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Integration Guide to High-End Audio: Sonic Escapism at Home

Now that they are spending more time at home, clients are reconsidering their audio options.

frayednot combines Origin Acoustic speakers with AudioControl amplification and processing to create high-end audio systems.

While some luxury markets, such as fashion, see downturns during the pandemic times, we’re “hearing” that high-end audio sales are on the rise. This includes audio systems for both indoors and out, offering opportunity for the savvy integrator.

“This period is presenting a huge opportunity for the AV industry, including sales of high-end audio,” says Jesse Tooper, general manager, Audio Advice, a Harman Luxury dealer. “Families are finding ways to stay busy during the pandemic; there are so many more people at home now, in greater numbers than ever before. They are looking to be entertained at home, and what better way to do that than with a new home theater/audio system?”

What these customers want are solutions that will let them enjoy this extended time with their family members, he says. “They want an escape from the normal day to day. With the movie theaters still closed, the only other option is to mimic that same experience in the home. That’s where we come in.”

With the situation continuing to evolve, Tooper says, there is a noticeable uptick in the number of young adults coming to Audio Advice in search of the turntable experience, like their parents before them. “This is providing us with a new generation of customers,” he notes. “These customers want to have that great listening experience, and to them, vinyl is the best way to ensure that that happens.”

At frayednot, the facility was shut down in the first week of March for several weeks, getting back in the swing in the third week of June, says founder/lead technician, Constantinos Sandoukas. “The off time allowed me to work on my personal outdoor audio system, using the AudioControl Matrix Amplifier.”

Customers are very appreciative of the extra safety considerations since reopening, he adds. “We are very careful when entering our clients’ homes, bringing with us disinfectants and booties to cover our feet and we are constantly cleaning our tools. The jobs take a bit longer now due to these added procedures, but we roll with it and keep ourselves and our clients safe.”

In general, I think people are tired of being cooped up in their homes, he says. “We have seen a marked increase in requests for outdoor video, which leads to the attached outdoor audio and outdoor Wi-Fi sale. We are selling more outdoor TV’s and more projectors with giant screens, and we introduce customers to outdoor audio, including Origin Acoustics Landscape speakers (which we also use indoors) so that we can create a truly amazing outdoor experience.”

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Oh, the Places We’ll Go

Normally, Sandoukas says, frayednot pitches the outdoor areas as part of a whole house solution, but Covid-19 has presented opportunities in which clients are making the initial moves to discuss and request outdoor setups. “And that opens the door for us to talk about adding quality sound while keeping the outdoor spaces unobtrusive to the neighboring properties if they happen to be close enough in proximity. Overall, Covid-19 has not decreased the workload but has shed new light on the possibilities for outdoor spaces and usage, even here in New Jersey where there is not much premium outdoor time per year.”

An AudioControl-based rack from frayednot.

The ultimate goal is to get customers into the showroom and show them what is possible through those demo theaters, Tooper says. “We still have quite a few people coming in, as well as past clients having us out to them to upgrade their systems. In this pandemic, it seems that people want new systems in their homes to enhance the additional time spent with their families.

“We just added some JBL pieces to our reference theater, and we are displaying some new JBL HDL 3800’s towers,” he adds. “Most people aren’t aware of the experience they can have in their own homes, and it’s our job to make sure they know they can. Selling $100K systems is great, but selling a system that fits into the particular customer’s needs is what separates us from our competition and keeps us as a top CI company.”

Sandoukas says his approach starts with education. “We take a look at the customer’s space and listen to what their vision is before we educate them on what is possible and how to achieve it seamlessly. We show them how we can design and install an architectural audio system that really sounds fantastic, based on great speakers from Origin Acoustics and wonderful amplifiers from AudioControl. We show them ways to integrate a subwoofer into certain zones for rich, detailed bass response. We also illustrate how AudioControl’s onboard DSP with Sound Partners profiles for the Origin speakers enables us to calibrate and then fine-tune each zone to sound amazing. A successful high-performance audio sale is based on educating the customer and knowing how to use really good components.

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“The AudioControl Avalon G4 amplifier is new and amazingly versatile, and since it is a 4/3/2-channel amp, it can solve so many problems for an integrator looking for superior sound quality and flexible configuration,” he concludes.  “Also, we are starting to see a positive consumer response to voice control of the smart home, including the entertainment system, thermostat, lighting, and more. Wellness products, such as air filtration systems, are another new category that is gaining momentum with our clients.”