The Next Frontier
“You don’t have to custom program every little thing,” says DiComo. “I suppose there’s a little bit of a double-edged sword. But I don’t think custom installers should be concerned. People aren’t going to run out and buy it and install it themselves. It’s ultimately going to be a business advantage for integrators looking for a higher degree of customer satisfaction. That’s the ultimate goal.” DiComo says Polk is behind the IP model for one major reason: audio quality. Though custom installers may find themselves doing more IT-based work, he says the end goal is the same: to please the client, even if it means changing the way a retailer or installer does business.
“‘Digital’ is the buzz word today,” says DiComo, who admits that thanks to the proliferation of high-end music servers and even iPod, consumers are more comfortable with digital music and movies than ever before. “Just look at newspaper ads,” he says. “Everything is ‘digitial this’ and ‘digital that.’ If you don’t say ‘digital,’ people start to think you’re talking about an old technology.”
But not all digital solutions are IP-based. “A lot of manufacturers are promoting that they have an IP-based system,” says Shimonishi, “but they’re still sending their audio as analog.” The difference, she says, is in how hardware communicates. “With IP, when you press play, you’re sending TCP/IP instruction to your CD player,” she says, which talks to a receiver or in-wall speaker. “We engineered the system so it’s very simple to program,” she says. “You can use it with any type of CD or DVD player.”