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.


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.