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Embracing the Channel

Renewed Energy Brings Recommitment to Custom Integration Channel
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Our world demands instant reactions to the news of the day. This year's CEDIA convention was no different, as people at nearly every stop wanted my “hot take” on the “cool things” at the show.

What I noted was a continuation of trends that really began last year at CEDIA in Denver, when the improving economy made a lot of integrators and exhibitors happy campers again. With that renewed energy came a recommitment to the custom integration channel that continued into this year’s show.

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Companies that had less visible or nonexistent roles at recent CEDIAs exhibited on the convention floor this year. Bose, for instance, was there with a booth and a channel-specific message about whole-house audio, and LG, Sony, Epson, JVC, Digital Projection, and even Vizio strongly boosted the video category’s visibility from the show floor. Aided by the popularity of 4K UHD, these brands are re-engaging with channel partners, and integrators are finding ways to profit again from the category.

Of course wireless audio and streaming continue to serve as disruptive forces in the channel, with even companies like Monster touting its multi-zone wireless speaker solutions (anyone else see the irony?), and every other brand seemed focused on removing the piece (the wire) that once seemed to be the primary reason for custom integrators to exist.

The health of other brands was evident by the sheer scale of their booths and the traffic within them. Tribes of adoring fans seemed drawn to their favorite control systems vendors, whether it was the prominently located Crestron booth, or other massive displays from Control4, Savant, URC, and Lutron. But don’t sleep on Clare Controls, RTI, TiO, or OnControls, as these brands continue to innovate.

Commercial van and fleet management companies were everywhere, and big parent companies were out in force. Core Brands had its biggest booth to date, as its various products get refreshed. And, since consolidating Vantage, OnQ, NuVo, and Middle Atlantic into one booth not long ago, Legrand has become a convenient place to check out a vast array of new developments from respected names in the channel. There’s not enough room in this issue to talk about all of the news coming about of the massive SnapAV, D&M, and Harman booths or to talk about the growing list of IP networking solutions.

Last but not least, CEDIA is still a major launchpad for audio products, and the continued popularity of Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro3D formats has driven a resurgence not only in new loudspeaker developments (both in-wall/in-ceiling and freestanding) but also in associated electronics.

There was a lot to be excited about at CEDIA this year, and our coverage in the pages ahead only begins to scratch the surface of everything that we plan to cover from the show, even as my “hot take” begins to cool to a warm glow.

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