A couple months ago I received the type offer that you can’t refuse. Yet there I was actually trying several different ways to turn it down.
My initial reluctance to try out a Renovia multi-room audio system from NuVo Technologies had a little bit to do with my growing concern about having too much technology in my home, and a lot to do with (I hate to say it with CEDIA EXPO right around the corner) the custom installation industry’s reputation for not always getting things done right for their clients.
The phone call had come from NuVo’s very helpful PR rep, Barbara Stracner, who told me that her client’s in-house marketing team really wanted me to try out a full Renovia system in my own home. They’d even supply some in-wall speakers and whatever else I needed to trick out the system, she said. “Oh, that’s really a cool and generous offer,” I said, “but I have product reviewers who do such a great job for the magazine that it might be easier if you just sent a demo kit to one of them.”
What was wrong with me? Three years earlier, when I had left my rented apartment in New York City for Indiana and my first house, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on all of the toys that I’d written about and experienced during trade show demos and dealer showroom visits. I soon built my own home theater and eventually cobbled together a rudimentary “whole-house” system with the speaker wire and in-ceiling speakers already in the house, and then outdoor speakers. The system was far from perfect and controlling it definitely wasn’t easier. So, why was I turning down the chance to live with one of the most exciting new technologies in our channel?
The more I thought about, the less comfortable I was with the idea of installing a multiroom audio system in my home. It had absolutely nothing to do with NuVo Technologies. In fact, I had and have nothing for respect for David Rodarte and his team at the Nuvo Technologies headquarters in nearby Hebron, Kentucky. It’s just that I had come to realize that the systems that our industry creates are sold to people with the financial means to pay for their almost-always-required maintenance, and I wasn’t a member of that demographic group.
I also was concerned that the installation would cause be a huge disruption in my home during my busiest time of year. Oh, and I’m a Mac guy and despite all of the love the CEDIA channel has shown the iPhone and iPad in recent years and months, almost every system in our industry is programmed using a PC. If I wanted to make changes to my music library or programming changes, I’d be stuck, right?
I stated all of my concerns right away, and then I figured that’d be the end of it. A couple weeks later, however, Barbara called me again. “NuVo really would like you to speak with Rick Bell in the tech support department to talk about your concerns,” she said.
I called Rick the next day he soon allayed my concerns about the “Mac thing” and explained how easy the system would be to install. All he needed was a one- to two-hour site inspection where he would test my AC lines and discuss which rooms I’d like to be part of the system.
Carl Qucsai installs a Renovia Zone Amplifier. Yes, it's a wall wart, but it's paintable once the cover is attached. For more photos of the installation, click here.
A week later, I couldn’t believe how easy the install went. In less than eight hours Rick, electrician Carl Qucsai of Cincinnati-based LMK Electric, and NuVo director of education Steve Horton, had the system installed and operational. In that short amount of time (and with very little rush) they had replaced my two pairs of six-inch in-ceilings (in the family room and kitchen) with more robust eight-inchers, added one single-point stereo speaker to my dining room and another to my upstairs hallway along with with NV-I8GCP Grand Concerto OLED control pads to control them. An NV-CTP36 color touch pad on my kitchen wall enables my family and me to control five zones of audio and access metadata for Pandora, Radiotime, Sirius, AM/FM, iPod, or music from my new NV-MPS4 Music Port.
The installation team (l-r) Carl Qucsai, Rick Bell, and Steve Horton
NuVo’s Renovia system is very intuitive to use, sounds great, and enabled me to add zones where running speaker wire would have been nearly impossible. Our first dinner with friends following the installation allowed us to enhance the dining experience with bassanova music from my new favorite Pandora station “Carla Bruni Radio” and when the wife and kids aren’t around, I like to kick in old school with The Notorious B.I.G. Radio.
Before my installation I’d enjoyed a cobbled together whole-home system, at best, and now I can experience full metadata and actual zone control for the first time. Rick even integrated an auxiliary link to the system that enables me to listen to MLB.com baseball broadcasts directly from my laptop computer anywhere in the house, and NuVo’s web interface allows me to control the whole system from my home office (where I spend most of my time).
My wife has loved the system from day one and was thrilled at the lack of intrusion by the NuVo guys in our home. I had dreaded complications that come from a difficult custom-installed system, but NuVo’s team made the installation of my Renovia so painless, that I’d definitely recommend it to my friends.
I’m surprised that there aren’t more CEDIA guys embracing the retrofit opportunities that Renovia and Russound’s Collage system offer. I know that finding retrofit customers is a lot harder than the old days when builders sent business your way, but if you’re even considering retrofit, then NuVo’s Renovia is definitely worth a closer look. For a more comprehensive review of the Renovia system, check out John Sciacca's story from the September print edition of Residential Systems.