The holidays will arrive in no time at all, and we’ll be entertaining family and friends. Is your home ready? We love the festive spirit of the season here at AVD, and recommend two ways to prepare your home and welcome guests: set the mood with music and lighting.
The Sounds of Music
Music is a must for any kind of entertaining, and especially so at the holidays. With multiple streaming music services and many state-of-the-art products available, any and all musical tastes are easily shared with family and friends. There are so many services and platforms on which to curate playlists or simply listen to your holiday favorites. We like TuneIn for local radio broadcast stations via the Internet. We also like the iHeart Radio app. Perennial favorite Pandora was one of the early streaming music providers, which uses a complex algorithm to mix your favorite songs- essentially being your personal DJ. We enjoy Slacker Radio for a similar experience – all free but you can upgrade to more robust paid versions. Of course we’re fans of subscription-based Spotify and Tidal that give users access to millions of songs on-demand via their digital services, along with curated playlists.
What we like about Tidal is the option of a high-resolution audio subscription that works well with our compatible high definition audio products. These will bring you Destiny’s Child singing “Apple Pie A La Mode,” Gene Autry singing “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the Trans-Siberian Orchestra playing “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo,” or Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukkah Song” in a clarity not experienced previously. Most any song can be added to your streaming playlist, all you need to use is your imagination.
We know these services and platforms can be confusing, which is why our expert design team can guide you through the myriad of choices. We will make recommendations based on your objectives and balanced against your budget. All platforms and services work with many products, but we have our favorites, and give priority to best-in-class products that offer ease-of-use and excellent performance. And, like high definition video products (think 4K televisions), music technology keeps pushing the envelope for the best sound possible.
We have something for every audiophile at all different price points. Right now we are excited about the BlueSound brand for high resolution audio. If you haven’t invested in a system that works throughout your entire residence and you’re looking for something you can move from room to room (or house to house), check out the Pulse2. The sound is unlike anything at the price point, and you will enjoy the the easy interface to set up music streaming services and playlists, too.
The Delight of Lighting
What is worse than walking into a too-bright room during a dinner party or one that is so dark you’re not sure if you’re eating off your plate or your neighbor’s! Getting just the right ambiance for your guests can be QED with proper lighting tips, techniques and technology. So we turned to one of our expert consultants, Nancy Goldstein, Principal at Light Positive, an award-winning lighting design firm.
“Setting the mood for the holidays has become a bit more challenging since the advent of LED lighting sources. Most LED bulbs and fixtures don’t get warmer in color as they dim down. After thousands of years of firelight, candlelight, gaslight, and incandescent light sources, our collective unconscious still associates warmth of lighting with that sense of coziness and intimacy,” Goldstein says. “Use candles and a fire in the hearth to create that comfortable glow for your guests during the holidays, and don’t forget to include a pre-set “Entertaining” scene in the programming of your lighting control system that will set all other lighting to a complementary level.”
Our design and installation team at AVD recommends lighting control systems for convenience and safety, whether creating pre-set lighting scenes as mentioned by Nancy Goldstein or for lighting walkways and stairs for safety and security.
“Lutron HomeWorks is the state-of-the-art standard for all new construction projects. It’s a hard-wired system, so it’s the right one to choose when walls and ceilings are open and wiring can be run easily between lighting loads all over the house and dimmer racks in the mechanical room,” explains Goldstein. “A renovation project may not allow for this kind of access, but Lutron’s wireless RA2 will give you the most functionality without tearing down the house! Both systems have excellent interfaces for smartphones and tablets, making it super easy for homeowners to choose from scenes that the programmer has created for them, or to tweak those scenes to their hearts’ content. Either of these systems will appeal to both “non-technical” folks who are looking for simple, user-friendly lighting and “geeky” end users who love to play with the technology of a robust control system. Anyone can get holiday lighting just right, on demand and at the touch of a button or tap of a finger. Plus, when a house has a Lutron control system, exterior and landscape lighting can be programmed to turn on automatically at dusk every day. Your house will always be inviting to guests while deterring any unwelcome visitors.”
We couldn’t say it better ourselves! Audio Video Design also provides other lighting control systems that have their own positive feature sets.
Combining high tech solutions like lighting control systems with low-tech-feel-good and enduring fixes like candles and roaring fires in the hearth will ensure that your holiday entertaining is warm, secure and memorable.