AMX: How to Achieve Harman-y

harmanfeatI have seen a lot of discussion about the new acquisition of AMX by Harman.

Many have tried to say that because of the large consumer division of Harman, that AMX will be marginalized in the commercial space going forward. I’m quite certain that won’t be the case given that AMX has been placed in the ProAV products group with JBL Pro and Crown. JBL Pro has been expanding its line beyond their architectural loudspeakers for some time and now seem to have a rather competitive assortment of both small and large line arrays, pendant speakers, etc. Crown has also been a staple in the ProAV space for some time as well and I can’t count the number of jobs I surveyed from shopping malls, to houses of worship, to offices that were using Crown as the juice behind the distributed audio system.

The other detractors seem to focus on the fact that Harman is an audio-centric company and that AMX’s strengths are control and video. They question Harman’s experience in growing these two segments, especially in the commercial space. I would argue however that there is a difference in Harman’s experience in growing these segments and their ability to do so. I happen to think that Harman may be uniquely poised to take AMX to the next level, and to take some market share from the “The Tale of Two Trons”.

Harman’s unique advantage with AMX may lie in three other letters, AVB.

Let’s first remember that the V in AVB does stand for something, and that something is video. Harman has been very intimately involved in the AVB standard and its creation. Of course their main dog in the hunt has always been audio, but their knowledge of the standard may just be very advantageous considering this new acquisition.

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AMX already has a line of Enova switchers, but to be fair, Crestron’s DM and Extron’s DTP/XTP products have subjugated Enova to a distant third for some time. Pushing Enova is necessary as that is what AMX has to sell currently, but I’m not sure that just leveraging a Harman centric dealer base and a having access to a massive marketing budget will be enough. It’s still a “me too” story in many respects.

However, if AMX could leverage Harman’s knowledge of AVB and then launch a series of products based around using existing enterprise level switching hardware that all changes…dramatically. Especially if you can then tie in network addressable amplifiers or even network addressable speakers with integrated amplifiers and AVB ports for distributed audio and emergency mass notification.

Crestron touted end to end 4k at InfoComm this year using their new 4k wire, which funnily enough, lost to Kramer for quality, in a cable challenge that Crestron themselves sponsored.

SVSi touts uncompressed 4k through enterprise grade switches with their video to IP converter boxes, as well as an audio partnership with QSC QSys and Global Cache for control.

But in this case, if Harman and AMX could pull it off, they could be the only ones doing end to end 4k with audio and control through the network switch. Now that may be a story worth telling, and perhaps a stone worthy of slinging at Goliath.

What do you think? Am I off base? Tell me I’m right or pick a fight (you won’t win 🙂 ) in the comments below.