At the beginning of the new millennium, ListenUp was faced with a challenging situation when the T-Rex highway project gobbled up the ground under LU’s corporate headquarters and forced a relocation. Because headquarters includes the corporate office, custom installation department, and warehouse facility, the move proved to be quite an undertaking – and an opportunity. Walt and Steven decided to re-invent the previous custom showroom and create a whole new experience for customers interested in whole-house entertainment. The new showroom boasts lifestyle vignettes and demo areas for cutting-edge systems, the pièce de resistance being the Reference Theater.
A collaboration between ListenUp and Keith Yates, widely regarded as the world’s leading residential theater designer, the Reference Theater truly expands the boundaries of home cinema performance. Walt explains the impetus for this new system this way: “The company has always had an obsessive focus on quality – quality of the customer’s experience and quality of the equipment. We believe that we have a responsibility to try to recreate the emotional impact of the performing arts in someone’s home. And that’s not an easy task. Some might say it’s an impossible task. But with the advances that have taken place in electronics over the years, we’ve been able to get closer to the ideal – and the Reference Theater represents our best efforts.”
Much as the reel-to-reel tapes did back in the Ebbets Field days, the Reference Theater also provides a type of testing ground in which the experts at ListenUp can accurately evaluate different equipment and make more informed recommendations to customers. (More about the Reference Theater.)
Co-founder Walt Stinson inducted into Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame
In 2009, ListenUp President and Co-founder Walt Stinson had the supreme honor of being inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame in a class that included Apple’s Steve Jobs. Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA, praised the inductees for their contributions to the growth of the industry. “The CE Hall of Fame gives us the opportunity to showcase the people in our industry that offer creative solutions. Their ideas have changed the way consumers live,” he said.
ListenUp project wins five major industry awards
– TechHome Ultimate Home of the Year over $300K from the Consumer Electronics Association
– Crestron Integration Award for Ultimate Connected Home Over $750K
– Lutron Excellence Award for Best Engineered System
– CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles® Award for Best Dressed System (the advanced home system with the best organized rack and wiring system).
– An upcoming award from Electronic House magazine, to be announced in April. (More about these awards.)
Featuring cutting-edge design, engineering and installation craftsmanship, the mountain home featured below incorporates advanced home automation, security, and networking alongside a sommelier system, an acoustically isolated bowling alley, a geothermal ice and snow-melt system, and an audio/video lounge that’s acoustically optimized and isolated from the rest of the structure. The entire automation system, which includes 15 major home subsystems, can be controlled with the client’s iPad or by a wall-mounted touchpanel located in each room. (See more about this amazing system.)
Technologies for today and tomorrow
Contemporary homes now include increasingly complex systems where experience really comes in handy. “Our knowledge of commercial systems prepared us well when home systems began to get more complex,” says Steven. “Commercial systems have always had to be installed, of course, so it was an easy transition to apply those skills to residential jobs.”
It’s quite a bit different than the esoteric music systems that were ListenUp’s bread and butter back in the seventies, and yet, according to Walt, the ethic remains the same. “Now we’re involved in ‘technology contracting’ and we do a lot of systems integration, but we still try to bring some artistic sensitivity to the job. That sensitivity has traditionally meant that we support the vision of a musician or director and try to recreate it as closely as possible. Today, that sensitivity might also mean having respect for the architectural integrity of the home when we tie security, automation, lighting, distributed audio/video and home theater together.”
So what does the future hold?
“More and more, people are going to get their content over the Internet and use cloud-based storage,” Walt believes. “That’s a fairly fundamental shift in content delivery – away from analog wires and hardware platforms to digital wiring and software platforms… Structured wiring has become an important part of new homes, and once that’s in place, then you’ll want to hang products off that infrastructure. ListenUp is positioned very well to provide those sorts of value-added services.” For the foreseeable future, then, it all comes down to customized systems and maximum service. For ListenUp, it always has.