Philharmonic Achieves ISO 9001 Certification!

4 August 2022

The highest standards in business practice are right at home at Philharmonic.

There are several ways that architects, interior designers and developers can assess the quality and qualifications of any smart home/luxury AV specialist they wish to work with. One of course is examining the record of a given company checking that the team have achieved lots of successful projects and have many satisfied customers.

Another way is to seek some form of independent verification or certification that the company adheres to the very highest standards of business practise.

At Philharmonic we are always examining ways to show related trades and the wider world that our company holds itself to the highest possible standards and therefore we are delighted to announce that we have received full ISO 9001 Certification.

The Magnificent Seven: ISO 9001

So, what is ISO 9001 Certification and why is it important?

The ISO is a globally recognised body that establishes International Standards in business for companies who wish to demonstrate they achieve excellence in all the key areas of business delivery. These International Standards are then enforced and inspected by independent bodies qualified to carry out the thorough tests and inspections needed to achieve certification.

ISO 9001 is part of a family of standards produced by the ISO’s Committee on Conformity Assessment (CASCO) which are used by external and independent certification bodies.

The 9001 standard uses seven core principles to design a pathway towards a high-quality quality management system and can be used by many types and sizes of organisations. To date there are over one million companies and organisations in over 170 countries certified to ISO 9001.

Looking for ISO 9001 Certification helps related trades and customers find companies and services that meet the high-standards they require.

All ISO 9001 Certified companies have to go through a rigorous testing programme to ensure they meet seven core principles of the standard. 

Customer focus

Long term success is reached when an organisation shows that it can attract and retain the confidence of customers and other interested parties or related trades.

Each area of customer interaction provides the opportunity to deliver more value for the customer. Understanding current as well as the future needs of customers builds sustained success of the organisation.

Leadership

Strong leaders at all levels looks to establish a unity of purpose and direction which creates the conditions in which people are engaged in achieving the organisation’s quality objectives and goals.

Delivering this unity means an organisation can align its strategies, policies, processes and resources to achieve its objectives every time.

Engagement of people

Competent, empowered and engaged people at all levels throughout

the organisation are essential to enhance capability to create

and deliver value. Creating an environment where each team member is valued, respected and given their chance to develop and bring their skills to each task or project is key.

Recognition, empowerment and enhancement of competence through personal development and training, drive any company towards to achieving its goals. 

Process approach

Consistent and predictable results are delivered more successfully and efficiently when processes and activities are fully understood by all staff operating in a coherent and well-established system.

Recognising and understanding how results are produced by this system means an organisation can optimise the system and its performance by assessing and adjusting continually over time.

Improvement

All successful organisations have an ongoing focus on improvement.

Improvement is a necessary part of a company’s development to not just maintain the level of delivery but identify areas that can be developed for the benefit of the customer.

Successful companies can also react to external and internal change to create new opportunities.

Evidence-based decision making

Decisions based on the analysis and skilled evaluation of data and information are more likely to produce the desired results. Decision making can be complex of course, and some uncertainty is always involved.

Processes often involve multiple types and sources of inputs, as well as interpretation, which can be subjective. It is important to understand cause-and-effect relationships and potential unintended consequences.

Facts, evidence and data analysis lead to greater objectivity and confidence in decision making.

Relationship management

For continuous success, an organisation skilfully manages its relationships with interested parties and customers.

Success is more likely when a company manages relationships with all of its interested parties to optimise their impact on its performance.

Relationship management with any supplier or partner networks is of particular importance.

Steve Harper, Client Services Director at Philharmonic, says, “We are delighted to have achieved official ISO 9001 certification. This recognition underlines our ambition to always deliver the very best for our customers and to provide them with evidence that we hold ourselves to the highest standards. Our success is not just built on our ability to deliver successful high-performance systems, but to work hand in glove with related trades understanding their goals and helping to deliver greater success for everyone we work in partnership with.”

