Paul Hales | PRO Audio Technology & Theory Audio Design | Part 2

By Maureen Jenson
Published on: May 14, 2021

I recently talked with Paul Hales, President and Product Designer, PRO Audio Technology & Theory Audio Design about how they have helped their dealers during COVID, new products and new trends affecting product design! Part 2. Part 1 here.


MJ: How are you helping your dealers survive (or perhaps even thrive) during the pandemic? 

PH: Fortunately, our integrators are considered an ‘essential service’ in the U.S. and many other countries around the globe, and they have been, for the most part, working throughout the pandemic. In fact, many residential A/V integrators are having record-breaking years due to the increase in demand for home entertainment. PRO has certainly seen a positive increase in sales as a result of this uptick in business.

However, travel is still limited so in place of in-person rep, dealer, and distributor education sessions, we have pivoted to in-depth brand and product training presentations via video conferencing. By offering these presentations in a webinar format for existing and potential domestic and international partners and their customers, we are able to maintain and create new partner relationships and keep them sharp on the latest PRO and Theory product offerings. We have also strengthened ties with industry consultants to ensure they specify PRO into their high-end room designs, which is plus business for our dealers and an opportunity for them to build their brand credibility.

Our two companies are small and that allows us to be extremely nimble; we are able to pivot to help our customers in ways that many larger companies and corporations simply cannot. We have been able to treat each customer request as unique, and we are doing everything possible to be the best manufacturer partner that we can be. If a long-standing dealer needs extended terms on a new job to help with cash flow, we do what we can to help. Ultimately, we know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we want our company, and our dealers to come out of it poised for success.


PRO Experience Center


MJ: What are your dealers asking for from PRO and Theory in 2021? 

PH: As mentioned, the new decade took the world by surprise, but it presented plenty of opportunities for A/V installers to leverage the technology upgrades associated with the work, learn, and entertain-from-home movements.

Dealers are asking for the solutions their customers want, which is more satisfying ways to entertain and to be entertained within their home. Date nights, movie nights and gatherings to cheer on sports teams are now taking place in the home and consumers want to upgrade their audio and video technology to bring home the best experiences. In dedicated theater rooms, which is where PRO shines, we continue to see an increase in screen and panel sizes and a higher surround sound speaker/channel count to accommodate technologies like Dolby Atmos.

Simultaneously, there is demand for ultra-thin flat panels, discreet in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, and high-quality soundbars, Theory’s bread and butter, to create the ideal environment for streaming content without interfering with the décor throughout the home.


MJ: Can you give us a peek behind the curtain on what’s coming from PRO in 2021?

PH: As the cost of frameless video walls decrease and resolution increases, video walls are becoming increasingly popular in high-end residential installations in place of projection screens. Since PRO’s traditional front speaker offerings are designed to be installed behind acoustically transparent screens, we are developing a new line of high performance, full-range loudspeakers with built in subwoofers and rotatable horns for horizontal and vertical installations to accommodate this trend. We’ll have more to share on these PRO loudspeakers soon.


PRO S-12sm, SR-12ai, SR-212ai


MJ: What about Theory? Any trends that are affecting product design?

PH: More and more residential integrators are taking on high-end commercial installations. The ‘resimercial’ trend has inspired Theory’s 2021 product innovations. We are adding a high-output in-wall loudspeaker imminently, and mid-year we will roll out the rest of the architectural loudspeaker series including high-output 4-inch and 6-inch in-ceiling loudspeakers, 12-inch in-wall subwoofers for 2×4 and 4×6 construction and a 12-inch multi-mount subwoofer system. Even more exciting is the upcoming ALM series, which is an acronym for Amplified Loudspeaker Mixer. The 18 x 10 channel ALM models are a major game changer in both residential and commercial AV for their ability to serve as a high power multichannel DSP amplifier in large surround systems, but also as the nucleus of Dante/AES67-based large, distributed audio systems. The 2-U ALM units, with up to 8,000W in one chassis can do almost anything.


MJ: Anything else you’d like to add? 

PH: We, the CI channel, and the entire world have learned plenty from the pandemic. In the future, I think we will be better prepared, more cautious and thoughtful with one another, and I hope we will all appreciate things a bit more. We also expect that the pandemic will change social norms for some time to come. Large group gatherings such as those found in movie theaters and at concert venues will likely be less prevalent, (at least in the short-term), and this will lead to increased demand for quality entertainment alternatives within the home. Together with our dealers, we are the experts able to make this a reality for our customers and we look forward to continued growth for professionally-installed entertainment systems.

Maureen Jenson

Maureen Jenson

Maureen is editor-in-chief for the Technology Insider Group. She has been the editor-in-chief of Audio Video Interiors, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, Home Theater, Technology Integrator, E-Gear and CEDIA’s Electronic Lifestyles Magazines. She is a CEDIA Fellow and IPRO Lifetime Achievement Award honoree.

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