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VOLUME 20 NO.3  |  MARCH 2019

Residential Systems

High-End Audio Tips 2019 ISE Roundup


Hands on with LG’s Rollup TV

RAYVA REALITIES Elevated Integration installs a Rayva theater and gains a valuable new client as a result. Product Review: Roon Labs Nucleus Music Server


columns 8

CEDIALine The CEDIA Awards: Advice on Submitting Increase your odds of taking home the big prize. By Ed Wenck

10 The Strategist Storytelling: The Key to Successful Marketing Make the benefits of your services clear by telling the right story. By Tim Fitzpatrick, Rialto Mobile Marketing

12 Dave Donald’s Business Book Club The Righteous Mind by Jonathon Haidt This book might just change the way you look at your business — and the world. By Dave Donald

14 Home Theater A Battle Royale for Home Entertainment Video game content creators can provide a new dimension to your business. By Anthony Grimani

42 Going Forward Future Focused Savant’s Craig Spinner reflects on the custom market and the company’s plans for 2019.


features 16 The High-End Audio Artist


By Anthony Savona

32 Resi in Action

studios to high-end home theaters and whole-house automation systems.

Video Lifestyle Utah’s Tym uses Just Add Power’s Ultra HD Over IP system to create a video distribution that offers wide flexibility to accommodate client needs.

34 Review Roon Labs Nucleus Music Server A fun way to manage large amounts of music. By John Sciacca

36 TechRadar Hands On LG Signature Series OLED TV R (65R9) A promising start to LG’s potential R-Series. By Nick Pino

on the cover Elevated Integration installs a Rayva theater in a home in Westechester County, NY.

David Frangioni, owner of Audio One, tells how he does it all from professional recording

18 Rayva On! By Anthony Savona Elevated Integration installs a Rayva home theater and gains a valuable new client.

22 Behind the Scenes: Sound Research By Tom Kenny Tom Paddock brings a unique perspective to the HP OMEN X HDR soundbar.

26 Greetings from Amsterdam Some of the new product and company news that came out of ISE 2019.

28 The Integration Guide to Outdoor AV By Karen Mitchell Great AV is just a yard away.



Editor’s Letter.......................... 4 Resi Briefs................................. 6

Get More Industry Information from Web: www.twice.com Twitter: @TWICEonline

New Products.........................38 Ad Index...................................41

Join the online Residential Systems community on LinkedIn (groups/ Residential Systems), Twitter (resisys), and Facebook (facebook/ resisys). And visit www.residentialsystems.com to join our Forums and read the interactive, Digital Edition of this and past issues.

residen tial sy stems.com | M A R C H 2 0 1 9 | R E S I D E N T I A L S Y S T E M S  


Residential Systems March 2019 Volume 20, Number 3

March Issue


TIM FITZPATRICK Tim Fitzpatrick is the president of Rialto Mobile Marketing. He helps small businesses differentiate themselves from the competition, work with more ideal clients, and make marketing easier with consistent, repeatable results.

DAVE DONALD An industry veteran with over 35 years in the CI biz, Dave was on CEDIA’s founding Board of Directors and was instrumental in building the industry through his work with several manufacturers.

ANTHONY GRIMANI Anthony Grimani is president of Grimani Systems, PMI Engineering, and MSR Acoustics, with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Paris. agrimani@pmiltd.com

TOM KENNEY After receiving a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University in 1988, Tom Kenny joined Mix magazine, becoming Editor in 2004. He lives in Oakland, CA.

KAREN MITCHELL Karen Mitchell is a freelance writer based in Boulder, CO. She has written about the AV industry from both sides now — residential and commercial — for several years and still finds it most intriguing and fast paced.

JOHN SCIACCA John Sciacca is a principal with Custom Theater and Audio, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In his free time, he blogs prolifically about the CE industry. johnsciacca.webs.com

Residential Systems (ISSN# 1528-7858) is published monthly by Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036 Periodical Postage Paid at New York, NY and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: send address changes and inquiries to Residential Systems P. O. Box 1067 Lowell, MA 01853. Subscriptions: US: 1-yr $56, 2-yr $100; Canada: 1-yr $104, 2-yr $196; Foreign: 1-yr $156, 2-yr $300. Back issues are $8. Copyright 2019 by Future US, Inc.



Scores Over Crashes B Y A N T H O N Y S AV O N A Between CES, ISE, and some individual site visits, I have been treated to quite a few spectacular home theater demonstrations lately. The quality of each was impeccable, as expected, but what was unexpected was my reaction to the content being used in the demos. I’ve seen countless demos using bits of films like Transformers where larger-thanlife characters duke it out in a smorgasbord of sound effects placed precisely around the room. I love those kinds of movies, so the brief bits I get to see and experience are always appreciated, and do provide the wow factor of feeling the sound as it vibrates my eardrums (and my chest, and my stomach…). However, my last two demos, in addition to the previously mentioned sci-fi slugfests, also included scenes from the hit musical The Greatest Showman. To my surprise, I found the musical demonstrations to be more moving than the explosive ones. Not just moving of the body parts from force of sound, but also moving in a dramatic way — the home theater draws you in and lets you experience the musical scenes exactly as they were intended. I am not talking concert films here; I think the key here was that the music in these scenes were integral to the story, asking the viewer to do more than just listen, but to feel the emotion behind the song. In the first demo, it was the opening scene of the movie, all shadows and full of anticipation. The background singers start with their “oooooh”s, and then the slam of Barnum’s cane followed by a few seconds of silence. Thump! Hugh Jackman begins singing low, but not soft, and the crowd stomps on the bleachers take the place of the cane — each thump landing right where it should thanks to the subs. It was riveting. The next demo used a different scene — the one where Jenny Lind sings “Never Enough” to the elegant crowd inside a concert hall. The demo system creates the dynamics of the hall as Jenny plaintively tries to reach the crowd, and we see them accept her as the song builds to a crescendo — including Barnum, who needs this badly to gain some respectability among the wealthy. Again, the high-quality

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audio makes the scene, and pulls you in deeper to the story. I’ve seen the film, so no context was needed for me. I’m not sure the results would be the same for someone coming in cold, and would be anxious to hear his/her impression. Fighting robots always work — maybe dramatic musical scenes would, too. With the success of films such as Showman and A Star Is Born, I am sure there will be plenty of high-impact musical options to experiment with. However, all that said, I hope to see plenty of CEDIA Expo 2019 demos featuring SpiderMan: Into the Spiderverse — that movie has a fantastic visual style that will kill on 4K screens and is matched with an equally dazzling sound design. I’m available for screenings if anybody has a system to test…

Find me online... anthony.savona@futurenet.com residentialsystems.com twitter.com/resisys groups/Residential Sytems facebook/resisys

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ResiBriefs Kaleidescape Appoints Sales and Marketing Leaders

Atlona becomes a Panduit Company in a joint meeting at the Atlona Headquarters in San Jose, CA. Pictured are (l-r): Marc Naese, Panduit SVP network infrastructure business; Dennis Renaud, Panduit CEO; Ilya Khayn, Atlona CEO and co-founder; Michael Khain, Atlona VP product development/engineering and co-founder.

Panduit Acquires Atlona Panduit Corp., a leader of electrical and network infrastructure solutions, announced that it has acquired AV manufacturer Atlona. “Atlona has been at the forefront in developing cutting-edge AV technology that embraces the full potential of the convergence of AV and network infrastructure,” explains Dennis Renaud, president and CEO of Panduit. “Their industry-leading solutions complement Panduit’s extensive physical infrastructure portfolio, which will allow us to offer customers a quality end-to-end solution as they move to increasingly complex network infrastructure systems.” These innovative AV solutions are backed by an Atlona 10-year award-winning warranty.

Ilya Khayn, Atlona CEO, adds, “There are strong synergies between our companies including a culture of providing innovative, high-quality, customer-driven products, along with outstanding customer support capabilities. This partnership will ultimately provide our market channels with a singlesource solution and expand our footprint globally.” As part of the acquisition, the Atlona team will join Panduit’s Enterprise business group. Atlona will continue to serve its customers from its global headquarters in San Jose, CA for all sales, customer support, and training related inquiries. For more information, visit panduit.com.

Origin Acoustics Joins The CEDIA Designer Origin Acoustics has joined global cloud-based design software The CEDIA Designer (TCD) online database. Effective immediately, integrators using TCD can begin designing immersive audio home theatres and simpler media rooms — complete with full project documentation — using Origin Acoustics’ range of home cinema loudspeakers, subwoofers, and amplifiers, in minutes. Included within TCD’s product database are Origin Acoustics’ recently debuted in-wall and on-wall Marquee Cinema Collection, the in-ceiling Director Collection, the Composer Collection (comprised of in-wall, theaterstyle, LCR style, and two-way bezel-less frame loudspeakers), the in-ceiling, in-wall, and retrofit in-wall Architectural Subwoofer range, powered subwoofers, and associated amplifiers. Built by home theater designers for home theater designers, The CEDIA Designer software

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(formerly known as The Cinema Designer) allows home cinema professionals to design any dedicated cinema or media room in minutes using products from the industry’s best residential theater manufacturers. Integrators are required to create a TCD account to start designing Origin Acoustics home cinemas and media rooms. Visit TCD’s website for more info on TCD’s subscription options and pricing and for tutorial videos and documentation output examples. CEDIA member dealers have free access to TCD’s Media Room software (a $650 value) as a benefit of membership, while members also receive substantial discounts on the other usage tiers. Origin Acoustics dealers with questions or that wish to learn how to use the software should contact agustafson@thecediadesigner.org or join one of TCD’s monthly webinar tutorials.

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Kaleidescape has announced the appointment of two executives to fill key roles for the company as it ramps up investment in sales and marketing to drive growth worldwide. Erwin Bosma joins Geoff Stedman, Kaleidescape as its VP, VP, marketing, international to spearhead the Kaleidescape global marine business as well as to support residential growth in select markets worldwide. Bosma brings strong technology sales experience in home automation, internet of things (IoT), consumer premise equipment, and semiconductor chips from companies such as Greenwave Systems, Savant, and NXP Semiconductors. Geoff Stedman joins Kaleidescape as its VP, marketing to grow the luxury home cinema brand as an indispensable product and content supplier for customers who love to enjoy movies in the finest manner possible. Stedman brings to Kaleidescape extensive marketing leadership experience, having led marketing at several media and entertainment technology companies, including Quantum, Harmonic, and Omneon. For more information, visit kaleidescape.com.

Access Networks Expands Team Access Networks has added Alesia Hendley and Andrew Ward to their sales team. Handpicked to support dealers in equipping residential customers with the enterprise-grade networking gear today’s smart Alesia Hendley, homes need, Hendley and Ward associate sales bring their industry knowledge engineer, Access and enthusiasm to the roles of Networks associate sales engineer and western regional sales manager, respectively. With a background as an audiovisual specialist, industry blogger, and podcaster, Alesia Hendley brings extensive AV experience to the Access Andrew Ward, Networks team. In her role western regional as associate sales engineer, sales manager, Hendley will support Access Access Networks Networks’ sales and support initiatives with her technical knowledge and insight. As Access Networks’ new western regional sales manager, Andrew Ward will oversee the Access Networks independent manufacturers’ representatives serving the Western U.S. states. Ward joins Access Networks from McIntosh Labs, where he was the NW Regional sales manager. Before that, he led the NW Regional sales team at Polk Audio, and, prior to that, worked in the sales department at B&W Group. For more information, visit accessca.com.


