put away elsewhere after use.

So what you can do for the rest of the AV electronic junk is plan for either a small rack to house the equipment in a different room entirely (basement, closet, etc.), or you can have the equipment behind custom cabinetry doors. You will need to consider adequate ventilation to allow the components to naturally vent and you will need to incorporate a radio frequency (RF) remote control system or an infrared (IR) repeater. Many of the popular universal styled remote control systems have these options available. My preference is the RF system as you don’t need to point the remote control at a device any longer, which is much more convenient. Most of us will point the remote control at the TV regardless as it just feels intuitive to do so.

If you are looking for the perfect handheld remote that can automate a simple surround sound system, maybe tie in some convenient lighting and temperature control and control your audio for that room, there is a remarkable new system from Control 4 that has just hit the market called the EA-1 bundle, which includes an EA-1 processor as well as its SR-260 handheld remote. Control 4 claims this system is “designed as the ideal starter system for an exceptional family room entertainment experience.” The system will give the homeowner the ability to not only remotely locate their components located behind doors or in another room, but also control everything in their system from an App on iOS devices, Android or PC. The EA-1 processor has a built-in audio server, too, with integrated high-resolution streaming music services including Airplay.

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