Integrator Voices | Outdoor AV


By RS Staff February 24,2014


Louis Gordon, President
Soundworks, Armonk, NY
 
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
Speakers. Madison fielding Planter Speakers because our clients like the way they look, and we like the way they sound; a complete home run. The integration of both video and audio has become a big part of our business. Outdoor Wi-Fi has become very important to our clients as well.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
Thinner outdoor TVs. Our clients have become accustomed to thin indoor TVs. More wireless weatherproof components.
 
 
Steve and Mary Davis, Owners
Dr. Stereo, Henderson, NV
 
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
When it comes to outdoor products, we receive the most requests for outdoor speakers. Our go-to outdoor speaker brand is Proficient, which we recommend to our customers.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
For future outdoor products, we would like to see a robust wireless audio system that can be used with fixed install speakers that are outside. Currently, we use the Soundcast product, but it has to be moved around when someone is ready to use it. We would also like to see a product that will send content from a computer wirelessly to the TV and speakers that are set up either in-doors or outdoors.
 
 
Chris LaRussa, Principal
LaRussa A+V Design, Los Angeles, CA
 
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product?
When I first meet with a client, it is my job to get a sense [of] their expectations and also share with them some ideas that are all part of the audio/video sales process. In southern California, where I am located, most of my clients have a pool, spa, patio, and/or BBQ area and I will suggest a system such as Bay Audio’s Park Stevens products for that application—so in that sense, outdoor AV is a common request. I have found, however, that another critical complement to any outdoor audio system is deploying a robust outdoor Wi-Fi network, enabling the user to properly control their music. Within Bay Audio’s product offerings, I often use their 70-volt speakers so that I can run many loudspeakers off of a single wire run over long distances. One key element of outdoor AV is system design. A well thought-out system is ultra-critical to achieve the proper coverage, output and soundstaging to meet or typically exceed the client’s expectations. These unusually high standards have served my business quite favorably.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
Although we have an excellent selection of outdoor AV products to offer, one area that could be improved upon might be more discreet integration. I would like to see speakers in different form factors and also an option in green (rather than just black and white finishes) to blend better with lawn and gardens. The Bay Audio Park Stevens solutions are based on a satellite/subwoofer array, and performance is excellent. However for some clients, a full-range outdoor speaker solution that does not require a subwoofer would be a good addition to my product mix.
 
 
Nathan (Nate) Gast, Owner/Managing Member
Custom Audio Concepts, Lima, OH
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
People want a way to listen to their music outside. They want loudspeakers and they want them to be installed outside and left outside, with no worries about bringing them in during bad weather or change of seasons. As an integrator, I look at how our customer is going to use those speakers, where the speakers will be situated, taking into account projection. Outside there are no walls or ceilings to contain sound, so a speaker needs to be resilient, it needs to be able to handle the extraordinary demands of the outdoor situation. Typically, we’ll choose Paradigm Stylus outdoor speakers for three reasons: Hands down, [they] offer the best fidelity; they’re robust! Here in Ohio, weather can change from minute to minute, we want a speaker that we can install outdoors and leave out there with no effect aesthetically; output. Conditions are harsh, speakers need to project great distances. There’s nothing to constrain or contain the sound. Stylus is our go-to brand.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
We do a lot of large commercial installations. Wiring can be a troublesome issue when your installation covers a lot of ground; sometimes a job can take up acres. 70-volt transformers to accommodate wiring of multiple speakers would be ideal.
Powered products would also be a tremendous help. The kind of products that don’t need external amplification. And streaming audio, nowadays everyone wants to stream from their portable devices.
 
 
Kevin Lambidonis, CEO
DES, Rogers, AR
 
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
Great audio is still the number one request for outdoor spaces, but weatherproof TVs are very popular as well. Crestron’s DM over fiber solution allows us to safely transmit all of a client’s HD video sources to those outdoor TVs while the Sonnex distributed audio system has multiple expansion options that allow us to adapt to any outdoor audio requirements.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
We do a number of large residential projects that require us to communicate with and control entry gates. This currently has to be done by cobbling together third-party solutions. A gate station with SIP for communication and simple control from a contact closure triggered by a Crestron touchscreen would be a welcome addition.
 
 
Shawn Hansson, CEO and Founder
Logic Integration, Lone Tree, CO
 
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
Outdoor sound and then video. We’ve used Crestron’s surface mount speakers. I know our staff really likes them and continues to spec them into more and more projects.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
Outdoor sound systems can be on the border of 70V versus an 8-ohm system depending on the size of the venue and how many speakers, so more 70V products/commercial grade speakers, such as dirt burial and outdoor rocks that are 70V compatible. Also, the hardware to power it. Outdoor displays also are getting to a point where size VS cost is getting better. Glare and brightness issues are getting better, too. We are also excited about using the new Crestron Air landscape speakers in future projects.
 
