Ketra: A Composer of Light: Ed Gilmore of Gilmore’s Sound Advice
How does one go from a working classical musician to an A/V integrator who now approaches projects by talking about lighting first? Very smoothly, if that person is the multi-talented Ed Gilmore, founder of Gilmore’s Sound Advice.
Ed recently spoke with Ketra about his unusual career path, the impressive evolution of the integrator business, and how a dyed-in-the-wool audiophile became equally captivated by light.
1. Is it really true that you started out in New York as a classical musician?
Believe it or not, it is possible to be gainfully employed as a freelance musician here! I did my graduate work at Juilliard, and then spent several years living the musician’s life performing, touring and releasing recordings. However, my former spouse was getting tired of being a musician’s wife, so she was trying to get me out of touring and into something else.
2. So, is that how you ended up in the integrator business?
In a way, yes. I’d always aspired to be an audiophile — having a great sound system was always a priority for me. When I was studying at Juilliard, I really got into reading high end audio magazines. Mostly I was reading the reviews of the latest classical CDs in the back, but there were obviously plenty of articles about the latest audio gear and I was hooked. I remember in between classes going into all these high-end audio salons and listening to the equipment I was reading about, then leaving and feeling just a little guilty about the sales guys!
Fast forward 5 years and a general contractor client of my wife mentioned he was looking for an alternate audio system proposal for a project he was working on with an architect and his interior designer partner— who designed Andy Warhol’s townhouse. Initially, I was going to recommend a recording engineer I knew who did this on the side, but decided to take a leap and design a system myself. So I put together a proposal and it was lucky enough to be accepted. Funnily enough, that first job was actually designing the distributed audio system for Richard Gere and his girlfriend at the time, Cindy Crawford!
Early on, I was just doing system design and bid. But after a while and observation, I decided to handle installations myself and started doing that too. As the business grew, I started cutting back on my music and eventually, around 1993, the demand grew to the point where I had to hire additional people. The rest is history— we’ve been evolving and expanding ever since.
Bottom line, Ketra outperforms anything we’ve seen, every step of the way. Our company’s ethos is providing best in class experiences and in lighting, Ketra is that product.
Founder, Ed Gilmore’s Sound Advice
3. You’ve been doing integration for over two decades — what changes have you seen in the industry over time?
That’s a good question. When I first started, I was working with turntables and cassettes, along with clunky CRT TVs and VCRs, purely A/V. But as the industry grew and technology advanced, we started to take on other aspects in order to become a one stop shop for luxury home systems. We added whole house A/V distribution and control, home cinema, telephony, networking, automated lighting and window shade controls, outdoor A/V and lighting to our service offerings. Overall though, I think 2007 stands out as a watershed moment for our industry. Advanced Networking and WiFi for the home, IP control and the advent of app-based control systems opened up the pathway to true smart-home systems. For my company, 2007 was also the year we started offering lighting and shade control systems. Now we are part of the emerging trend of integrators providing lighting fixtures — that’s likely one of the biggest changes in the last 2 years.
4. What made you decide to include Ketra lighting on your projects?
As an integrator, 3 things matter: providing systems that are reliable and user friendly, providing great audio video experiences, and providing a great lighting experience. Ketra completely changed the way we worked with lighting. Anytime you can emulate what’s happening outside, inside the space — that’s pretty powerful. Whether we’re talking about wellness, switching up the mood of a room using tunable light, or using color to highlight prominent architectural features and artwork throughout a home, Ketra is the first to enter the conversation. We signed up well before the Lutron merger because Ketra was the one, singular lighting product line that could do it all!
5. What do you see as trends or upcoming opportunities in the area of lighting?
Lighting is the most exciting category right now, and everything else follows behind it. The concept of integrators partnering with lighting designers to specify and supply lighting fixtures is still in its infancy, but could potentially be the largest opportunity in the future. The growing awareness of wellness and how lighting may impact health within the home can’t be understated. The emergence of voice to control full spectrum color and color tuning opens up fascinating control options, and outdoor lighting is another big opportunity. We’ve also seen a convergence between residential and commercial or high end retail concepts. For example lighting in fitting rooms and make-up mirrors that can match the time of day. Take that idea, expand on it to create a unique experience for the homeowner. It’s really about leveraging these opportunities, and adding value to enhance our clients’ lives and daily routines.
6. Where can people see some examples of your work?
We’ve done some cool work in partnership with Steinway & Sons recently. While the Vault project is an experience reserved for their top clients, we also used Ketra in their Hall of Fame area of the Steinway factory tour. They wanted to be able to control the lighting through a tunable system that would highlight the artwork on the walls, so Ketra was the logical choice. And I’m actually in the planning stages of installing Ketra lighting at our own showroom space, 599 West, as well.
Gilmore’s Sound Advice created a fully immersive luxury experience for the Steinway Vault in New York with Ketra lighting.
About the author:
Monica Pereira is the Digital Director at Ketra in Austin, Texas.