The Smart Building Awards 2019 were the biggest yet, taking place on April 30 at the Village Hotel in Farnborough. These awards have firmly established themselves as the most reputable in the industry, relying on an expert panel of judges who secretly score each entry based on merit.
This year we had just shy of 150 entries from across the industry, and it represented the toughest year yet for the judges. That’s largely due to the high quality of entries for the 2019 Smart Building Awards, which ranged from cutting-edge projectors to high-end installs.
The big categories of the night were the Manufacturer of the Year and Distributor of the Year awards, with Meridian Audio picking up the former, while AWE clinched the former. It was an exceptionally good night for AWE, with the firm picking up four other awards throughout the night.
Meridian’s win comes after a hugely successful 2019; the company launched the DSP640.2 and DSP520.2 In-Wall Digital Active Loudspeakers and expanded its training indicatives and technical support.
Commenting on Meridian’s triumph of the Manufacturer of the Year category, Katy Bradshaw, Director of Marketing for Meridian, noted: “Our passion is to provide the most authentic experience for our customers, no matter where they listen. Our goal is to enable more people to enjoy their favourite music and movies, wherever they are. We achieve this through constant product development and refinement which, combined with our evolving technologies, means Meridian remains at the forefront of innovation. This award win is testament to our dedicated team and commitment to the industry – to have won ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ is a great achievement for us.”
Zak Vracevic, Director of M.E.G.A AV Installations and a judge for this year’s Smart Building Awards commented, “What I liked about Meridian was its new in-wall loudspeakers with their ‘all-in-one’ design, properly designed back boxes, and integrated amplification with DSP. The back box is as important as the rest of the speaker, and there are many manufacturers still selling expensive speakers with open-back designs. Inadequate DIY back boxes can seriously impact the sound and performance of in-wall speakers. The in-built amplification is just the icing on the cake! Meridian are worthy winners of this award.”
There’s no denying that AWE had a successful EI Live! 2019, having built its largest stand to date and debuting IMAX Enhanced at a UK trade show for the first time, but the company has had a successful year as a whole. It’s signed up new clients and even taken home countless awards.
AWE took home the Distributor of the Year award for the second consecutive year, but many products that it distributes also managed to walk away with an award. That’s includes the Sony AF9, which picked up the Best Conventional TV award; the KEF Ci5160REF-THX, which won the Best In-Wall/In-Ceiling Speaker; the Sony VPL-VW870ES, which was awarded the Best Projector; and the KEF LSX, which was named the Best Standalone Speaker.
“We’re honoured to be taking home the Best Distributor award for the second year in a row,” enthuses Stuart Tickle, Managing Director of AWE.
“The whole team are dedicated to providing excellent customer service, training, and technical support for our customers, and being recognised for our efforts is a great encouragement to keep pushing forward. The product category wins also show the strength of our portfolio.”
The 2019 Smart Building Awards also saw the launch of some exciting new awards to better reflect some of the key portions of the industry. This included awards for Best Lighting Control, Best Security Solution and Best Automation Platform.
By far the most in-demand award category was Best Automation Platform, which saw the whole industry vying for the top spot. In the end, just one company could take the top prize, with Crestron walking away with the award for Crestron Home, powered by OS 3. Crestron also took home the Best Matrix/Signal Distribution award, for its DM NVX.
Judges were certainly impressed with Sun-Light Solution’s amBX Light Scene Engine, which took the Best Lighting Control award, with the entry being described as ‘mesmerising’ by one of our judges. Kevin Martin, Managing Director, Sun-Light Solutions, Exclusive Distributor of amBX & DLS, said of the win, “Many thanks to Smart Building Awards 2019, it is a fabulous feeling to win such an award, the amBX system has set alight many a smart project, power to the dealers!”
Equally, the 2N IP Verso Intercom System performed very well in the Best Security Solution category, taking top honours for its distributor, CIE AV Solutions.
It wasn’t just the product categories that saw new additions, however. Five of the seven project awards were also new for 2019. This included Best Home Cinema Project Over £50k, Best Home Cinema Project Under £50k, Best Media Room Over £50k, Best Media Room Under £50k, and Best Rack Installation. These categories were won by Perfect Integration for Le Petite Garnier; Cotswold Home Cinema for Little Barrow Project; SMC for the Superheroes Project; Bespoke Home Cinemas for Star Wars Game Room; and Barton Solutions for Quay Project, respectively.
“We are very proud for the industry recognition for such an amazing project. This award is a very big thank you to our team who made the design and delivery possible,” noted Michael Robinson, Project Director, Perfect Integration Limited.
“SMC Marketing Executive, Taran Rehal, added, “Our design and engineering teams are delighted to have been recognised for such a challenging project. They pulled out all the stops and, working closely with our suppliers, achieved a truly remarkable result for a very demanding client.”
2019’s Top Installation Projects
Outside of the five new categories, two existing categories returned for 2019. That includes the Best Commercial Integration Project, as well as Best Multi-Dwelling Unit.
For the first time, Philips entered the awards to highlight a recent project that saw its displays shine. Taking home the Best Commercial Integration Project, Philips Professional Display Solutions was commended for the Museum of the National Bank of Belgium.
Meanwhile, Best Multi-Dwelling Unit was picked up by Smartcomm Ltd. The company recently completed an installation in the new recently-renovated Centre Point Residences on London’s exclusive Oxford Street.
2019’s Top Products
While Sony took home the award for best conventional TV, it was BenQ that was awarded top honours in the integrated display category. The BenQ ST5501K 55in Smart Signage received huge praise from the judges, with it beating out some intense competition in the Best Integrated TV/Display category.
Despite losing out in the Distributor of the Year award, OneAV Ltd was still able to celebrate a hugely deserved win. The company is the UK distributor for Pixelgen in the UK, which picked up the Best Cable Solution category for the PXL-CBH1. Jack MacDougall, CEO of Pixelgen Design Inc., said, “On behalf of the entire Pixelgen team, we are thrilled to receive the Smart Building Award for Best Cable Solution. This achievement gives us great pride and a true sense of validation, knowing that our products are providing dealers and integrators alike with a feeling of confidence with each connection made. Thank you!”
Other category winners include Best Dedicated Touchscreen going to RTI for the KA11 Touch Panel; Best Multi-Room/Zone Music System going to the Savant IP Audio 50/125 with Savant Music 2; and Best Projector Screen for Cinema Build Systems’ Ultimate Wide Fixed Frame Screen.