Futuristic, beautiful, design inspired viewing

4 July 2022

Interior designers and architects that have clients who wish to include viewing TV or other types of content in their living spaces need to find solutions that match the scale, design quality and aesthetic ambition of the project as a whole. There are solutions that can deliver on this level, but they are only available through an experienced and qualified smart home integration and luxury AV expert.

If your understanding of television technology and viewing options is simply that these days customers can have a large flat screen TV, essentially the same as a conventional TV, just larger, then think again.

There are many options from manufacturers you will have heard of and some you won’t. However, what they all have in common is that they require specialist installation but can deliver incredibly high performance in terms of viewing, but are also a design led statement technology piece that will work with your vision.

Samsung is a company that has some spectacular options here using new technology built around micro sized RGB LED elements to deliver one of the most advanced screen technologies ever created. Designed with inorganic self-emitting elements, this technology can cope with a huge variety of projects and is particularly strong in areas with high-ambient light. Viewing quality is of the highest standard, but the screens, although very large, are also thin.

Products such as the 100in Samsung Micro Led Smart TV are designed around an ‘Infinity Screen’ created to remove the perception of borders between content and screen and between the screen and the wall the product is mounted on, seamlessly matching any décor. When switched off the screen works as a canvas for a range of beautiful artificial landscapes from Refik Anadol Studio allowing customised patterns or images to turn the screen into a gallery to personalise the space. Calling this product a TV is way too primitive a description, it is a window on the world.

Also from Samsung, another advanced supersize TV option that uses the same technology is called The Wall. With new AI processing technology, 8K viewing quality, 120Hz frame rates and versatile installation, The Wall reimagines display technology to give a futuristic design led solution for customers simply looking for the most impressive viewing experience on the planet. The way the concept is designed means that the customer can have almost any size of screen they want. Using modular technology, The Wall can be installed in a variety of positions, including concave, convex, ceiling, hanging, inclined and L-type.

Another well known name in consumer electronics is LG who also have an option here, the suitably futuristically named MSD 3000. Like many of these products the concept is well suited to open plan designs with lots of either ambient or artificial light. The 136in product can be fitted into living spaces with a unique, Scandinavian designed free standing or wall mounted solution to provide an attractive aesthetic finish in contemporary interiors.

A final name here you probably won’t have heard of is C SEED with its high-concept Monolith 1 or M1. This draw dropping product has been created for when owners do not want to see their super-sized viewing product on show until they are ready to watch.

Available in 165, 137 & 103in options, the C SEED blazes the trail for interior design friendly concepts and adds a spectacular feature to luxury homes as the entire product emerges from beneath the floor and gracefully unfurls into a high-performance 4K TV. The product was created by designer Stefan Pani, a University of Applied Arts Vienna graduate, he created a frame with integrated soundboard that unfolds and then settles smoothly on a base made up of four plates. Function follows form here, visually very coherent, luxuriously minimalist and with an exciting, aggressively elegant tension. This innovative maker also has even larger options available for outdoor viewing created in partnership with Porsche Design Studio.

Even if none of these options suit, Philharmonic can reach out to our many industry contacts to create bespoke solutions designed to a specific brief. We can build LED video walls of any size, flat, curved, semi-transparent, ceiling mounted, specific shapes, all ideal for digital artwork or architectural features using technology.  

For years film makers and sci-fi writers have imagined a future where super-sized viewing experiences enhanced the entertainment and information available in the home, products so advanced in their design that they are as much part of the home as the rest of the structure, well now your customers can own one. Give us a call to find out more.

The Shape of Things to Come

7 June 2022

One of the ways our team stays connected with all the latest technologies, products and ideas is by regularly attending trade shows and industry events in the luxury AV and smart home sector.

We are well served with some really major events including the world’s largest AV and automation show, Integrated Systems Europe, which recently took place in Barcelona. Our team returned with lots of exciting, new products that not only perform well, but look great as well.

Superior shades

A launch which took place at the show came from the world’s best-known maker of automated lighting and shading products, Lutron with its Palladiom wire-free shades.

