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All Work, No Play

I can almost hear the Beach Boys singing …and well have fun, fun, fun, til our daddy takes the T-bird away, through the sound system at the Colorado Convention Center as CEDIA EXPO attendees run onto the show floor like kids to their pile of loot on Christmas morning.

I dont know if youve noticed, but theres been a whole lotta fun, fun, fun stuff sent out by manufacturers headed to CEDIA EXPO this year. This playful spirit comes at a time when the glut of homes on the market is at a 16-year high and nobody is making it a secret that times are getting tougher for custom installers. Its almost as if some companies are willing away this negativity with happy slogans, kid-themed booth swag, and over-the-top parties.

Even in a so-called down market, my August/September has been as busy as any other pre-CEDIA time period that I can remember. I have been absolutely inundated with new product press releases, requests for booth meetings, and invitations to press conferences, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Being busy is better than being bored, but this work-related stress, when juxtaposed with the playful themes of Boston Acoustics and SpeakerCraft, for example, make for quite a head-spinning mix.

During a media event in Beantown last month, Boston Acoustics unveiled its Play Smart slogan and Apple-inspired line of eye-catching loudspeakers with interchangeable colored grilles and wireless subs. Before you start thinking that Boston is placing flash ahead of substance, realize that this company has not compromised on quality. Yes, they have found a way to grab the attention of the casual retail shopper by adding color to a typically black or wood grain-colored speaker category, but they have done this without sacrificing their high performance standards and strong build quality. Play Smart is as much about appealing to a mass consumer who often overlooks audio as it is about staying true to the companys Boston Sound roots.

Thats fun stuff, but to be a trend there has to be two (preferably three) of something. So when a toy airplane kit arrived in the mail from SpeakerCraft last month promoting its Come Play slogan for CEDIA EXPO, I knew I had a column topic. Oh and dont forget the screeching money toy and the wacky Carnivalor is it HBOs bizarro Carnivaleinvitation. Were talking midway-style rides, fair food, and live bands featuring a midget-version of Kiss.

Whereas Boston Acoustics may be trying to inspire the masses, I think that Jeremy B. and the gang are looking to lighten the mood of a dealer channel battling in the tough production home market.

Jeremy gave me an early look at his new brochure, and suffice it to say that the fun and games theme is fully planted in print as well. Also tied to the theme are new and substantial product introductions, including an expansion of the companys Theater in Motion Experience (TIME) series.

Last years introduction of TIME presented SpeakerCrafts concept for speakers that drop out of the ceiling at a precise angle and then rotate to a preset position, focusing sound at the listening area. The company has now added three smaller models in two different formats to the line: the TIME Mini 2 is the smallest of the new offerings with an exterior diameter of 5.75 inches and a 2.5-inch full-range driver, while the TIME Mini 5.1 and 5.3 models both have an exterior diameter of 7.5-inches with 5-inch woofers and dome tweeters.

There will be many more new toys to come from SpeakerCraft at the EXPO, but I promised to keep them a secret until their press conference. Theres where I hope to receive that official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time…that Ive always wanted.