RTI Launches Multi-Tiered RTIXCEL Training Program RTI has officially launched the RTIXCEL Training Program. RTIXCEL offers a range of options designed to give custom installers the resources needed to master Integration Designer APEX and gain a deeper knowledge of the technologies they use every day. RTIXCEL Online, RTI’s new learning system, delivers a comprehensive curriculum, allowing dealers to learn effectively at their own pace. Online learning complements other RTIXCEL training programs, including TechTalk webinars, on-site training held around the world, and the RTIXCEL Experience, a three-day, hands-on training hosted at RTI headquarters in Minnesota. These accredited courses give integrators education units for CEDIA and AVIXA certifications. RTIXCEL Online’s curriculum teaches key industry concepts and specific knowledge for the installation of RTI systems. Covering a wide range of topics from system design to programming, RTIXCEL Online features structured courses, comprised of “bite-sized” modules. The curriculum is bolstered by additional resources, including virtual site walkthroughs, interactive installation guides, 3D product models, and

CEDIA Releases White Paper on Video Resolution CEDIA has released a new white paper that examines the often-complicated subject of video resolution. The Integrator’s Guide to Video: Resolution is designed to help guide CEDIA members through the selection, presentation, and consumer description processes for video display and presentation. “With display technologies changing so rapidly, it was a great time to dive into this subject,” says CEDIA senior director of technology and standards Walt Zerbe. “As home technology professionals, we assume we intimately understand everything about resolution, but The Integrator’s Guide to Video: Resolution brings some interesting facts and discussion points you may not have considered or previously understood.” The Integrator’s Guide to Video: Resolution covers video resolution fundamentals and applications, as well as the technical progression of Ultra High Definition, 4K, and 8K. The new white paper — the second in the threepart Integrator’s Guide to Video series that includes An Integrator’s Guide to HDR Video — is another component of CEDIA’s strategic focus on breaking down complex and ever-changing technologies and standards into easier-to-digest concepts for busy professionals in the home technology channel. CEDIA is slated to debut six white papers in 2019. CEDIA members can download The Integrator’s Guide to Video: Resolution at no cost in our Resource Library. White papers can be purchased by nonmembers for $99. Visit cedia.net for more information. RESIDENTIAL SYSTEMS 


more. RTIXCEL Online is now live and accessible to all RTI dealers. Access to the RTIXCEL Online LMS and a

calendar of all upcoming RTI training events is available on the RTI dealer website. For more information, visit rticorp.com.


The CEDIA Awards: Advice on Submitting Increase your odds of taking home the big prize. BY ED WENCK

There are three key areas to consider when you’re submitting an entry into the annual CEDIA Awards: a written essay, photographs, and proper documentation. Following the advice below can help your chances of making a great impression. The Essay Geoff Meads of Presto Web Design, a present-and-former CEDIA Awards judge, sums things up thusly: “Be brief and be to the point and highlight the most important parts of this project that actually made it different. “What we do want to know is what was unique about the customer?” Meads continues. “You know; did they have any kind of special needs? Entertainment likes, aesthetic desires — or contradictory things, like they needed a massive screen for a small budget or a small budget in a big room for a theater, those kinds of things. How do you solve those issues?” Of course, a big part of solid writing is good editing. “I see on too many entries the phrase, ‘The customer said that he wanted the system to be easy to use,’” says Meads. “Well, duh. If they’re not looking for a system that’s easy to use, they’ve come to the wrong people. Any of the systems put in by any of our integrators — particularly those at the awards level — should be usable in this way, just the same as any restaurant food should be edible. We don’t want to know the customer wanted that.” There are online tools that can help you create clean copy, too. “There is a web copy editor called Hemingway. It’s free to use online or you can download and buy an app for Mac or PC. It’s a great way of streamlining text. It’s designed for people that write web copy where attention span is minimal. It highlights reading age, and we should have a reading age that is about 10th grade. It highlights sentences for overlong and overcomplicated, and it’s a great way of thinning out text to just stick to the point, and that’s what we really need entrants to do.” Photography Joel Silver of the Imaging Science Foundation, who will again be part of CEDIA’s judging panel in 2019, tells us, “First of all, can I tell how the equipment was integrated? How easy it is for me to walk into that project and take it over? How well are things laid out? How well can it be maintained? And that doesn’t require artistic photography. Do we have a good-looking room where the equipment is nicely hidden from a design standpoint?” “You have to be neat, accurate, artful, and simple,” Silver says. But make sure that the judges see that brilliant cable management you’ve painstakingly installed. Silver says, “I can’t begin to tell you how aggravating it is when we’re provided pictures of the front of the equipment rack and none of the rear. It looks like it should be wonderful, but there is no picture of the rear.”

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The Edge Cottage won the 2018 CEDIA Award for Best Integrated Home Level II (EMEA) and the 2018 CEDIA Award for Best Integrated Home, Global. The integrators are Intuitive Homes and Ultamation (both U.K.).

Meads concurs: “As judges we have a rather difficult situation where if we don’t see it, we have to assume it wasn’t done. If we don’t see the back of the rack picture, we assume it’s not labeled, it’s not wired correctly. If you want us to realize that this was done beautifully, appropriately, and according to your best practices, then let’s see some evidence of that.” Documentation One of the keys to winning a CEDIA Award? Proper documentation — and that means including calibration reports. Every judge bemoans the lack of calibration documents, but it’s especially painful for Silver, founder of the Imaging Science Foundation. “If I don’t have those reports, I don’t know what the white balance is like. I don’t know how bright the screen is. I can’t tell if it’s got the right cables going to the projector.” But when all the documentation is in order, when those sheets of schematics and details are so user-friendly that they allow for anyone to come in and understand what they’re looking at, CEDIA’s judges will take note. It’s one of the reasons “Best Documentation” carries its own CEDIA trophy. “So as far as I’m concerned, if you’re CEDIA member, every install should be an award-winning install for documentation,” says Silver. “You should give your clients value. They should be able to sell that with the house with value. The next engineer, the next home owner should look at that and understand where every wire goes, what they got, what they did. And we are delighted with some of the submissions for the racks we’re seeing around the world. These are systems you could walk in and take over in a heartbeat.” n The deadline for entries for Home Technology professional in the 2019 CEDIA Awards is March 18, 2019. For more info, see cedia.net/awards.

Storytelling: The Key to Successful Marketing Make the benefits of your services clear by telling the right story. B Y T I M F I T Z PAT R I C K

Adapting and implementing storytelling in your business has a lot of benefits. Great marketers use storytelling all the time because it works. The storytelling I’m talking about is the story your business tells customers. It’s the story about your customer, their challenges, and how you can help guide them to success. Let’s take a look at the benefits of using storytelling in your marketing.

The Benefits of Storytelling in Marketing Tim Fitzpatrick is the President of Rialto Mobile Marketing (www.rialtomobile.com). He spent 10+ years in the consumer electronics industry as a partner in a distribution company before getting into marketing consulting and digital marketing. He helps small businesses differentiate themselves from the competition, work with more ideal clients, command a premium for their products and services, and make marketing easier with consistent, repeatable results.


Easy to Understand Let’s face it, most of your customers have a hard time understanding all the technology behind the systems you install. They want to realize the benefits without all the hassle. Stories make difficult concepts much easier to understand. They create clarity, which is an excellent thing because when you confuse people, you lose them!


Memorable Stories are memorable. When you create a story around your brand where the customer is the main character or hero, you make it easier for clients to understand how your business will help them. There are only two things people care about: how are they going to survive (i.e., avoid pain) and how are they going to thrive (i.e., gain pleasure). With your story, you can position your company as the guide that will help your client survive and thrive, which will make your company very memorable.


Motivating Stories are motivating and encourage people to take action. After you watched Rocky weren’t you pumped up?

TheStrategist When you create a compelling story around your brand, it encourages and drives potential customers to take action (i.e., buy from you). Your story will help convince potential clients you are the obvious choice to work with.


Organization Stories allow you to easily organize information and communicate it clearly. Think about all the different information in a typical movie. There’s a ton, but it’s easy to remember, understand, and recall because the story organizes all the information. This goes hand in hand with making your message easy to understand. Storytelling allows you to logically guide a customer through the critical information they need to know and understand to make the decision to do business with you.


Build Relationships Through proper storytelling, your business can be positioned as the guide or mentor in the customer’s story. The guide in a story has all the credibility and trust. Luke Skywalker trusted and depended on Yoda because he was already a Jedi. He’d been in Luke’s shoes and could guide him through the process. With trust and credibility, you have the key ingredients to easily build strong relationships with your clients. You know what they say...people do business with those they know, like, and trust.


Grow Your Business At its core, this is all we really care about, right? We want to grow our business. Once you create the story around your brand, you’ll be able to easily create marketing materials that communicate: ƒƒ A consistent brand message ƒƒ The benefits you offer clients ƒƒ The problems you solve ƒƒ Your credibility and authority When you can do this with all your marketing materials, you will engage potential customers and grow your business. You’ll engage prospects better than your competitors, which means you win! Are you starting to see how your business can benefit from incorporating storytelling in your marketing strategy? I hope so! Now that you understand the benefits of storytelling, it’s time to look at a framework that will allow you to easily accomplish this in your business. Next time I’ll dig into an easy, simple to understand framework to help you start using storytelling in your marketing. Stay tuned… n

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The Righteous Mind by Jonathon Haidt This book might just change the way you look at your business — and the world. BY DAV E D O N A L D

We are all in search of truth to some degree. Some of us more ardently than others, but the truth is something we desire to allow us to make decisions from a solid foundation. However, truth can be an elusive commodity and it is directly affected by our life experiences. If there is a universal truth, how can two people, similarly educated and informed with common backgrounds, end up diametrically opposed on the same issue? Jonathon Haidt is a social psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He studied at Yale and the University of Pennsylvania and served as a professor at the University of Virginia before joining the faculty at NYU. His previous books include Flourishing in 2003 and The Happiness Hypothesis in 2006. The Righteous Mind, published in 2012, has had a profound effect on me and I believe it is a powerful tool in understanding how we, as human beings, interact with each other. It has given me valuable insight into those with whom I disagree and created a sense of empathy that has come from understanding how they arrived at their position on a particular issue. The subtitle, “Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion,” is an inspired lead-in to the book, but I am afraid it is off-putting to some, as many today are sick and tired of both topics. Let me interject that the principles and evidence put forth in this volume reach far beyond religion and politics, and can be applied in almost every aspect of life. One of the primary tenets of the book is the division of the decision process into two distinct elements. These are effectively explained in a simple metaphor of the elephant and the rider. Ask yourself, which of these two actually control the direction of the elephant? Some believe the rider, with his superior intellect and mental processing power, would be in control. However, if you have ever ridden an elephant, you quickly realized that those 11,000-pound behemoths are completely in control. If the elephant wants to go left, you are going left, and all you can hope to do is clear the way and avoid stepping on innocent bystanders. The elephant in this metaphor represents our passions, emotions, and desires. The rider is our intellect, judgment, and reason. We make emotional decisions and, only after the decision is made, we back it up with data points and evidence. The brain itself is divided into two hemispheres — one being emotional and creative and the other analytical and reasoned. These two parts sometimes conflict and we are torn. The Roman poet Ovid stated, “I am dragged along by a strange new force. Desire and reason are pulling in different directions. I see the right way and prove it, but

