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The Integration Guide to Selling Whole-Home Audio – Rocking The House

Whole-home audio systems offer a wealth of possibilities to clients.

To wire or not to wire; that’s the question. And that’s a good point with which to launch a sale for a whole-home audio system.

“It’s amazing to think of how far the AV industry has come since the early days of whole-home audio,” says Dave Wilson, director, DizzyFish Installations, a Vanco International dealer. “You used to be very limited in the brands and types of products you could use for these applications, and setup was overly complicated and limited. Now the options are nearly limitless, so when it comes to working with clients, most people don’t really know what they want. The discovery process is essential to understand their needs and how they will use the system.”

Whole-Home Audio – Juke Audio Installation
Can you spot the gear in this Juke Audio installation?

There was a period where DizzyFish was spec’ing a lot of multiroom audio for the sake of multiroom audio, he notes. “But now we are seeing that families are wanting more personalized control, so we are utilizing the in-wall amps that have separate Bluetooth connections for bedrooms on most of our projects. Now the kids have the ability to play their own music in their rooms.”

Nearly every homeowner worries about how a whole-home audio system will look in their house; they want a system that blends into their home and lifestyle, Wilson says. “That’s why it’s so important that integrators are involved from the start with builders and designers so the right accommodations can be made for home audio systems. Being a part of those electrical plans and being able to wire for current and future projects helps both the homeowners and integrators make the best use of the construction phase of home projects.”

At Springboard Automation, a Sonos dealer, clients want powerful control, room by room, as well as assurance that a system is simple to use, says Everett Katzen, president. “Even when we outfit homes with a control platform, clients still ask for Sonos by name because it’s the best app to control their favorite content. Sonos provides a completely seamless audio experience for customers, including integration across most streaming services all without ever having to leave the Sonos app.”

Another common concern from clients, he notes, is around privacy. “That’s why we love Sonos Voice Control. Designed purely to help you enjoy the content you love, Sonos Voice Control processes your voice and understands your requests entirely on the speaker. No audio or transcript is sent to the cloud, stored, listened to, or read by anyone, so all your conversations remain private.”

In the Zone

Juke Audio, founded in 2019, has seen consistent yearly growth, amassing more than 100 dealers, says Colton Forth, president. “We are in that space for all customers, from the Juke-6, a small unit for six rooms to our biggest Juke-8 for eight rooms. Our customers are looking to stream everything over their Wi-Fi networks rather than using in-wall keypads. They are transitioning to streaming for all their everyday devices. They want the ability to pull from a large catalog of music rather than flipping through CDs. The rise of Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music, has helped to push streaming forward.”

Juke Audio positions itself to be an in-between space, he notes, catering to those who want the aesthetic appeal of no visible wires. “One way or another, speakers need power, either plugged into an outlet with a visible wire, or, like ours, powered from a central location with wires running through an attic or crawl space, but unseen. With our architectural speakers, we believe we have the upper hand aesthetically, and, with all speakers wired together in the central unit we have increased reliability and elimination of synchronization issues.”

Review: Juke Audio Multi-Zone Whole-Home Audio Streamer

Juke Audio’s biggest value proposition is simplicity, Forth says. “That’s what makes customers passionate about us. Our system arrives at the door and even without prior experience the customer can set it all up in 30 minutes, with great audio throughout the home.”

The key for DizzyFish is working with the client’s needs, focusing on solutions rather than selling a particular product, Wilson says. “We want to make sure the system delivers what the customer needs within their defined budget. Homeowners are coming to us as trusted experts, so it is our job to know what is going to work best for them and our ability to explain why we suggest one speaker or system over another is a big part of that process.”

You can’t use a one size fits all approach in whole-home audio, he adds. “Nearly every part of an audio project is dictated by what stage the home is in (new build or remodel) and the layouts of the environments where the client wants to have audio access. Some projects are also dictated by the equipment the homeowners already have. We work closely with our clients to explain when wireless is a suitable option; for outdoor installations, in particular, it makes a ton of sense to utilize wireless and Bluetooth with the help of in-wall amps like the ones we so often use from Vanco.”

DizzyFish uses a variety of products across the entire Vanco portfolio, from Beale Street Audio to the Evolution matrix line, HDMI cables, and even splitters, Wilson says. “What we love most about working with Vanco products and the Vanco team is how adaptable they are. The team that develops their products is incredibly thorough and most team members are coming from an installer background. With that perspective, they understand the common issues and hang-ups we face. We don’t have to worry about how a product will perform because they’ve already worried about that for us. It is a rare feature to have products that have been so rigorously tested and designed for us.”

At Springboard Automation, the Sonos Amp has been extremely positive for clients because it opens up a world of possibilities for them, Katzen says. “With HDMI ARC we are able to install more sophisticated speaker configurations that perform better than ever before. Because Sonos products are highly popular and simple to use, there are a number of different product and accessory options available that help deliver a highly personalized fit and finish to the install. An important consideration for every project of ours is that the final installed solution is beautiful. We use Sonos Port, along with a third-party amplifier and invisible speakers, to make spaces where music can be heard but not seen. We also use Arc along with the Leon family of frames that are made of wood to refine and elevate a TV and soundbar installed solution.”

Whole-Home Audio - Sonos Lifestyle
Sonos is a client-favorite that offers easy options for streaming music.

One key benefit to the Sonos approach is the fact that customers can start with any room or project and build their system as their space and budget allows, says Casey Clemens, director, Americas commercial, Sonos. “Starting with Sonos Amp, our versatile connected amplifier and the heart of our professional installation business, customers can immediately tap into the benefits of the system, including an easy-to-use app that works with all of your favorite streaming services, AirPlay 2 control, regular software updates, and the ability to install additional Sonos speakers and components with ease over time.”

Going Beyond

Exceeding customer expectations goes much further than clean installation and wiring at the equipment rack, Katzen notes. “We obtain the passwords for all of the client’s streaming services and enter them, so they have the best possible experience opening the app for the first time. We also offer our clients a beautiful reference sheet with pictures in full color that succinctly shows how to navigate the app and enjoy all their favorite content. Our best-kept secret is good old-fashioned communication and transparency. We quote projects efficiently, we schedule promptly, and we communicate with our clients at every step of the installation process. We also stay in touch with our clients ongoing, and they know we will always be there for them for great advice and any support needs, including helping them trade up to the latest models over the years. Since most of our projects come from referrals, this ongoing communication has been the key to our success.”

“Planning and preparation are the keys to both our success and to wow-ing our clients,” Wilson notes. “Music gives the home soul and life, and that is at the heart of what we do. We installed a Beale Street Audio system for a 70-year-old couple in Glasgow and they now tune into Italian radio each time they have pasta night; it makes them feel like they are in Italy. Helping clients find that ambiance through music means we have done our job right.”