Interview: The sweet sound of multiroom audio

posted on Friday, 31st January 2014 by David Slater

Habitech  Nuvo  Multi-room 

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One of the biggest opportunities waiting for custom installers at the moment is distributed audio. Both wired and wireless multi-room solutions, along with whole-home infrastructure technologies, are certain to make a noise ISE 2014. For an insight into this booming market, we turned to NuVo Technologies Marketing Manager, Desirée Webster (pictured above), to find out whether to go wired or wireless?

Everyone seems to be jumping onto the multi-room bandwagon right now. Given that NuVo has been a major mover in distributed audio since the outset, how do you rate the market potential for whole-home sound systems?

Desirée Webster, NuVo Technologies Marketing Manager: Honestly, the market potential for whole-home audio is ever-expanding. Love of music is universal and constant, so the desire to make it part of our homes is only natural. As technology evolves and overcomes the structural limitations of the past, as well as barriers of scope and affordability, the number of homes able to invite music in is growing, and rapidly.

What do you see as the latest technology innovations that will help drive this growth?

Webster: I think most evident is the increasing quality and reliability of wirelessly transmitted  audio. The level of flexibility and the reduction of labour that come from taking extensive cable-pulling out of the equation make the reality of whole home audio radically more accessible. Additionally, other technologies, like Powerline, are also working alternatives geared to the pursuit of retrofitting home audio without drastically compromising sound-quality. The more technologies developed and advanced into stable, high-performing methods of audio distribution, the greater the span of true potential within the market.

To wire or not to wire, that's the question facing integrators these days. With Enterprise grade wireless systems now readily available should installers ditch hard wiring altogether?

Webster: The true answer is not to discount either option. Each has unique advantages and has specific applications for which they are best suited. In the instances of new builds, Ethernet cabling is still a beneficial inclusion, establishing a solid framework for a multitude of technologies. But wireless solutions can be miracle workers in existing homes for expanding systems. It's not a matter of whether or not to wire, but rather of knowing when it's best to use both.

Inevitably, whole home audio is a balance between convenience and sound quality. What are most people seeking?

Webster: Convenience is an enormous draw. The ease and accessibility of a system that's simple to install, simpler to use, and that incorporates the myriad of devices and services people use on their phones, or tablets, or laptops, all without fuss, is at the core of what the most alluring audio systems have to offer. But, quality can't be ignored. No matter how fast the setup, no matter how many streaming stations a system can provide, if it doesn't sound good, what's the point? Customers are increasingly drawn to convenience, but honestly expect both and if they don't then installers can educate them on better performing systems, perhaps making better margins in the process. Thankfully, options are available that bring convenience and quality together impressively, for an overall superior experience. 

Selling consumers up to a quality audio package can often be a challenge. Why do you think people often seem more interested in picture quality above sonic fidelity?

Webster: Audio is complex and performance can be dependent on so many variables. For the best possible listening experience, the concerns go beyond the quality of the original recording and the equipment used to reproduce it. Speaker placement, the drapes at the window, menu settings that most people don't know to adjust or what they mean, can all make a difference. Often, people genuinely don't know what to listen for in order to hear the audio as it was meant to be heard. There's an increased awareness of video quality and what kind of difference it makes, as it is easier for people to literally see in front of them. The more exposure higher quality audio gets, the more interest will be generated. Once people hear the difference, they start to really care! 

NuVo wireless audio systems are distributed by Habitech. For more on Habitech's product portfolio and services, visit our partner page here

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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