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Home Automation Trends of 2023: A Discussion with Audio/Video Expert Darren Kolotyluk

Posted on 
February 15, 2023

Home Automation Trends of 2023:

A Discussion with Audio/Video Expert Darren Kolotyluk

In this episode of Luxury Living, we have the privilege of speaking with Darren Kolotyluk, a highly regarded Audio/Video Expert at Morris Tait Associates.

We touch on a variety of topics, from the latest technology in voice control to the #1 mistake most A/V Home Automation Integrators make when designing a home theater for their affluent clientele.

Darren shares his extensive knowledge and expertise on the latest advancements and trends in the field of home automation. Through this enlightening discussion, we will delve into the cutting-edge technologies and design innovations that are shaping the future of smart homes.

This video offers a unique opportunity to learn from one of the foremost experts in the industry and gain valuable insights into the world of luxury home automation.

Whether you are a seasoned professional or simply seeking to expand your knowledge, this educational and elegant video is not to be missed.

We invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and be sure to like, comment, and subscribe to our channel for future updates.

"Luxury Living", with Darren Kolotyluk


Welcome to the AVIR Luxury Living Podcast, where we explore the latest trends and innovations in the world of luxury home automation. I'm your host, Alvaro Sandoval, director of Marketing at A V I R, and today I'm joined by Darren. You know Darren, actually, we didn't talk about your last name.

How do you say your last name, please?

Darren: Kolotyluk. Kolotyluk with a k.

Alvaro: Kolotyluk. Oh, perfect. Okay. So Darren is with Morris State Associates, a leading provider of custom installation audio and video products, with a focus on innovative design and sonic performance. in this episode, we're diving into the cutting edge of home automation in 2023.

Exploring the latest technologies and design trends shaping the future of smart homes. So get ready to learn from the experts, and gain a deeper understanding of what's to come in the exciting world of home automation. Let's jump right in. Darren, it's great to have you.

Darren: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Alvaro: Awesome. So first question, Darren. You know, how's the home automation industry evolved over the past few years and what advancements have contributed to this growth, do you think?

Darren: Well, that's kind of a two-sided question. Obviously we had some social interruption, which has made people really aware of some things with the pandemic people working at home.

We've, in the industry, been saying it for years that the backbone of any good system is obviously the network. And I think when people started working at home and we had a lot of Zoom calls going on, whether that was for educational purposes or work purposes, a lot of people realized that they had connectivity.

They just, their systems weren't able to handle some of the bandwidth that was being required. So there's been a lot of people becoming more aware of how important a solid network is. So we've seen a huge growth in, bigger, better, more reliable networks that could handle the bandwidth that's needed.

So that's kinda the answer to question number one cuz network's been around forever. But I think in terms of advancements, the biggest thing we've seen has been, ironically coming from the lighting side. I know our business has technic pretty much focused on the audio video side, but lighting has been a large growth sector in our industry with human concentric lighting where people are, trying to recapture what happens outside, inside their home so they get that circadian rhythm.

And there's been a huge, huge growth where custom integrators, such as ourselves, now are paying more attention to that. It's not really in the electrician's hands, even though we definitely need them. But electricians, they want to give you power where we take it and, you know, are giving you that circadian rhythm in the house.

Alvaro: I mean, you touched on really two important points there. Over the years I've noticed that these networking systems have gone from what's typically used in a commercial environment to now being used in the residential environment. And that trend seems to trickle down. You know I think memory foam came from NASA and it's trickled down now to the consumer market. And whether it's the networking or lighting technology, those things are, are now becoming more available, especially at the level of clientele that Morris Tait and AVIR supply products and services for a lot of our clientele at the highest end, really want to push the boundaries of what's available. They want something unique and they really care about health. And so that's definitely something that, that, that you've mentioned that's very, very important. People are more aware, of their health and the different ways that they can get some of that environment back, some of their time back.

So much importance to what you said. I love that. Kind of in that line, what are some of the most popular products that are currently available on the market that you love?

Darren: Yeah, that's, so that's, that's twofold actually, again. Because probably the most popular product that I think everybody knows about is Sonos.

A big part of that comes from kind of going back to what we were talking about before, where there's been a lot of advancements. People are streaming everything today more than they ever have before. We're seeing less and less people using Blu-ray discs or CDs to get their music.

