Arguably the last frontier within the home audio industry to embrace streaming media and wireless audio is the audiophile category.
One dealer that has found success catering to those demanding music enthusiasts, as well as mainstream consumers' burgeoning acceptance of streaming media that includes MQA high-resolution audio, is San Diego-based Stereo Unlimited. The veteran A/V specialist leans on Lenbrook's Bluesound brand and product line powered by its BluOS platform to entice prospective customers of varying ages and budgets.
Raymond Gaines, partner, Stereo Unlimited, says that his company started about 40 years ago as a used equipment store and over the years it has evolved into a hybrid A/V business model that serves the traditional stereo and home theater markets through its 7,500-square-foot showroom that includes seven sound rooms and two home theater demo rooms.
“Bluesound is the line we rely on for wireless audio,” states Gaines. “It's been the system since we first learned about it that we've really wanted, and it's never disappointed. Its been a tremendous benefit to our business.”
One product that Gaines really appreciates is the Vault 2 audio server. According to Gaines, there are many customers who are apprehensive about storing music on computers or using high-volume CD changers. He says the Vault 2 solves those issues by providing a solution that eliminates all of the concerns consumers have with those methods of music storage.
BluOS Operating System and App Add to Products' Appeal
Another aspect of the Bluesound product line that wins over Stereo Unlimited clients is the companion app and BluOS operating system, Gaines notes.
Gaines says that because of Bluesound's attention to detail, the well-designed system is easy to control without any prior instruction. Gaines boasts that all he does is hand clients an iOS device to let them nagivate the system for themselves when they are in the store.
“It's a simple and easy-to-use interface,” he says. “It takes no training … it's a wonderful system.”
Showcasing Bluesound's flexibility, Gaines points out that Stereo Unlimited's high-end demo room features Vandersteen Speakers and VTL tube amplification, and they usually play a $500 Bluesound Node 2 as the system's source device. He says the combination of the expensive amps and speakers with the affordable Node 2 provides a good starting point to initiate a conversation with clients.
“It's aspirational audio [the Vandersteen Model Seven MkII loudspeakers and VTL amps]. People aren't necessarily going to look at it, but they are curious, 'How is it going to sound?' More often than not, the source is a $500 Node 2,” he says.
“We play some MQA files on it and it's audio they've never heard before—they've never heard music reproduced like that before. It's an amazing way to start a conversation, 'If you're not going to do that, well what do you want to do to get you close to that [sound]?'”