We’ve made it to another December, which means it is time to reflect on the year that was while we look ahead to one that’s approaching. At Residential Systems, we do that through our annual Companies to Watch, which features some of 2023’s best wins mixed in with some forecasting for 2024.
Access Networks: Access Networks plans to continue its path of innovation with more products, services, and markets served in 2024. Partners can expect greater experiences and time-saving benefits through improved integrations with Snap One solutions and continued Partner Rewards incentives. Advanced technology remains the focus of Access Networks, as well, with the release of certified Wi-Fi 7 products coming next year and some enhancements to the robust features that already set its high-performance solutions apart. In addition, Access Networks has expanded its marketshare to include commercial spaces.
ADI Global: ADI opened its latest Super Center distribution hub in Dallas in September. The site is equipped with advanced warehouse automation technologies to assist with product sorting, picking, and packing, and provides real-time and advanced inventory management. With a strategic floorplan, the facility optimizes the flow of goods to support same-day/next-day shipping, quick-turn requirements, and offers will-call and pick-up-anytime convenience.
AiSPiRE: ABiCUS by AiSPIRE made its debut at CEDIA Expo 2023 as a universal DMX Gateway that facilitates communication between lighting fixtures and integration control platforms. Configured via onboard Profiles that embed a fixtures dynamic range, its footprint, and an automatically spaced starting address, ABiCUS removes many of the complexities when setting up a DMX network.
AlarMax Distributors: 2023 has been defined by explosive growth for AlarMax. In the spring, the team acquired Northern Sound & Light, expanding its national customer base and welcoming over 60 additional manufacturers to its portfolio. AlarMax is poised to open several new locations before the end of the year, expanding the brand’s national footprint to over 25 locations. Heading into 2024, AlarMax is excited to expand its training and support offerings and continue providing the personalized guidance and relationships dealers have come to expect at every AlarMax location.
Apex Technologies: Integrator Millennium Systems Design was recently called upon by one of its primary distributors, Apex Technologies, to help guide the execution of a prominent home theater project. Apex executives were invited onsite to suggest a few aesthetic upgrades to the client, including the addition of a revolutionary LED lighting technology. The client was won over — the project blossomed from a cosmetically modest media room with top-grade electronics to an elegant, state-of-the-art, near-$1 million theater.
Arlington: Arlington continues to provide the industry with convenient installation parts, including the recessed steel combination power/low voltage TV box that offers a secure, easy way to wall-mount a TV in new or old commercial work where metal raceway is used. The steel TV box features power on one side and low voltage in other openings for Class 2 wiring of satellite, cable TV, speakers, and other connections.
Audinate: During Audinate’s 2023 fiscal year, which ended in June, it had shipped more than one million hardware and software units of its Dante AV-over-IP solution. The one million units is the greatest number of Dante units ever shipped in a 12-month period. The list of Dante products includes software, chips, and modules that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) integrate in their products to create Dante audio and video hardware solutions for end users, as well as the Dante AVIO accessories built by Audinate.
AudioControl/AV Pro: In August, AVPro Global, parent company of AVPro Edge, Murideo, and Bullet Train audio/video distribution products, announced the acquisition of the Home Audio division of AudioControl from AAMP Holdings, Inc., expanding the AVPro Global footprint in the residential, commercial distributed audio, and media room industry market segments. The following month, AudioControl released two compact-chassis home theater receivers at CEDIA Expo.
Autonomic: Since returning as an independent company, Autonomic continues to expand its reach in the CEDIA channel by providing custom integration professionals with streaming music solutions. Highly sought after features, such as Apple Music and Spotify integration with full search and browse native functionality available through any control system user interface, helps set Autonomic apart from similar mass-market products. Distribution partnerships, such as its recently announced partnership with Nice, make Autonomic products accessible to a wide range of AV professionals.
Azione Unlimited: Azione Unlimited has been driving home its education initiative with its second Sales Leadership Symposium, held over the summer, and the announcement of its new Education Committee in September.
BenQ: BenQ continues to help golfers get their swing on. This year, BenQ made it possible to create “SimTheater” multipurpose spaces for under $2K with the Full HD LH820ST laser and LH600ST 4LED golf sim projectors. Both feature BenQ’s exclusive Golf Mode, which optimizes the colors of the grass and sky, and features Rec.709 for color accuracy that looks straight off the fairway. The LH600ST boasts a 1:1 aspect ratio that fills the screen. BenQ also released a golf simulation planning tool for fast room calculations.
Blackwire Designs: Blackwire continues its focus on innovation and dealer support. This year, the company exhibited for the first time at CEDIA, showcasing its Blacklight Design Tool for Linear Lighting Systems. It’s the industry’s first comprehensive design software for linear LED lighting, which was so well received it took home CEDIA’s Best New Software Product Award and Residential Systems Best of Show Award. In 2024, the company plans to expand further in the lighting category, adding new lighting lines and features.
Bowers & Wilkins: B&W had several new product offerings over the year, but the standout was the additions to its Signature line, which the company only does sparingly. The new 801 D4 Signature and 805 D4 Signature build on a heritage that stretches back to the Silver Signature loudspeaker of 1991 and offers luxury clients high-quality sound in floorstanding or bookshelf models.
Chief: This year, Chief debuted the Tempo Flat Panel Wall Mount System. It’s designed to be an all-in-one configurable system that streamlines ordering and installation. The ease of experience starts with one part number ordering. It’s built especially for mass rollouts. Mounts are shipped with two Lever Lock plates, which can be loaded with small devices before shipping to the job site. The mount’s post-install leveling adjustments, display tilt, and service access with built-in extension away from the wall for 12.6 inches (320 mm) address common pain points. Its thin profile facilitates ADA compliance when the display depth is less than 2 inches (51 mm).
ClearOne: With work-from-home continuing to rise, ClearOne finds itself in a good position with products like the CHAT 150 BT Speakerphone, which is a USB and Bluetooth speakerphone launched this year that enhances business conferencing. The CHAT 150 BT allows for fast connectivity, enhanced audio that includes noise cancellation, and is compatible with all standard conferencing applications.
