Home Theater

CEDIA Updates: Pre Show News and Notes

The custom market is becoming increasingly diverse. For evidence of just how diverse it is becoming, just check out the latest products from SpeakerCraft, Lutron and Meridian.


Meridian's forthcoming compact audio system will be competitively priced for luxury-class consumers that want sound quality and superior industrial designs.
Robert Archer · September 23, 2010

There’s an interesting vibe emanating from the CEDIA show and it will be worth watching to see how it plays out.

Summarizing this vibe or feeling is some guarded optimism and a growing curiosity about the attendance. My personal feeling is that people shouldn’t concern themselves with the attendance. If the pros that make up the trade have the resources then they will come. I wouldn’t read anything into other than the face that we are all in the same boat and everyone has to do what they think is right.

The optimism comes from comments made to me by several dealers and manufacturers reps that hail from places as wide ranging as Texas and Utah, to China and Kuwait. I’m being told that dedicated theaters are making a small comeback, two-channel audio is relevant once again and some savvy dealers are emphasizing their skills over products.

HAA revises education Platform
Yesterday morning during a meeting with the Home Acoustic Alliance‘s (HAA) Gerry Lemay, he told me that following the CEDIA show his organization will roll out a new streamlined curriculum that’s designed to provide installers with a range of skills that will combine the performance enhancements associated with acoustical design with modern technologies like electronic equalization.

Lemay says HAA will still offer its two-day training classes, but it will focus on its new entry-level “Turbo Calibration,” “Power Calibration” and its “Reference Calibration” class.  He also says that he’s in the process of upgrading the HAA’s AV Pro software to better help installers implement acoustical correction and turn it into a consistent revenue stream.

He explains the Turbo Calibration class as a program that discusses some of the mechanical improvements installers can make within a room. It’s designed to expedite the calibration process at a basic level. The Power Calibration class adds measurement and analysis to the mechanical processes and the full Reference Calibration class will be similar to the organization’s current Level II class.

Lemay says that the new classes will help installers correct many of the common problems they run into during the installation of a home theater, while allowing them to work with the new electronic equalization programs on the market, which include Audyssey. “We’re emphasizing verification and how the equipment works,” he says.

“These things are important because you can’t calibrate a broken system.”

Setting the Record Straight
SpeakerCraft is a lot of things to a lot of people - some love the company; some dislike the company - and after yesterday’s announcement by its president Jeremy Burkhardt, the false rumors started to fly. Speaking to Burkhardt last night, he emphatically stated that SpeakerCraft is not going to sell direct and that SpeakerCraft will do whatever it has to in order to protect its dealers from the pricing wars that populate the Internet.

Recapping what SpeakerCraft announced at its press conference, Burkhardt said that the Riverside, Calif.-based company sees the audio market evolving and that part of that evolution includes the continued adoption of digital content and an increased emphasis on sound quality. He adds that SpeakerCraft also sees the market for audio broadening. “We think there’s more to capture on the mass level than high end,” he says referring to the custom market.

“The past 24 months we’ve been focused on the mass market.”

During the press conference the company introduced several new in-room products, which includes the Vital 250 integrated amplifier, which he compared to the amps from Peachtree Audio with the addition of iPad compatibility, and the company’s FloBox series of all-in-one audio systems. The FloBox’s include three-way active speaker systems, iPod/iPad docks, a CD player and an FM tuner. The FloBox Mini has similar features, but it omits the CD player.

Burkhardt says these products will join the other products that SpeakerCraft makes available to the mass retailer Magnolia (Best Buy), but it will also police its resellers to ensure that they are maintaining MAP (minimum advertised price) policies.

The polarizing leader of SpeakerCraft is adament that despite the company’s increased emphasis on mass market sales, it will maintain its full custom installer relations because “installers are the lifeblood of SpeakerCraft.”

More Energy Savings from Lutron
Lutron is a leader in the field of lighting and shade control and over the past few years it’s added energy saving to its long resume of innovations.

In the middle of its annual CEDIA press conference the company introduced several new products that were highlighted in my opinion by its new SeeTemp wall-mounted thermostat. This product will enable Lutron dealers to offer their clients another easy-to-use energy savings product with simple-to-use options like its “Eco Button,” which allows homeowners to set their thermostat back or forward 2 degrees.

One more product of note that should be exciting to dealers is the company’s Phase Adaptive Dimmers, which will allow installers to double up their clients energy savings by combining the benefits of lighting control with the energy savings of dimmable CFLs and LED lights.

Performance Company Refines its Product line
While companies like SpeakerCraft are broadening their product lines, the British high-performance A/V company Meridian is streamlining its focus.

In an address to many of its dealers, Meridian told dealers that it has trimmed its product line to focus on video, digital audio and its active speaker technologies, while streamlining its internal processes to better support its dealers.

In addition, the company is also in the midst of increasing its presence in the luxury market through new relationships with luxury companies like Range Rover to increase its reach into the well-heeled consumer market.

During the CEDIA show the company will be showing more of its Sooloos media server product line, and will also provide dealers with a sneak peak at is upcoming compact audio system that includes a preamplifier unit and two compact active speakers. Meridian is designing the compact system to slot above its M80 all-in-one system and below some of its higher end performance solutions. The company is targeting the first quarter of 2011 for the release of the compact audio system.



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  About the Author

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at robert.archer@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics


Home Theater · Speakers · Amplifiers · Blogs · Home Acoustics Alliance · Lutron · Meridian · SpeakerCraft · All Topics
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