In an age where hotel guests have limitless access to digital content via smart media, creating the ultimate entertainment experience is an ongoing challenge. It was one of the issues being addressed at the annual Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) show at the Amsterdam RAI, which took place on 7-10 February, and winning three Best of Show Awards demonstrated that Yamaha Music Europe's installed audio solutions are attracting attention for all the right reasons.
When it comes to audio entertainment, 'solutions' is a word that you hear frequently from Yamaha. This is because all the company's products are based on the clear, fundamental premise of delivering the best, most efficient and most flexible entertainment systems from end to end. At the same time, however, the design of Yamaha products allows them to be easily integrated into any environment, be it architectural or technical.
"Yamaha's many decades of experience in manufacturing musical instruments and audio equipment means we know that any system is only as good as its weakest link," says Nils-Peter Keller, senior director of the company's pro audio and AV divisions. "Today, people always expect CD quality or higher, while, with digital sound, they want exceptional flexibility.
"However, we appreciate compromises sometimes need to be made. So our aim is to not only deliver the best end-to-end solutions, but also for each piece of equipment in the chain to be easily integrated with many other products. That way, the customer is always offered the best choice."
An example of this is Yamaha's ProVisionaire Touch, an intuitive iPad-based control and display interface creation
tool for customised remote control of Yamaha entertainment systems. However, the same systems can be easily integrated into others with different types of control.
Yamaha showcased its full range of installed audio solutions at ISE 2017, with the company enjoying a continually busy stand throughout the event. The biggest product on show - the beautifully presented Disklavier ENSPIRE player piano - drew many visitors to the stand; its subtle tones (courtesy of the Pianosoft music library) providing a pleasing background soundtrack throughout. It demonstrated that Yamaha Disklaviers also deliver tremendous visual interest for the hospitality market, with many people transfixed by the keys that move without any human touch. Of course, being a Yamaha instrument, the ENSPIRE is also a world-class piano that befits the very best players.
Perhaps ironically, it was the smallest - and newest - product on the stand that won Yamaha three Best of Show Awards. The groundbreaking VXS1ML loudspeaker can fit in the palm of a human hand, yet delivers a new level of quality in a stunning design for background music (BGM) systems.
These awards underline Yamaha's insight into how important it is that BGM equipment sits unobtrusively in the decor of hotels, restaurants and retail environments. The tiny VXS1ML continues a long tradition of loudspeakers that not only blend visually into the background, but also deliver superb sonic performance.
The VXS1ML delivers CD-quality audio with various mounting options and a paintable enclosure. It can always be placed in the best acoustic position, while still being visually discreet.
"We knew the VXS1ML was a special product, which is why we felt ISE 2017 was the ideal place to launch it," says Keller. "We were very pleased to win three Best of Show Awards, because we believe it can be the launch pad for a new way of thinking for BGM, demonstrating that maximising audio quality goes hand in hand with visual discretion and aesthetics matching the needs of interior designers.
As well as the Disklavier ENSPIRE and VXS1ML drawing much attention, Yamaha's wide range of audio and AV products meant the company's ISE stand was continually busy with specifiers, purchasers and systems integrators from all areas of the installed audio market.
The company's ranges of loudspeakers for every type of installed environment, as well as live events up to medium-sized shows, were a constant source of interest, along with the ranges of power amplifiers, mixers and audio processors that form the heart of numerous high-quality entertainment solutions in hotels around the globe.
Another key product range on show at ISE 2017 was MusicCast. Continuing the Yamaha themes of integration and flexibility, it is a revolutionary networked audio system that allows music to be wirelessly played from various sources (including streaming services, internet radio, AV receivers, computers, network attached storage (NAS) devices and Disklaviers) to a wide range of ergonomically designed loudspeakers.
The system can be controlled from a single smartphone app and can be expanded or reconfigured at will.
"ISE has been a growing success story for us, with this year undoubtedly the best yet," says Keller. "We have already booked a larger stand for next year's show and are looking forward to welcoming people from throughout the hospitality, retail, corporate and entertainment industries to demonstrate the many advantages of Yamaha audio solutions."