Coastal Source: High-performance outdoor audio and lighting pioneer Coastal Source raised the bar in 2023 with the introduction of the Razor line of outdoor wall and hardscape speakers that are built with true HiFi performance in mind. Signaling a whole new growth trajectory for 2024, the company recently announced the appointment of former McIntosh Group co-CEO Jeff Poggi as president (co-founder Franco D’Ascanio becomes CEO and Harold Zimmermann becomes chairman).
Cogent360: Cogent360’s goal is to modernize how companies engage and educate their customers, using ultra-realistic, 360-degree environments such as virtual smart homes and experience centers. These spaces allow viewers to explore, interact, and learn about products and options, while also simulating automation functionality like lighting, AV control, and more. These experiences are viewable from any computer or mobile device. In 2024, Cogent360 will be making the tools it has developed for numerous global brands accessible to independent dealers.
Crestron Electronics: Crestron Home OS 4 has made its debut, introducing a meaningful platform progression for the smart home with fluid navigation, enhanced filtering, and further personalization for intuitive control. The update brings a new, intuitive interface for clients while further speeding and simplifying installation for dealers. Crestron Home OS 4 unlocks one of the most anticipated advancements in lighting control that Crestron has ever released, unifying multiple lighting protocols and devices within a single home automation platform. This is just the beginning of even more feature enhancements that Crestron Home OS 4 will bring for lighting and audio.
D-Tools: Throughout the pandemic and beyond, integrators dealing with employee and product shortages learned to work smarter. D-Tools business management software played a pivotal role in enhancing operational efficiency, and that support persists today. Data remains the linchpin for D-Tools as it advances into 2024. The company is expanding its I3 (Industry Information & Insight) program, leveraging operational data gathered, anonymized, and analyzed to empower D-Tools customers — dealers and manufacturer partners — with informed decision-making and proactive adjustments for amplified efficiency and profitability in the upcoming year.
Da-Lite: Da-Lite understood the assignment when it created the SightLine Cable Drop feature for its Tensioned Advantage and Advantage ceiling recessed electric screens in 2022. The projection screen appears almost to float in the room. There’s no black drop to mark the look, and it allows installers to skip calculating the specific drop distance ahead of time. Just dial in the viewing height on-site and adjust as needed for future projector upgrades. It was an instant success, with installers requesting an even longer cable drop. The company responded in 2023 with a 10-foot drop option — practically doubling the original SightLine length.
DEN Smart Home: 2023 was a BIG year for DEN Smart Home. In the Spring, the team introduced an authorized dealer program to offer preferred pricing and prioritized fulfillment to the pro channel. As the team transitioned to summer, they welcomed new executive leadership. Lew Brown assumed the role of president of DEN Smart Home Inc., North America, and Dennis Nijmeijer joined the company as chief financial officer in the newly created Ankerslot Group. Last but certainly not least, the SmartStrike became available for pre-order this fall. Looking to 2024, the team will continue its certification process with key industry standard organizations and will look to expand versions of the SmartStrike to add Matter, Zigbee, and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Denon: Denon launched the Denon Home Subwoofer, a high-performance wireless subwoofer that adds clear, extended bass to the Denon Home 550 soundbar or any Denon Home wireless speaker. Enthusiasts can plug the subwoofer into wall power, wirelessly connect using Wi-Fi, and enjoy. The 8-inch woofer has been fitted to a sleek, compact enclosure that matches the design of the Denon Home speakers and soundbar.
Digital Projection: Building off a successful 2023 with several industry awards, introductions of game-changing imaging solutions like the Satellite Modular Laser System (MLS), and high-profile projects, Digital Projection approaches 2024 in full stride. Expect to see the company strengthen and expand its presence in emerging markets, refine its imaging technology to align with industry trends, and provide its growing base of customers with solutions geared for the next generation of imaging excellence.
Dirac: Audio innovator Dirac kicked 2023 off strong with the launch of Dirac Live Active Room Treatment, the latest in its family of features designed to address bass resonance and room decay time to produce a cleaner, tighter bass. This award-winning software enables spatial optimization, whereby all speakers in a sound system cooperate with each other to accomplish what passive acoustic treatments struggle to achieve. Additionally, Dirac expanded its collaboration with Premium Audio Company with the availability of Dirac Live Bass Control for Onkyo, Pioneer, Elite, and Integra receivers. Dirac is also bringing Bass Control to Denon and Marantz receivers soon.
DMF Lighting: Engineered exclusively for custom integrators and the standard for modular architectural recessed lighting, DMF Lighting’s roundup of luxury products includes enhancements to DMF Lighting’s iX Series, digitally controlled LED modules, and HK Lighting’s collection of outdoor lighting fixtures. The new iX Series enhancements include True Spectrum 98 CRI (Color Rendering Index) light modules for industry-leading color rendition and new premium trim selections (Raw Brass and Anodized Aluminum finishes), available in Flangeless and Micro Flange options.
Draper At Home: 2024 will be a year of continued growth and commitment as Indiana roller shade, projection screen, and AV lift manufacturer Draper begins the year with a 25 percent larger footprint. A just-completed 100,000-square-foot building allows Draper to continue to take even better care of, and meet the needs of, a growing list of customers and markets. Draper is moving even more processes in house and expanding capabilities, including paint and powder coating. The company will continue growing its product offerings, with several new solutions hitting the market in Q1 of 2024 and more planned later in the year.
Elite Screens: Elite Screens launched its new battery-operated projection screen, the Yard Master Wireless Series, in May. This portable solution eliminates the need to plug the screen into a power outlet and provides the freedom to be installed anywhere in a backyard, patio, or pool deck.
Environmental Lights: In 2023, Environmental Lights debuted its Dim-to-Warm 2216 LED Strip Light, which uses integrated technology to automatically warm the LED color temperature as the lights are dimmed. It enables customers to use tunable white LED technology without specialized controllers or programs. This effect mimics the appearance of incandescent lighting for a more natural dimming feel.