 
Todd Sandler, President
Naturally Wired, Overland Park, KS
 
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
I would have to say our most requested outdoor AV product would easily be speakers, with TVs being a distant second. With our unpredictable weather here in the Midwest, we don’t have many clients who plan for regular outdoor events, so the spur-of-the-moment desire is mostly for music. We meet the needs of the client by determining the size of the space to cover, audio quality desired, and target budget. We then work to find that “happy medium” for the client to approve and proceed.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
 I would like to see options for good quality speakers (in both sound and aesthetics) that would be wireless and solar powered. If the solar could charge faster and last longer than batteries, it would open up additional options for clients where we can’t get low voltage or power wires now, due to large hardscaping projects already completed. Another outdoor feature, one that would be equally nice as an indoor feature, would be TVs capable of being powered across HDBaseT connections.
 
 
Aaron Flint, Managing Director
Acoustic Architects, Miami, FL
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product solution? How do you deploy that solution?
Clients seek the same high quality outdoor AV solutions to match the performance of their indoor systems. Outdoor audio is infinitely larger, and you need significantly more horsepower to match the indoor performance they’re used to. Moreover, we take steps to ensure the system is designed to minimize impact on surrounding properties. We exclusively use a mix of JBL Control series speakers on all of our projects to accomplish these jobs. JBL has solutions for any project size, no matter how big or how small. The sky is the limit, literally.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
The market lacks wireless solutions that would match the quality of their hardwired components. Often a client will want a great outdoor AV system, yet are unwilling to go through the construction aspects of the job, especially if it is a retrofitted system. Furthermore, there are a lot of great stealth type audio products, however some lack the aesthetics or output needed to meet or exceed clients’ expectations. With a combination of these two, we would be able to offer more flexible solutions/designs without compromising on quality or application.
 
 
David Woodward, President
Home Media Designs, Ridgefield, CT
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
When qualifying a client’s technology needs, we typically find music to be their top priority for outdoor living spaces, with aesthetics and sound quality being equally important. With the improved design options and sound quality of planter, as well as rock-speakers it allows the music system to blend well with most any outdoor living area. We have also found the need for reliable outdoor Wi-Fi coverage has increased significantly in recent years due to IP-based control systems and mobile device use. Weatherproof televisions like SunBriteTV have also continued to gain in popularity and are becoming a realistic option for more of our clients.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
Future outdoor products we would like to see include: weatherproof POE video baluns, lower-cost, lighter-weight televisions with improved weather-resistant articulating bracket options; weather-proof RF antennas for improved universal remote control performance outdoors; a broader selection of outdoor network WAPs with weatherproof covers; battery-powered submersible pool speakers with built-in drink holders…or the often-requested “outdoor speaker that looks like a squirrel.”
 
 
Nick DeClemente, President
Elevated Integration, Armonk NY
 
What is your number one consideration when choosing speakers for a designer-friendly space?
There really are three things I consider going into a project: The aesthetics of the speaker as part of the finished space; how the speaker sounds; and, if there are other integrators bidding on the project, will they likely be planning to use the same speaker? Speaker companies offer a broader range of sizes, shapes, and performance levels to pick from than ever, which are all important to keep in mind, but the aesthetics are what ultimately tie it all together. I like to tell a story of a product, because there’s real value there for the customer. This is a primary reason for why I bid KEF’s products as my main line of speakers. They consistently maintain a well thought out collection of beautifully styled products that you know will perform.
 
What is your clients' most requested feature for designer-friendly speakers? How do you fill this brief?
My clients ultimately seek my best recommendations based on their overall needs and layout. They want something to look and sound spectacular, but also don’t want to spend $1 million. Budget tends to be a primary driver, so I start there. Some expect their sound system to consist of statement pieces, while others would rather the speakers be tucked away into the ceiling. I give them my recommendation for both scenarios and what can be expected from each, allowing them to decide. Traditionally, clients looking for a home theater room would request 5.1 systems, often consisting of bulky, floor-standing models. However today, clients are looking more for a system that combines clean aesthetics with top-notch performance in a single package–another reason why it’s easy for me to spec KEF in for projects.
 
