Outdoor Entertainment Ideas for the Summer

Outdoor Entertainment Ideas for the Summer

Patio speakers
Outdoor Entertainment Ideas

Summer is right around the corner! Is your backyard and pool ready to entertain? Have you daydreamed about sitting on your back patio or relaxing in the pool, while listening to music, laughing, and enjoying quality time outdoors?  If you answered yes, then you aren’t the only one!  Outdoor entertainment is a big thing, and it certainly adds entertainment value to your home (not to mention the ‘cool’ factor with your friends and family!).  We have listed a few excellent outdoor entertainment ideas from the a/v world.

There are many options for outdoor entertainment, to satisfy any scope of entertainment desire from a simple pair of patio speakers to a full multi-speaker with subwoofer system. Let’s break it down…

  • Patio Speakers: These are mounted (on-wall or in-wall), typically, under the eave or arbor on the back patio. If you want to think outside the box, patio speakers can be mounted to a tree or anywhere you want to conceal the speakers. They are outdoor-rated, making them weather-proof. You can mount one pair of speakers, or as many as you want. So, have fun with it!
  • Mounted Patio TV: There are essentially two options: 1) Purchase an inexpensive TV (any size) and have it professionally mounted under a covered patio, such as an arbor that will protect it indirectly from the elements. It’s also a good idea to purchase a cover or box to house the TV. This helps with protecting it from moisture. 2) Purchase an all-weather outdoor TV, such as a Sunbrite. This TV is a true outdoor TV, created to be outdoors and withstand the elements of the weather year-round. It’s a more pricey option, but it’s a great option.
  • Rock and Planter Speakers:
    Rock speakers
    Rock Speaker

    Both are made to blend with your outdoor surroundings.

    planter speakers
    Planter Speaker


  • They produce excellent sound while blending in the landscape. There are seemingly endless options for rock and planter speakers. This is a really cool way to get the sound you want, and blending it with the yard.


Sonance SR1
Sonarray SR1 by Sonance Speaker System
  • Multi-Speaker System:  We have a great recommendation on this one. The Sonarray SR1 by Sonance system is incredible! It comes with 8 speakers and a subwoofer. This is the speaker system you want to get if you want some serious sound. Each speaker can be discretely placed throughout the yard and/or around the pool, including the sub. The sub needs to be buried for maximum bass quality. Check out the demo of this system.
Pool Speaker concealed


We could go on and on listing options. There are so many options, and it’s a lot of fun thinking about the possibilities! This list is a great start to brainstorming the outdoor entertainment ideas for your backyard and pool areas.

Contact CSAV today to install your outdoor entertainment oasis!

Best home theater company in Frisco, TX

Center Stage A/V
2831 Eldorado Pkwy.
Ste. 103-172
Frisco, TX 75033

Center Stage A/V services the northern Collin County, TX area: Frisco, Prosper, Celina, McKinney, Allen, Anna, Plano, Lucas, Savannah, Little Elm, Denton.

5.1 Surround Sound vs. 7.1 Surround Sound – What’s the Difference?

5.1 Surround Sound vs. 7.1 Surround Sound – What’s the Difference?

One question we are asked often is, what is the difference between 5.1 surround sound vs. 7.1 surround sound?  Let’s explore the differences between the two systems, both of which are great solutions to adding surround sound to your home.

5.1 Surround Sound System Overview
5.1 Surround Sound System
5.1 Surround Sound System

A 5.1 Surround Sound system includes the following equipment.

5 total speakers:

  • A pair in the front – one left speaker and one right speaker. These are typically in-wall speakers. The front speakers are primarily used for music and sound effects.
  • A center channel, which is the most important speaker you could have because it produces about 90% of the dialogue (sound). As the name of this speaker alludes to, it sits on the center of the console (or in-wall) since it produces the majority of the sound output.
  • A pair of surround (sides) – one left surround speaker and one right surround speaker, installed on the sides of the room (hence the name surround sound). The surround speakers are primarily used for music and sound effects, same as the front speakers.

A sub-woofer, which typically sits in the corner of room (back or front). The sub-woofer produces the low-frequency effects (LFE), which is most commonly known as the deep, base sounds coming from the show/movie being watched.  The best location for the sub-woofer is corner of the room,as it helps to reverberate the sound.