Epson: Epson’s EpiqVision Ultra LS650 Ultra Short Throw 3-Chip 3LCD Smart Streaming Laser Projector, introduced in September, uses proprietary 3-Chip 3LCD technology. The EpiqVision Ultra LS650 combines 4K PRO-UHD technology with the right amount of color and white brightness to produce crisp, larger-than-life images, even in well-lit rooms.
Flex Automation: With a limited budget, Z-Wave Alliance member Flex Automation was tasked to add smart functionalities to a maternity hospital in Brazil. A Z-Wave solution was the only retrofit choice. Without the need of downloading apps, the patient or her companion only needs to capture the QR code present in the room to gain access and easily and intuitively control the environment in the palm of their hands, with all the convenience they deserve.
FORTRESS Seating: Demand for theater seating has been extremely strong over the last few years, and the style and configurations tend to run the full gamut leaning toward the more contemporary styles. Because a large number of people prefer to watch movies in the comfort of their own home, along with more first-run content being available, dedicated home cinemas are more popular than ever. With 80 years of innovative solutions and products that are manufactured in the USA, Fortress continues to expand its customization capabilities by creating one-of-a-kind seating to accommodate all its customers’ requirements.
Furrion: Furrion has made a name for itself by offering lower-priced, high-quality options for outdoor televisions. This year, they added an outdoor soundbar and subwoofer to the ecosystem.
Grimani Systems/StormAudio: At CEDIA Expo, Grimani Systems and StormAudio participated in a demo theater that highlighted the launch of StormAudio’s new ISP Evo 32-channel AoIP surround sound preamp/processor — the first all-digital immersive audio processor to reach the CEDIA channel — networked to a Grimani Systems 16,800-watt, 11.6.6-channel active loudspeaker system. By creating a fully digital pathway from source to processor to the speaker system, this showcase set a new benchmark in audio precision and clarity.
GUDE Systems: The German brand enters the residential AV market by joining forces with APEX Technologies-US and making its debut at this year’s CEDIA Expo. GUDE Systems has been a worldwide cornerstone of the AV and IT community for over 35 years and is known for their build quality and reliable network connectivity. And with GUDE’s “Expert Power Control 8035-6” 8-fold switched and outlet-metered PDU, integrators can rely on a UL-compliant, reliable control system for remote reboots and automated power cycling.
Harman Luxury Audio: Harman Luxury Audio looks ahead to a strong 2024 after a refresh of the ARCAM brand and launch of its new Radia series, as well as several new products introduced at CEDIA Expo 2023 from JBL and Revel that will enhance the listening experience for end users. In the coming year, dealers can expect even more exciting product launches from Mark Levinson, JBL Synthesis, and further expansions of legacy series in the JBL Premium brand.
Home Technology Association: The Home Technology Association (HTA) launched the “HTA Design Partner” program in 2023, which is designed to help qualified integrators forge stronger relationships with architects, builders, and interior designers. The HTA believes that integrators are an indispensable part of an architect and interior designer’s design team that should be brought to projects early. The HTA Design Partner initiative is also designed to address integrator behavior issues that have kept trade partners from referring integrators. There are three big HTA initiatives for 2024 — opening HTA Certification to the U.K.; a website refresh; and the official launch of the “HTA Technology Partner” program for trade partners.
HTSA: In February, HTSA produced its second annual Lightapalooza — a lighting event tailored especially for custom integrators — which was a huge success with around 750 attendees. The expectations for Lightapalooza 2024, to be held February 26-29 at the Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel & Spa, are even bigger.
Hunter Douglas: As automated shades become more popular, Hunter Douglas is proving that the category always has room for innovation. In 2023, Hunter Douglas launched the Aura Illuminated Shades: a three-in-one system incorporating a traditional-looking shade, room-darkening liner, and LED illumination. Aura offers on-demand control over daylight and ambiance: Homeowners can invite a warm glow on a gloomy day, extend daylight hours seasonally, or set the mood for entertaining. In 2024, Hunter Douglas will continue supporting integrators with reliable automation, simple integration, and custom experiences for clients eager to explore how Aura supports wellness, routine, and comfort in the connected home.
Jetbuilt: Jetbuilt continued to add requested features to its platform throughout 2023, including Project Registration, Bid Processing, and integration with Solutions360’s Q360.
Josh.ai: 2023 was another big year for Josh.ai, further accelerating growth as it heads into 2024. The launch of JoshGPT, the industry’s first AI solution for the home, brings large language models into every home. Josh One, which launched at CEDIA Expo, makes intelligent home systems available for dealers, offering unprecedented pricing, features, and innovation. Finally, the Josh Remote in collaboration with AVA offers the first dynamic keypad remote with an intuitive UI capable of controlling not just the TV, but the whole home.
Just Add Power: Just Add Power closes 2023 with an astonishing run of product introductions and expansions with the MaxColor 4K60 Series 2, which took home Best of Show honors at ISE, InfoComm, and CEDIA. The line supports 4K60 4:4:4 from source to screen, simplifying AV-over-IP deployments that optimize the latest 4K sources, displays, and formats. The company will kick off 2024, adding to the MaxColor lineup addressing commercial and residential audio needs, conferencing and collaboration spaces, and artistic screen installs.
Just Video Walls: Just Video Walls made its debut announcement this year as a MicroLED supplier built by integrators and for integrators. It turned the conventional way of specifying and quoting MicroLED on its head by removing the need for spec memorization and empowered dealers with a tool that helps them land more deals by quoting in five minutes or less, while guaranteeing the best technology for their project. The company is offering the first dealer to sell $1,000,000 in MicroLED a year lease to a Porsche 911, and any other dealer who meets the mark a brand-new work van.
