Photos courtesy of NuVo Technologies.
What’s the value proposition for homebuilders to include streaming whole-house music capability?
In a word, infers NuVo Technologies Marketing Director Desiree Webster — relevance.
“People want immediate and reliable access to their own personal music libraries, to Internet-based content and services, and even to their friends’ libraries and collections,” she points out.
Users now expect to have access to all their favorite songs and stations and podcasts, regardless of where that content resides.
So what’s a homebuilder to do? With wireless music systems like Sonos gaining such popularity, should builders even bother wiring for audio systems today? We set out to learn the answers to these pressing musical questions and more in a brief but insightful Q&A with Webster, conducted via email.
Although NuVo has been known for its well regarded wired audio distribution systems, earlier this year the company introduced its Wireless Music System, consisting of a Gateway hub and wireless controllers placed in each room or zone.
Builders need to understand that the ideal solutions for the highest-quality audio will frequently include a combination of wired and wireless.
The Gateway hub ($199) can play streaming music sources from mobile devices or Internet services as Pandora, as well as connect to a homeowner’s audio sources or access music via a home’s computer network. It communicates wirelessly with individual P100 ($479) or P200 ($599) players, which connect directly to wired speakers and be used with a P3100 wired system to add wireless zones to an existing wired system. We caught Webster between several airplane flights.
TecHome: What trends are you seeing in consumer demand for home audio?
Webster: People want immediate and reliable access to their own personal music libraries, to Internet-based content and services, and even to their friends’ libraries and collections. So docks and Bluetooth are increasingly important. The trend is about access to anything and everything.
TecHome: How big is the ability to stream music from a smartphone or mobile device – and how should homebuilders provide for that?
Webster: Streaming is becoming the norm in home audio as companies look to match families’ on-the-go lifestyles. Mobile devices have made our music libraries portable; we take them everywhere. Accordingly, home audio manufacturers must provide ways to access that content and deliver it throughout an entire home. Selecting high-performing systems that incorporate Bluetooth and/or docking devices is the builder’s best avenue for meeting this increasingly popular demand.
TecHome: How much has a system like Sonos affected this?
Webster: Sonos and other wireless systems have all helped increase both consumer awareness and acceptance of wireless technology as a legitimate and affordable home audio solution. In fact, these systems, while employing somewhat different technologies and approaches, have collectively served to change consumer expectations to where users now expect to have access to all their favorite songs and stations and podcasts, regardless of where that content resides.
TecHome: With the profusion of wireless audio streaming, should homebuilders bother with wiring for multiroom audio systems?
Webster: The advantages of wireless systems are numerous. But wireless is not the end-all, as there are limitations. The wireless “pipe” is only so big, and as more wireless is used in a home, data rates can slow or streams [can become] compressed. And that can affect sound quality. So there are still notable benefits to wired systems in terms of both quality and reliability.
Prewiring is important to deliver more than just audio. It establishes a foundation for a full gamut of networking, video, or any other technologies [people] might want to introduce into their home. Builders need to understand that the ideal solutions for the highest-quality audio will frequently include a combination of wired and wireless, giving homeowners the freedom to design systems to meet their ideal needs. I have heard time and again that new homebuyers may not be sure about prewiring during the building process, but they are always so glad they did it down the road. So prewiring a house becomes an important option.
TecHome: What features and practices should builders most keep in mind when planning for audio systems (including built-in speakers, etc.)?
Webster: The backbone of today’s audio systems is the home network. Homebuilders need to create an infrastructure, putting the right products in place to support more than just audio. This would include prewiring, and should involve offering and locating quality wireless routers and repeaters from the start. This approach will help them deliver a home where the network will be as solid and reliable as the home’s foundation.
TecHome: Is wireless HD audio really ready and feasible today?
Webster: The quality with which today’s most innovative and robust audio systems are able to reproduce and deliver music is exceeding all previous expectations. Both with today’s wireless protocols (802.11n), and the engineering of better, cleaner wireless amplifiers, as well as with the increasing availability of high definition audio tracks and recordings, the truest audiophile can now relish an unprecedented home listening experience.
TecHome: What things in home audio should homebuilders think about, but aren’t?
Webster: Homebuilders should remember that a stable and well-thought-out network is still important. It provides the backbone for supporting and integrating all future high performing technologies.
TecHome: Do you work with any production or semi-production homebuilders on incorporating NuVo systems into their homes? If so, what systems are being used and by whom?
Webster: We do work with builders. However the NuVo Wireless Audio System is so new to the market it is not yet being spec’d into any large-scale production builds.
TecHome: What are the differences between the wireless P100 and P200 players?
Webster: The P100 and P200 players were both carefully designed and crafted to deliver pristine, almost lossless audio from a multitude of streaming services and a home’s network. They differ only in power – the P100 operates at 2 x 20 watts, and the P200 at 2 x 60 watts – and with the P200 player incorporating Bluetooth connectivity.