Kaleidescape Dealer Interview: Ed Gilmore, Gilmore’s Sound Advice

This is the first in a series of interviews where Kaleidescape dealers share their thoughts about their markets, their projects, and the role Kaleidescape plays in their success.

Located in New York City, Sound Advice has been a Kaleidescape dealer since 2004. Founded in 1991, the company’s installation market includes Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Hamptons. They have 12 employees and do approximately $3 to $4 million in annual sales.

Their 8,000-square-foot showroom features both residential and commercial spaces. It is often used by manufacturers for training, certification, and product demonstrations, as well as by other local integrators and specifiers who want to show their clients a luxury experience.

“We feature a full Steinway Lyngdorf Dolby Atmos theater with a Sony 4K projector in a room that looks like a family room but transforms into an amazing theater experience,” owner Ed Gilmore said. “We’re trying to sell the experience, not necessarily the specific system. We also have a Planar 98-inch video wall to show how a large flat-panel experience compares to front projection.”

Besides Kaleidescape, Steinway Lyngdorf, and Sony, Gilmore’s Sound Advice also carries products from Savant, Meridian, Wisdom, Roon, Totem, NAD Masters, Millson, Leon, ColorBeam, and Lutron.

Which features define a typical high-end installation?

We are really trying to focus on the overall luxury experience, and part of that experience is having designed solutions. When something is truly luxurious, I don’t notice that it’s there. It reveals itself in a way that is surprising and always inspiring. It speaks to the collaboration between the interior design, the architecture, and the audio/video system. We try to leave our clients with a truly emotional and visceral experience when they’re watching or listening to something—and we want that to be a repeatable event. Reliability is a critical part of that experience.

What budget is necessary for a true luxury cinema experience? And how do you handle projects that have a significantly lower budget?

For us, an all-in starting point that includes the hardware, installation, and programming is around $75,000. At those budgets, there is no reason to not include a Kaleidescape player as a $5,000 flagship source component.

We still have conversations about Kaleidescape with people who are doing smaller systems—say a 75-inch Sony Z-series TV in a media room. They are so used to having really crappy devices—they have a cable box with an Apple TV or a Roku, and they think that’s all there is. Watching an Apple TV on a small screen is OK, but if you’re going to spend the money for a large-screen experience with any kind of immersive audio, I can’t imagine doing it without Kaleidescape.

I specify a Strato in nearly every system. My pitch is, “We’ll do all that other mundane stuff in the rest of the house, but give me one room where quality matters.” In that room we’ll be talking about a sizable investment, and we want the experience to be something remarkable. It’s gratifying when the client walks into the room and says, “Wow! This is worth every penny I put into it!” Kaleidescape is the only system I know that will match and exceed that expectation every time.

What ultimately sells your clients on the value of a Kaleidescape system?

It’s currently the only thing that can give them the highest quality picture and sound—and improved sound performance is easy to prove. Just have them watch a concert on Apple TV and then on Kaleidescape, and even people who say they don’t care about audio quality will experience the difference.

What is your preferred demo material? 

I actually prefer using concerts instead of movie clips. For whatever reason, I find that concert material really engages clients. People are just staggered by the opening of Roger Waters: The Wall, which features a Dolby Atmos sound mix. They’ve never seen or heard anything like that before, and it hits them on all levels.

I also like to use Santana’s 2015 concert Corazon: Live from Mexico, which features a ridiculously good mix that makes the viewer really feel like they’re in the middle of a large concert hall. People have a very enthusiastic response to that. I’ll go back and forth between the Kaleidescape and an Apple TV, and they hear the difference, with the Apple experience very disappointing by comparison.

What tips would you share with other dealers as keys to successfully selling Kaleidescape systems?

The people who aren’t successful with Kaleidescape right now are likely the ones who haven’t bought back into it again. I’m all in on it. I would tell dealers to dip their toe back into Kaleidescape and see what they’re about now.

The positioning and price points of Strato and Strato S make it a really exciting time to be selling Kaleidescape. Also, the Movie Store is a totally different animal from the Kaleidescape of old, and I don’t think many integrators realize that. The Kaleidescape UI has always been best in class, and it’s even better now that clients can access the Movie Store directly through the Strato.

Our clients understand quality. They see it; they hear it. And Strato isn’t even at a price point they have to deliberate over. If you’re installing a higher-end theater experience and you’re not providing your customer with a $5,000 source component that gives them true bit-for-bit audio and video reproduction—and that isn’t dependent on Internet speeds—then, frankly, you’re doing them a disservice.