K-array: Pavion, a U.S.-based technology integrator, recently unveiled its Raleigh office, showcasing state-of-the-art solutions and enhancing its workspace. In collaboration with IA Architects, they designed a tech-centric environment focusing on lighting, sound, and functionality. The versatile KSCAPE’s RAIL technology, offering both professional audio and tunable white and RGB lighting, made it a clear choice for Pavion. Distinctive diagonal RAIL installations were incorporated in various spaces, including formal and informal meeting rooms, personal offices, a lounge, reception area, open-plan workspaces, and a Customer Experience Center.
Kaleidescape: It was a big year for Kaleidescape, adding former Christie Digital Systems CEO Jack Kline and former head of international theatrical distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures Thomas Molter to the company’s board of directors back in April, and launching two new Terra Prime movie servers at CEDIA Expo.
KEF: With the introduction of its latest generation of the R Series Hi-Fi speakers, KEF launched the new R Series in early 2023, now with the ground-breaking Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MATTM). The R Series is a seven-model range engineered to provide superior performance, bringing brilliant sound to shows, games, and artists. The new R Series includes a selection of the latest technologies developed for KEF’s class-leading The Reference, and with its contemporary design driven by acoustics, this collection of Hi-Fi speakers gives users even more ways to easily connect with the content they love. KEF promises an exciting Q1 for 2024.
KMB Communications: Providing manufacturers, integrators, rep firms, distributors, associations, and individuals with PR, marketing communications, content creation, copywriting, brand strategy, and more, KMB Communications continues to grow and evolve to suit the needs of brands of all sizes in the highly specialized fields of residential tech and pro AV. CEO Katye McGregor Bennett is a frequent contributor to Residential Systems and speaks often about tech integration and interior design, serving as a moderator and communicator helping to bridge the gap between the trades and create a more cohesive relationship for all in the future. In 2024, the team will expand to serve KMB’s growing portfolio of best-in-class brands.
Kordz: In 2023, coinciding with the celebration of its 20th anniversary as a global leader in connectivity solutions, Kordz launched its new SlimCat systems high-performance home and business networking. Delivering all the power of standard Cat 6 and Cat 6A cable in half the size, SlimCat’s cable is thinner, more flexible, and supports emerging technologies. Comprising all the components for complete, end-to-end Cat6 and Cat6A infrastructure, SlimCat’s cabling, connectors, and keystone sockets take a fraction of the time, effort, and space to install. Kordz PRO SlimCat is rated for Cat6 performance and Kordz PRS SlimCat is rated for Cat6A performance.
L-Acoustics: In May, L-Acoustics introduced Soka and its companion subwoofer, SB6i. Inspired by the design principles of its Syva loudspeakers, Soka combines line source technology with a sleek aesthetic for projects where a smaller, more discreet solution is required. Despite its small footprint, Soka delivers 124 dB. When accompanied by its companion SB6i subwoofer, Soka extends down to 29 Hz with a full range preset.
Legrand | AV : There’s strength in numbers, as Legrand | AV continues to exemplify with all its brands — Chief, Da-Lite, Luxul, Middle Atlantic Products, On-Q, SANUS, and Vaddio — as well as shading and lighting solutions from Legrand Shading Systems and Vantage coming together to provide end-to-end AV solutions. The company continues to focus on delivering amazing AV experiences and empowering dealers on any project, whether it be in the smart home or the enterprise. It was fitting then that the company most recently partnered with Microsoft to create a new hybrid conferencing space with Signature Microsoft Teams Rooms featuring infrastructure products from Legrand.
Legrand Building Control Systems: Legrand Shading Systems and Vantage are transforming the lighting control and shades category. At CEDIA Expo 2023, Vantage announced the KolorTune capability for its LHUMAN human-centric lighting control solution, which also incorporates Legrand’s motorized shading. Available in Vantage’s Design Center software, KolorTune delivers a growing library of pretested profiles for leading lighting manufacturer partners in the Vantage’s Light Fixture Alliance. This speeds up programming, gives lighting professionals the freedom to choose the fixtures that work best, and ensures accurate color temperature and intensity. To provide greater freedom of design and integration, the company plans to expand its partnerships with fixture and keypad manufacturers.
Legrand C2G: C2G continues to deliver robust cabling and connectivity for today, such as the HDMI HDBaseT + USB-B to A and RS232 Over Cat Extender (18Gbps), model C2G30055. It’s what you use when USB as well as HDMI video and audio signals need to be extended. It’s targeted at commercial applications such as whiteboards, but perfect for installations that go beyond standard HDMI and USB length limitations. It can send a 4K HDMI source up to 328 feet to a 4K display without signal loss over a Cat-6a cable and supports 5Play.
Leon Speakers: Leon continued its mission of adding style to sound with the introduction of the Studio Frame for Bravia XR — an innovative new framing solution for the Sony Bravia XR X93L Mini-LED TV — and the wall-mounted Mera Sound Sconce, which offers both full-range audio and a warm, comforting glow.
LG: As usual, LG started the year with whole new lineups of televisions and soundbars, then later in the year turned heads by offering a bundle deal with Bang & Olufsen that combines the 136-inch LG MAGNIT Micro LED display and Bang & Olufsen Beolab 90 home cinema speakers.
Luxury Integrated Technologies (LIT): LIT became a multi-million agency in 2023 — and it did it in just under two years of being in business! The company currently is representing 30 design-centric technology solutions. In addition to growing its vendors, LIT’s specification services have also grown, with architects contacting the company before plans are drawn to conceptualize with clients. Finally, owner Sarah Dresher was one of the top CEDIA Outreach Instructors in the country, providing many local individualized courses and several national presentations for specifier organizations.
Lutron: Lutron turned its ingenuity toward a new booth design at CEDIA Expo where it had two separate, self-guided experience areas with a host of new products presented in the space between them. Among those new products was Lumaris tunable white, which is the company’s first smart tape light solution.
