Lenbrook's Bluesound wireless audio system and underlying BluOS music-management platform are humming along today, but it took a few missteps to get the solutions where they are today, admits Greg Stidsen, Lenbrook director of technology and product planning.
A few years ago when the company entered the wireless whole-house audio market, it did so as an A/V company with little experience in software. The company had planned to use someone else's software, but ultimately decided that because of quality issues its best course of action would be to invest the money and develop its own operating system.
“The project idea was to use someone’s software because software isn’t our expertise,” he says. “What we found was that no one’s software was really good. Some software met the criteria, but running it through their paces [we found] they would crash. It seemed they all had their issues.”
So Lenbrook took its software into its own hands.
Learning on the fly, Lenbrook put a lot of time and effort into its BluOS operating system. The benefit of developing its own operating system comments Stidsen is that Lenbrook can better ensure that its hardware and software are more tightly integrated.
“With computer audio there are some good programs, but the problem with these programs is they are built on computer operating systems,” states Stidsen. “We look at BluOS as a solution that is purpose built for audio. Every decision we made [with BluOS] was in favor of music, and having to do a lot of other things.”
Learning through experience since the launch of the BluOS and Bluesound products a few years ago, Lenbrook has continually improved the installation process of its products, and the usability of OS and the companion apps (iOS and Android).
The company has added to its streaming-music portfolio, which now includes listener-supported Radio Paradise, and improved integration with more third-party control systems, including Crestron and Control4.
MQA for HRA
HIgh-resolution audio (HRA) has always been Bluesound's claim to fame. There were other popular wireless music-distribution systems out there, but Bluesound would stand out for its high-quality audio streams.
While HRA was supported from the outset, Bluesound now implements the MQA lossless audio format for improved performance.
“Compared to anything else, sound quality is our biggest differentiating factor,” Stidsen says. “MQA was a natural fit because it opened up the space for streaming high-resolution audio services like TIDAL and Deezer.”
During the CEDIA 2016, Lenbrook will show its latest BluOS engineering efforts. Stidsen says most of the emphasis for the company will be related to its NAD brand and the implementation of BluOS into its NAD product line.
“Because of the way we see streaming music with streaming media and downloads, BluOS brings our legacy brands into the 21st century by integrating all of this music and putting it into the more traditional form factors of NAD,” he comments. “The [Bluesound] PowerNode is a great integrated amplifier, but we purposely limited the inputs. If a person wants more then they have to go to a NAD product.”
Stidsen adds that 2017 will likely bring a focus to its PSB speaker brand, which is headed up by the legendary speaker engineer Paul Barton.