4 key considerations when thinking about installing a Smart Multi-room Audio solution
Smart control technology is opening huge opportunities for the professional installer, with multi-room audio control high on the list of desirable luxuries for the tech-conscious homeowner. The potential for installation is vast, ranging from a small two-room system to fully kitting out an entire property. Informing a customer and deciding on the expectation from such a system is important to get right at the outset. Hamilton’s Smart Controls Specialist, Mark Brady, tells us what should be discussed ahead of a smart multi-room audio project and the key considerations for a smooth install and happy end customer.
Multi-room audio control is rising in popularity, and it’s easy to see why. Homeowners can benefit from the luxury and flexibility of listening to any audio they wish in any room of their home – even outside – with the touch of a button or swipe of a finger. Propose to your customer that they could be listening to DAB radio when cooking dinner in the kitchen while another family member could be streaming music to speakers in the garden. There is the possibility for audio in all areas of the home, playing from a variety of sources. These systems can be fitted with touchscreen controllers in each room, or from an app on a smart device, making the system even more flexible.
And this technology isn’t restricted to the super wealthy; it’s making its way into many homes all over the country as control technologies continue to rise in popularity. As simple as some systems can be to install, it’s making sure that the customer is fully informed of the benefits and the options related to multi-room audio that is most important – otherwise, the final system may not have the functionality the customer imagined.
Key consideration: How many rooms to incorporate?
Multi-room audio systems have the scalability to include one room or zone – think kitchen/dinner – or could span the entire property. Discussing these expectations will determine whether the customer would be best suited to an entry-level, two-channel system or something on a larger scale. The smaller two-channel systems are very affordable but a more expansive audio systems needn’t be hugely expensive. It’s important to outline a budget with the client early in the process to avoid any installation hiccups, and this is also important so you can manage their functionality expectations if the budget is limited.
Key consideration: What type of audio would you like to listen to, and where?
The number of audio sources needs to be determined. Would the customer like the audio sources to incorporate a CD player, AM/FM radio, DAB radio, music streaming services, record player, TV, Blu-ray/DVD player? And do they want to listen to the same source in all rooms/zones or be able to play different audio in each?
Receivers often offer multi-zone features but not all receivers can support more than one source at a time, so it’s important to establish the capabilities required. Devices such as a wireless music bridge allow the streaming of internet radio and music services to a specific zone, or can allow each member of the household to play separate streams to different areas.
The demand for multiple sources can make a system more complex and expensive, so it may be best for customers to list their sources in priority order and then make a recommendation after referring to the budget.
Wired or wireless
Key consideration: Is this a period property? Do you wish to move your speakers?
At Hamilton, our preference is a wired solution wherever possible to ensure the highest levels of quality. Disguising the wires by chasing them into walls of a new build or an extension is a simple process. And with a wired system you can still have wireless control for flexibility and add wireless aspects to the system later.
However, there are some situations where the installation is in a period or heritage property and the walls cannot be touched. Under these circumstances a wireless solution is most suitable. It may also be that the customer often rearranges their living spaces, so the ability to move the speakers is a priority.
Subtle or statement
Key consideration: Would you like your speakers to stand out or blend into the décor?
Speakers could be considered a design focus or design faux pas. Some customers may want large eye-catching speakers that make a statement while others want their speakers to disappear into the ceiling or walls and be barely visible. In-wall and in-ceiling speakers can be painted to match the room’s design but are more demanding to install. Floor-standing speakers or those that sit on shelves are easy to move but do take up space. There are a huge range on the market, so it is possible to select those that have discreet, sleek designs.
Having explained the benefits and options surrounding a multi-room audio system, it should then be possible to make an installation recommendation that works for their budget. One final thing to consider is CAT-5 cabling. If a home has CAT-5 cabling it can be a cost-effective and time-efficient way of connecting speakers. If using it for audio the property will need an amplifier in each zone to control the system and speakers. However, the network cannot be used for computer networking and audio concurrently so may not work for all properties.
We hope you and your customers both enjoy the benefits of smart multi-room audio control. Should you have questions or need support on an installation, Hamilton’s Smart Controls Technical Support Team would be happy to discuss: +44 (0)1747 860088, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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