Luxul: At CEDIA Expo 2023, the company highlighted its new SW Series Managed switches. They’re engineered for the rigors of AV and they feature an updated UI that simplifies setup and offers improved support for AVoIP installations. There are eight models, ranging from 130W to 740W and from eight to 48 PoE+ ports with rear and front port orientation options, addressing installs in all shapes, sizes, as well as PoE+ budgets. Expect to see more from Luxul on WiFi 6 in 2024, bringing faster connections, lower latency, and enhanced security to networks.
madVR: In April, madVR Labs announced the Envy MK2 Series — the next generation of its Envy Extreme and Pro video processors. The Envy MK2 represented a significant upgrade from the previous generation, including a huge boost in GPU power, upgraded system components, a redesigned cooling system, a new aluminum face, premium backlit remote control, and a custom case.
Magnetar: For a high-quality AV experience, many will say there is still nothing better than Ultra HD Blu-ray discs delivered by a premium player. Enter Magnetar (www.magnetar-audio.com), a brand that combines DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray playback as well as DVD-A and SACD audio in their range of high-end, user-friendly Blu-ray disc players. For those who rely on or prefer physical media, Magnetar players eliminate the need for a robust internet connection. Featuring 4K Ultra HD and HDR support, including Dolby Vision and HDR10+, Magnetar products are an excellent option for home theaters, home cinemas, screening rooms, and everyday viewing environments.
Marantz: Marantz launched the CINEMA Series, a new lineup of premium home theater products. Consisting of a flagship immersive preamp/processor with matching 16-channel amplifier and four AV receivers, all CINEMA Series models feature the latest immersive audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, plus 8K video available on multiple inputs.
McIntosh: In addition to debuting a wealth of new products, McIntosh also opened its House of Sound experience center in NYC. The 11,000-square-foot townhouse spotlights an array of McIntosh’s most premium audio equipment through several listening spaces, such as a state-of-the-art home theater, an extensive vinyl library, two intimate listening rooms, two open reference listening areas, two terraces, and a rooftop.
Meridian: Marking a new chapter for Meridian, the company unveiled the DSP9 digital active loudspeaker, which features a brand-new cabinet aesthetic that showcases a new design signature for the company, and produces outstanding fidelity, dynamics, and power for cinemas and listening rooms. The DSP9 is the second loudspeaker to emerge from Meridian’s Extreme Engineering Program; a result of years of investment in technology innovations at the extreme edge of audio design.
Middle Atlantic Products: Middle Atlantic remains steadfast as the foundation for what great systems are built on. In addition to rack innovations, the company has continued to put its expertise into the power side of that equation. This includes refining its Premium+ PDUs. The company added RackLink Cloud, furthering the solution’s flexibility. Integrators can also control Premium+ PDUs through the native RackLink UI, third-party AV control systems such as Crestron, partner platforms, RESTful API, and SNMP. The system is also compatible with Creston XiO Cloud with native support of RackLink’s intelligent system control, logging and data management, environmental control, and protection features.
Modus VR: This year, Modus VR announced a new Presentation Mode for its VR software. Presentation Mode merges the power of Modus VR with the convenience of a video call, providing a seamless way to share a room technology design over any meeting or unified communications platform. The new feature is also optimized for designing and presenting in Modus VR on external displays in front of small to large groups in both the residential and enterprise sectors.
Netgear: Introduced in 2023, the Netgear PR460X router was designed exclusively for residential and commercial installation projects, and to bundle with Netgear Pro WiFi Access Points and select smart switches to deliver a complete, seamless and future-proof custom experience. Available exclusively for authorized integrators, the PR460X features 10G/multi-gig throughput, multiple Ethernet ports, and an SFP+ port that enables super-fast data transfers.
Nice: This year, Nice completed the convergence of ELAN, SpeakerCraft, and Panamax Energy Management to the Nice brand name. Since the company’s acquisition of Nortek Security & Control in 2021, Nice has been focused on executing its strategic plan to strengthen the company’s position as an industry leader in North America by converging its product portfolio under one unified brand. The milestone reinforces its mission of simplifying everyday movements by offering a complete, integrated product ecosystem for residential, commercial, and perimeter protection applications.
Oasys Residential Technology Group: Back in March, Nationwide Marketing Group rebranded its Home Technology Specialists Nationwide (HTSN) custom integration division as the Oasys Residential Technology Group. The new name was coupled with a new strategy that would see the group expand its reach to a wider portion of the custom integration industry.
Oliver Marketing: In 2024, keep your eyes on Oliver Marketing. Bolstering its portfolio with prestigious partnerships such as the recent collaborations with Legrand/Vantage and URC, it demonstrates a forward-thinking approach to residential tech solutions. Serving the West Coast territories, Oliver Marketing consistently elevates industry standards, ensuring integrators receive top-tier experiences with training and product introductions.
On-Q: On-Q has been focused on delivering enclosures and accessories that streamline AV installs. At CEDIA Expo 2023, the company made waves with its Dual-Purpose Enclosures. Installers can pack structured wiring devices like switches, routers, access points, and more or AV components like Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, and the Samsung One Connect neatly into these in-wall solutions. Also featured at the show were the new in-wall mini grommets, which are designed for easily hiding cables behind the wall for a clean and professional look.
OneVision Resources: In 2023, OneVision unveiled its new Flex Support Packages. With low startup costs and no long-term commitments, these packages make it easier than ever for integrators to get started with OneVision’s remote support and recurring revenue (RMR) solutions. Flex packages anchor around OneVision’s white-label support, enabling integrators to route 100 percent of their inbound service requests to their friendly and knowledgeable 24/7 remote support team. Select Flex packages also include access to RMR solutions, including subscription management, recurring payment processing, sales support, and custom-branded tools including an online portal for clients to view and activate a membership.
Origin Acoustics: Origin had another busy year of new products and partnering with other companies, but perhaps its biggest news was its expansion into the commercial market with the Origin Pro brand. Joining with Starin as its exclusive distributor, Origin Pro entered the market with a speaker line that included three form factors — in-ceiling, surface mount, and pendants — in three sizes.
Paradigm: The Paradigm CI Elite Series is made in Canada and has all the technology advantages of its CI PRO Series, as well as additional features, including Aluminum Magnesium Ceramic (AL-MAC) tweeter with exclusive Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA) tweeter Lens. AL-MAC is Paradigm’s blend of Aluminum, Magnesium, and Ceramic materials, each of which contribute to the end goal of greater accuracy and realism. The final product is not only strong and lightweight, but embodies a natural anti-resonance.
