Inside Denon

How Voice-Activated Speakers Pick Up Where Universal Remotes Left Off

The introduction of the first universal remote in promised a simpler, better way for consumers to control their entire home theater. From that day in 1985, TVs, VCRs, stereo systems and other media players could all be controlled through a single remote.

Denon Staff

Times have changed. VCRs have given way to DVD players, which in turn made room for Blu-ray players. However, that initial promise of total control has yet to truly be fulfilled — not by universal remotes, anyway. The voice-activated speaker has picked up where the universal remote left off, ushering in a new era for the home theater experience with even better control.

Phasing out the universal remote

Although universal remotes continue to be sold to this day, users still encounter issues trying to sync devices — who among us hasn’t struggled with a remote that only syncs to two or three components in our home theater setup. Many households with universal remotes still have multiple dedicated remotes on hand for their TVs, soundbars, AV receivers or media players. That's hardly universal.

Where did this gap between expectation and reality arise? As Brendon Stead, senior vice president of product development at Sound United, parent company of Denon, explained, universal remotes actually work really well — when they have been properly configured. In particular, home theaters that were designed and customized by audio/visual professionals to specifically work with a particular universal remote are very successful in this regard. However, the average person lacking years of experience professionally configuring home theaters is unlikely to have the know-how to get everything working together in harmony.

There's also the issue of software and hardware updates to consider. Every new component added to your home theater, whether it's a new media player or a software update released by the manufacturer, could affect the performance of your third-party universal remote. And there's no AV professional standing by to help sort out any issues that may arise.

Where voice-activated speakers shine

Voice-activated speakers, like those offered by Denon, have picked up the torch once carried by universal remotes. Voice is a much more intuitive approach to controlling your home media center, rather than fumbling with a bunch of buttons. Increase the volume, switch between inputs and change songs, albums or channels — it’s as simple as clearing your throat and speaking a command out loud.

There are several voice-activated speakers on the market today, but Denon's philosophy differs from other manufacturers — it envisions an inclusive home theater environment where all voice agents are represented and compatible. With this arrangement, each platform can thrive within its niche: Google handles internet searches, Amazon takes on shopping duties and Apple is tasked with multimedia. Rather than tie users to a particular agent, Denon products let the most popular and widely used agents do what they do best.

By seamlessly integrating voice-activated speakers with the rest of your home theater system, Denon helps you realize the potential that universal remotes laid out so long ago. To build the home theater of your dreams, check out Denon's full line of home audio equipment.

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