A receiver, which all components are connected to for running the system. Any basic receiver manufactured will support a 5.1 surround sound system.

All network TV stations are broadcast in 5.1, so anything produced for televsision will have the ability to be played through a 5.1 surround sound system.

7.1 Surround Sound System Overview
7.1 Surround Sound System
7.1 Surround Sound System

With a 7.1 surround sound system, there are 7 total speakers. The system is the same as the 5.1 system listed previously, with an additional two speakers.

The additional speakers are installed as two rear speakers, making it a 7.1 system (7 total speakers, 1 sub-woofer). This gives you a wider range of effects. The effects/sound coming from the surround (side) speakers, are the same effects/sounds that come through the rear speakers. Essentially, giving you a greater field of depth for those effects and sounds.

If you want to hear more base, then good news. You can add a second sub-woofer to a 7.1 system, and as a result, making it a 7.2 system (7 speakers, 2 subs).

The receiver for a 7.1 surround sound system will need to be different than the 5.1 system. The receiver will need to have inputs for 7 speakers. If you opt for a 7.2 system (2 subs), be sure to get a receiver that supports 7 speakers and 2 subs.

For a visual on the difference between a 5.1 surround sound vs. 7.1 surround sound system, check out this Dolby Labs link.

Both systems can be installed in a family room or media room. If you want to go really big with your speaker system, you can upgrade to Dolby Atmos 7.1.2 or Dolby Atmos 7.1.4. These put out some serious sound!

Best home theater installation Frisco, TX

Center Stage A/V
2831 Eldorado Pkwy.
Ste. 103-172
Frisco, TX 75033

Center Stage A/V services the northern Collin County, TX area: Frisco, Prosper, Celina, McKinney, Allen, Anna, Plano, Lucas, Savannah, Little Elm, Denton.

TVs at CES 2015 go beyond 4K

4K is already old hat. Rapidly falling prices are causing TV makers to push ever more elaborate features — that’s why Quantum Dots, HDR and curved, bendable and ultra-slim sets were so prominent this year.

Sarah Tew/CNET


LAS VEGAS — The marketing departments at major TV makers love their buzzwords, and none more than Samsung.

The world’s biggest TV maker and dominant force in 4K UHD sales bet big on a confusing array of new terms at CES 2015, beginning with S(don’t-call-me-Super)UHD. Other TV makers joined in too, adding HDR, pixel splitting and numerous other enhancements to their best TVs.

The reason is simple: 4K TVs are dropping to mainstream prices fast, so something else is needed to sell profitable, high-end TVs. Both Samsung and LG, the number two TV maker, introduced more lines of 4K TVs than 1080p TVs at the show, and Sony’s ratio of 4K to 1080p series was 4:1. The show’s big booths were packed with 4K sets, with very few 1080p models on hand.

Samsung SUHD vs. LG OLED

The latest front in the bitter corporate rivalry between Samsung and LG is new high-end TV tech. At CES Samsung introduced its “SUHD” line of LED LCDs in an attempt to compete against the picture quality supremacy of OLED, which delivers the best images we’ve ever tested.

SUHD picture enhancements include LEDs coated with Quantum Dots, a redesigned panel, improved LCD filters and, in the case of the flagship JS9500 series, full-array local dimming. They looked very good in person during a private room demo Samsung set up, but since they’re basically fancy LCDs I don’t think they’ll outperform OLED — although they’ll likely be significantly less expensive, especially the step-down JS9000 and JS8500, which use edge-lit local dimming.

LG’s OLED introductions were all 4K, and we expect them to continue to be exorbitantly expensive. The company is delivering 55-inch and 65-inch flat (as opposed to curved) screen models, a 77-inch flexible model, and will continue selling the 1080p 55EC9300 from last year. No pricing was announced, but I’m guessing the 55-inch sets cost around $4,000, and the 65-inchers $6,000, at launch in the US.

HDR: contrast vs. resolution

We’re much more excited about HDR (high dynamic range) TV tech than we ever were about 4K resolution. The most important picture quality factor is contrast — basically, the ability to produce dark blacks and bright whites — and HDR promises to improve contrast in both TVs and the content displayed on them.

Multiple companies, including Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, TCL and Philips are talking about HDR in their TVs, and even more exciting, Dolby and Netflix are talking about HDR content. It’ll be a few years before it becomes widely available, but in demos I saw it was the most exciting picture quality enhancement at the show. Check out our HDR roundup for more.

