The ProSource/AVB buying group Summit, held this past weekend in Nashville, concluded with a not-so-mini Expo involving over 60 manufacturers.
For members who missed CEDIA or CES, this Expo offered an excellent opportunity to put hands and eyes on some of the newest products as well as get some quality facetime — the real, non-Apple version – with manufacturer partners.
One of the great things about a smaller Expo like the ProSource Summit is that, with far fewer attendees and vendors, you can spend as much time with a manufacturer as you like, really learning about a product and discussing any questions or concerns you may have. While not in my list below, I spent a far bit of time with Parasol and OneVision Resources, discussing their different after-hours service offerings. I came away with a much better understanding of the process and how it might work for my company and clients.
So, here are the top items that most stood out to me at the Summit:
ProSource offers members access to the member-owned AVB Marketing group “whose only job is to drive business to your business,” according to AVB CEO Jim Ristow. AVB offers members website design services with a 40 percent discount, and soon will feature rich and dynamic word and video web content following the group’s ambitious plans to bring top salespeople from all over the country to shoot professional, expert product videos across different categories. Multiple members of the AVB team were on hand to discuss and go over different marketing options.
Control4 Tiny House
I’m certainly aware of the Tiny House phenomenon, but I’ve never actually seen one in person, let alone had the chance to step foot inside one. Turns out that a Tiny House is actually a great mobile demo platform to display smart technology in a variety of lifestyle settings. The inside of this little home was packed with technology, including Control4, Pakedge, and Triad.
Of course, being a Tiny House, there isn’t a lot of space for anything, especially reading in bed. Fortunately, the Control4 touchscreens in all areas mean that you never need to reach far to access your tech!
Headed up by Frank Defilippis, Dish has developed a powerful program for the custom channel. Not only does the Hopper3 DVR offer some of the most powerful features on the market — record up to 20 programs at once!— the new program gives integrators some incredible opportunities to make money selling Dish without any of the hassles of having to install satellites. The custom integration program is designed to take all the pain points out of the installation process, with a team of top-tier technicians dedicated to the CI channel, and authorizing the CI to handle all issues on the client’s behalf.
JBL Synthesis Demo
JBL’s demo at CEDIA is always on my very shortlist of must-see demos, and it was great to see they brought a full demo room with them to the Summit, which was packed with a 7.4.4 Synthesis in-wall system. The demo included three SCL-2s up front, four SLC-4s handling side and rear surrounds, four SCL-3s for height information, and four SSW-4 subwoofers. The listener level speakers were driven by a Lexicon RV-9 receiver, with the overheads powered by a Lexicon DD-8+ and the subs driven by pair of Revel amps. The whole system retailed for around $56,000 and delivered not only a cohesive, hemispherical audio bubble, but also tight low-end with real punch.
JVC was on hand with its latest true 4K projectors that are now (finally) shipping! They told me they expect to catch up to all backorders and be back to business as usual by April. While not an ideal location for a projector, the 8K e-shift NX9 on display had plenty of detail and brightness.
KLH Amplified Keypad
The KLH VX-1, being held here by national sales manager Patrick Thompson, is an interesting little problem solver that might just help you bring old volume control installs into the 21 century. Designed to replace traditional VCs, this powers via a brick at the head-end, and then features an internal 50-watt Class D amplifier along with 24/192 DAC capable of decoding most file formats, including FLAC, WAV, AIFF, MP3, and more. Homeowners can then use WiFi or Bluetooth to send audio to a controller, or use the local mini-jack input. It will even offer voice control either via Alexa or the free MUZO app.
Unfortunately LG didn’t bring one of the rollable OLED displays to the Summit, but they did have their latest line-up of regular OLED displays, and they all looked stunning as per the usual. Deep, inky blacks, with bold, vivid colors, OLED technology has a lot to love.
Screen Innovations is a new shade partner for the ProSource group and they were on hand to show off a variety of screen options. The company also displayed its famous Black Diamond screen with a Sony ultra-short-throw laser projector integrated into a Salamander Designs cabinet, showing you can do a cinema-sized screen in truly any room!
Sony 8K LED
Fresh off the CES showfloor, Sony displayed its new Master Series XBR-85Z9G 85-inch 8K LED display. Images were bright and gorgeous, driven by the new 8K X1 Ultimate processor. While its unclear when we might ever get true 8K source material of any quantity, the images on this display were nothing short of stunning, with incredibly bright HDR highlights. And at $13,000, this set is competitively priced and will likely be a hot seller. (It is also available in a 98-inch version with an “if you have to ask…” pricetag.) Also on display in the Sony booth was the new-for-2019 A9G OLED panel.
SVS Prime Pinnacle
SVS is finally filling a hole in its model line-up by introducing the new Prime Pinnacle tower speakers to be priced at $1500/pair and to sit atop the high-performance/value Prime Series. The speaker will feature a premium 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter, a 5-inch midrange, and a trio of 6.5-inch woofers for the massive bass output SVS is known for. The speaker will also allow for three different port tuning frequencies to individual tune high, mid, and low bass frequencies.
Yamaha Multi-Zone Streamer
The new Yamaha XDA-QS5400RD was literally built from the ground up with the CI channel in mind. This 1U, rack-mountable Quad Streamer (QS) delivers four simultaneous audio streams from the built-in Pandora, Spotify Connect, SiriusXM, TIDAL, and more, or from content on the local network, and powers them with 8-channels of built-in audiophile-grade Class D amplification. The system is expandable up to 32 zones, and controlled via the easy-to-use and easier-on-the-eyes MusicCast app along with third-party control system integration. This piece looked so good, we brought one in to TWICE sister publication Residential Systems for a full product review! Stay tuned…