With streaming there's some really cool products out there that may not necessarily be as popular as we'd like them to be, but in terms of popularity, it's gotta be Sonos. In terms of higher  end products, so to speak, because Sonos is definitely for the masses,

then there's really cool products like Kaleidescape. Again, jumping back to the lighting, we're seeing more and more with lighting control. But my favorite is definitely the advancements that we've had in entertainment spaces, bringing music into every room of the house. And, of course, home theater.

The biggest advancements there has been the ease of doing digital sound processing. DSP as we call it, as you know so we can take music into rooms that typically would normally not sound good. A lot of the new homes being built are very open concept contemporary. And typically you put a speaker in there and it sounds like it's almost in an echo chamber.

So the advancements in D S P, which almost everybody offers now, you know, you can kind of fine tune the signal so that the speaker's reproducing a, a sound that's gonna work proper in the environment. A bit crazy on a long-winded answer there.

Alvaro: No, no, that was, that was perfect because, we get a lot of clientele that ask about,

specifically on the audio side, analog equipment. They want analog speakers and they want a warm sound. And their space sometimes doesn't accommodate either for the amplification, and so that has to be figured out. But then there's also the room to consider, and a lot of times, that has to be very early on in the process.

And so if you get an architect, designer, somebody like that, that's, or a integrator that's thinking that way and having the conversations early with a client, then there's the opportunity to account for the things that you've mentioned specifically these rooms. I mean, it's beautiful to walk into a, a massive space with very high ceilings, but then when that turns into an audio room, that's where all of the, that's where all the problems occur. So DSP is the only consistent solution that's available to kind of provide a hybrid environment. If, if that's what somebody wants, where it's analog, but that's digitally controlled. So, D S P has been incredible. I mean, I don't, I don't know where the, out, where the industry would be without it.

Darren: Yeah, and I mean, you mentioned before about commercial spaces coming into the home. I mean, it's just like when you go to a concert and there's always that guy in the middle of the. The floor with his big console. I mean, that's essentially what he's doing. They've got the Big J rig speakers and he just wants to make sure that everybody in the, in the auditorium is getting the best sound that they can.

And even though we've had that for a long time to implement, it was either costly, required a, a lot of equipment with microphones and you know, obviously the hardware to go behind. . And so some of the biggest advancements have been the ease of getting that technology cuz it always filters down hip as you know.

But getting that technology at a more affordable and more atta obtainable price for the average consumer. Cuz in the past if you wanted to have your system calibrated properly, it could get very, very expensive and not a lot of people either saw the value in it or obviously didn't wanna outlay that type of, of monetary.

Expenditure to get it, so That's right. Yeah. We've seen that's right, that Sonance has it in their new amplifiers. Wisdom has in their new amplifiers. Most processors have it nowadays, so it's, it's pretty easily to get to.

Alvaro: Now that people are spending more time at home like you mentioned at the, at the beginning, and that technology's just moving faster and faster than ever, how do you see luxury buyers' expectations from technology that they buy change in recent years? I mean, it's kind of a leading question here. Because we we're talking about this trickle down effect, but I think that you would know very well about really at what level. Luxury clientele are expecting these things to be their audio, their video, their lighting.

Can you speak to that a little bit?

Darren: It's a, it's a funny thing because there's definitely different levels of integrators and unfortunately, you know, I think sometimes there's a lot of misinformation out there. And I know that you and a lot of other integrators that I deal with, experience.

There's a certain expectation that the client has and he's seen information, whether it's comes from the internet or talking to his friends or whatever, and I think sometimes they think they can get a lot more. Than they can based on necessarily what they perceive the value as, if that makes any sense.

I've seen a lot of integrators get themselves into a pickle because they will agree or over promise to a client. And this is kind of salesy, but it's, it's a fact. There's always someone that will sell it for a less expensive price and unfortunately, That always comes as a cost.

We see that with all kinds of stuff. I mean, even down to wire. You know, there's wire companies that'll copper shape and their cable may meet a spec, but it can't handle the bandwidth. Once it's in the wall, it's in the wall. And then when a client has a party and there's a ton of people on his network, all of a sudden things aren't working so well.

And sometimes it's, you know, and they always point it at the gear. And. , the wire that's in the wall. But kind of jumping back to your question consumers want, they obviously want the best that they can get and they, there's value depending on what they wanna do. It's no different than someone going out and, you know, wanting desperately to get a Ferrari, but really his budget's a Corvette.

