“Acoustics is not looked at like the dark arts anymore,” says Steve Dickson, eastern territory manager for Primacoustic. Indeed, the Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canadia-based division of Radial Engineering shared with CE Pro during CEDIA 2017 in San Diego that the company has enjoyed significant growth (36 to 40 percent) the past two years as more residential and commercial integrators specify acoustical treatments into their projects.
In the past, the acoustical treatment category has been limited to applications such as dedicated home theater or high-performance listening rooms in residences and recording and broadcast studios on the commercial side as chief markets.
Now, particularly with more aesthetically pleasing products that can dot the walls from the likes of Primacoustic and others in this competitive category, acoustic panels and other solutions can be found in more multiuse areas of a house. Plus integrators are understanding more and more why “the room” itself is often pointed to as the key ingredient, before equipment considerations, in how a listening room will sound and that it needs to be treated with such importance – and acoustically treated, period.
Meanwhile, on the commercial side business has swelled in recent years as restaurants, corporate offices, education facilities and healthcare sites have increased their reliance upon acoustical treatments to combat ambient sound as well as address regulatory issues in those environments, from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for example, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), affected by noise levels.
“OSHA is stamping down on noisy workplaces. Acoustics has more of a wellbeing component to it now. The market is accepting it,” says Dickson. “As an industry, a major growth part of it is within the room environments, it’s getting easier to sell the products.”
More Options for Primacoustic Dealers
That acceptance of acoustical treatment in more types of environments has helped bump the dealer count upwards of 600-700 to go with distribution partners serving the U.S. market. That includes at least a few of the highest-revenue integrators in the country, as Primacoustic was noted as a preferred brand by three CE Pro 100 companies this year and four last year after receiving zero mentions as recently as 2015 (when 26 acoustical treatment vendors were mentioned in the category).
At CEDIA 2017, Dickson showed integrators the various ways Primacoustic could solve their clients’ sound issues, and how they can do so while balancing performance with meeting aesthetic demands.
The company showed at CEDIA for the first time its Element Series, which adds small hexagonal-shaped panels to the typical square and rectangle solutions. The hexagons are also beveled along the edges, so they can be configured and installed in unique, cool-looking shapes that will stand out rather than be a potential eye sore, which hesitant clients might have been thinking.
The 16-inch Element panels are 1.5 inches thick and consist of 6-pound high-density glass wool “for optimal broadband absorption,” according to the company. They’ve been tested to achieve Class-A fire ratings for safe installation, Primacoustic adds.
Primacoustic offers Elements Series absorbers wrapped in black, gray or beige Broadway acoustic fabric, as well as the company’s Paintables white finish.
“We mass produce limited shapes and sizes. There’s no fabrication team, with us we ship right away,” Dickson notes as another reason for growth. “We’re becoming market leaders because we’re much more economically priced.”
That doesn’t mean Primacoustic can’t do custom – the Paintables capability was highlighted at CEDIA as it also applies to “Printables,” and the company showed elegant prints on panels that will look more like artwork on clients’ walls than acoustic panels. Additionally, Cloud Paintables of differing shapes hung along the booth’s ceiling to show those could be arranged; dealers could also look up to check out Primacoustic’s Saturna hanging baffles.
More CEDIA Wares from Radial Engineering
Radial Engineering has also received notice from the industry of late by reviving the classic brands Hafler and Dynaco, and its booth featured electronics from those Primacoustic sister companies.
Among the offerings Radial was showing dealers were Hafler’s CI-1255e 12-channel amplifier, P3100 two-channel amp and PH50B and PH60B phono preamplifiers; as well as the stylish ST-70 Series ST-70x tube amplifier from Dynaco. CE pros got a good taste of the new Hafler earlier this year with the launch of the HA75-DAC tube-based headphone amp.
Finally, Radial’s Jensen Transformers brand was offering the ISO-Max, CI-2RR, Cable TV Isolater.