By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
HORSESHOE BAY, TEXAS – Custom installer and system integrator Sound Design marked its 20th anniversary April 1 with the opening of a new 4,500-squarefoot showroom here.
“What better way to celebrate our 20th year as Texas’ premier custom-installation firm than to open a beautiful new showroom with all the latest home technologies?” asked owner Chris Bean.
Leveraging his 20 years in business, Bean said he designed the new location — the company’s second — with best-in-class products and a “relaxing, luxurious ambience that appeals to our local clientele.” Live vignettes variously feature a 63-inch Runco V63 plasma panel framed and hidden by a VisionArt motorized art print; a Planar 2x3 Matrix Wall with six 46-inch panels; ultra-premium 7-foot CAT MBX Sequoia speakers; a surround system with an Integra DTR 50.4 receiver, Newport speakers and two Sunfire HRS-12 subwoofers; and whole-home control by Elan.
The showroom also boasts a commercial-grade home theater that deploys a Display Development HD3 projector; a 184-inch Stewart Filmscreen Luxus Delux screen; a Kaleidescape M300 player connected to a Kaleidescape CinemaOne server in the lobby; a Theta Casablanca III preamp/processor and Theta Compli-blu Blu-ray player; a PrimaCinema server; and a bevy of California Audio Technology speakers, subwoofers and amplifiers.
But perhaps the most unique part of the new showroom is a 640-square-foot “simulation room” featuring a three-projector, continuous curve-screen golf simulator from AboutGolf; a LaserShot shooting simulator with five-channel surround and 30 two-player games; and a VRX iMotion driving and flight simulator with triple-LCD display.
Bean said he wanted to show this resort community that he’s an “outside-the-box thinker” who can bring dreams to life.
“The simulation room is a step forward for CI [custom install] showroom design and for our company, and it allows us to open the imagination of our clients to show them that anything is possible,” he noted. “Homeowners in Horseshoe Bay are all about recreation and a luxury lifestyle so we wanted to show the unique ways people could enhance their home’s fun factor. From controlling lighting, heating and surveillance cameras on an iPhone to a hyper-realistic golf simulator that makes you feel like you’re really teeing off on the course, our Horseshoe Bay showroom is as state-of-the-art as it can be.”
The showroom is a far cry from Sound Design’s humble beginnings in 1993 as a 12-volt and security installer. Its repertoire now encompasses the design and installation of complete home integration systems, home theaters, surround-sound systems, lighting control, central vacuum, security, structured wiring, computer networks and surveillance camera systems.
But Bean’s specialty is home integration, bringing all core subsystems -- including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), pool control, security, lighting, A/V, irrigation, and garage doors -- into one touchscreen control device for every room that can operate all the systems individually.
“When we first got into custom home installation, multi-room audio and video systems were the biggest client request,” he noted. “Just a few years ago, the most common client request was for an amazing home theater to enjoy the newest DVDs or Blu-rays.”
Today, he said, the company is increasingly finding homeowners and homebuyers as interested in complete home control as they are in their TVs and music, if not more so.
“Consumer culture is now moving beyond just high-quality audio and video,” Bean observed. “Many of our clients are tech-savvy homeowners who have become mobile tech enthusiasts through their everyday interactions with iPhones and tablets, and they want that same instant satisfaction to apply to their household media and home functions.”
To that end, both showrooms employ Elan’s g! home entertainment and control system as their primary connectivity platform. Bean said the system affords his clients the “easy, fast, total control of everything in the home from their touch panels, smartphones or tablets” that customers demand today, and which will become mandatory in the years ahead.
“Expandable, easy-to-use control systems that utilize mobile devices and simplify home living are going to be major sales drivers of the future for both the CI and the home building industries,” he said.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.