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follow the wrong.” Haidt goes on to explain that, “Our brain is constantly evaluating everything in terms of threat or benefit. We then adjust our behavior to get more of the good stuff and less of the bad. Animal brains make such appraisals thousands of times a day with no time for conscious reasoning.” Of course, if we truly examined every decision in depth and studied every outcome, we could easily be caught in a paralysis through analysis and never get anything done. Because of the weight our emotions and passions impress upon our lives, much of Haidt’s research involves the moral dilemmas we encounter on a regular basis. It has been posited that morality comes from either nature, nurture, or a combination of the two. However, in recent years there was another choice put forth by the psychological community — rationalism. This is kids figuring morality out for themselves. “This is the essence of psychological rationalism: We grow into our rationality as caterpillars grow into butterflies. If the caterpillar eats enough leaves, it will (eventually) grow wings. And if the child gets enough experiences of turn taking, sharing, and playground justice, it will (eventually) become a moral creature, able to use its rational capacities to solve even harder problems. Rationality is our nature, and good moral reasoning is the end point of development.” The beauty in this book is in making you aware of how you and everyone around you processes the choices we are given. How powerful is the knowledge that the individual with whom you disagree is possibly not stupid or uninformed; they simply arrived at their position through a different moral and emotional path? Consider this when you are trying to influence someone’s decision in your favor. This is exactly what happens in the sales process. Knowing that the decision will be an emotional one, are you appealing to the head or the heart? Are you burying them in technical details and product reviews, or are you describing what life will be like when they take advantage of the technologies you provide? As mentioned, Haidt’s research is both broad and deep. He has taken into account ethnicity variables and cultural differences. He has results from young and old. He has explored the impact of numerous emotions from joy to disgust and the results are fascinating. It is with great enthusiasm that I recommend this read. If you are looking for a book that will change the way you look at the world, this is quite possibly one of the best. n

A Battle Royale for Home Entertainment


mobile and interactive, tasking different devices to complete the experience. Your job is to make sure they integrate seamlessly, with low latency for a good gaming experience and sufficient speed to support live video and audio streaming alongside the game data. How do you accomplish this? Well, a mesh WiFi network is a good starting point. You also need a good QoS/system for prioritizing video, audio, and game data. If your clients are professionals, keep in mind that their interaction with (sometimes) tens of thousands of fans depends on seeing and hearing them in chat. This can’t be buggy! Finally, do not underestimate the importance of UPS with large batteries and even a backup generator (!) and backup ISP to ensure your client can always reach those thousands of fans. At the professional level, loss of power or internet can lead to forfeited matches and lost income!

Video game content creators can provide a new dimension to your business. BY ANTHONY GRIMANI

Have you heard of Fortnite? If not, whip out your mobile device and look it up. Yes, now. Back? Good. If industry prognosticators are correct, Fortnite is the next generational wave in home entertainment. With 200 million subscribers and an estimated $2B in revenue, the social gaming juggernaut even has Netflix thinking about the future of movie and TV streaming. I’m not a proponent of the “ostrich” strategy when it comes to business; I try to be forward-thinking and look for the potential benefit to our business from every new trend that comes down the pike. Fortnite represents a new “social” Anthony Grimani (agrimani@pmiltd. gaming trend, and while it may seem com) is president of Grimani Systems, PMI that a tectonic shift to social gaming is Engineering, and MSR Acoustics, with offices bad for home theater, I prefer to look in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Paris. for ways we can adapt our skills to meet the changing needs of our clients. Let’s take a look. First, some clarification about two types of social gamers. Type one is the content consumer — someone who plays games, watches/chats in Twitch streams and professional leagues, and takes in communitycreated content. Type two is the content creator, or someone who is more or less a professional (i.e., they get money from it). This includes Twitch/YouTube streamers with monetized channels, community content creators, and professional gamers. Type one is by far the largest, but type two is growing. Local Network and Internet If there’s one thing guaranteed to be important to social gaming, it’s the good ole internet. We’re at the point now where you have to have an IT specialist on staff (or at least a reliable contractor) — and IT is only going to become more central to our business. Social gaming is

Video Display and Streaming Quality Here is where the skills you have developed in home theater can really start to make a difference. The video display is vital to gaming. It needs to have low input lag — which most gamers recognize — but proper calibration is a vastly underutilized tool. Accurate calibration and gamma tracking is important to being able to see your opponent. Game developers keep a close eye on this, and use it as a tool to balance their games. Many gamers I see fail to understand or properly use something as simple as using the PLUGE/white clipping patterns provided by the game during initial setup. Now, the more professional-minded social gamers are going to want a desktop multi-monitor setup with extremely low latency (under 20 ms) and variable refresh rate. That’s something you can provide, if needed, but there is also an opportunity to upsell them to a projection rig. Where this hits home is in the social aspect. Instead of multiple monitors for the game and streaming PC, for example, you can create a customizable video mix on the big screen that features the game in a large center window with chat running in another, the streaming PC in another, and perhaps another for other Twitch streamers or a professional league cast. (Keep in mind that video mixing and projector latency of 60-80 ms can be completely unacceptable for gamers at more competitive levels.) Finally, for clients who stream, the image quality of the game play can be a big problem. Even at the professional league level, there are inconsistencies in gamma and color. Provide a means to balance the video feed and check in on your clients’ streams to make sure they are up to broadcast quality.

“Have a demo rig set up in your shop. Whether it’s a desktop setup

with small monitors/subwoofers positioned strategically around the chair, or a desk at the back of your screening room tied into the main sound system there, break your gaming-centric clients out of their headset shell.

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Sound System and Audio Quality The de-facto standard for sound in games is the stereo headset with microphone. This provides clarity and generally well-balanced frequency response with good ambient noise rejection for an affordable price. At the higher levels of LAN tournaments, professionals will typically use in-ear transducers for game audio and comms, with the headset providing a mic and noise rejection from the crowd. This is not inherently compatible with home theater-type audio; however, that doesn’t mean that outside of professional competition a good immersive audio system doesn’t kick the tail of headsets. For example, imaging and placement of sounds is key to finding your opponent first and staying alive. Headphones are very poor when it comes to placing sound directly in front of or behind you. I contend that most gamers don’t consider the performance enhancements of a good Dolby Atmos immersive sound system because they’ve never experienced it! Here’s where you come in. Have a demo rig set up in your shop. Whether it’s a desktop setup with small monitors/subwoofers positioned strategically around the chair, or a desk at the back of your screening room tied into the main sound system there, break your gaming-centric clients out of their headset shell. Dolby Atmos may not be widely available in games as such, but Dolby Surround processing with a 5.1 or 7.1 game mix can be a revelatory experience. But, just as with video displays, watch out for latency. Some of the best surround processors, with all their audio DSP engaged, top out at 70-90 ms of delay! Environment and Layout There are so many aspects to creating the perfect environment for social

gaming that I can’t possibly cover everything here. Here are a few things to consider. ƒƒ Comfort and range of motion provided by desk/chair setup for daylong sessions. Adjustable height and customizable setups keep your client comfortable and reduce long-term health risks. ƒƒ Camera quality, lighting, and green screen for the video stream. Make your clients look their best for their fans. Keep non-task-specific lighting under control, but at sufficient levels to avoid eye strain from prolonged viewing. ƒƒ Microphone selection, location, EQ, and acoustical treatment — because, after all, a streaming setup is more or less a broadcast suite. Keep the room quiet and distraction-free. No noise from equipment or activity in the rest of the house. ƒƒ And, of course, the hardware for the actual playing and streaming of the game, which is a discussion better left to the PC build guys. “Wow, Anthony,” you’re saying, “my clients aren’t anywhere near this advanced!” I know they probably aren’t…yet! Social gamers are just a bit young to be showing up in your world. But they will. Some of them are in fact kids of your clients, and have the resources to do some of what’s in here. My job is to make sure that it doesn’t catch you off guard! I know I certainly wouldn’t have thought people paid to sit around watching other people play video games while chatting with friends, but now my eyes are open and I’m paying attention. If Netflix is talking about it, we can’t afford not to. n Chase Walton (cwalton@pmiltd.com) contributed to this article.

The High-End Audio Artist David Frangioni, owner of Audio One, tells how he does it all, from professional recording studios to high-end home theaters and whole-house automation systems. By Anthony Savona David Frangioni knows sound. A drummer from the age of two, he became an in-demand studio designer and sound engineer, working with Aerosmith, KISS, and Bryan Adams to name a few. When his famed studio clients wanted equally impressive home systems, they called Frangioni, who then added high-end home theater and whole-home automation systems to his offered services. Today, his company, Audio One, based in Miami and Beverly Hills, takes care of all AV needs, from studios, commercial installations, houses of worship, to top-of-the-line residential systems. “Home and pro are definitely parallel universes for me,” says Frangioni. “I found so many similarities between the two worlds. As you improve in one of them, you improve in the other, and you just keep getting better and better by doing either of them. I was able to build Audio One doing studios, home theaters, and home automation systems. Now we do entire digital facilities and expansive church integration upgrades — things that are all in the same family of technology.” Because many of Frangioni’s clients come

I’m always looking for what the best products are, as sound is always incrementally improving.

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from the world of pro audio, they know the value of high-end sound. Of course, he has clients who don’t specify audio as a priority, and Frangioni doesn’t try to convince them otherwise. “I’m not trying to convince people that don’t care about audio or that don’t really believe they can hear the difference,” he says. “I try to understand what their ultimate goal is and I respect whatever it is.” Toward that end, he sees three different types of clients: 1. People who truly do not want to pay for high-end audio. 2. A client who wants an experience that’s unrivaled. They don’t understand what that means — what the audio equation is, what the video vision is, and all of the nuances — but they do have a goal that they want a great experience. 3. The third type of client is an audiophile and already has experience with what great audio can do for your life, for your spirit, and for your entertainment. “So two out of the three scenarios can deliver really outstanding audio, and I’m always excited when you meet like-minded people who have those goals,” says Frangioni. “With the first type of person, I don’t get on a soapbox. My approach is to give them what they ultimately want, and if they don’t prioritize audio, we’ll talk about it a little bit, but I’m not a sales guy trying to change their minds. My goal is to provide them an end result that exceeds their expectations.” Understanding Clients In the constant battle with clients over “what they

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David Frangioni, owner of Audio One with locations in Beverly Hills and Miami, got his start in pro audio, but added residential installations to his services because of client demand.

say” compared to “what they mean,” Frangioni has a system, and it all comes down to content. “Things have changed quite a bit over the years in terms of content and how people consume it, as well as what kind of soundtracks and picture quality are available,” he says. “You want to understand why they’re building this system.” Will it be mainly used for sports, Netflix, full CinemaScope-style movies? The content will dictate the sound and screen setup. “If you’re only watching sports, does it make sense to spend a lot of extra money on sound? Not really, but if you’re watching blockbuster movies, it’s a no-brainer — you’ve got to go the extra mile with the sound or you’re going to fall flat. Even with an amazing video picture, you’re going to wonder why this is not moving me in a certain way — it’s because whoever did the sound didn’t get it right! “It’s gotten to the point where most luxury homes have a theater or dedicated media room and at least one more surround system in the house. Most people want their family room and their master bedroom to have a really nice surround experience, plus a dedicated dark

Some examples of the home theaters and media rooms designed and installed by Audio One.

viewing room. Of course, they have distributed audio throughout the home for stereo audio zones. That’s our typical AV installation.” Another trend he notices is less about the sound of the system and more about the look of it. “Aesthetics have become a much higher priority than they’ve ever been at the high end,” he says. “People are spending a lot of money on their interiors and they don’t want to see traditional white grilles that look the same as they have for the last 20 years. They want to see speakers that blend into the décor — not necessarily invisible, although some clients do — but they are looking for a higher level of aesthetic than they’ve ever wanted before.” Which is one of the reasons he designed his own speaker line, Frangioni Speakers, with a silver finish that comes in rectangle or round and can be painted to match the decor. One final trend that Frangioni notes is the return of home theaters. “It’s an interesting cycle,” he says. “In the ’90s and early 2000s it was all theaters, and then about six or seven years ago it transitioned to media lifestyle rooms, and now it’s coming back to theaters — clients seem interested in allocating the necessary real estate in their home for theaters again.” Being a Great Archer When it comes to favorite brands, Frangioni is fairly open, citing an integrator’s skill as the more important ingredient. “It’s the archer and not the arrow,” he says, “although you have to have very high-quality bows and arrows in order

to hit the bulls’-eye.” For him, some of those high-end audio bows and arrows include companies such as James Loudspeakers, Anthem, and Integra. “I’m always looking for what the best products are, as sound is always incrementally improving,” adds Frangioni. “I think it’s also really important to get the coverage right and get the subwoofers correct, as well as make sure that the preamp and amplification are best for that room size. Having EQ on it and having different tone controls and loudness and balance and crossovers are really important. “Of course, in the home theater the ability to dial in very fine crossover points and speaker levels and distances is a must. The processor in a theater is so often underrated as far as people’s focus on it — they don’t realize how critical it is. I’ll see someone’s theater and they’ll have a $50,000 projector and $20,000 of speakers, and the speakers will be in the wrong place and they’ll have a $2000 receiver with not enough amplification. It’s not just about how much it cost — it’s about using these numbers to show how disparaged the system design is.” And, although high-end audio doesn’t get as much attention as the pixel counts in video systems, Frangioni knows that it deserves more. “I think audio is an art form, and it needs to be perfected,” he says. “I encourage the installers out there to really learn about sound and understand it. There’s so much to learn between playback electronics, source material, acoustics, equalization coverage circumference…there’s just so much to know.” n

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Rayva On! Elevated Integration installs a Rayva home theater and gains a valuable new client. By Anthony Savona

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The theater chairs were provided by white-glove delivery, which included installation in the room.