These new products offer the chance to install fully automated intelligent shading just about anywhere as these new lines are battery operated and so can be installed without the need for any new cabling. The replaceable batteries are stored within the shade itself and use ‘Active Energy Optimisation’, a battery management system designed to maximise efficiency. Using six or fewer batteries, the system can run between three to five years. Fully networked, the blinds also tell us integrators when the battery life is low, so we can replace them with no disruption to the customer.

The blinds are controlled wirelessly over a network via an integrated antenna, so no extra cabling is needed there either.

The design community will also be glad to hear that these shades are really beautiful with a choice of styles and finishes to suit any type of interior.

A sector that has come on leaps and bounds in recent years is the control of ambient light within the home. This can be just as powerful as the control of artificial light, and also helps with efficiency, harnessing the power of the sun where necessary, but also limiting its entry into a property to control temperature and ambiance.

What Lutron has achieved here is bundling all the very best aspects of ambient light control into and easy to fit package, as well as offering a new palette for interior designers to work with. Consequently, Palladiom are super suitable for either new build for renovation projects.

Beautiful sound

There were many high-performance speaker companies making their case at the event. One that caught our ear was L-Acoustics, a brand that cut its teeth in the world of pro audio, but offers products in luxury AV too. If you have ever been to a live concert, you have probably already heard their speakers as they dominate that market. However, the brand now makes some really mean consumer products too.

Soka are a new range of speakers that offer great audio, but also elegance and discretion. The company says it has seen a big rise in demand for high performance systems which integrate into luxury immersive environments and these speakers are perfect for when a sleek aesthetic and discreet solution is required.

 Soka and SB6i are ultra-shallow at 3.9 inches/99 millimetres, designed to be easily enclosed in-wall or discreetly mounted on-wall, but can produce a highly impressive very wide audio soundstage filling the whole room.

The company has used much of its knowledge from the pro audio world to deliver the performance levels needed in the luxury AV market, but also produced a fantastic looking speaker, a work of art in its own right.

The speakers are happy working to deliver an immersive home cinema environment, or music only solutions too.

Speakers like these underline a real trend with audio manufacturers who increasingly recognise their products have to look as good as they sound, and these products certainly do that.

Great audio, everywhere

Many people these days will be familiar with the concept of multi-room audio systems, made popular by well-known names such as Sonos. However less people are aware that there are systems that sit above Sonos in terms of quality but also deliver the same level of convenience, arguably more.  Don’t get us wrong here, Sonos is a good system, however when the client requires something with a little more punch, clarity and power there are now good step up options to be offered from the world of luxury AV.

BlueOS is a multi-room music streaming platform which several high-performance manufacturers now use in order to build next generation multi-room music systems. BluOS allows users to access and stream lossless music up to 24-bit/192kHz to every room using their home network.

Users can find music anywhere on their network, cloud music service or Internet radio, and share it with any BluOS-enabled music product in the home.

A maker that has had a strong hand in developing this platform is Bluesound. This manufacturer already had a strong line-up of its own speakers and soundbars from which to create high performance multi-room audio systems, but it also now has a very clever product it calls the HUB.

This clever box of tricks allows integrators such as ourselves to bring into a multi-room music system existing products that the client already owns. Particularly cleverly these don’t need to be modern digital products such as cutting-edge amplifiers or games consoles, they can also be analogue products such as turntables or CD players.

Now customers can enjoy their favourite sources anywhere in the home. HDMI eARC, Coaxial, Digital Optical, Stereo Analogue and a moving magnet Phono stage, means the HUB can communicate with just about anything creating a true holistic whole house music solution.

The product is also small enough to be completely hidden away in a rack based installation, or is also happy discreetly fitting into the living space where the source that needs to be connected to the network is already located.  

Each HUB can manage one analogue and one digital source simultaneously, and up to four (4) HUBs can be added to a single network. Equipped with BluOS, the HUB makes adding audio sources simple using the BluOS Controller app setup wizard. A few taps on the BluOS app controls a whole multi-room system from a smartphone, tablet or computer. Convenient, simple, powerful.

Bluesound

Beautiful control

As providers of luxury smart home systems, we are always on the lookout for products that deliver the control that we want but also the looks as well.

