|Posted on February 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM|
(That’s a Dr. Strangelove reference for all you non-cinephiles out there...)
There are many parts of this industry that I like… There’s that moment when you turn on a system for the first time and all of the keypads spring to life, come on line and start reporting metadata just like they’re supposed to. There’s that moment after you’ve “activated” all of the lighting devices and press “All On” and all of the lights actually come on. There is the moment when you hand over a system to a client and they are all smiles and thrilled with the job that you’ve done.
Sure. Those are all great things. But the part of this industry that I truly love is designing and installing dedicated home theaters. It’s not even about the money that these jobs bring in; it’s just the part of this industry that resonates most deeply with me. From unboxing and racking in the gear, to the unique smell of the new screen material (if you’ve never “stopped to smell the Stewart” then you are missing out, my friend), to the remote programming and calibration, to the final “Wow!” moment of sitting back and watching those first demo clips… I doubt anything will come along that will ever replace my love for home theater.
So, you can imagine that I was pretty against soundbars when they first came on the scene. I saw them as low-end interlopers trying to take away from my beloved home theater installs, and every time that I hear the comment, “Well, I was told that a soundbar is just as good as a regular surround system,” that aneurysm in my brain gets one step closer to exploding.
I wouldn’t say that our company was resistant to or ignorant of the soundbar category, but we never really embraced it. In fact, we weren’t even showing any on our show floor. But over time my heart softened to the soundbar’s siren song, and now it has become a large part of our sales and installation strategy with us demonstrating three different bars on our floor – and looking to possibly bring in a fourth. As you can imagine, this has greatly increased our sales in the category.
Here’s what caused me to change my mind and finally embrace soundbars and why I think you should too.
They are gaining serious street cred
It took a while for “serious speaker companies to fully embrace soundbars, meaning that the market was glutted with sub $200 models that did nothing to endure them to custom installers. This also cast the pall of “low-end” and “lousy sound” over the category. But now, you have some heavyweight manufacturers putting some serious technology into this market segment: Paradigm, Martin Logan, Definitive Technology, GoldenEar Technology, Atlantic Technology, B&W, Polk… Krell is even said to be working on one! Krell! Soundbars are no longer the red-headed stepchildren of the A/V world, but rather an accepted and serious technology solution.
Tell a different story
My mission at CEDIA last year was to find different soundbars for our showroom that let us tell an installation story. We wanted to separate ourselves from the sub-$200 Wal-Mart models, but still have choices that fit an array of budgets. We settled on three models ranging from $600 – 2000 letting us demonstrate different price and performance points and giving customers the same kind of choices and options that our regular system designs do.