The client chose Rayva’s Origami design, which includes the panels that were installed by Elevated Integration.

The installation of a Rayva pre-fabricated home theater makes a promise to integrators of an easy turnkey process that can allow them to perform more installations in a shorter period of time. That claim was recently put to the test by Elevated Integration, which installed a Rayva home theater in a house in Westchester, NY. For those unfamiliar with Rayva, it was created by Theo Kalomirakis and a team of residential AV professionals to provide high-quality turnkey home theaters — plans, materials, and equipment — so that contractors and integrators can quickly install and sell more of the systems. Rayva has been working closely with the integrator community and has made adjustments based upon feedback, including allowing the integrators to spec out the equipment for the project based on their own experience and skills. In this particular case, Rayva had the client first, and found its way to Elevated Integration, which has offices in New York City; Westchester County, NY; and Long Island, through Azione Unlimited, of which Rayva is a member. Azione president Richard Glikes recommended Elevated, and the match was made. By the time Elevated was brought in, the homeowner had already worked with Rayva executive director Kalomirakis to select the company’s Origami theater design and map out the level of performance and options that he wanted. Elevated Integration was brought into the project by Rayva to provide last-minute equipment recommendations for the theater and to do the actual installation. “The aesthetic design was there and the gear had been generally selected,” says Elevated Integration president Nick DeClemente, “although Rayva and the homeowner took our recommendations to make some adjustments based on our experience and our ability to best service the client long term.” So was the installation as easy as Rayva suggests? “The contractor delivered a black room to the specified dimensions,” says DeClemente. “We pre-wired it for the audio and video equipment, and I worked as liaison between Rayva and the contractor as it related to understanding what the end goal was and then making minor adjustments of things to better suit that vision. residen tial sy stems.com | M A R C H 2 0 1 9 | R E S I D E N T I A L S Y S T E M S  


The entrance to the Rayva home theater (above) prepares visitors for the full experience (right).

“We coordinated the delivery of all the panels and the equipment, installed the speakers during the trim-out phase, and assembled and hung the panels on the wall. Rayva was there with us for that last portion.” Elevated didn’t have to worry about the installation of the theater chairs — they arrived via white-glove delivery, with DeClemente simply signing for them and telling the delivery company where to put them. The entire installation process went smoothly — and quickly. “For the quality of the end result, it was a shockingly short installation,” he says. “We did the whole interior in three days. I think that Rayva has done a good job of listening to their integrators and taking advice from us as we’ve worked through projects with them. It looks like a much more custom project than it is.” New Theater, New Client The completion of the Rayva theater above the garage was just the beginning of a larger project for Elevated and the client. Bitten by the tech bug from his theater experience, the client went on to add an extensive Lutron lighting system, automation and control by Savant, a KEF distributed audio system, and a referencelevel 2-channel listening room. Outside, Elevated installed a 7.1-channel outdoor surround sound system around the pool with a projector and a screen that used Savant, AudioControl, and Coastal Source Ellipse Bollard speakers. “This is not somebody that was on our radar, and we were not on his radar,” says DeClemente. “We were introduced to the client by Rayva, so our relationship with Rayva immediately has

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generated a real business opportunity. “We were able to go in and add a full lighting control system, climate control system, wholehouse distributed audio with a couple of extremely high-performance areas, and KEF Reference in-wall speakers in three locations with Parasound Halo amplification.” Elevated also distributed the theater’s Kaliedescape system throughout the house. And though there is no shading system, they added 120 loads to a retrofitted lighting system. With Elevated being a Savant Platinum Dealer, the choice of an automation system was simple for them. “We’re very very committed to that platform,” says DeClemente, “and we put it to use as a distributed audio control integration interface, including door entry.” More Media Although the Rayva theater is the main space for movie watching, the client also required two other media rooms. “One is a basic 5.1 surround sound system with a 75-inch flat screen in what they call the family room” says DeClemente. “Then there’s an in-ceiling surround system with both that and the family room using different flavors of Marantz receivers. Each TV has an Apple TV and a TiVo that are local, and then we have the Kaleidescape system.” The Rayva system is separated from the rest of the system, with the exception of the distributed audio in case the family wanted to listen to music in the theater room. Everybody in the Pool Having an Olympic-sized pool in the backyard is

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already impressive, but this client wanted more. “It’s pretty wild,” says DeClemente. “He wanted something that totally blew people’s minds. And, for us, there’s been one choice for outdoor AV — Coastal Source. They have a two-way outdoor ultra high performance speaker with 8-inch built-in subs that bury a portion of the speaker in the ground. It aesthetically looks good outside. We did seven of those and treated them as full range, then we did seven additional Coastal Source subs, which is earth-shattering. It’s 7.1, but it’s really 7.7.” Sticking Together This installation is the gift that keeps on giving, and not just in recurring monthly revenue, which Elevated Integration is in the process of rolling out, but also in more work for this client, as Elevated is starting to plan a project for one of the client’s other homes. Since this installation, Elevated has become a Rayva Premium Dealer, which gives them access to a co-branded version of the company’s Online Configurator Tool, a premier dealer listing on Rayva’s website, Rayva design booklets, and, for the first three months, social media promotion from the company to an area within 50 miles of the dealer’s location. “Rayva is at the top of our list when it comes to these kinds of projects because it is a company that brings us opportunities that are very legitimate,” says DeClemente. “We get manufacturer referrals all the time, but it doesn’t always turn out to be something fruitful. Rayva is like a pre-qualification for a decent-sized project.” n

Behind the Scenes:

Sound Research Tom Paddock brings a unique perspective to the HP OMEN X HDR soundbar. By Tom Kenny

Sound Research’s technology can be found in the soundbar that comes included with HP’s new Emperium X OMEN 65-inch 4k display.

Just a few months ago, in January, Sound Research, working as an audio partner with HP, received a CES Innovation Award for the technology behind its OMEN X HDR soundbar, a “you have to hear it to believe it” ten-transducer, consumer soundbar optimized for gamers, built for music, and introduced as a package with HP’s new Emperium X OMEN 65-inch, 4k HDR display. The Emperium Omen X HDR display received a lot of attention and early press in January as the showpiece of Nvidia’s efforts (in conjunction with HP and others) into Big Format Gaming

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Display, a new category launched in 2018 and focused on gamers and entertainment. It is not a TV; it’s a display. It features 384 backlighting zones, DCI-P3 color gamut, game-smoothing G-Sync technology, and a whopping 144 Hz refresh rate. It also comes with a built-in Nvidia Shield console. The included soundbar (currently only available with the purchase of the $5000 display) also received laudatory initial press, mostly focused on its loudness and clarity. It includes 2x tweeters, 4x woofers, and 4x subwoofers, with 3x stereo amplifiers at 120 watts. It is housed in a

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custom-cut wood enclosure designed specifically to fit under the display, at the lowest weight feasible (about 17 pounds). The sound is stunningly sharp, loud, crisp, detailed, and organic, all at the same time. The highs seem to hover above and outside the screen, with the stereo image reaching off the display nearly to the walls. The center is solid, there is no subwoofer necessary. Weapons and transients pop, and footsteps and rumbles remain clearly defined in the low end. The dynamic range feels equivalent to the best feature film playback. There are only two

modes, in an effort to keep it simple: Gaming and Music. Internally, the speaker outputs switch when in Music mode, accommodate the shrinkage in dynamic range. In Music mode, the inner pair are subwoofers; in Gaming mode, the inner speakers are bandwidth-limited sub-plusvoice speakers. Residential Systems got the opportunity to talk with the developers of the soundbar prior to CES, so as much as this is an early review of the OMEN X audio playback, it’s also a look at how pro and consumer audio developments often feed off of each other. The connection between the two is Tom Paddock, founder of Sound Research. As a young engineer fresh out of San Jose State, he employed DSP and resynthesis—primitive and low-bitrate at the time—in developing a pickup that went down to 14 Hz and matched The Beam, Mickey Hart’s legendary 8-foot, 13-string, guitarlike sound generator that could reproduce low frequencies and loudness like nothing else on the planet. It matched the Grateful Dead’s Meyer Sound system, both in-studio and onstage. Forty years later Paddock employed DSP, matched to current materials science and transducer technologies, in creating widedynamic range, 105 dB stereo playback with minimum distortion and vibration, to make audio sound better at home, whether for games, movies or music. Partnerships and Playback If Mickey Hart was the most influential artist in Paddock’s and Sound Research’s development, it was Intel that became the company’s most important technology partner, leading to the development of a sister company, Sonic Focus, in the late 1990s. In 2003, Sonic Focus partnered with Intel to create Intel Audio Studio, which enhanced lowbitrate movie, music, and voice content and also

created 7.1 channels from stereo compressed audio streams. For the next four years, Intel Audio Studio shipped with all Intel motherboards. A later partnership with Analog Devices built on that technology to produce the chipmaker’s SoundMax audio-enhanced chipsets. In 2013, in conjunction with Intel, Sound Research introduced the SoundEdge ERT, an extended range 40mm transducer that first appeared in the ROAR series of small speakers, the HP AMP speaker-enabled printers, and was also leveraged in the 2017 CES Award-winning Dell XPS 27. Around the same time, Sound Research had also partnered with Texas Instruments and its lead designer, Lars Risbo, who designed and developed the Smart Amplifier, later to be employed in Sound Research’s first real product with HP, and later incorporated into the OMEN X HDR soundbar. “The Smart Amplifier is unique compared to standard Class D amplifiers, in that it is designed to limit the RMS wattage of the speaker to limit thermal problems in the voice coil, but to allow the peaks to come through,” Paddock explains. “If the peaks are rounded off with a compressor, the audio sounds thin and dull and unnatural because of waveform and time distortion. But in a crest-enhancing amplifier, if the peaks are allowed through, but the RMS or constant wattage is maintained, then the speaker sounds more natural. Smart amps are very popular now because of the crest-factor enhancement capability. TI pioneered the speaker-protecting hardware Smart Amplifier while Sound Research perfected the loudness-enhancing, softwarebased Reality Amplifier.” Today, Smart Amplifier and Reality Amplifier form the basis for many of the company’s developments with HP, starting with the popular ROAR speaker in 2013 and later incorporated into the OMEN X soundbar. It’s an HP speaker,

Everyone loves bass, and everyone wants loud. Some people also love clarity. Some people don’t know the difference. But everyone knows the difference between loud and not loud enough. The problem between loud and bass is that the louder you make a product, the less bass you can allow it to create.