Parasol: Parasol powers the happiest integrators on the planet by providing proactive support 24/7/365 to homeowners around the world. Countless baseball games, recitals, and family dinners have been rescued as a result.
Phase Technology and MSE Audio Brands: In 2024, PhaseTech and SoundTube will continue to bring luxury audio performance and convenience to integrators for both residential and commercial applications. With an extensive range of Dante-enabled PoE speakers, SoundTube’s STNet will offer new products and ways to simplify distributed audio. Customized PhaseTech and dARTS Theater products and new Rockustics outdoor speakers will offer designers and integrators the versatile aesthetics and sound they need for installations.
Planar: This year marked Planar’s 40th anniversary, and it celebrated with the launch of the all-in-one UltraRes L Series LED display, which is an easy-to-use solution that measures 136 inches, is available in Full HD resolution, and features an ultra slim bezel and 20-point IR touch technology.
Portal: Portal has continued to build upon its award-winning Payment module, now allowing dealers to integrate their preferred payment processor. By integrating with third-party processors, such as QuickBooks Online, Stripe, or Square, dealers will be able to maintain their existing rates and payout speed while leveraging the benefits of Portal. Portal can automatically collect deposit payment upon proposal acceptance, as well as charge convenience fees to offset the cost of payment processing. Further emphasizing a commitment to integrations, Portal has added Google Sheets and D-Tools SI, and has completely overhauled the QuickBooks online Proposal integration. Change Order management is currently in development and scheduled for release in December. This functionality will radically simplify the process for dealers when projects change.
PowerHouse Alliance: In 2023 PowerHouse Alliance has been focused on adding and stocking a wider variety of new lines to provide dealers with even greater choice across PowerHouse Alliance locations. In the last quarter of 2023 alone PowerHouse Alliance has added 10 new lines across its network of 65-plus locations, launching into new product categories. Members of the PowerHouse Alliance have also seen growth with new and expanded locations to better serve dealers in their different markets. As PowerHouse Alliance Members prepare for 2024, they expect to see a continued pickup in light commercial projects, from small conference rooms to restaurants and bars. For the dealers that have less experience with these types of projects, PowerHouse members host regular trainings to help get dealers up to speed on the latest trends, products, and best practices in the field.
Pro Audio Technology: In 2023, PRO wowed crowds with exceptional audio demonstrations at its newly expanded PRO Experience Center in Southern California, as well as for the first time ever at InfoComm, and most recently at CEDIA Expo. PRO also received multiple awards for its latest standout speaker model, the SR-2408iw. Designed initially for a VIP’s mega yacht, the SR-2408iw loudspeaker offers stunning full-range performance from a 4-inch-deep cabinet, making it ideal for any installation where space is limited but performance is crucial. Due to high demand, PRO plans to release even more high-performing and low-profile loudspeaker solutions in 2024. And, for the true bass lovers, PRO is expected to introduce an infrasonic subwoofer imminently.
ProSource: In 2023, ProSource launched a new member benefit — a sales playbook and training pathway designed to help onboard junior salespeople and industry outsiders through ProSource University. The Sales Playbook was the result of many years of collaborative work with top integrators like Livewire, Hive, Liaison, and many others.
Quantum Media Systems: On the heels of a highly praised demonstration of its XDR3 LED Video Wall, Quantum Media Systems continues to build momentum as a leading manufacturer of high-performance, customizable video walls designed and engineered for private theaters, media rooms, digital art applications, sports rooms, game rooms, and other residential environments. Recognized for its technological innovation, exceptional performance, integration-friendliness, versatility, and most recently, access to first-run movies via the Hollywood streaming service, Bel-Air Circuit, the XDR3 is a game-changer in the systems integration market. Vastly different than conventional LED video walls used for digital signage, the XDR3 LED Video Wall offers several distinct design, installation and configuration advantages for systems integrators.
RISE Media Strategy: RISE Media Strategy is a new content marketing agency specializing in AV formed by long-time industry experts Krissy Rushing Tomlin and Jayson Tomlin. With clients like the Home Technology Association and Kaleidescape already on its roster, rhe new firm puts an emphasis on getting the brand’s story defined first and deploying that highly effective and laser-focused messaging in various content formats, from social media to digital marketing to press releases to case studies and beyond.
RoseWater Energy: In 2024, RoseWater Energy is set to make significant waves in the energy management sector. As power reliability continues to decline, RoseWater ensures power quality and reliability, even during the most challenging brownouts or outages. With the recent introduction of the Hub40, the company has provided integrators with more versatile installation solutions and extended power capabilities.
RTI + Blustream: At CEDIA Expo 2023 integrators got a good look at the deep integrations between RTI and Blustream. It was more than just two brands partnering in the same booth, but a display of integrated solutions creating control plus AV distribution opportunities for integrators. U.S. dealers benefit from shared product, sales, and distribution for both RTI control and automation plus the broad range of Blustream AV distribution options. In 2024, watch for new hardware introductions from RTI, including the Intelligent Meetings ecosystem that can help residential dealers capture office business, as well as major new AV distribution introductions from Blustream.
Salamander Designs: Salamander Designs marked its 30th anniversary with the introduction of its Next Level design and customization options that deliver more comfort and a wider range of aesthetic possibilities for seating in living rooms, media rooms, home theaters, and other home entertainment spaces.
Samsung: While The Frame continues to be a custom installation favorite, Samsung introduced plenty of new products this year, including the 85-inch Class Terrace Full Sun — the biggest Samsung outdoor TV yet — and the 98-inch Class QN990C Neo OLED 8K TV.
Sanus: Sanus released new Sonos speaker mounts and stands, outdoor display mounts, and the VIWLF128-B2 Large In-Wall Full-Motion Mount, which won a Residential Systems Best of Show Award at CEDIA. It fits TVs from 42 to 85 inches, extends up to 28 inches, swivels 67 degrees left and right, sits just half an inch from the wall when recessed, and comes with a 20-inch in-wall enclosure for AV storage.