Sharp, for its part, was focused squarely on resolution with its Beyond 4K TV. For my part, I don’t think the extra subpixels will make much visible difference.

More curved vs. more flat

Samsung says its curved TVs are extremely popular, despite the troubles we’ve noted in testing. So the company doubled down in 2015, introducing four series of curved 4K UHD sets. Beyond LG’s OLEDs, however, no other TV maker is selling curved TVs in the US.

Instead, Sony, LG and Sharp all touted flatter TVs. The Sony X900C is the world’s thinnest LCD at 0.2 inches (5mm) deep, making it thinner than your phone. Sharp will sell a similarly slim set later in the year, and LG’s best new LED LCD is almost as thin as its OLEDs.

p1000994.jpgDavid Katzmaier

Smart TVs: Homebrew vs. Roku and Google

Samsung and LG stuck to their guns in introducing new versions of their homebrew smart operating systems. LG’s Web OS 2.0 largely looks the same as the original, but it’s supposedly faster and offers more customization. Tizen is the name for Samsung’s new system, and it has a new interface, faster response time and of course a crazy new name. Samsung touts its open-source nature, but I’d be surprised if a flood of third-party developers jumped on board.

Google’s Android TV is open-source too, and in 2015 two TV makers, Sony and Sharp, embraced it over their own homebrew systems. To be fair Sharp’s approach is more of a hybrid between its old smart TV suite, with Android TV couched as one option among many. I like Sony’s approach better, however. It scrapped its old smart TV suite completely and put Android TV front and center.

Meanwhile Roku, our favorite smart TV system of them all, announced a couple of new partners in Haier and Insignia, an expanded lineup of TCL sets, and the beginnings of a plan for 4K.



Coming Soon: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Panasonic introduces first 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player while Blu-ray Disc Association offers more details on the format at 2015 International CES.


Ultra HD TVs are growing in popularly and declining in price, leading to near certainty that 4K will be the standard in TVs (at least in sizes 50 inches and above) over the next few years. However, one of the specters that’s been looming over that success has been content.

Ultra HD movies and TVs shows are now available from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, with more video streaming options coming online over the next few months, but many enthusiasts feel that streamed 4K is still inferior to a well-mastered 1080p Blu-ray disc. Viewers who want the best for their Ultra HD TV are clamoring for a better Ultra HD source.

Coming to the rescue is Ultra HD Blu-ray. Yes, that’s the newly official name of the 4K disc format, said Blu-ray Disc Association Global Promotions Committee Chair Victor Matsuda (who is also the vice president of Sony’s Blu-ray Disc Group) during an interview at the 2015 International CES.

Matsuda said that licensing for the format will begin mid-2015 and he expects there will be consumer products by the end of this year. Earlier this week at CES Panasonic showed a prototype of an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, though it wasn’t showing any content at the time. So far, Panasonic has been the only company to publicly show support for the format, but Matsuda said that he expects all the standard companies to come out with product (which of course means Sony as well).

Related: Panasonic’s New 4K Ultra HD TVs Get Control4 SDDP for Integration

Beyond Ultra HD resolution (3,840 x 2,160 at 60fps), the new Ultra HD Blu-ray will support high dynamic range and REC 2020 color space and 10-bit color depth. Matsuda said that HDR is a very significant technology for the new format and one that consumers will immediately see the value of. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will include HDR, as not all movies recorded in 4K are mastered with HDR, but the format does support it.

The new Ultra HD Blu-ray discs can hold up to 66 GB in dual-layer format, and 100 GB in triple layer format. The players will be backward compatible with 1080p Blu-ray discs, DVD, and CD. The players will include the HEVC (H.265) codec and support HDMI 1.2 and 2.0 (4K content will only be displayed if the player detects HDMI 2.0 in the connected TV).

While not specifically mentioned, the new format will likely support 3D and similar bonus and interactive features found on 1080p Blu-ray discs.

While some people may question the need for a new physical media, especially when more consumers are turning to streaming sources for their content, Matsuda pointed out that Blu-ray disc sales rose 5 percent in 2014. That’s a pretty clear indication that people who want the best-looking video on their large screens and TVs insist on a more reliable format. Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will deliver that for 4K TVs.

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