Tom Paddock, founder and lead designer at Sound Research.

designed by Sound Research and the HP Audio Design Group, headed by Jon Dory. The same team developed a custom curved soundbar for professor Stephen Hawking for use on his wheelchair, tuned and optimized for his voice — the way he thought he should be hearing it. Much of that research was parlayed into the OMEN X HDR soundbar. “The question every manufacturer asks is, ‘How loud can I make this product that I’m creating?’” Paddock laughs. “Everyone loves bass, and everyone wants loud. Some people also love clarity. Some people don’t know the difference. But everyone knows the difference between loud and not loud enough. The problem between loud and bass is that the louder you make a product, the less bass you can allow it to create. There’s a perfect relationship between loudness and bass and clarity, and it’s my company’s top goal to maintain low distortion with maximum loudness and superlative bass. It’s difficult to present all three of those criteria at the same time. “We’ve been building products with HP for a decade, and the ROAR series was an indicator of our ability to enable HP with both tuning and speaker technology,” Paddock says. “We maintain maximum loudness using the Reality Amplifier. We maintain bass through the use of passive radiators and high-excursion transducers. And we limit distortion through proper materials design, proper enclosure design, and damping

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Stephen Hawking with the HP Envoy display and Sound Research Reality Amplifier.

resonance. And Smart Amps provide speaker protection. “Most soundbars are ABS plastic. The OMEN X HDR soundbar has a wooden enclosure and requires very little damping. Paul Kitano, our chief speaker ‘luthier,’ put together an optimized enclosure that is custom-cut out of wood — like building a guitar, but with a transducer inside an enclosure.” The speaker bar was created in a modular The late Stephen Hawking, with Sound Research's Tom Paddock. fashion, with Kitano and team first developing a single speaker and a hyper-tuned passive radiator. The OMEN X HDR bass—while limiting cabinet vibration. When one is listening, the stereo soundbar includes four of those modules to create width, depth, and soundfield seems to fill a full 180 degrees, way above and beyond the screen. Keep It Simple There is no subwoofer; Paddock doesn’t believe in them for the nearfield environment, where portability and comfort reign supreme. Also, the OMEN X HDR soundbar measures down to 40 Hz. The bar itself was also designed to be idiot-proof. There are also only two inputs and two playback modes. It’s designed to be plug and play. “The most brilliant designs are the simplest designs,” Paddock says. “The goal was to eliminate as many controls as possible because our feeling is that users don’t actually want as much control as they think they do. In the end, they want to turn the thing on and they want the product to work. Give them too many modes and they’ll often end up at the default setting anyway. We have a Gaming Mode for games and movies, with an enhanced center image for voice and narration, and a Music mode, which is left-right and what you would expect. “Likewise, we originally had three inputs on the OMEN X HDR soundbar — HDMI, optical, and analog,” he continues. “I happen to think that HDMI on speaker bars is a bad idea for a variety of reasons, mostly involving changes in protocol and the introduction of new television sets and components that don’t conform. We found ourselves using the analog input more than the others, so we decided to build an excellent analog circuit using a Cirrus 105dB A-to-D. It was good enough that we decided we didn’t need a digital input. Everything that works with analog headphones should work with the speaker. Gamers primarily use headsets, primarily wired headsets. So we built a spec for the speaker bar that would match a set of headphones. And it always works!” Simple to use and quality in every detail. And there is much more to come, including consumer tuning and calibration tools, again, made simple. Hopefully, it will some day be offered as a standalone bar. The modules are in place, the customization for immersive playback seems a no-brainer. We shall see. n

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NEEO founder Raphael Oberholzer (left) and Charlie Kindel, senior vice president, products and services, Control4.

Greetings from Amsterdam Some of the new product and company news that came out of ISE 2019.

Control4 Acquires Switzerland-based NEEO

Sonos Unveils Sonos Architectural by Sonance

Control4 Corporation has acquired Switzerland-based NEEO, the creators of the acclaimed smart home remote, to accelerate its leadership in delivering remotes, touch panels, keypads, and other smart home devices. Introduced in 2016, NEEO’s remote quickly gained industry recognition for its simplistic setup, out-of-box interoperability with thousands of devices, and, most notably, its industrial design. Based in Bern, the NEEO product team has been led by the company’s founder Raphael Oberholzer and will be working with the Control4 engineering group in Salt Lake City on the development of the next-generation of Control4 remote controls, touch panels, keypads, and other devices. Oberholzer will take a leadership role in the development of Control4’s interaction devices and will report to Charlie Kindel, Control4 senior vice president, products and services. NEEO previously sold its remote to homeowners online, but is discontinuing all direct-to-consumer distribution in connection with this transaction. Control4 will support existing NEEO customers via www.neeo.com and plans to provide an upgrade path to make it easy for users to experience Control4’s broad array of smart home solutions.

Sonos has announced Sonos Architectural by Sonance, a collection of installed passive speakers for indoor and outdoor use designed and optimized for Sonos Amp in partnership with Sonance. Sonos In-Wall by Sonance and Sonos In-Ceiling by Sonance are available for pre-order on sonos. com, with general availability to begin on February 26; general availability for Sonos Outdoor by Sonance will follow in April. When paired with Sonos Amp, the InCeiling and In-Wall speakers’ hardware signature unlocks Trueplay, which accounts for the size, construction, and furnishings of the room where the speakers are placed, and automatically adjusts the EQ for optimal sound, according to the company. The Outdoor speaker is the first Sonos speaker designed for outdoor use and features a weatherproof design and is engineered to withstand a wide variety of environmental conditions.

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A connection to Amp also brings the benefits of the Sonos system to every Sonos Architectural by Sonance speaker, including an app that works with many streaming services, AirPlay 2 control, regular software updates, and the ability to add additional Sonos speakers and components to expand your setup over time. Up to three pairs of Sonos Architectural by Sonance speakers can be powered by a single Sonos Amp. Also, all Sonos Architectural by Sonance speakers feature dynamic bass processing to enhance low frequencies for a richer listening experience. The In-Ceiling and In-Wall speakers each sell for $599/pair and the Outdoor speakers are $799/pair.

AudioControl Joins the IMAX Enhanced Program AudioControl has announced its partnership in the IMAX Enhanced program. The IMAX Enhanced firmware update AudioControl Maestro M9 preamp/processor for AudioControl cinema products, including the Concert AVR-7 and AVR-9 receivers and the Maestro M5 and M9 preamp/ processors, became available on Tuesday, February 5th. AudioControl will offer a line of IMAX Enhanced AV receivers and preamp/processors that will enable consumers to experience the IMAX signature sound mix, delivered by DTS. To become IMAX Enhanced-certified, consumer electronics manufacturers must meet stringent performance standards, set by a certification committee comprised of IMAX and DTS engineers, as well as Hollywood’s leading technical specialists. AudioControl’s IMAX Enhanced AV receivers and preamp/processors feature DTS:X immersive audio decoding that is optimized to properly reproduce the full dynamic range of IMAX theatrical sound mixes available in IMAX Enhanced content. With meticulous adjustments modelled on the IMAX theatrical sound system, this proprietary IMAX audio mix is translated for home theater environments and exclusively delivered using a special variant of the DTS:X codec technology to deliver the IMAX signature sound experience in the home. Current owners of the AudioControl Concert AVR-7 and AVR-9 and the Maestro M5 and M9 may download the required firmware from the AudioControl website at audiocontrol.com to update their units.

New Intelligent Touch Panels from ELAN Nortek Security & Control (NSC) has debuted two new ELAN Intelligent Touch Panels that leverage face recognition and voice control technology. The new touch panels each integrate face recognition to control media, lighting, climate, shares, security, and more. Each new intelligent touch panel starts with a high-resolution touch screen interface. Face recognition analytics from NSC’s IntelliVision enables the panel to respond to individual users with a personalized menu, and to automatically create scenes — such

as media, climate lighting — personalized for the user. The dual digital MEMS microphone-array provides voice control for the ELAN system, with flexibility that lets users choose their preferred voice interface — including Amazon Alexa — without needing to fill the house with voice assistant hardware. The touch panels display high-resolution video. Two-Way Audio and Video enable communication with the video doorbell, paging, and ELAN Intercom.

InFocus Relaunches ScreenPlay Residential Projectors InFocus Corporation has re-introduced the ScreenPlay projector line for the residential market with two models designed to provide sharp, bright images from a variety of sources. The SP2080HD provides 4000-lumen images in full 1920x1080 HD resolution, and a high 32,000:1 contrast ratio for sharpness and depth. The SP1081HD, also in full 1080p resolution, has 3800 lumens and 28,500:1 contrast. According to InFocus, its BrilliantColor technology enables the SP1081HD and SP2080HD to project vivid and accurate colors on many surfaces and in virtually any light. Powered by the latest DLP

InFocus SP2080HD projector

technology, the SP1081HD and SP2080HD can accept content from a variety of sources and can display 3D content from PCs, Blu-ray discs, game consoles, and more with 144 Hz DLP Link 3D glasses (sold separately). For easy setup, users can select preset picture modes on the SP1081HD and SP2080HD projectors. n

Crestron Releases Crestron Home, powered by OS 3 Crestron debuted Crestron Home, powered by OS 3, at ISE 2019. Crestron Home, powered by OS 3 provides a simpler, smarter user experience on mobile devices and TSW touch screens and offers fast deployment for integrators. “OS 2 delivered the foundation; OS 3 perfects the experience,” says Michael Short, global residential marketing manager for Crestron. “It’s completely redesigned; simple, clean, and sophisticated. Add in remarkably fast deployment of any sized project, and top it off with the best hardware in the business. Why use anything else?” Available spring 2019, OS 3 will deliver new page designs, dynamic room controls and icons, and many new features. Complete projects can be set up and deployed on any scale in a fraction of the time of traditional methods, with no programming needed. Key new features include: • Stylish, responsive, smooth performance • Support for multiple homes • Easy creation and editing of scenes • New icons to save favorites — provides intuitive custom access and experience • Refined layout for easy access to the most commonly used functions • Dynamic, intuitive display features • Personalization of UI using photos of home to represent rooms • Enforced end-to-end encryption for secure communications • Register homeowners and guests remotely via custom URL

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Global Outdoor Concepts Sound Integration installed a SunBriteTV in a barbecue area.