And that's fine because there's. Both great systems. So I think there's some expectations that need to mana be managed. Obviously A B I R and I got a couple other really key integrators that really know what they're doing. , but then again, there's always those guys that'll come out and say they can do it for less money, and they don't understand the backbone that's behind it.

That requires a system to function and work properly. You know, someone may go up against you and specify the exact same products in terms of hardware that you are, but they're offering it at at a lesser price, but they don't have the technology. Knowledge and backbone to actually make it work. They're not necessarily doing the proper infrastructure so that the system actually works properly.

Alvaro: If that makes any sense, ? Absolutely. I mean, Countless times I've heard stories either from engineer friends from the, from the time that I've spent in the industry designing these systems and learning from really good engineers here in California. ,

the sound difference in a home theater, just from having  dedicated power for that system and how much it totally transforms the stability of the entire system.

Every single piece in that system. A lot of times I do see that things like that are overlooked when it's strictly a product kind of analysis, it's things like that get overlooked in terms of the final 10% that really helps the system stand out.

And that the, what you're saying of expectations kind of being unfairly elevated is so true. There's a, there's a saying in AV. that I think we need to cons reconsider as an industry because of what you're mentioning, which is that's that this idea of bringing the home, the bringing a, a commercial theater to your home, that is true and it is possible.

Mm-hmm. , but it's not possible to every level. . And so if you go to an IMAX theater or any of the other big commercial theaters, that's a lot of power. That's dedicated power lines, that's dedicated transformer and so many other things. And so it really is up to the design team to flesh out all those details and make it known that it's still going to be as best as possible, but to set those expectations.

I mean, it is so, so, I. I didn't expect that answer from you on that, but I I love that you said that.

Darren: Yeah, I mean, it's, especially when it comes to luxury buyers because they understand it more than anybody. I mean, you can go to a really nice restaurant. I'm not gonna say any names because I don't, I'm not promoting anybody and have a steak dinner.

And then you can go to, I'm probably gonna get in trouble this someone like out. , you're still having a steak dinner still comes with potatoes and everything else, but the two experiences are completely different. And it really comes down to how the chef prepares it in the kitchen. Which is exactly, well, not exactly, but it's kind of the difference between a, you know, an integrator that has a proper engineering team, staff on hand.

Properly make sure that the backbone is gonna give you the desired outcome.

Alvaro: Kind of talking a little bit more on, on that line what do you, what do you think is a, a product line or something that's typically not thought of in the design phase for an auto automated home? Either here in the desert or, or, or in the area that you service?

Darren: Well, Really jumping back and not sound like a broken record, but the backbone having, as you mentioned before, proper power to deliver the, the system. Because regardless of where you are, some places are worse than others. There's always fluctuations in the power. So anytime you get dirty power or there's fluctuations where the voltage might drop it's gonna affect the system and.

Not necessarily an audio quality, but in the performance for sure, because there's so much technology in our products being built today. We talked about digital sound processing, so the D S P chips and all that stuff, they freak out when there's. any sort of fluctuations in power and sometimes they'll lock up and it's as simple as everybody has Apple TVs pretty much ask your clients how many times they have to reset their Apple TV , cause something happened and it freaked the microprocessor out.

And then when you look at products like the real high end, there's rosewater, then . There's SurgeX that makes really good power conditioning and battery backups, et cetera. people that have those installed, almost never or very rarely do you hear or do you get a service call where you have to go and reset an Apple TV or reset a processor or a controller that's controlling their home.

Because at the end of the day, and it's true with anybody, not just luxury buyers, when you make an investment in a product, the last thing you wanna be doing is constantly fiddling with it. You know that. , you get a phone call and it's like you either roll a van to send someone out there really to unplug and plug something back in, or you try to talk the homeowner through it and they get kind of frustrated cuz they just gave, gave you x amount of money for a system.

So, you know, I know that you guys are very good about it and they're, you know, some of the better integrators in the market. That's the first thing on their proposal. And some people will get very boorish about it and say, look, a system of this. If we're not putting in a proper network and proper power line conditioning, we don't want the job.

And some people think it's crazy. It's like, really you're gonna walk away from a quarter million dollar project because I'm, you know, griping over a $50,000 power conditioning system. And it's like, yeah. Because the headaches that come with it aren't worth it.

Alvaro: The, the headache of installing a a hundred inch heavy TV in a home theater, You know, at, at some level, maybe a source or something needs to be replaced behind something else.

