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Searching for Streaming Audio Solutions

Which streaming audio solution checks all the boxes for you?

Control4 Triad

Just like most of you, we are constantly re-evaluating the products we sell and support. We’ll go for a long time with a solution and then things change either with the product, the company, or with our product mix and clientele.

Just the other day, I was on the phone with my friend Mark Feinberg, who owns Home Theater Advisors. We are always bouncing ideas off of each other, and we frequently discuss what is working for us and what isn’t. Mark was a little frustrated with a tech support experience he had with Sonos recently. While the product is typically pretty solid and doesn’t require that many service calls, one thing we both agree with is that, when you do need support, that support, and the experience in getting it, isn’t very good.

In this instance, he was having an issue with using a Playbar and Sonos Amp for surround sound. He had both wired to the network switch, but the Amp wasn’t outputting audio. Tier 1 tech support told him that the Amp and Playbar had to be within 10-20 feet of each other because they could only work in surround sound mode wirelessly communicating over 5 GHz. That just didn’t sound right, as he had similar projects work in the past. So he asked to be escalated to Tier II tech support. That’s when he was reminded that Tier II requires you to schedule a call with them — usually days later. So he had to leave the client without surround sound AND schedule a return visit to solve the problem. The actual issue was resolved, but having to come back in order to talk to Tier II support is just a deal (and profit) killer. For the dealer channel, we should have immediate access to Tier II support.

My current concern with Sonos is the lack of third-party integration. I love that Sonos has pretty much every streaming service under the sun and once set up and working is ultra-reliable. But the end-user experience when integrated into a control system is sub-par. Even with the Crestron partnership and the pop out to the native Sonos app, it still is not as smooth and integrated as I and our clients would like.

So Mark and I started talking about what other options we have. Mark tried HEOS a year or so ago, but was underwhelmed by the drivers for Control4. I am thinking of giving them a shot. I’ll bring in a couple of players and integrate them into my test system to see how things go. I know support at Marantz is great, so I feel confident that it is for HEOS as well. Plus we already sell Marantz AVRs, so having HEOS built into the AVR is a huge benefit, especially being able to use HEOS to stream any audio from the AVR (including video audio) to any HEOS zone.

Mark is ordering a Triad One Amp and a Triad Nano soundbar for his office to play around more with Control4 audio in a multi-room environment (he already has his EA5 going into his AVR for a single zone of Control4 audio). He has been very happy with the Control4 solution. All he is really waiting on to make the switch to lead with Control4 audio is a stand-alone, powered speaker, like the HEOS1 or Sonos One. Plus he’ll have native integration with excellent search and 2-way feedback (exactly what I am looking for as well).

So here’s the big question for all of you, and we really want to hear your opinion and get your thoughts. Please consider the following questions and tweet your responses.

  1. What multiroom audio solution do you use?
  2. Why is that the right solution for you?
  3. How well does it integrate? Any drawbacks?
  4. How is tech support?

Let’s start a discussion! Make sure to include @ResiSys and @ToddAnthonyPuma in your tweets so we see them.