Savant: Savant pushed the industry’s AI involvement further this year with the introduction of the Savant Smart Network, the only learning wireless network solution leveraging Juniper Mist Wi-Fi technology designed for smart home integrators, and its new AI engine, which has been designed to interpret natural language from Siri, as well as triggers from AirTags, nearfield communications (NFC) tags, and geofencing to control entertainment, comfort, lighting, energy, and security throughout the entire home.
Screen Innovations: Screen Innovations celebrated its 20th anniversary by expanding into masking systems through partnering with Display Development and adding super wide and tall ALR materials with partner Carbon Black. Plus, after a 3.5-year side quest, Blake Vackar has returned as the SI screen evangelist and brand ambassador.
Severtson Screens: Severtson changed the way it shipped screens in 2023 in response to shipping and logistical issues. To alleviate those issues, the company switched to six-piece frames as its new standard, which helps reduce shipping damages and provides a better experience for its customers.
Shelly USA: Shelly expanded its portfolio of home automation devices with Z-Wave technology this year. Shelly Qubino Wave 1 and Shelly Qubino Wave 1PM are the first devices of the new Shelly Wave series to support Z-Wave technology. It also introduced the Shelly BLU Button1, which serves as the perfect addition to the existing WLAN-enabled Shelly Button1, offering an alternative control method during Wi-Fi interference or unavailability.
Skyworth: The company turned heads at CEDIA Expo with its Clarus S1, the world’s first outdoor Google TV. A turnkey solution for elevating the outdoor entertainment experience, the “Full Sun” Clarus S1 comes with an eight-speaker, 100-watt audio system and sturdy mount.
Slayman Design Associates/Slayman Cinema: Specializing in designing luxury interiors for optimal AV enjoyment, Lisa Slayman (ASID, IIDA) keeps a close watch of trending technologies and consumer demands. Her designs are continually evolving to stay abreast of emerging multimedia experiences, such as interactive gaming and simulation. Unique in the design market, she works collaboratively with AV integrators to create high-performance entertainment spaces that are as aesthetically stunning and comfortable as they are immersive and enjoyable. She strives for a pleasing compromise that benefits all project stakeholders — integrators, architects, builders, designers, and end-users. In 2024, expect Slayman to fuel even greater synergy and collaboration within the systems integration industry with fresh, relevant design perspectives for stylish high-tech spaces that cater to a variety of recreational pursuits.
Snap One: Reaffirming its dedication to ongoing innovation and commitment to supporting Partners’ sustained business growth, Snap One opened a new co-headquarters in Utah this year. The facility boasts an Innovation Center complete with state-of-the-art laboratories, test areas, and training facilities, which will accelerate the development of hardware and software products through interoperability testing, digital product design, prototyping, and more. The co-headquarters serves as a hub for 500 employees and was designed to enhance productivity and well-being, underscoring Snap One’s unwavering commitment to meeting the evolving needs of both its employees and Partners.
Sonance: Sonance introduced its Visual Experience Series with 21 models, including the Sonance VX and James VXQ models. At the heart of VX is the Sonance Waveguide Tweeter Design, a specially tuned technology engineered to deliver pristine audio quality with smooth, consistent dispersion and coverage. At the top tier of the line’s performance is the new James Visual Experience with Quadratech, or VXQ. These models feature the all-new James Quadratech tweeter and Cymatic Diffuser.
Sonos: While Sonos had several product introductions throughout the year, the biggest one in the CI market came in March with the launch of the Sonos Era 300 and Sonos Era 100 smart speakers. The Era 300 was built to deliver spatial audio with Dolby Atmos, while Era 100 is a remastering of the best-selling Sonos One.
Sonus faber: Sonus faber kicked off the year with the launch of its first outdoor speaker, the Sonus Aster, and followed up in May with five new product introductions: the second-generation Stradivari loudspeaker; the premium custom installation collection was competed with the in-ceiling Arena 10; and the Maxima, Electa Amator III, and Minima Amator II from the Heritage collection were introduced in a new Graphite wood finishing.
Sony: While Sony’s televisions are always a big deal for CI dealers, the company drew plenty of attention over its new line of AVRs. The new receivers were the first from Sony to feature 8K and 4K/120 support, as well as Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology. The new ES line features four new models built mainly for custom installation. And the STR- AN1000 is created for consumers looking to upgrade their current home theater system.
Specifi: Winner of the CEDIA 2023 TechStarter Best Start-up Award, Specifi is an AI-enabled business management software solution that helps smaller resimercial dealers be more professional, competitive, and successful. Specifi provides integrators with an end-to-end proposal and project management platform that includes the ability to collaborate with suppliers on system design in real-time, a client portal to keep dealers and their clients connected, and a native CRM that integrates with Office365 and Google Suite.
Stealth Acoustics: Stealth Acoustics unveiled the most significant upgrade in its 20-year evolution with the 8th generation of invisible speakers: LineaRadiance. Stealth has leveraged its new production capabilities to maximize audio performance with a modern design, upgrades for ease of installation, and new streamlined accessories.
SurgeX: This year, SurgeX debuted SurgeX Connect, which, using cloud-based software and firmware, enables integrators to manage compatible SurgeX devices, diagnose power quality issues, and monitor installations from a centralized hub.
Theory Audio Design: Theory made its debut at InfoComm 2023 and since then has added an entire rep force dedicated to the commercial market and began shipping its sb25aw all-weather surface-mount loudspeaker and two architectural subwoofers. In 2024, Theory plans to introduce high-power IP amplified distribution loudspeaker controllers and add to its all-weather, in-ceiling, and pendant loudspeaker offerings.
