HARMAN Luxury Update

HARMAN Luxury Update

Installing an Installer-Centric Mentality in Product Development

While we may be best known for being the stewards of our iconic audiophile brands like Mark Levinson and JBL premium loudspeakers, the Luxury Audio group at HARMAN has been creating and innovating products targeted toward the custom installation channel for decades. With brands like JBL Synthesis, Arcam, Lexicon and Revel also under the HARMAN brand umbrella we have been introducing products that have changed the industry. With a "music first" mantra, these brands have won many prestigious awards.

Dave Tovissi VP & GM - Luxury Audio

Dave Tovissi

VP & GM - Luxury Audio

Our commitment to innovation doesn’t just apply to audio excellence — it also drives our engineers to create new feature sets that benefit those who set up and install our products. These types of innovations may not always dominate the headlines because when we release new products, the focus is usually on groundbreaking performance or technological advancements.

So, in case you missed out on some of the innovations we have brought to the custom install market over the past couple of months, please allow me to highlight a couple of them for you.

JBL Synthesis was the first manufacturer to launch multichannel home theater processors, receivers and amplifiers utilizing DANTE, the AV-over-IP solution that dominates the world of professional audio. Here are some of the benefits of DANTE for the installer. The first and perhaps largest benefit is that DANTE uses standard wiring and existing network gear that is often already part of the specification of newer homes with structured cabling. DANTE fundamentally changes the model of audio connectivity by eliminating point-to-point connections between devices and replacing those pathways with logical routes in software. What that means is that cables no longer dictate how signals run — all devices are physically connected via Ethernet to a common network switch, and all changes are made using software. Walls don’t have to be torn out and no one needs to get into the crawl space when a customer wants to change where devices live.

DANTE is built as a complete, supported system from end-to-end, with intuitive software that is enabled in the JBL Synthesis SDP-55 Processor, SDA-35 AVR, as well as the SDA-2200 and SDA-7200 amplifiers. Our plan is to continue to develop more products with DANTE functionality. As adoption continues, installers will be able to choose the products their customers want, knowing that they will “just work” with other DANTE-enabled devices.

Arcam was the brand to enable Dirac Live room correction in 2015 and ever since then, we have been committed to getting the best possible sound out of our products. Room correction has traditionally required a somewhat complicated and technical process, but Arcam products with Dirac Live have made it much simpler and faster for installers to complete. With advanced algorithms and a redesigned, intuitive user interface that guides the installer through the entire process, what used to take a full day or more to calibrate a room can now be completed in as little as 30 minutes. That is an enormous savings in time which helps installers increase the profitability of their business.

Dirac Live room correction is now available on the Arcam AVR10, AVR20, AVR30 Home Cinema AVRs and the AV40 Processor as well as the JBL Synthesis SDR-35 and SDP-55 Processor. We also included the feature on our Arcam SA30 Streaming Integrated Amplifier.

This next innovation that was developed in-house by our engineers at our Northridge campus will soon hit the market in our yet-to-be-announced new line of JBL Synthesis in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. We have developed and patented a better way to mount a speaker in the ceiling or wall. Our patented mounting solution was developed as an alternative to the industry’s dog-leg mounting system. In order to innovate on an industry mainstay, we had to solve some of the problems that installers are faced with when installing products with the traditional dog-leg mounting system.

• Dog-leg products require the installer to connect the wire and use a tool to turn the dog-leg into the working position. At the working position, the dog-legs will drop in the channel causing the screw to fall with it. This process makes the installation difficult since an installer must be holding the speaker in the wall/ceiling cutout with one hand while the other holds a tool trying to fully engage the screw head in order to secure the dog-legs in place.

• Dog-leg products require more space to operate which will reduce the rear enclosure volume space.

• Dog-leg pieces are usually plastic, and therefore easily stripped. They can also fall out of the tower/channel when over-torqued.

So how did we address these issues? By using a cat-clawing process instead. Our cat-claw design is a simple, yet elegant solution to address challenges that exist in the current dog-leg design. It requires less effort from the installer which in turn improves the efficiency of installation. It is more reliable and less prone to stripping since more torque can be applied to it.

• Products using the cat-claw design are ready to be snapped into the cutout and stay there without using any tools. At working or resting position, the screw in cat-claw assembly stays in the baffle and never drops down, which makes it easy for an installer to engage the tool to the screw head.

• The cat-claw assembly is self-contained which requires less space to operate in the resting or working position when compared to the dog-leg assembly.

• The cat-claw design can withstand more stress when compared to conventional dog-leg design.

We have been running time-in-motion studies on using our new patented mounting system and have been very pleased with our results. However, we want to have more validation from the installer community. With that in mind, we would like to invite several of our readers to conduct their own "Cat-Claw Challenge" with some of our in-ceiling and in-wall new products. Depending on who wants to accept our challenge, we will determine the best way to get your hands on these new speakers. We will let you keep these speakers for a future installation and in return we will request permission to use your testimonials in future product announcements. To learn more about our cat-claw innovation see the short video below:

Please email me at to request the opportunity to conduct your own "Cat-Claw Challenge."

Later in this month's newsletter you will learn from Chris Robinson that we just posted a new "How-To Install" video in our HARMAN Luxury University site addressing some of the myths and truths about how easy it is to install our new JBL Conceal Speakers. If you haven’t yet jumped on the Conceal bandwagon you are missing out on a new opportunity to grow the average whole-home audio sale.