A decade or so ago, consumers favored convenience over quality, but a focus on the latter has become far more prevalent—especially for those who are willing to pay for it.
“People are paying up for better quality,” says Joe Piccirilli, CEO at Rosewater Energy Group.
Piccirilli, who has a formidable background in the AV industry, believes there has been a significant shift in the industry with individuals—particularly Millennials—beginning to seek not only accessibility in their audio and video services, but also the highest resolution available.
“It’s like what’s happening on college campuses with vinyl records,” says Piccirilli. “The fact is people are looking for something different and better. It’s a huge trend.”
In part one of our streaming series, we will focus on this trend of high-res audio and how it relates to the luxury market.
If clients are able to afford it, odds are they will pay the price for the best possible quality. LUX builders can capitalize on this with the right service, equipment and a strong network to tie it all together.
Tidal Making Waves in Streaming Audio Industry
Piccirilli points to a specific service capitalizing on the high-res audio trend—Tidal Music. It’s a subscription-based streaming service that features lossless audio, which is a far higher standard than MP3s or the streaming quality of popular services such as Pandora and Spotify.
In fact, Piccirilli often conducts his own qualitative straw polls with friends and family by queuing up the same song on Tidal versus another streaming platform. “I have never had anyone say to me they can’t hear the difference,” says Piccirilli. “Everybody goes ‘Wow! What’s that?!’”
Joe Whitaker, founder and president of Joe Whitaker Designs and The Thoughtful Home, vehemently agrees with Tidal’s presence in the industry, deeming it the “Pandora Killer.”
“Tidal is the future of music. Its build, its format, the way it works, its usability and having that quality—it’s the future of music. Hands down,” says Whitaker, who is also on the board of directors for the Custom Electronics Design & Installation Association (CEDIA).
Whitaker and Piccirilli both point to Sonos and a few others for embracing Tidal, yet Whitaker argues that much of this is still high quality audio passing through small speakers and headphones.
He believes the crux of the luxury industry will be based in whole home audio—big distribution amps, great audio switching and including Tidal service in your packages to tie it all together.
Network Infrastructure: Wired v. Wireless
Devices will therefore make services, such as Tidal, better. For the luxury market, Whitaker says Tidal, Amazon and Sony are the industry kings with solutions for 4K video and high-res audio.
“They’ve done a brilliant job partnering with manufacturers to build the stuff into boxes. Sonos and Control4 are perfect examples. You buy one of those boxes and it already comes with the high-res streaming service,” says Whitaker.
Now, however, he adds that builders and integrators need to keep a close eye on their network.
“The network portion has to be legitimate,” says Whitaker. “It has to be basically small business class to be able to handle the bandwidth of the streaming.”
Piccirilli agrees, believing that the focus must not be only on convenience but also how to realistically achieve sonic quality AV in the TecHome.
“If I’m at home listening to Tidal, and my kids are streaming high definition movies, that’s some serious strain on the wireless system,” says Piccirilli. “And if my power goes down, now I’m totally out of business. I’d have to sync everything back up.”
In order to handle this bandwidth, Piccirilli says that more often than not, people are going to seek wired solutions.
“You have to have as many lanes on the highway as possible, because traffic is going to get heavier, not lighter. If you can install wired properly, you’re going to use it. You’d have to be out of your mind not to,” says Piccirilli.
Whitaker agrees there will be far more wired networks for supporting streaming devices. However, he also believes we are going to encounter faster and larger wireless networks, because these devices will need to be controlled by something running on Wi-Fi. This includes home automation touchscreens, smartphones and tablets.
“The interface has to be as fast and responsive as the media,” says Whitaker.
Stay tuned for Streaming Services Part 2, where we will focus on 4K streaming, home theaters and how to best market these technologies to your luxury clients.
For more great content, be sure to subscribe to our newsletters