A really strong product that delivers in both of these areas was introduced at the show from Basalte. Lena is an on-wall touch interface for Basalte Home, the company’s home automation platform. Users get a clear overview of their smart home system and can control lights, shades, scenes, temperature and music in any room. Lena can also operate as a door entry system or internal intercom.

However, what is probably of more interest to the design community is the products ability to blend into any interior. Lena is available in all Basalte luxury finishes such as brushed brass, brushed aluminium and nickel. Sleek and thin, the product appears to be floating on the wall. Control, beautifully presented.

Keep your eyes peeled for more blogs from the team on the luxury AV and smart home sectors. Read passed ones here.

Grounds For Greater Audio

4 May 2022

Exterior music systems installed in gardens and the grounds of properties are a growing phenomenon as the trend for outdoor living, staycations and advanced technology meet to deliver a high-quality experience consumers love.

Exterior Music Systems

The success of exterior audio in the UK has been a relatively slow burn. The concept of high-performance domestic focused systems specifically designed for outside has been around for some time, but early manufacturers perhaps underestimated their potential in the Northern European market.

Early systems were mostly developed in the U.S for areas like the Californian market where outdoor living is a way of life, makers assumed wrongly that UK consumers did not spend much time outside. However, a few systems began to make their way over to Europe and many involved in the distribution of these products were surprised at how well they sold. Gradually the market has grown and is now one of the fastest expanding sectors in the high-quality AV world. However, it’s important to point out, this is specialist exterior audio, not just moving an inside product, outside.

Let’s go outside!

Exterior audio systems have been around almost as long as there have been audio systems. Some of the first speakers produced were public address systems that were mounted in train stations, on the outside of factories and other spaces where the equipment would largely be open to the elements. Over the decades these systems evolved to service areas such as the marine market and domestic pool areas where the technology evolved to make the systems super resistant to the elements being able to survive with ease extremes of temperature, and other challenges such as salt, dirt and insects. What was missing until relatively recently, was quality, the ability to design a system for domestic use which cares as much about the quality of the audio produced as systems designed for the inside.

Music and audio behave very differently outside than inside. The most obvious difference of course is that there are no walls to enclose the sound. Walls can create problems such as reflections and standing waves in the audio which interfere with clarity, but they also hold the sound in the space meaning creating volume and in particular strong bass sounds are easier inside than outside.

With an exterior audio system, products must be specially designed to focus the sound into the area you need it to be in and be able to deliver the right level of bass. Without going into too much technical detail, loads of research and design focus has gone into doing just that, so now customers can have systems to cover a small or large garden, patio/pool areas as well as much larger grounds for bigger properties. Exterior audio systems can now take their place alongside the growth in other high-quality exterior experiences such as exterior kitchens and high-quality BBQs. Another trend that has helps is where developments and renovations look to bring the ‘outside in’ using architectural design to link outside and inside spaces. For example, as consumers transition from their large open plan kitchen/lounge with large bi-folding doors into the garden, their music can follow them. 

Exterior Music Systems

The COVID situation has also had an effect here as many homeowners had to spend more time at home and have discovered that their homes can be great places to be. So rather than going out to enjoy themselves, they stay in and make the most of their homes and gardens. Exterior music systems have played a huge part in that from just enjoying alfresco dining to full on party time by the pool. The original meaning of ‘staycation’ was not a holiday in the UK, but a holiday at home and making customers home’s cooler places to be played a big part in that.

High-quality audio manufacturers have poured lots of their R&D time and money into developing a wide range of systems and so as an integrator of technology we can cater for any type of requirement. Systems from the likes of Sonance weave subtly into the space offering the chance to enjoy any type of music when enjoying the outside. If a more party vibe is what is called for a manufacturer such as L-Acoustics offers exterior music systems systems with the right amount of power and poise to deliver a large sound stage and entertain larger groups of people with ease.

So, when thinking about your customer’s exterior spaces, don’t forget the music, listening to audio outside is a real joy and adds a totally new dimension to the audio-visual life of any property.

Don’t forget to read our other blogs.