To compare the commercial and residential electronics industries isn’t really fair. The commercial market is approximately twice the size of the residential industry, but if there is one soft spot in the commercial market’s dominance over the residential industry its in those small- to medium-size audio installations that border between standard 8-ohm speaker products and commercial-grade 70-volt solutions.
Increasingly these installations, which address everything from bars and restaurants to outdoor spaces, have provided an opening for residential dealers to enter the commercial market.
Earlier this year, Russound announced a line of 70-volt products that provide the necessary options residential dealers require to expand their commercial installations. The company has just announced their 70-volt line is shipping.
Russound Brings New England Values to Market
Anticipating a successful product launch based on industry research (including CE Pro data that estimates approximately 30 percent of residential dealers are performing commercial installations), Charlie Porritt, CEO, Russound, says the products will be available through a variety of distributors.
Porritt emphasizes that not only does Russound want to bring a choice of innovative solutions to dealers, the company wants to communicate through the products and companion support the traditional New England values that are engrained throughout the company.
Those values, he says, include honesty, responsiveness, a positive outlook, a consistent approach, accountability, and loyalty.
Russound emphasizes that, as a privately held company that is not beholden to VCs (venture capitalists), it's completely committed to its tech support, web and customer service and as it continues to diversify to reflect the current state of custom installation.
New Products Fit Light Commercial Applications
Russound's first 70-volt component is the XZone70V Streaming Audio Amplifier.
Russound says the XZone70V amplifier streams content from local networks and cloud services. It incorporates other features such as Apple AirPlay to enable users to stream from their iOS devices.
“XStream models for the home are proving to be a big hit with dealers who want a simple, highly efficient audio stream solution for projects of any size,” says Porritt. “The most vocal dealers were quick to tell us that a 70-volt version would have as big an impact on their light-commercial installations as the residential system did on home installations, which is when we went to work on the XZone70V.”
The company says that dealers will find the XZone70V familiar through its similarity with the residential XStream products, but one major feature that differentiates the two is the inclusion of SiriusXM for Business.
Photo Gallery: Inside the XZone70V Streaming Audio Amplifier
Russound says this streaming option provides commercial clients with a cost-effective, legally licensed solution to meet their clients’ background music needs.
In addition to the SiriusXM for Business, vTuner, Pandora, Spotify and TuneIn streaming services, the amp also includes an integrated microphone input that automatically senses a signal and pauses the music to prioritize the XZone70V’s paging feature.
The integrated microphone input includes a phantom power switch to support the use of condenser microphones, and there is a rear-panel microphone gain control for audio volume level, as well as a microphone volume control on the front panel.
Commercial Products Emphasize RCI Dealer Program
Learning from past dealer programs, including its discontinued Sphere program, Russound has put together a dealer program called RCI (Russound Certified Installer).
The RCI program is designed to ensure dealers are fully educated and supported to ensure the successful installation of its product lines. Currently the company says that 6,500 dealers are members of the program.
Elaborating on the importance of the RCI program beyond its training and support benefits, Russound says RCI membership is required to install the commercial products, as well as its residential solutions.
“RCI Required’ models boast a recently introduced feature designed to drastically reduce unauthorized online sales of the company’s products, while ensuring that consumers receive the benefits of working with certified installation professionals,” the company says in a press statement.
Porritt speculates that RCI dealer participation should increase through the release of the commercial products, and participation in the program is required to unlock the products.
Colin Clark, vice president of product development, Russound, explains to unlock the gear dealers must have RCI accounts that include registered email and password information. Clark says the electronic correspondence between authorized dealers facilitates fast and easy setups, and it eliminates the pile of paperwork that other dealer programs require prior to the purchase of equipment.
“That’s why the program is successful,” says Clark. “There is nothing to know.”
Speakers Complete the Package
Augmenting the launch of the XZone70V, Russound has also introduced its AW70V6 Surface mount Indoor/Outdoor loudspeaker. Designed as a complement to the XZone70V, the AW70V6 can be used indoors and outdoors as part of 70-volt/100-volt audio systems installations.
“Over the years our residential speakers have been incorporated into any number of commercial installations, from restaurants and offices, to gym and atriums,” comments Porritt. “But, with the AW70V6, we’ve used our knowledge base and long history in speaker design to create a model that is designed specifically for bringing exceptional audio to commercial environments.”
Russound says the AW70V6 is voiced for indoor and outdoor applications and it includes a bypass switch to allow dealers to use the product as a residential 6-ohm solution.
Internally, the speaker employs a 1-inch titanium dome tweeter, along with a 6.5-inch injection-molded polypropylene woofer. The two-way speaker system is housed in a ported enclosure to enable the speaker to produce “exceptional sound, even in the most sonically challenging rooms.”
In addition to its sonic capabilities, the AW70V6 incorporates speaker grille and mounting bracket utilize materials to enable the speaker to withstand a variety of outdoor environmental conditions.