High-tech at home

New technology gives homeowners more choices for everything from automation to entertainment to outdoor lighting.

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Vineyard native Phil daRosa has been playing music for most of his life, and he’s been working with musicians, actors, and authors in his recording studio, the Print Shop (TPS) Audio, for the past 10 years. (Among others, Barack Obama recorded his audiobook at TPS). More recently, daRosa branched out to installing all types of technology systems through his business Dukes County Audio Visual, which he founded in 2018. He and his team are dedicated to finding custom solutions and installing and integrating tech systems for people with all size budgets.

DaRosa offers free consultation for anyone considering an upgrade or addition to their existing systems from audio-visual, Wi-Fi, or home automation to home entertainment, to outdoor lighting and audio, to security systems. With more and more people working from home, and part-time Vineyarders expanding their stays in their Island homes, the myriad of services that Dukes County Audio Visual offers are more in demand than ever.

“Since the pandemic, the market for smart home systems has expanded rapidly,” says daRosa. “I find myself doing a lot of home Wi-Fi installations, especially full-home wiring with ethernet cable connecting everything in the house.”

Although new construction projects and advanced upgrades are on the rise for daRosa, he is still committed to working with locals on smaller-scale projects. “We never want to stop catering to clients with modest needs,” he says.

“Our techs are all on-Island, and we receive many of our products before the major distributors and at a lower cost,” daRosa adds. “We offer deals that are competitive, or typically better than online retailers, and when you purchase from us, we provide local warranty support for most of the major brands. Because we are installing these systems every day, we are also happy to provide guidance about what products are working well, and what to avoid. We are always happy to talk to people about solutions for any of their home technology needs. Our goal is to really integrate the client’s lifestyle into how their home or business works for them.”

DaRosa recently answered a few questions for The Local.

What services do you offer?

Residential and commercial audio-visual systems’ design and installations (TVs, projectors, sound, etc.). We sell all the major brands, and usually at a lower rate than anywhere online. Home automation (Savant Systems), smart home technologies (Google, Alexa, JoshAi, etc.), whole-home audio and landscape audio/lighting, network solutions (EERO, Ruckus, Araknis, Ubiquiti and more), home entertainment and theater installations (projectors, screens, TVs), security systems, and we offer consulting for all of the above.

How has the pandemic affected your business?

We have seen a bit of an increase in demand for certain things such as Wi-Fi/internet upgrades, and entertainment systems — both big and small. I know the real estate market has gone through the roof this past year as well, so we’re certainly seeing more whole-home installations from start to finish … but a lot of people are simply staying here a bit longer in their M.V. homes than they normally would due to the pandemic, and some are seemingly staying through the winter as well, so many folks are working from home, which requires reliable and speedy internet connections.

What are some simple upgrades or additions that people on a budget can consider?

TVs are pretty inexpensive these days, so this is one area that’s an easy and affordable upgrade for a lot of folks. We’ve noticed that a lot of people only have their modem as the one point of access for Wi-Fi. It’s a pretty inexpensive upgrade to buy a couple extra access points to ensure you have great internet throughout your home. Sonos speakers are a great value for what you get. You can buy a $179 Sonos speaker and pop that in a room, and you’d be really surprised how good it sounds. Buy two for a stereo setup, and for $360 you have a nice-sounding zone in your house with easy access to any artist, song, album, or radio station.

If you’re building a house or renovating a room, consider running some speaker wire (and ethernet/cat6) while the walls are opened up. In-wall speakers can be really affordable, and then you just need a small investment to buy a component or two to power them. And with the cat6, you can do an infinite number of things, while sort of “future-proofing” your home as well.

There are tons of other options, but those are a few to consider.

What is some of the new technology that has become popular recently?

Home automation/smart home technology is getting more and more popular. With voice activation, and overall control of your audio, lighting, climate, and even energy management, there’s no real limit with how efficient you and your home can be in terms of accessing and initiating almost anything you can imagine within your home.

These types of things are extremely handy, especially the voice activation function. Turn single lights on and off, or groups of lights, start playing a playlist or artist’s album through your system, turn on your TV … It’s endless.

What are some of the more elaborate systems that people can install?

We are a Savant integrator (savant.com) and with the Savant Pro app (and a handful of components wired to your home network), you can manage your sound system, lighting, energy consumption, HVAC system, security, and more. You can even set ‘scenes’ (example: “Dinner Scene,” which turns the dining room lights to a certain dimness, starts your favorite Spotify pPlaylist, playing at the perfect volume, and turns the heat to your ideal temperature) by simply clicking one button, “Dinner Scene.” If you want to change something on that scene, just make your adjustments to the lighting or other elements, and simply click another button to save it.

That’s getting into the more high-end control of your home, but these systems can also be really simple, start small and affordable, and just control one or two functions, like sound and lights to start out. You can always expand it later. Most of the time we can beat online prices, and we will bring it right to your door when we install it, or drop-ship it right to you if it’s something you’d like to install yourself.

Is it hard to keep up with all of the technology?

Yes, actually it is. There are hundreds of brands we have access to, so it has really helped us to narrow in on the best products we’ve actually tried over the years, and stick with those rather than trying to keep up with everything in the industry. That would literally be impossible. The products we do lean toward are products that we’ve tried and tested against the other top lines in the industry. We can always offer lower-priced solutions as well, depending on budget, and we’re happy to offer other brands to clients if they have their own preferences, but the brands we tend to recommend are fantastic, and above all, they just work and work well.

Contact Dukes County Audio Visual by calling 413-265-5064, or email info@dukescountyav.com. To find out more about their services, visit dukescountyav.com.

 

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