SPONSORED 28.06.17

From bulky systems to a seamless music experience: Why multi-room audio is king of the connected home

view of iPad in living room running Control4 multi-room audio control in The Chilterns project

There’s no doubt about it – audio is a huge draw into the connected home for consumers. But where did multi-room audio get its start? And what does the evolution of multi-room audio mean for the industry moving forward?

Interest in multi-room audio can be traced back almost as long as recorded music has existed – people have always wanted a way to enjoy it in every room of their home. Throughout the decades multi-room systems have evolved from broadcast radio and have almost universally been sold as a premium in-home experience meant to be shown off and fawned over. Records, reel-to-reel tape, and then cassettes led the way in recorded music for years until CDs became king. CDs were compact, relatively durable and made it easier for consumers to listen to music, though some would argue, started us on a path to lower sound quality, as details were lost in the conversion from analog to digital.

Next came MP3s. Popularised by iPods and other portable devices, MP3s allowed a more portable and personal experience for consumers to carry many albums in the palm of their hands. File compression required for MP3 meant a reduction in sound quality, ridding the music of the details and depth that are found in the original recordings but not exposed when listening with earphones. With all that music on an iPod, many consumers figured, “why not just use that as my music source in the home?” and almost without noticing it, their music lost some of its life.  A “new normal” emerged for consumers where they were enjoying music, but not at the level that the artist intended.

Streaming music services have now emerged as the ultimate in music portability allowing consumers to access almost any album they want from a variety of streaming service companies.  As the battle between streaming services plays-out, consumers are introduced to higher-resolution audio and becoming more aware that they may be missing something.  Service choices wane in popularity as new options appear on the market, but companies like Tidal, Deezer, Pandora and Spotify continue to lead the way. Because the music is streamed and not stored on a portable device, listeners may actually be able to enjoy higher quality music without sacrificing convenience, which also makes for a better listening experience at home.

“High-resolution is now emerging as the next big thing in multi-room audio as consumers experience what they didn’t even know they were missing.”

High-resolution is now emerging as the next big thing in multi-room audio as consumers experience what they didn’t even know they were missing. And because it’s not isolated to a listening room, customers are able to enjoy the more immersive, more emotionally engaging music experience wherever they are in the house – a homeowner can start listening to music while making dinner and then move into the dining room without skipping a beat or disrupting the mood.  High-resolution music that follows you wherever you are in the home is a key differentiator from free-standing audio systems that can only be heard in one room. Music can be enjoyed the way it was intended to, turning a whole home into an immersive music listening experience really elevates a homeowner’s enjoyment of their system and makes entertaining or everyday living a true-to-sound audio experience.

Not only does multi-room audio sound better than ever, it is easier to enjoy than ever.  With one-touch solutions like Control4’s keypads, touch screens or handheld remote interfaces, homeowners can literally listen to their favorite music with a single press of a button, which can also set the lights, shades, thermostat and more. And there are many in-wall, in-ceiling and even invisible speaker options to compliment or blend into any room of the home available from quality speaker manufacturers, including Triad.

Multi-room audio doesn’t have to be limited to the inside of a home. With the increasing interest in outdoor audio comes solutions like the Triad Garden Array Outdoor Speakers that bring advanced, broad-dispersion sound to outdoor living – a far cry from crackly, mounted speakers that don’t allow for high-level user control. Even better, they’re design-friendly and easily blend into a home’s landscape.

So how will we see multi-room audio evolve over the next five to ten years? Technology will help it to become more pervasive and integrated into our homes and our lives. It will be more personalised and true-to-life. It will be simpler to access and more immersive and emotionally engaging.

Control4’s voyage into the world of multi-room audio began with the Matrix Amp, introduced along with Control4’s very first product offerings over 13 years ago. Multi-room audio has seen a lot of changes along the way, but it remains an integral part of our offerings and one that dealers are looking for more frequently. Music is more accessible than ever before with a constantly expanding list of streaming services available and we believe being at the forefront of high-resolution audio helps our dealers differentiate themselves and allows customers to experience audio the way that the artists intend.

By adding Triad to the Control4 lineup of audio offerings, we’re able to provide dealers with a solution that sets them apart from others in the industry. Bespoke, custom created audio systems backed by Triad’s support team allowing dealers to truly customise their client’s audio experience. The free Triad design service team works with dealers to help create a true high-resolution audio turnkey solution for clients, including custom product colour-matching. These tools help dealers surpass customer expectations of what an audio system can look and sound like. With Control4’s EA series controllers, high-resolution audio is built right in – there is no need for additional music servers or decoders. Everything a dealer needs can be found at the root of the home, meaning any Control4 home can easily add premium multi-room audio, all sourced from the same place.

Multi-room audio no longer needs to be a luxurious add-on item and can be so much more than a wireless speaker – we see it as an accessible, essential part of any connected home no matter the size or budget. Visit www.control4.com to learn more about Control4 home automation solutions and check out www.triadspeakers.com to browse the full selection of Triad speakers and audio products.

Kordon Vaughn is senior director of product marketing at Control4