At Just Add Power (J+P), the relationship with Audinate’s Dante began about three years ago, says J+P’s Taft Stricklin, who runs and manages the global sales teams. Stricklin says his company is finishing up its second year of offering the VBS-HDIP-767DSS video over IP 4K transmitter using the Broadway chip set that provides 8 channels of Dante inputs and outputs.
“Most Dante products are developed just for 2-channel, and ours has the Dante Broadway chip, supporting 8 in and 8 out in the Dante world,” he says. “In fact, it’s Dante’s newest chipset.
“Our whole philosophy is to have fun with what we do — I have a guitar pick for a business card — and we like to say that our audio goes to an 11, versus a 10. So the choice for us was simple when Dante asked us whether we wanted 2 or 8.
“We always want to have maximum flexibility for our customers. They’re integrators, and we want them to realize that if and when we offer something, it will include more features than what is typically available in this multi-channel world. Our customers are loyal, and they know that when they pick up our product, it will have a possible functionality exceeding expectations.”
Related: Why Audio Over IP?
Dante in the Residential Market:
“There’s not a hesitation to use Dante, but rather a limited amount of products,” Stricklin says. “We are starting to see more residential companies supporting and adopting it. Since Dante was initially designed for live sound, to eliminate the need for the big snake from stage to the mixing console, it’s natural that it came into the commercial market first. But it’s now rapidly being implemented on the residential side.
“Three years ago, as we walked around a CEDIA Expo and asked integrators what Dante was, half of them didn’t know. I was teaching a CEDIA course as we launched our own Dante product and I saw integrators go, WOW. People are starting to learn more about Dante and to talk about it, It’s no different than anything else. Dante is in the early stage of, ‘let me educate you on what it is and why it’s important and how it helps the residential AV system and improves it.’”
Stricklin recently visited a large residential project and toured it with the homeowner. “The guy was talking about speaker brands and additional areas of audio and how that would be handled by Dante,” he says. “He understood what Dante would do for expanding his audio outdoors and in a large outbuilding. For a homeowner with a high-end home to be able to talk about AV over IP using Dante indicates huge progress.”
If 2020 had an in-person CEDIA Expo, we would have seen more from Dante, Stricklin says. “It will be widely adopted next year. We do a multiday integrator training at our facility in Largo, FL, and we will kick off a 2021 in-person, but socially distanced, training in January. Each attendee has his or her own six-foot table to work hands on with products. They go through our entire Level One Dante training. Some of the residential guys know what it is, but didn’t know we could do this or that with it. And when you teach something new in this industry they typically remember who taught you.”
As he is currently with Dante, Stricklin has a knack for sniffing out the next great AV trend. Twelve years ago, he noticed a tiny table with some TVs in the corner of a trade show, manned by Just Add Power’s president, Ed Qualls. “I went over to talk to him; we became close friends and partners and have run this race as fast as we can.”
The road will lead to more features, and we will add more over time, Stricklin says. “Instead of being consigned to the dustbin by planned obsolescence, the company’s high-quality video-over-IP distribution solutions increase in value over time. By offering new devices that are compatible with previous systems, and providing free firmware updates when innovations break, J+P respects our end users’ investments in their systems. This makes it easy for dealers to engage customers for years of system improvement, while the reliability of the video keeps them coming back for more.”
Since first launching a decade ago, J+P has added features like video wall, rotate video to hang screens in a mosaic pattern, video tiling, HDR support, instant video switching, the ability to overlay a company logo on any screen, and support for more audio formats, just to name a few.
“Everything from us for the last ten years is still functional and compatible with everything new being installed today,” he says. “In 2014 my Tesla received firmware over the air that made the car faster! Tesla provides lots of updates to make cars safer, more fun, and faster. We use the same theory for updating all our products, including those with Dante. I’m excited to see amps that can be dropped into a pool house and provide full audio, saving so much to run it that way. I’m looking forward to amp companies jumping on board with Dante-enabled products. It’s really about giving the end-use with the integrator having to do less. That’s why we partner with Dante.”
Stricklin started out in the pre-internet days, at age 16, as an apprentice for a cassette duplicator company, playing in bands, and tinkering with guitars. His extensive personal guitar collection is a well-known feature in the industry.
“That all led me into the real business of AV,” he says. “A cool thing we do at J+P now is giving away guitars at CEDIA Expo and then giving guitars and lessons to vets through the Guitars for Vets program. In the first year of doing this, one of our winners at CEDIA was a vet, so it hit home. In 2018, Queen Nation played at CEDIA and we gave away three Brian May replica guitars to attendees and nine guitars to vets.
“We’ve sponsored several VA and VFW projects and have been involved in military projects. I know we have a lot of skilled integrators in the residential space with military backgrounds. I’m amazed at the skills and talents these designers and programmers bring to our industry.”