In the Field: Miles Redbart of HES Ltd
HiddenWires chats with Miles Redbart, director of Home Entertainment Specialists Ltd., based in Hertfordshire, UK.
Home Entertainment Specialists Ltd
Countries/Territories serve: United Kingdom
Specialises in: Home Cinema, Home Automation, Lighting Control, HiFi, Multi Room Audio, Multi-room Video, Structured Cabling, IT Networks
When was Home Entertainment Specialists founded?
What was the drive behind starting the firm? Did you recognise a need in the market? How did you identify it, if so?
A previous technical business opened my eyes to the potential of a custom installation AV company. I researched the best in the field and went off to train with them. This meant that we could offer the market leaders in home automation and lighting control, however this all came at a significant cost. I then went on a second research venture to find something in my opinion “as good” as the market leaders, but at a more affordable cost. This led me to Bitwise.
What were some of your early challenges as a company starting out? How did you face and overcome those challenges?
As a new company we found it difficult to accurately specify equipment and time for projects, and in some early experiences, that meant that we overran on time, and often did not invoice for essential equipment used or for the additional time spent. We evolved from this financial handicap fairly quickly by documenting all equipment used in every project, thus eliminating the oversight in future projects.
What kind of requests do you receive the most in your residential AV business? Why is this particular integration project or product so popular?
The main client request is HDTV throughout their property, together with multi-room music distribution. HD is the future, and although we are still waiting for 4K content and streamers, people are still very happy with the crystal-clear change from an old mono RF signal to a full HD signal. The difficult part here is convincing the client that they need a matrix to reliably and neatly distribute all their HD content to all their televisions. Finding a matrix that fulfills the client’s requirements that is reliable and rock solid was a journey in itself, but I feel we have got there with most of the CYP range of HD distribution equipment.
The same could be said for the music distribution. For me, it is what the end-user GUI is like, and how easy it is to navigate. There is no point putting a full 24-bit DAC, all-singing, all-dancing music streamer in a project, if the client will not be able to confidently use it. Therefore it was essential to buy products and evaluate them in a layman environment, until we found something that everyone and anyone can use—regardless of age and IT experience.
In brief, tell us about one of your more difficult integration projects.
We successfully completed a project locally to our offices. The client was so impressed that they advised us that they have a second property abroad [in Israel], and that they wanted the exact same system to be supplied, shipped, installed and configured into it. The system consisted of one room of 7.1 audio, five rooms of HDTV, together with smart TV functionality, a computerised lighting system linked to electric blinds, and heating control—not forgetting music in their kitchen.
We found it challenging working from drawings, specifications and builders that did not speak any English. All technical translations had to be done through the client who thankfully is bilingual. I think the most challenging part, was not seeing the site until we flew over there to embark on the project. We found that video streaming with the client while they were there visiting, assisted us enormously and that by specifying a remote access system insured us for any programming tweaks that may have been needed in the future. Thankfully, nothing has required any modification, and to this day, I don’t think I have ever needed to “dial in”.
What do you anticipate will be the next big AV integration trend in your market? What is driving it? How will you answer this new demand?
The future. Visiting CES in Vegas during January gives a great insight into what we can expect. I found this year to be a huge drive for Z-Wave. I think manufactures are trying to make it easier to integrate together, which may be a good thing. There was also a drive for 8K already! I would like to see more available vehicle integration as the Holy Grail would be launch an app and select whether you would like to access a vehicle or property. I feel that both of these have huge potential for smart control.