BRINGING IT HOME Great AV is just a yard away. By Karen Mitchell Call it the Great American Staycation. Americans are on the move, but often with destinations no farther than their own property lines. “It feels like we’re moving more into our outdoor spaces as an escape without having to go far away,” says Eyal Akler, founder/ CEO, ATTYWON, Great Neck, NY. ATTYWON’s clients, typically at the higher end of AV budgets, are located from NYC to the eastern tip of Long Island. “Much of our business is for new construction, although rather than spending money on trips or on loans for new homes, many of our clients are putting money into landscaping with AV, outdoor lighting, and even outdoor theaters to enjoy the properties they already have,” he says. “We expect our total outdoor AV business to grow by about 20 percent this year as we add new lines and get involved in high-end landscape lighting fixtures as well.” Upstate, in New York’s Finger Lakes region, Sound Integration president Jeff Bradford designs and installs many projects for clients with summer lakehouse properties. “About 25 percent of our


projects are for outdoor AV, for both new construction and existing homes,” he says, “With our climate, clients are looking to maximize the time they spend outdoors with the greatest amount of amenities. Our revenues are up, too, which means spending for the outdoor space has grown. Our goal is to design easy, turnkey systems that they can operate via a tablet or touchscreen.” Bradford’s projects typically feature Crestron Eyal Akler, Founder/ CEO, ATTYWON control systems and MSE Audio products, including Rockustics, the bluetooth OS-440 amp, and the new Cherry Bomb as outdoor solutions. The OS-440, from Phase Technology, is the industry’s first outdoor smart amp, and is weatherproof. “The amplifier is great for Upstate New York weather, and is flexible,” he says. “Best of all, it sounds amazing. “The Music Garden (Rockustics) keeps the great sound of the rocks, but adds a sleeker aesthetic that allows us to have a com-


A recent project from ATTYWON features a powerful outdoor sound system that includes Episode Landscape Satellite speakers coupled with TruAudio in-ground subwoofers, powered by Crown amps, and controlled by Savant. This yard also features lighting control by Lutron and outdoor WiFi coverage by Araknis.

plete solution no matter what the client wants to see and hear outdoors,” he adds. “I have Music Garden in my own house and use it even in winter. l love the performance.” Sound Integration has also been installing AV around a lot more barbecue areas and fire pits. “We’re doing a lot for outdoor patios with pizza ovens and for outdoor kitchens; we’ve even been asked to enable tablet control for gas,” Bradford notes. “One project included an outdoor kitchen with speakers and a TV with in-ground speakers around a pool and in soffits. Outdoor WiFi with an access point is pretty standard now, and for that we install Luxul access points.” Episode speakers are the loudspeakers of choice for certain outdoor projects, ATTYWON’s Akler says. “Episode may not have the longest history in outdoor speakers, but what typically sets them apart is that they produce speakers that can play louder, with deeper bass, than most other residential 70-volt speakers. With 70-volt, you

can run longer distances and install more speakers on the line; and with 8-inch woofers and 60-watt tap setting, you get bigger sound. “Eight-ohm speakers sound better and generally have a wider frequency range than 70-volt, but 8-ohm is limited in how long the wire can be and how many speakers can be used on each channel. Most large outdoor spaces require many speakers in order to get good, consistent sound coverage without hot spots — areas that are too loud. Most of the time, we would design a 70-volt outdoor system with smaller satellites, such as a 4- or 6-inch, coupled with one or more subwoofers that pick up the lower frequencies, giving the space deep bass as well as decent sounding high frequencies. But, in some cases where subwoofers are not an option, 8-inch satellites can be used to compensate for the lack of subs and bring back some of the bass. A larger woofer usually equals lower frequency capabilities for bass.”

SPOTLIGHT: GLOBAL OUTDOOR CONCEPTS Specializing in outdoor weatherized super bright TVs and digital signage, with sizes that range from 32 inches to a whopping 200-plus inches, Global Outdoor Concepts has sold thousands of systems since 2004. Pricing starts at $850, and products include outdoor speaker bars, waterproof remotes, outdoor TV mounts, outdoor TV lift cabinets, and outdoor rolling TV cart with battery operated outdoor TV. For more information, visit globaloutdoorconcepts.com.


OUTDOOR AV WATCH IT “Outdoor TVs are being requested frequently, and we install SunBriteTV,” Bradford says. “Sunbrite is the leader in outdoor TVs and they’re reliable. Outdoor cameras are gaining in popularity, and we install Hikvision both inside the home and outdoors. And outdoor lighting control and motorized shades are hot right now — no pun intended.” ATTYWON is also designing more projects with multiple outdoor TVs. “We recently completed one with three TVs in the pool house; two 75-inch SunBrites are installed on the outside and a 75-inch Samsung is installed inside the pool house,” Akler says. “A handful of fire pits have been integrated into the control system, with Lutron, Savant, and ELAN being our preferences,” he adds. “Shades are big, but mainly for indoor applications. In outdoor spaces, we sometimes use automated shades in cabanas, or motorized awnings to help with shading.” Lighting is becoming big for using the spaces at night, Akler continues. “A lot of landscapers come in to install cheaper fixtures where the quality of the bulb is inconsistent with the main space, thus producing uneven color. Outdoor spaces should be designed to last a lifetime with lighting that reflects color consistency to highlight specific features ornamentally and for security, without hot spots.


Can you spot the outdoor audio? In this Sound Integration installation, the Rockustics speakers blend right in.

“Another trend is to change the color of lights, integrated through Lutron and controlled through DMX, to represent the seasons, various holidays, or special events. These outdoor systems have their own stand-alone WiFi apps so colors can be changed easily. “Although still not a frequent client request, there is interest in outdoor theaters using blow-up or collapsible screens. In the past, we’ve had projects using a blow-up screen in a yard, but we also have drawn up plans for a dedicated theater with surround sound for year-round enjoyment. We’re exploring the possibilities of installing collapsible screens using an awning or overhang. We have some planned testing using Coastal Source speakers, a company that started in the Florida Keys, with those connected to a surround sound receiver from Sony, Marantz, or Denon inside the house. These speakers produce incredible sound in any environment and they are designed to stay outdoors forever. “For projectors, we will likely use Epson; they make a nice 4K, high-lumen product that we mount indoors, if possible, or put on a rolling stand. We’ve used these indoors and they have high enough lumens to get a clear picture without being washed out. This would be ideal for late afternoon or evening viewing.” At Sound Integration, Bradford’s challenge,iis that many of his lakehouse clients also want AV in their boathouses: “Those can be a good distance away from the main house,” he says. “So it’s a challenge to get the wiring in. We’ve done two AV projects with an airplane hangar on the property. MSE Audio and the rest of our brands allow us the most flexibility in providing solutions for the diversity for client needs. Being able to offer these solutions is how we’re growing our business.” n



Video Lifestyle Utah’s Tym uses Just Add Power’s Ultra HD Over IP system to create video distribution that offers wide flexibility to accommodate client needs. Since 1977, the Utah Valley Parade of Homes has been an annual showcase of new, high-end, and designer homes located throughout Utah Valley. The self-guided tour has featured the area’s finest builders, developers, and remodelers who aim to showcase the most innovative ideas and the newest trends. This year’s 41st event included 33 different homes ranging from 2621-square-foot $200,000 homes to behemoth 13,000-squarefoot $2 million residences. One parade home in particular had to blaze a new trail in home entertainment. The six-bedroom home boasted 9000 square feet of luxury living featuring a home cinema and multiple areas that had to be entertainmentready before the home was even purchased and the homeowners moved in. To that end, Integration firm Tym — a longtime Utah Valley Parade of Home supporter and multi-awardwinning integration firm — set about designing an AV backbone that would scale well into the future for any entertainment needs. “The new parade homes are the ultimate showroom for the public,” says Matt Montgomery, co-founder of Tym. “Although home owners haven’t yet moved in, everything must be fully staged with all the electronics operable in order for builders and developers to completely capture the vision they’ve designed as part the home. Parade homes have much tighter deadlines, with

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Samples of some of the may rooms that Tym provided video distribution for using Just Add Power’s Ultra HD Over IP.

only a few weeks — or even days — from the time the paint dries until the doors are opened. That means all wiring and cables need to be settled on before homeowners purchase the home. The downside is that this can pose limitations for customers wanting a state-of-the-art home theater and other entertainment spaces.” Tym needed a flexible and scalable video distribution solution. In addition, the platform

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needed robust features that would support any entertainment area, from a full home theater to simple, display-only setups. To ensure a successful install, the company chose to use Just Add Power (J+P) ­— its go-to video distribution solutions provider. J+P’s Ultra HD Over IP is a scalable video distribution infrastructure that allows integrators to build a scalable and cost-effective infrastructure to distribute video

sources up to 1080p resolution or meet evolving 4K requirements by mixing and matching devices available within J+P’s portfolio of solutions. Every source is outfitted with a J+P transmitter that fits the source specifications and reliably distributes video to a small J+P receiver attached to any screen. The video signal can be scaled up or down based on the screen’s resolution. “This home was pre-wired for several future TVs,” says Montgomery. “If the home owner chooses to add a TV down the line, no matter what format, we only have to add a Just Add Power receiver on the back. Just Add Power gave us future flexibility that wasn’t just critical for meeting the project demands for the Parade of Homes, but for our customers as well.” The setup for the Parade included a 20-x30foot large projection home cinema with Sony 285ES 4K projector and one flat screen in the game room, great room, and master bedroom that also had to support surround sound. Three other displays throughout the home were installed with a soundbar. With J+P, it could provide 2-channel downmixing in areas where surround sound wasn’t being utilized. Sources included Kaleidescape, Apple TV, video feeds from the surveillance system, Bluray players, and two cable satellite receivers. With the J+P IP-based backbone, Tym was able to consolidate all the sources. No matter where the homeowner is, the experience is the same. And just as they can just add a J+P receiver to any future display, the system ensures that they can add more video sources with just another transmitter. The other critical component was control programming. The client selected Control4 as their control platform using a tablet application. J+P is control agnostic, easily integrates with any system, and ensures a reliable user experience no matter what control solution is selected. Because the distribution gear is centralized and neatly tucked away, the interface eliminated the basket of remotes for multiple video sources and freed the home of cable clutter and component furniture. Once the Parade successfully wrapped up and the home owner moved in, Tym expected some phone calls from the homeowners to address any system changes. “We measure effectiveness by how many service trips it takes to resolve issues for the clients,” says Montgomery. “There have been no service trips to date. And once they start planning for their next phase, it’ll be as simple. With J+P, we can scale, and we can scale with a number of options, including tiling and downmixing.” n

Tym provided a client-requested Control4 automation system to the home. residen tial systems.com | M A R C H 2 0 1 9 | R E S I D E N T I A L S Y S T E M S  



Roon Labs

Nucleus Music Server BY JOHN SCIACCA

While the music server/streamer category has matured immensely over the past decade, and now seems to be built into about every product from receivers to TVs to Blu-ray players, a category that hasn’t seen nearly as much improvement is music management. If you think about it, the majority of systems still force customers to browse their collections in the same nested folder method iTunes has employed since, like, forever.


Kudos Unrivaled means for managing and exploring music collections of any size; terrific sound quality; fantastic Tidal and Qobuz integration

Concerns None

Product Specs 4 Manages music stored on USB or NAS drives as well as streamed content from TIDAL and Qobuz

But as music collections grow in size from hundreds of albums to thousands, locating the music you want to listen to, or just browsing through to see what you have, becomes an exercise in frustration. And forget about trying to discover new music you might like. Even with an abundance of streaming services, many people just resort to listening to the same Pandora station, Sirius channel, or Spotify playlist. This is the problem that Roon was created to resolve. It’s not an exaggeration to say the Roon Labs team is fanatical about managing large — and I mean hundreds of thousands of songs large — music collections in the most attractive and user-friendly manner possible. And where other companies might focus on adding new streaming services, or building wireless speakers, Roon’s focus is on crafting the most world-class user experience possible. Roon Labs began in 2015, starting as a software company selling subscriptions to access its music management data service. The Roon team was — and remains — hardware agnostic, allowing its software to run on Windows, Mac, Linux, and NAS platforms, posting minimum specs needed to get the best experience, and having an active forum offering support.

