Not long ago CE Pro had the opportunity to speak with Steve Silberman, Business Development, Savant Audio, to go over how the whole-house audio market has evolved, find out why Savant joined the Avnu Alliance, and more.
CE Pro: How has Savant’s whole-house audio evolved?
Silberman: Right from the start, Savant offered whole-house audio and video distribution. Audio is arguably the most important category in our space because almost every customer’s journey towards a fully integrated smart home begins with the desire to have music in every room.
Originally, our solutions were matrix-based. But all matrix-based solutions came with a lot of shortcomings, such as a fixed number of inputs and outputs, piles of mixed-signaling cabling and a requirement that all the equipment be in one central location. IP-based solutions resolved all these.
CE Pro: Why did Savant choose to take a standards-based approach to product development?
Silberman: Standards make bringing great products to market easier and less expensive. Standards also reduce your dependency on a single vendor and minimize supply chain disruption. Standards offer interoperability between companies, which is valuable so long as other leading companies adopt those same standards. In the case of AVB (audio video bridging), we chose wisely because you see major tech companies also supporting AVB.
CE Pro: Savant joined the Avnu Alliance and uses the IEEE AVB Time-Sensitive Networking standard primarily in commercial and automotive AV. Why go this route?
Silberman: We looked at it from the integrator’s 30,000-foot perspective. As an integrator, you want a solution that’s simple and efficient to deploy, extremely reliable, and prevents maintenance and service calls. When our engineering team was evaluating what IP direction to go, AVB stood out above every other solution because it is so reliable, easy to deploy, and offers incredible audio performance and interoperability.
CE Pro: What other advantages does AVB provide integrators?
Silberman: AVB is low latency and provides perfectly synchronous audio: Celebrating the open-concept designs of many homes, clients expect to have a rich entertainment experience delivered throughout. AVB ensures that all playback is completely in sync across all areas of the home, bridging the many Savant IP Audio solutions that are suited for each space — WiSA (Wireless Speaker & Audio) surround sound for the living room, invisible speakers in the dining room, nano architectural speakers in the kitchen to match the lighting fixtures.
AVB is a zero-configuration solution: it requires no advanced network expertise to get a system up and running and maintain it. It doesn’t matter if you’re deploying a single-zone system or 100 zones; the system configures itself and guarantees the highest quality of service. This drastically reduces labor costs. Systems can be centralized or decentralized; back in the days of matrixed distribution, components had to be in a centralized rack. With AVB, the network is “the matrix.” This means AVB devices can be anywhere you want them to be.
CE Pro: Does using the Avnu Alliance protocol help resi dealers cross into commercial/resimercial?
Silberman: Certainly, for some of the same reasons already mentioned! Commercial will become a bigger focus for us in 2022. We have a comprehensive selection of Savant AVB devices and third-party products such as JBL Pro, Crown and AudioControl to design and implement just about anything an integrator needs.
But what’s really cool about using Savant in a commercial project is the ability to hand a business owner one control point. We can tie all the other associated services into the Savant control system … climate, lighting, energy, surveillance, video distribution. Additionally, with the launch of Savant 10.0 and 9.4.3, we’re introducing XM Radio for Business.
CE Pro: How else does AVB benefit Savant owners?
Silberman: Our integration of AVB works seamlessly within the Savant App, allowing homeowners to create grouped zones. We have input/output devices that bridge the divide between older audio components, such as turntables or existing/legacy distribution amplifiers. Also, streaming services are going through a sweeping performance upgrade. Low-resolution lossy audio has ceded to high-resolution lossless 16- and 24-bit high-performance playback. Savant’s implementation guarantees 24- bit resolution from any source to any endpoint