Yeah. And to send out three people, because you need two people to hold something and the third person to take care of it. Yeah. Just for something so simple like that it's, it's definitely an investment that with the technology available now, things are controlled sometimes via wifi and so there's not even.

Hard lines. Yeah. Control it. So it, it's such a huge difference in what's available in terms of convenience and not having, not needing to have a stranger in your house beyond the installation phase or needing to be home and so many other security type of, issue questions that our clientele have about, you know, somebody doing a service call.

So that's a great point.

Darren: Yeah, and I mean, we're all proud. You're proud of the work you do. Homeowners are proud of their home and inevitably, usually when something fails, it's always the worst time They have company over something like that, the homeowner gets embarrassed. I mean, I know if I have friends over and something doesn't work, it's kind of embarrassing and it's kind of a shot against my ego as well, because.

you know, especially if they invest in a theater room, like the one that's in your background, you know, the last thing they want to have happen is you're proud that you made this investment and the last thing you want is your buddy to be looking at you going, how much do you spend on this? When something goes wrong it doesn't make you look good, it embarrasses the homeowner.

So that's, I ultimately, that's what we're, we're really trying to do is provide a homeowner with a really positive experience, something that they can be proud of.  

Alvaro: That's Right. Strength at every, at every link in the chain and not having a weak link. Something like that. So I guess last question here. , what new developments and trends do you expect to see in the automation industry in the near future, either 2023 or, next two to three years?

I, I'd be interested in finding that out from you, what you.

Darren: I mean we're moving pretty fast paced. I think where, I mean, right now we're already streaming everything. There's definitely, I think, gonna be voice control that's, it's already entered our field, it's a little bit in its infancy because there's certain words you have to say to get it to work.

And not everybody speaks exactly the same language. But that is, I think, where we're gonna start seeing more and more. Infiltration into our industry. I know I've been playing with it a lot. There's pros and cons. You know, the rub for me is I don't really need voice control to change channels, et cetera, on my tv.

Cuz if I'm sitting in front of my tv, I've got a remote. It's easier. It's faster. Right now the feature that I really like is for lights. You come in the house, turn the lights on, whether it's a scene or whatever. So that's. My expectations are that's gonna improve a lot and it's gonna definitely be in our industry.

Josh AI is probably the most focused on it. Obviously there's Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and all those other brands, none of which I represent. So this is definitely not any sort of . But as people, you know, as we move forward, I think we're gonna see more and more of that. I could be wrong, but that's definitely where the push is, I believe is in, in voice control.

I don't wanna turn the tables, but are you doing a lot of voice control at AVIR? Are you getting a lot of requests for that from clients?

Alvaro: Not a lot, but the clients that tend to be a little bit more on that cutting edge of being open to new technology. Most of the time they've tried voice control on their phone in some way, or they've used, the, typical ones Alexa and things like thatAnd they're looking for something a little bit more comprehensive that can actually do the things that they want it to do. So we, have used Josh.AI and it's worked well. We have it in our showroom at. three of the rooms actually. And for lighting, it's, like you said, that's the lighting, the one that makes the most sense.

You don't have to walk over to a, a switch or anything like that to control that. And, and for, for the TV experience, if you're watching something, , you don't really want to talk over it, especially if you have other people watching something with you. It's always just easier to take the remote, turn up the volume or whatever, whatever command that is.

So, yeah. You're, you're spot on with what I'm seeing.

Darren: And then of course, we're, we continue to see advancements in lighting especially with l e d technology and, and low voltage lighting. So we don't necessarily meet an electrician. For up lights or can light, downlight, whatever term you wanna use, linear lighting, stuff like that is definitely right now really hot and really popular.

Alvaro: Excellent. Well, Darren, thanks so much for sharing all this great information with our audience. I'd actually love to have you on as a guest again in the future. We touched on some different subjects and, and that way you can kind of key to us, keep us up to date with the latest and best that Morris Tate is offering in luxury home automation.

How does that sound?

Darren: A lot of these, it's just my opinion, but yeah, I'm happy to talk to you.

Alvaro: Well, you're, you're somebody on the inside and you see these products and, and our clientele love to have the cutting edge. So yeah, I think that, I think that this conversation has been very valuable and it sets a great tone for the rest of the year, so I appreciate it, Darren.

Darren: Awesome. Thanks so much. Thanks for having me.