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But in the CI channel the majority of us don’t want to be tasked with designing, building, and maintaining computers for our clients, or get involved troubleshooting a customer’s DIY build. We also don’t like getting involved with products that don’t offer any kind of integration with our control systems. And many of our clients don’t want to have an always on and running computer dedicated to music serving. And this is where the new Roon Labs Nucleus, the company’s first foray into hardware, could be the music streaming device both you and your clients have been dreaming of. What It Is Nucleus is offered in two versions, regular and +. They are externally identical, but the + model features upgraded processing horsepower and additional memory for handling extremely large music libraries, multiple simultaneous streams, and some more additional complex DSP processing. Since the base Nucleus is designed for libraries up to 10,000 albums (or 100,000 tracks) and handles up to six simultaneous zones of streaming, it will likely handle the vast majority of installs, and was the unit sent to me for review. Designed in partnership with Intel, the Nucleus is built on Intel’s highest-performance

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4 Manages libraries up to 10,000 albums (100,000 tracks) and supports up to six simultaneous streams (Nucleus + available for larger collections and outputs) 4 Support up to six simultaneous streams 4 Compact, fanless design for totally silent operation 4 Streams music to USB DAC, Sonos, Airplay, Chromecast, Roon Ready devices, and more 4 Control4 and Crestron integration 4 Connections: 2 USB 3.0 (for hard drive and/or DAC), HDMI (stereo and multi-channel audio output), Gigabit Ethernet LAN, Thunderbolt 3 (currently unused); detachable power cable 4 Requires Roon subscription (annual or lifetime)

NUC (Next Unit of Computing) platform. Nucleus is essentially a small-form, purpose-built computer running Roon’s proprietary ROCK (Roon Optimized Core Kit) OS, designed for just one thing: to browse and play music. Visually, the Nucleus has a simple, modern, sleek and cool aesthetic, with its top and sides covered in a continuous heat sink. Its fanless design along with internal memory stored on a solid-state drive equate to completely silent operation that will satisfy any audiophiles. Another nice touch is the single-power LED smartly housed in the back of the unit where it won’t cause any distractions. Connection-wise, Nucleus offers a single Gigabit Ethernet jack (WiFi is not supported), two USB 3.0 connections, and an HDMI connection. (A Thunderbolt 3 port is also on hand, but currently unused.) These rear panel ports are “set back unobtrusively in recesses inspired by the hangar bays in the Death Star from Star Wars.” I mean, is that cool or what? Unlike many music servers, Nucleus doesn’t include any storage for a music library. Instead Roon assumes users will have their own preferred method, whether NAS, USB, or adding a drive inside the Nucleus. I connected the Nucleus’ HDMI output to my Marantz AV8805 for main zone listening. While a set of analog or digital outputs would be great for multi-zone connections, Roon offers plenty of other ways to send music around the house. First, the USB’s can either be used for connecting an external drive or sending audio to a USB DAC. Second, Roon supports both AirPlay and Chromecast to wirelessly beam audio to a growing number of devices. Third, Roon’s SDK is freely available to manufacturers, and many products work as Roon audio endpoints, including Bluesound, Elac, KEF, Krell, Lyngdorf, Mark Levinson, Meridian, NAD, Oppo, Sonos, and Trinnov to name a few. Once connected, the Roon Remote app (available for iOS, Android, Mac, and PC) is used to configure and control the Nucleus. Upon opening, Remote locates the Nucleus and walks you through connecting and basic setup, which includes setting up a listening profile, directing where the music collection is stored, which endpoints, AirPlay, or Chromecast devices should be enabled, and linking a Tidal and/or Qobuz account. One of the things that differentiates Nucleus from every other Roon product is its integration with Crestron and Control4 systems. Adding the Roon driver to my Control4 project allowed full control and library browsing, however, the

richest Roon experience is definitely had when using its own Remote app on a larger screen such as an iPad or laptop. Roon transcodes — onthe-fly — any music file to any device, allowing highresolution, multi-format, multi-room streaming. Enjoy those 192/24-bit FLAC files in AirPlay zones, or MQA-encoded files on Chromecast devices. Roon streams files up to 384 kHz/24-bit PCM and DSD512, intelligently converting audio to the optimal resolution supported by every device with no thought required by the user. Pick what you want to hear, and where you want to enjoy it, and Roon handles the rest. Nucleus also features powerful DSP such as parametric EQ and sample rate conversion configurable for each zone, allowing the best sound in every room. The Roon Experience I’ve spent far too much space talking about what Nucleus is, but it’s the experience of using Roon that makes it so fantastic. And I say using because Roon provides such a rich experience, it encourages an active role in not only exploring your existing music, but, even better, discovering new music. Gone are the days of folders and lists, as Roon immediately begins analyzing your music collection at the track level, finding an immense trove of information. Selecting an artist gives you high-res images, a detailed bio, concert dates, social media accounts, and more. Selecting an album gives reviews along with full production credits and song lyrics. Roon’s software also makes connections between artists and albums in your collection, creating an intricately tangled web of your music library that it then presents in a “searchable, surfable magazine about your music.” You can, of course, browse your music in the traditional artist, album, and genre ways, or use Roon’s powerful “Focus” feature to hone in on specific things such as albums featuring Miles Davis, from the ’60s, in 96/24 resolution or better. One thing Focus can’t do (yet) is combine searches, such as to display every recording that features Miles Davis and John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. I say “yet” because Roon regularly updates and improves the experience, including an update to version 1.6 just weeks ago. You can also meander your collection using

Roon’s dynamic Discover tab that presents a different view every time you select it. Discover highlights albums, artists, labels, and genres from your collection, and provides little nuggets of info such as albums that were released this day/ week/month in previous years. Roon is great when just managing your own music library, but the real fun begins when you link a Tidal and/or Qobuz streaming account. Once done, you have a virtually unlimited number of albums at your disposal, many of them in high-resolution or MQA. Add any number of these cloud-based albums to your library, and Roon seamlessly merges them with your actual collection. Tidal and Qobuz are also used to expand your Roon Radio listening options. Pick any artist, album, or track and start a radio station based on the style of music. According to the company, “Radio considers metadata-based relationships, listening history, overall popularity, and significance of content to build a model that predicts the affinity between radio picks and your Roon profile.” Roon will roam through your own collection as well as choosing similar tracks from Tidal and Qobuz, allowing you to discover new music similar to styles and artists you like. Roon helped me discover that I like music genres called Jangle Pop and Left-Field Pop, which let me use the “Similar to” and “Influenced by” suggestions of artists I already like to find new artists and music I’d never heard of. And then clicking on artists they were similar to led me down a wonderful rabbit hole of new music discovery, similar to the way you use to go through albums in a music store, but far more effective, informative, and expedient. Long story short, I’m now bizarrely into Scandinavian female pop artists like Sigrid, Aurora, Dagny, MØ, and Lykke Li that I likely never would have discovered. I don’t know a better way to sum up my experience with Nucleus than to say it made listening to music fun again. If you’ve been looking for a music solution for your audiophile clientele, Nucleus checks nearly all the boxes. n

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Hands on:

LG Signature Series OLED TV R (65R9)

Read the full review on TechRadar: www.techradar.com/reviews/ lg-signature-series-oled-tv-r-65r9

A promising start to LG’s potential R-Series. BY NICK PINO

EARLY VERDICT Vegas was the perfect backdrop to show off this magical, rollable 65-inch OLED TV.

FOR • OLED picture performance • Good for 50,000 unfurlings • 2nd-Gen Alpha a9 Processor • WebOS 4.5 with Alexa

AGAINST • One stand option • 800-nit peak brightness • Same panel as other OLEDs

The OLED TV R uses LG’s new WebOS 4.5 smart platform.

At one time, seeing a TV appear out of thin air would’ve been something straight out of a magic act. But LG’s new rollable Signature Series OLED TV R isn’t magic, it’s engineering and display technology risen to the nth degree. And while it certainly has a magical, scifi quality about it — how many TVs have you seen collapse in on themselves without being destroyed? — given its second-half 2019 release date, it’ll soon be more fact than fiction. We got a chance to see the OLED TV R (or, R-Series, if you want to keep with LG’s regular naming scheme) for ourselves ahead of CES and walked away mesmerized by the South Korean electronics maker’s latest innovation. Price and availability According to LG, the Signature Series R9 will be available in the second-half of 2019 and exclusively in a 65-inch version, though that could change by next year. LG also couldn’t provide a price for the 65R9… which actually isn’t that uncommon at CES

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— rarely do manufacturers announce a price and release date the day they announce a new product. Given the fact that it’s a 65-inch OLED that uses a mechanical system never used before by any other manufacturer, however, chances are it’s not going to be cheap.

The base is slightly longer than 60 inches across but half that size vertically. That’s enough storage space for the screen, apparently, as well as the 4.2 Dolby Atmos sound system.

S Y S T E M S | M A R C H 2 0 1 9 | r e si den tial systems.com

The LG Signature Series OLED TV R presentation at CES.

Design What LG has done with the R-Series is harness OLED’s natural flexibility and built a base that acts both as a storage facility, unfurling mechanism, and, also, a sound system all in one. The base is slightly longer than 60 inches across but half that size vertically. That’s enough storage space for the screen, apparently, as well as the 4.2 Dolby Atmos sound system. The housing unit, which has all the inputs and outputs built into the back, sits on top of a plain white stand that comes with every 65R9 OLED. The base and the stand are all you’re going to see when the TV is turned off, which is fine as long as you like the white stand and base. If not, you’re out of luck: the stand only comes in one color and there’s no swapping bases. While the single color option is a disappointment, the stand itself is a minimalist’s dream: it’s low to the ground, open at the bottom to allow for storage, and fairly innocuous. The magic of the unfurling (the term we’ve given to the TV unrolling itself from the stand) remains a bit of a mystery, a short instructional video LG put together shows the TV being rolled up on a spindle inside the base. The TV unfurls itself silently and engineers have told LG executives that the TV can be furled and unfurled around 50,000 times — which means if you turned it off and on twice a day, you wouldn’t hit the upper limit for about 34 years. In practice, when you turn the TV on, a small portion of the top surface slides back and the TV unrolls itself into an upright position. The TV can either extend to its full 65-inch form — what LG is calling Full View — or display just a small part of the screen in Line View. The former is used when you’re watching TV while the latter might be used when you want to play music or use Mood Mode, which displays small visual effects to match a nature-themed audio soundtrack like Rain, Stars or Snow. According to LG, the 65-inch screen is held it in place with brackets at the base that prevents

it from wobbling when upright. That doesn’t mean that the TV could survive a direct strike from a flying object like, say, a CRT could when they were popular a decade ago, but it certainly shouldn’t wilt over time, either. Around the back, you’ll find HDMI 2.1 ports, which will support 4K120 playback once it’s available via an update later this year. HDMI 2.1 also includes support for HFR content when that arrives sometime down the road. Performance When the TV is fully exposed, you’re All the inputs and outputs are built in to the back of the housing unit. treated to a 4K HDR OLED TV set. It’s The last feature is all part of LG’s new WebOS just as beautiful as LG’s screens from last year, even if there hasn’t been a massive change in 4.5 smart platform, which makes its debut on all technology — the panel itself hasn’t undergone a of the 2019 LG UHD TVs. The big change this year is that the Amazon button on the remote massive revision, unfortunately. Still, what we saw was particularly impressive. doubles as a way to access Alexa — a short press OLED picture quality is still at the top of the table brings up Amazon Prime Video while a long press compared to standard LED-LCD. Sure, the latter brings up Amazon’s virtual assistant. That doesn’t can get brighter — and that certainly makes LED- mean Google Assistant or LG’s own ThinQ LCD look better in a brighter room — but when smart platform are out of a job, however, those it comes to cinema-quality black levels OLED is smart platforms still exist and can be accessed by pressing the press-to-talk button (microphone still the absolute best. Inside the 65R9 is the next-generation of button) on the LG Smart Remote. Lastly, not to be outdone by Samsung’s Alpha a9 processors that allow for deep learning picture quality and an ambient light detection announcement that its 2019 TVs will support feature that can actually adjust the PQ curve iTunes on its Tizen smart TV platform, LG says of a TV depending on the ambient brightness that it will support AirPlay 2, just stopping short in the room — i.e., when it’s daytime the TV of creating an iTunes app on the LG TV Store. will recognize the additional light and raise its max brightness to compensate, and reverse that Early verdict process at night. While OLED still isn’t hitting the brightest In terms of sound quality, LG has implemented highlights that LED-LCD and MicroLED a new AI Sound mode that really upgrades the are hitting, it’s still one of the best display forward-firing speaker’s audio performance by technologies on the market. Combine OLED’s virtualizing it for a larger space. The speakers, superb picture performance with the novel, despite not having an upfiring component, nearly magical ability for OLED to roll up into a sounded similar to some of the lower-end Atmos base stand when you’re not watching it and, well, systems I’ve heard — and that was without the this is easily one of the coolest, most noteworthy TV playing any Atmos-compatible content. TVs we’ve ever seen at CES. n residen tial sy stems.com | M A R C H 2 0 1 9 | R E S I D E N T I A L S Y S T E M S  


