I continue my discussion with Amina Technologies’ Keith Vanderkley, VP Sales Americas. Part 2 (Part 1 here)
Maureen Jenson: What can you tell us about Amina’s manufacturing? Do you employ any initiatives to minimize environmental impact?
Keith Vanderkley: Amina is unlike many of our competitors in that we are both an innovator and manufacturer. From within our Great Britain workshop, all our products are conceived and tested under real life conditions; cold, hot, dry and wet, plastered and mudded. Pro-Audio Standard measurements are taken with the products finished as per our recommendations, so it addresses real world installs. If it’s made to be plastered over, we measure it that way.
Our R&D teams are at the world’s leading edge of sound transducers, which we developed from the ground up to produce a specific result on the soundboard. We test different materials for our cores, from alloys to fibers to resins to paper, glue, doping and wall/ceiling finishes… every component contributes to the sum total. Using the right combinations and our proprietary drive and dampening techniques, we “voice” the soundboard to sound as much as possible to the original source.
Because of our constant drive for improvement, our daring to go out on a limb, and because we have a Managing Director that believes in the team he has gathered, we continually raise the bar to higher performance standards, establishing new patents whilst raising industry standards. Continuous development since our founding has resulted in numerous UK and international patents reflecting our deep expertise, creativity and innovation.
Minimizing environmental impact is of great interest to us. We started the business with the goal of designing and manufacturing high quality systems that would be installed architecturally and therefore be used for many years. This keeps our environmental impact modest. We have always tried to use paper-based packaging as much as possible to allow full recycling of said material. In the last four years, we have used paper bags in our first level of protective packing on all our panel loudspeakers.
Our invention of the invisible speaker back in 2001 provided more excitement about our future environmental position. We were able to provide a truly lifetime product, rather than just tech stuff. Instead of something that might be fashionably usable for several years, we created a product that could last the lifetime of a building. Wall and ceiling surfaces might be redecorated periodically, and source technology might change dramatically over time, but the invisible speakers would remain constant throughout. This is something very few products can boast about.
And that is the case here, in our own assemble area at our UK facility. We continue to make use of the invisible product that we installed 18-years ago as part of our workforce entertainment solution. The walls have been repainted and source technology has changed from a simple radio to much more advanced streaming technology, but there is absolutely no sign in degradation of the quality in reproduction and dispersion through the assemble area.
MJ: What products did you demo at CEDIA EXPO?
KV: We capitalized on the opportunity to show next generation versions of our new Mobius and EDGE panels. We’ve taken existing product and with the help of dealer feedback, made them even better, incorporating improvements in both performance and installation speed.
The Mobius panels work behind a range of covering materials and level 5 skim coats. This includes wet plaster skim (2mm), stucco, wood, leather, natural or man-made veneers and laminates. Mobius provides the greatest flexibility of any invisible speaker for interior design integration/installation making them ideal for residential, commercial and marine settings.
Mobius-i front panel
The newest, Mobius-i, utilizes a 2nd generation Excelsior class high frequency driver integrated into a honeycomb aluminum soundboard. This brings a significant 6dB boost in mid-range sensitivity over the previous, plus an extended lower frequency and increased smoothness and extension in the high frequencies to above 30kHz. Mobius5i MSRP is $1,100 (each) and the larger Mobius7i MSRP is $1,600 MSRP (each).
Our new EDGE i-Series panels are designed for drywall installations to be finished over with paint or other coatings. This speaker represents a completely new approach as it gets installed by simply replacing a small section of the wall, attached only to the wall and not the studwork therefore no special framing is required.
The speaker actually “moves” with the drywall when the studs or floor-joists flex and twist, assuring that the finish will not crack. Once filled, taped, feathered and painted it becomes fully invisible. It can also be installed as a post-plaster retrofit product. The speaker delivers smooth low frequency extension with increased power handling and an astounding sensitivity of 90dB @ 1 Watt/1 Meter including finish. The result is a dynamic, engaging listening experience unimagined from a simple installation product. EDGE5i MSRP is $1,000 (each) and EDGE7i MSRP is $1,500 (each).
MJ: Can you share some responses from your dealers at EXPO?
KV: We see EXPO as a place of learning. Being able to experience our products is paramount. Given we transitioned out of Triad/Control4 distribution in 2019, and set-up our own sales and distribution network, EXPO really was like a homecoming for us. We had an exciting time, once again having a dedicated booth to demonstrate. We built a “sound tunnel” where we installed our new speakers in the walls and ceiling so that dealers could hear them, including how they behaved in a highly reflective, reverberant space.
The booth was busy with new product demos and dealers proudly sharing with us pictures of their recent Amina installations and describing those in the pipeline. We also made new friends, meeting dealers that are newer to the business or hadn’t been exposed to us before, and the enthusiasm was equally as exciting.
Stay tuned next week when Keith shares some Amina success stories, the newly setup infrastructure in North America and what to look forward to from Amina at CEDIA EXPO 2020! Part 3 here.