 
Anthony Petrone, Founder and CEO
Petrone Technology Group, Wellington, FL
 
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
Speakers. Nothing creates an atmosphere better than music. Along with the proper design and placement of speakers, intuitive control is key in fulfilling clients’ request for music outside the home. Many people do not use their outdoor audio because it’s difficult to control. We have had a lot of success in this area and have truly given the control back to the client. Taking it one step further, we offer our clients control over other outdoor elements, including audio, video, lighting, pool, spa, climate, and even fire pits.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
I would like to see more quality components, video transmission devices, and cables that are weatherproof and designed for outdoor living environments. This will make a better, more reliable system and a happier client.
 
 
Jason Voorhees, President
Cantara Design, Costa Mesa, CA
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
By far, our clients are asking for larger-scale outdoor audio systems with improved audio fidelity and even saturation. "Rock speakers" are bad words these days since our clients have been to friends’ houses, or the outdoor area of our office, and have heard these new systems from Sonance and others that feature the 70V design with buried subwoofers. The sound takes about two seconds to understand and then decide to have in their homes. The hardware is more expensive, but the labor to install is lower, which our clients appreciate also. Ultimately, it comes down to the significantly better musical quality and fulfills the clients desire to have their outdoor space be as beautiful as it can be.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
We’re hopeful of less expensive outdoor Wi-Fi access points from leading manufacturers. Clients expect that the Wi-Fi works outside as well as it does in the interiors of the home, and planning for coverage outside can be difficult in the larger spaces we deal with. At $2,000-plus per WAP, it can be shocking for some clients.
 
 
Rich Lee, Merchandise Manager
Electronics Expo, Wayne, NJ
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
We're constantly asked for wireless solutions. IAV has one of the easiest and durable wireless speaker solutions on the market today, and it’s become a go-to line for us as a result.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
We're looking for the same durability but would like to see Bluetooth technology incorporated. While RF is stronger, everything is just going Bluetooth these days, and it’s a technology consumers know and understand; it’s familiar and somewhat expected these days so we’d like to see more products embrace the technology and provide creative product solutions that can be used to enhance our customer’s entertainment experiences.
 
 
Jonathan Phillips, Managing Partner
Connect Consulting, Rear Belleville, NJ
 
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
There are four products that have been requested the most from our clients: outdoor TVs—attractive, stylish and thin; audio—color matched outdoor speakers; Wi-Fi connectivity—outdoor APs; and weatherproof remotes—durable, easy to use system control for outdoor.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
Some features that we wish to see in future outdoor AV products would be integrated HDMI baluns into the outdoor TVs, a larger selection of outdoor TV mounts (powder coated or stainless), and a greater selection of outdoor speaker types. Having an integrated balun, will increase system reliability by having the balun inside of the outdoor TV’s chassis. Having a larger selection of TV mounts will increase the flexibility of mounting locations for outdoor TVs. Clients are very concerned with aesthetics of their outside space and by having a larger selection of outdoor speaker products, we as integrators can provide audio coverage in these spaces while maintaining the aesthetic integrity.
 
 
Steve Brakke, Director of Sales and Installations
Behren’s Audio Video, Jacksonville, FL
 
 
What is your most requested outdoor AV product? How do you fill this brief?
Our most requested outdoor AV product is a basic pair of weather-resistant speakers to add musical enjoyment to the client's outdoor entertainment areas. Sometimes these speakers are mounted under the eaves of the house, other times they are best blended with the landscape. In either case, it is important to have mounting versatility, good sound, an affordable price, and the ability to provide an excellent value to our client. At the same time, it is important from a business perspective that we are able to make a reasonable profit with a minimal service liability. That means the speakers better hold up well in harsh environments. We offer three brands of outdoor speakers for these applications that fall into a “good/better/best” scenario. We are very comfortable recommending PSB CS-500s and CS-1000s as the “best” choice. They represent an excellent value in their respective price categories, with the brand recognition of a well-known, quality home speaker manufacturer. They sound fantastic and have a very flexible installation scheme.
 
What are some features that you wish to see in future outdoor AV products? What problems will these features solve for you as an integrator?
As a custom installation company working in an area with many oceanfront homes, we need outdoor speakers that can really go the distance. We have tried outdoor speakers from quite a few well-known companies over the years that just didn’t hold up over time, even though they were promoted and sold as outdoor products. This ends up costing us money in the long run, since we feel compelled to provide repair and/or replacement labor at no charge when a product we recommended doesn’t perform as promised. Speaker grills need to be rust-proof and readily available as replacement parts over at least a 10-year life. All parts need to be marine-grade stainless quality so rust spots don't form from degrading non-marine parts. The most common source of service calls for outdoor speakers is the connectors. They are usually unprotected and eventually they just rust away. So many brands still employ basic binding posts, and they are typically the first things to go.

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