NewProducts MartinLogan Introduces New Installer Series Speakers 

Josh.ai Launches Natural Language Solution for Distributed AV  Josh.ai has announced that it now features non-scene based voice media switching, which means that integrators no longer need to pre-program specific media sources and content to specific destinations for voice commands. Josh.ai now natively understands different sources and destinations, which introduces flexibility to enable users to go from room to room and simply ask to turn on a favorite song or show. For example, clients can walk into their theater and say, “OK Josh, watch Breaking Bad.” Josh.ai understands the request is coming from the theater, powers on the projector, utilizes a knowledge graph to determine Breaking Bad is on Netflix, routes the matrix switcher to select the appropriate media server as an input and sends to the proper output, switches to the appropriate audio source, and almost instantly Breaking Bad is on. Josh.ai has completely redesigned the integrator setup flow for setting up AV systems. Josh.ai introduces a browser-based configuration workflow that autodiscovers audio and video devices on the network. The new interface has been designed with dealers in mind, allowing them to set up complicated distributed AV workflows quickly. For more information, visit josh.ai.

 Just Add Power’s 3G+ 767DSS Dante Enhanced Sound System Transmitter Just Add Power’s (J+P) new 3G+ 767DSS Dante Enhanced Sound System transmitter not only distributes Ultra HD and 4K video with HDCP 2.2 over a single Cat5e cable, but is also compatible with Dante and AES67 audio networks, with separate switching of audio and video. The industry’s first solution to support the latest Dante eight-channel chipset, the 767DSS transmitter allows installers to input up to eight audio channels from the J+P system for playout on Dante-enabled and AES67 devices, and extract up to eight channels from the audio network for playout across the J+P system. The 767DSS is backwards compatible with legacy two-channel Dante and AES67 devices, while offering higher performance with lower compression — bitrates of 176.4 and 192 kHz — and latency as low as 0.25 ms on Gigabit Ethernet. Secondary connectivity is built in for glitch-free performance and to provide redundancy for high-availability applications. The 767DSS supports control inputs with RS-232 and IR. For more information, visit justaddpower.com.

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MartinLogan has announced the relaunch of their Installer Series of custom installation speakers, including two ultracompact in-ceiling speakers with 3.5-inch woofers. Completely redesigned, the new Installer Series features 9 models, including five in-ceiling and two in-wall models designed for indoor use and two in-ceiling models designed for all-weather applications. Each speaker features titanium dome tweeters and mineralfilled polypropylene drivers. Paintable micro-perf, bezel-free grilles are secured with high-strength magnets and provide an aesthetic that blends discreetly into any ceiling or wall. Each model comes with a mounting-lock system that couples the speaker’s vibration-resistant ABS chassis firmly to walls and ceilings. MartinLogan’s new Installer Series speakers will begin shipping in March 2019. For more information, visit martinlogan.com.

New 6-Pack of Bezel-less In-Ceiling Speakers from Speakercraft  In response to dealer requests for a high-performance, low-cost speaker solution that’s ideal for production homes and large projects, Nortek Security & Control (NSC) has introduced its new SpeakerCraft Profile CRS6 ZERO Six-Pack, which bundles together six inceiling bezel-less CRS6 speakers for an MSRP of US $499. NSC unveiled the new 6-Pack at ISE 2019 in the Nortek Security & Control Stand 1-N50 in the RAI Centre in Amsterdam. The Profile CSR6-ZERO Six-Pack offers integrators six inceiling speakers featuring a bezel-less magnetic grille that can be painted to match the ceiling. The CSR6-ZERO handles 100-watts with a 6.5-inch polypropylene woofer and .5-inch Mylar tweeter. The low-profile design requires a mounting depth of just 3.75 inches. For more information, visit speakercraft.com.

NewProducts Crestron Adds Pixel Perfect Processing Technology to DM NVX Line 

Crestron has announced the next generation of its DM NVX network AV, which now includes the new Pixel Perfect Processing technology. Working with partners such as Intel and intoPIX, Crestron says it has made image quality even better — so much better, you can’t tell the difference between DM NVX video and a direct video feed. Crestron is also committed to growing the DM NVX product family. The new DM-NVX-E30 and DM-NVX-D30 are encode or decode-only units that support HDMI connectivity and analog audio, delivering additional flexibility for basic endpoints when only video, audio, and control are needed. The DM-NVX-352 with Dante audio networking and AES-67 audio is also now shipping. All current DM NVX products can benefit from Pixel Perfect Processing with a FREE firmware upgrade. For more information, visit crestron.com/nvx.

dARTS Introduces Flyte System  dARTS Theater (Digital Audio Reference Theater System), a subbrand of MSE Audio, has announced the Flyte System, which is a complete 5.1 package that, according to the company, is designed to bring a world-class theater experience to any room. The dARTS Flyte System, features one DP4000-IA amplifier, five in-wall or on-wall Flyte speakers, and one DCB 12-inch subwoofer. The dARTS DP4000-IA Amplifier manages an entire dARTS system with up to 16 channels of digital signal processing and amplification. Each DP4000IA channel delivers custom DSP to control crossovers, phase correction, time alignment, and EQ, in addition to providing up to 250 watts of amplification for each individual driver in every speaker. To learn more, visit dartsdigitaltheater.com.

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 Elite Screens Releases Acoustically Transparent Ambient Light Rejecting Projection Screen Elite Screens has crossed an ambient and ceiling light rejecting material (ALR/CLR) with the properties of an acoustically transparent screen. The Aeon CineGrey 5D – AT Series is a fixed-frame projection screen for standard-throw projectors that is perforated for acoustic transparency and formatted in an Edge Free design. The screen features Elite’s proprietary CineGrey 5D ambient and ceiling light rejecting (ALR/CLR) projection material. According to the company, it enhances the overall performance of lower-output projectors in addition to eliminating up to 75 percent of the “wash-out” effect that room lighting has on a regular white screen. The CineGrey 5D fabric is composed of a .35mm thick PVC material with a 1.5 gain angular reflective surface. It has 0.7mm perforations at 4mm intervals to accommodate in-wall speakers with –8.0 dB attenuation at 5kHz. CineGrey 5D Ambient Light Rejecting projection screen materials are UL 2818 Greenguard / Greenguard Gold certified for safe indoor air quality emissions. For more information, visit elitescreens.com.

OSD Audio Updates Streaming Amp  An upgrade over the NeroXD, the Nero STREAM XD features a Class D amplifier and can provide a 2.1-channel wired and wireless streaming music solution. Other features of the Nero STREAM XD include flexible wireless streaming solutions with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX built-in; a built-in Cirrus Logic CS8416 24-bit/192kHz digital-to-analog converter (DAC); and a companion intuitive app interface that can be downloaded from either the iOS App Store or Google Play to your favorite mobile device. Connectivity solutions include a stereo RCA analog line-in input, a TOSLINK digital optical input, and a USB input — as well as a subwoofer output, gold-plated speaker wire binding posts, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Nero STREAM XD Wireless DAC/Streaming Amplifier sells for $299.95 (MSRP) and is available now at osdaudio.com.

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Residential Systems Vol. 20 No. 3

March 2019




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Future Focused Savant’s Craig Spinner reflects on the custom market and the company’s plans for 2019. At its 2019 Integrator Summit, held at the end of January, Savant laid out a product roadmap that promised to continue the company’s position as an innovative force in the industry. Here, Savant VP Craig Spinner answers a few questions about the company’s views on the future of custom integration. [Note: We’ve only got room for half the story here — visit residentialsystems. com for the full interview.] What areas do you see as being the most important for integrators to focus on in the near future? CRAIG SPINNER: At Savant, we certainly acknowledge that audio/video is a focal point for many smart home consumers, and, to that end, we have developed solutions such as our PoE (Power over Ethernet) speaker line that sounds and looks amazing while minimizing the required wiring infrastructure to enhance overall job efficiency. And speaking of IP audio, Savant delivers best performance from source to speaker — from Savant Music to the scalable distributed audio products that utilize AVB connectivity introduced by Savant over three years ago and now our new PoE speakers — Savant is committed to providing integrators with the finest wholehouse entertainment solutions for every project. But the ceiling is home to more than speakers! If you walk through any luxury residence and start counting light fixtures in or hanging from the ceiling, you’ll come up with an impressive number… technology integrators could be leaving significant opportunity on the table by not offering a premium lighting solution to their clients. Savant has been co-developing smart lighting solutions as part of a CEDIA channel exclusive relationship with USAI Lighting, and these premium fixtures beautifully match our architectural PoE speaker grilles for a seamlessly integrated ceiling. Our lighting solutions give homeowners access to Savant’s award-winning TrueImage user experience as well as a space oriented toward a healthy lifestyle thanks to human-centric color tuning capability found in the Savant Pro App. As for IP video, there has been some debate about 1-Gig verses 10-Gig platforms, however it is simply not possible to achieve uncompressed 4K content over 1-Gig, which is why Savant has brought to market an ultra-high-performance pixel-perfect 4K video over IP switching platform. This technology gives Savant integrators worldwide a competitive advantage, delivering premium distributed AV content to their residential and commercial clients. The new switching platform delivers 4K/60 4:4:4 HDR video distribution over IP with zero frame latency. These technologies represent some of the critical opportunities for integrators to focus on in 2019 as they address the demands of discerning clients and seek to grow their businesses.

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Modern interface of Savant Studio ramps up efficiencies for integrators.

What is Savant doing to help integrators serve their customers? Today, a control and automation platform must provide integrators with a state-of-the-art installation configuration and design toolset that maximizes efficiencies now and in the future. With Savant’s SCM (Savant Central Management), we have leveraged the power and security of the Savant Cloud to provide integrators with the ability to manage, monitor, push software updates, and provide system diagnostics for all of their clients in any geographical location without having to roll trucks. At the core of Savant Central Management is the capability to protect the integrator and their clients with permission-based secure access. We have also introduced a tablet-based configuration tool called Savant Studio, which brings the power of our Blueprint configuration environment to a tablet using an ultra-modern graphical presentation, increasing productivity by enabling junior techs to manage S2 hostbased system configuration while freeing senior team members to address more complex assignments. Combining the functionality of Studio with SCM, user preferences such as Savant Scenes, customized Savant Pro App photos, and other Studio configuration parameters can all be stored in the cloud for fast, easy access and effortless repeatability of popular system configurations. Savant is now more accessible than ever before to a broader range of smart home consumers through the introduction of our S2 host and Savant Studio. We believe that Studio is as significant an integration tool as Savant’s introduction of RacePoint Blueprint over a decade ago. n Visit residentialsystems.com for a longer version of this story.


Profile for Future PLC

Residential Systems - March 2019  


Residential Systems - March 2019