Consumer audio has been booming over the past two years and with so many brands in their arsenal, Sound United dealers have a unique opportunity. They can present customers everything from high-resolution wireless audio to high-performance stereo to multichannel home theater using HEOS, Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Marantz, Polk Audio, Classé and Definitive Technology.
That’s a wide range of audiophile budgets that can be easily served … as well as a lot of technology for integrators to gain expertise in all the possibilities.
Inside Sound United Trainings Deliver Deep Dives into Brands
To get installers up to speed on the latest products, features and unique technologies of their brands, Sound United invested in creating “Inside Sound United” as a helpful tool. The on-demand video series delivers the convenience that installers have come to expect from online training during the pandemic – particularly beneficial for onboarding new techs these days – augmented by studio-quality video production and keen insights from the company’s brand experts.
Integrators will also find focused episodes in one place by visiting the Inside Sound United training hub covering:
- Denon and Marantz CI Solutions, which outlines specific custom install-friendly features that aid in the integration of their audio solutions, as well as upgrades, new products and support for HDMI 2.1 to optimize system design & installation
- Polk’s Reserve Lineup, which walks through the features and unique technologies that separate Polk and its half-century heritage, spotlighted by the design team including director of audio and acoustic solutions Scott Orth, and explores Sound United’s vaunted Audio and Acoustics Research and Development (ARAD) facility
- Definitive Technology Products, in which members of the engineering team including renowned product designer Matt Lyons detail exclusive technologies that differentiate Def Tech products, and also delves into the ARAD facility
- Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond, which showcases the acclaimed speaker company’s flagship series’ fourth-generation version attributes and enhancements, and even offers first-hand anecdotes from Grammy-winning engineer John Newton of Soundmirror and his personal experience with the speakers
- HEOS Wireless Multiroom Solutions, which helps with best practices for overcoming installation challenges, building a robust network to support high-res wireless audio and other tips.
HEOS Ecosystem Serves Up Buffet of High-Res Options
Within the surging consumer audio sector, wireless solutions have become increasingly popular – especially as systems provide higher-quality wireless music and even enable dealers to extend audio zones outdoors. HEOS solutions can provide an ideal fit, and also represent a way to upsell and expand projects for more high-resolution audio.
I wanted to learn more about the platform and glean some insights into what integrators can expect to find in the Inside Sound United series. So let’s take a glimpse of the HEOS video as an example, which offered many practical and perhaps even some surprising tips as dealers familiarize themselves with the system.
“Back in the day, if you wanted to distribute music from room to room to room it could be very expensive and very complex. And, if you wanted to use streaming services, the quality was not very good,” notes Phil Jones, Sound United director of global brand activation, in the HEOS training video. “Now, you do not have to sacrifice performance for convenience.”
He adds that the breadth of potential system design options for HEOS ecosystem encompasses AV receivers, network audio players, speakers and soundbars. It’s a buffet of high-res choices to satiate customers’ whole-house audio appetites, regardless of room or environment.
Installers can employ that ecosystem to enable consumers to find pretty much any song instantly, in CD quality or above, while listening in any room – up to 32 zones for even the largest jobs. Jones cites the Sound United facility as a prime example, even though it’s more of a resimercial design with a whopping 16-zone HEOS system routing music to 77 speakers and 22 subwoofers, controllable via his phone.
“So if we can control multiple zones in a 100,000-square-foot engineering facility or sales & marketing facility, we can easily provide you with a great experience in a customer’s home,” he explains.
The platform comes baked into Denon and Marantz AVRs, but for those looking for an even simpler solution, he points to the new Denon Home wireless speaker family that comes in three models (150, 250 and 350) plus the Denon Home 550 soundbar and serves up the HEOS capabilities. Also, the power supplies are built in, so there aren’t any wall-wart worries.
Various HEOS Installation Scenarios Explained
Dealers can show customers just how simple selecting music can get by using the devices’ six presets to go straight to a favorite streaming station or playlist at the touch of a button or even voice command. Music can be sent to play in multiple rooms simultaneously – perfectly synced – if integrators group certain zones together too.
Jones adds that a practical multizone upsell is to cover a large room with multiple HEOS-embedded speakers, in case customers think blasting one at the front of a room will suffice. Depending on where speakers are installed, sound quality can be further dialed in using a “Speaker Placement” feature setting on the HEOS app.
Another scenario could be to pair the speakers an AVR so one room can have a full theater multichannel experience, while other rooms in a house can have the audio downmixed to stereo, for instance if a big game is on.
The latest U26 software update brings more modern aesthetics and functionalities to customers’ HEOS app experience. “It now has a newer, lighter, more modern feel,” Jones says, adding that HEOS products incorporating microphones can also now be used for Amazon Alexa controls – for other Alexa-supported devices beyond audio too such as lights, door locks and thermostats (and to alleviate privacy concerns, it’s an opt-in feature to turn on and input Amazon account info before mics are activated).
To maximize performance and coverage of systems, Jones delves into the network side of things with advice limiting potential network traffic interference, types of routers to deploy, adding access points and more. Again, the HEOS app can assist setup with a feature that shows signal strength of each connected device, for instance.
Going more in depth, Jones enlists Sound United colleagues Nick Murrells, technical category director (IoT & HEOS) and Mike Magzanian, AV systems engineer, to provide more detailed insights by answering questions on how the HEOS ecosystem is expanding and improving; accessing dedicated technical support for dealers and installers; optimizing specific streaming service functionalities (like MQA with TIDAL); enhancing wireless network robustness; and much more.