Trinnov Audio: Trinnov Audio launched a revolutionary technology called WaveForming at CEDIA Expo 2023. WaveForming eliminates the effects of room modes that make accurate low-frequency reproduction so challenging, yielding predictable results dealers have never seen. Combining a new algorithm and new home theater design guidelines, WaveForming greatly reduces long reverb times and seat-to-seat variations in the bass, producing unprecedented impact, clarity, and detail. WaveForming will become available for early adopter Altitude owners in 2024. But that’s just the beginning — performance improvements and new features will be added through continuing research, making WaveForming available to an ever-increasing variety of system and subwoofer configurations.
URC: While URC had its usual assortment of new integrations and product launches this year, one of its most notable was its new all-in-one, combined lighting solution — URC Lighting LT-3300. This next generation of smart lighting allows the installer to select either dimmer or switch configuration and easily program to create unique atmospheres for entertaining or quiet family events.
Vaddio: In 2023, Vaddio showed installers how to tackle high-quality streaming and conferencing at home or on the go. Among the company’s new product introductions was the AV Bridge Nano, built to bring pro AV sources to the masses. It is a highly portable and cost-effective device offering an HDMI and audio input and a USB or IP stream output for connecting to conferencing or streaming software. AV Bridge Nano is compatible with the Vaddio Deployment Tool for mass installations and remote management.
Vanco International: In 2023, Vanco’s supply chain management strategy got project-saving devices, like the Beale Street 1000W amplifier line, into dealers’ hands when they needed them most. They also kept up the R&D pace: Its new 4K 4×2 HDMI Matrix with Multiview took home Best of Show from Residential Systems at CEDIA. It also debuted a new 4K HDMI Wireless Extender at the show, giving integrators a dependable, plug-and-play option for challenging installations.
VideoMojo: VideoMojo is the brainchild of respected industry veterans Cat Toomey, CEO of CATalyzing Communications, Franklin Karp, founder of Franklin Karp & Co., and John Frattasi, principal of Gusto Media and a New York City-based video producer. The service enables integrators to get their own personalized, high-quality videos quickly while sharing their specific company brand and services with design-build partners and customers across every digital platform.
VITAL: VITAL has asked one its clients, Cody Tretschok, to describe how it helped his company: “I’ve been looking for a company like VITAL for seven years, since I bought my business. I wish I had known that VITAL existed — I would have been in a very different financial situation right now! Every system integrator in the U.S. should be a member of VITAL. The database they keep and associated guidance they provide is invaluable!”
Wall-Smart: Wall-Smart added a new twist to its popular flush wall mounts for tablets with a unit that locks Microsoft’s latest generation Surface Pro 9 tablet into place. The new locking feature provides a solution that is designed for light commercial environments where tablets need to be accessible to authorized users yet cannot be removed from the wall to prevent theft and tampering.
Z-Wave Alliance: The Z-Wave Alliance debuted two new membership levels that were created to broaden the organization’s reach, foster innovation, and add new opportunities for membership involvement that support the continued growth and expansion of the Z-Wave Alliance. The new levels are Individual Academic Member for the teaching staff of a college, university, or similar higher education institution and the Individual Member level for any technical professional not employed by an entity eligible for Entity Membership.
Integration Companies to Watch
Brilliant AV: For SoCal integration firm Brilliant AV, offering clients and the design-build community the opportunity to learn about products and explore options firsthand before making buying decisions has proven to be a great success. The company opened a new experience center in Costa Mesa, Calif., in the winter of 2023 and, since then, has both increased and significantly expanded its business. With 2024 in view, Brilliant AV has plans for additional growth and a larger footprint.
Integration Controls: In 2024, Integration Controls will move into a new location and newly remodeled showroom within the St. Louis area, creating the first home technology design center in the area. In this new space, Integration Controls will showcase an upscaled smart home experience while inspiring design possibilities for homeowners and the design/build community. When working with ModusVR on the project, Ken Brueck said, “It doesn’t look like a technology store,” and that’s exactly the look the company aims to achieve: design-friendly, seamless home technology solutions that ensure the environment works for you, not against you!
KreativeAV: KreativeAV is a small family run business that specializes in customer service for the CI industry. It is one of the top-performing Control4 dealers in New England and does about $4 million a year with a team of only four techs.
Livewire: Livewire serves as an industry incubator committed to solving industry pain points. The ProSource Academy training center, situated inside the Livewire offices, offers a nurturing environment where technicians obtain practical skills and knowledge through hands-on experiences. Over the last couple of years, Livewire has undergone a significant expansion of its commercial division, collaborating closely with prominent local companies based in the thriving Richmond, Va., market.
Nerve Inc.: Nerve is proud to partner with leading manufacturers Christie Digital and Barco Residential to present the absolute cutting-edge of digital cinema projection technology. Using the latest 4K imaging chips and RGB Laser modules, it is now possible to reproduce the bright lights of a city and sun-drenched scenes in a more convincing way than has ever been possible, even on its new massive 24-foot ultra-wide screen.
SaaviHome: A 20-year home integration business, SaaviHome is now pouring its expertise and resources into a smart home tech integration franchise. The SaaviHome franchise officially launched at CEDIA Expo 2023, introducing a proven business model with valuable benefits — marketing, vendor margin, accounting, support, training, and more — that ensure success for those interested in capturing a share of this growing market. At present, owner Gavin Lantzy is focused on identifying, connecting with, and adding qualified executives who are interested in leading a SaaviHome franchise. Watch for the introduction of the first SaaviHome franchisee in 2024.
CEDIA Watch — Association and Expo
CEDIA Expo: The 2023 CEDIA Expo was a huge success, attracting more than 15,500 attendees, with a 32 percent increase in first-time attendees and 94 new exhibitors, which was helped along with the co-location of the brand-new Commercial Integrator Expo. This was the first of a three-year stay in Denver, Colo., where Emerald Expositions, the show’s producers, plan to grow its audience.
CEDIA: The association had a big year with its Smart Home Career Toolkit and legislative work, but it saved its biggest news for September with the release of the RP22 Immersive Audio Guidelines, which was created by CEDIA and the CTA. These guidelines are a new paradigm for immersive audio and system performance, benefiting consumers, integrators, and manufacturers alike.