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Sound Architects

Sound Architects

  • "Sound Architects" originally appeared in the May 2024 "Weekender" issue of COMO Magazine.
Home Theater Screen Hidden Speakers

From vinyl to voice control, these home automation pros are way more than just the ‘speaker guys.’

To say it all started with a love of music is an understatement, but that’s also an apt segue to span the past with the present at Pure Audio. 

“I’ve always liked music. That’s the big driver,” says Pure Audio owner Judd Lafrenz. The music buff purchased Pure Audio in 2013; the business opened in 2006. If you knew anything about Pure Audio before 2013, you likely knew the business for its cool speakers and components. But Lafrenz wants you to know that PA is way more than just speakers now; today, he focuses primarily on home audio installation that is built-in and automated. And not just installing speakers, but also installing no-wires-showing TVs, and much more. 

Getting Started

“I always liked audio and speakers, so I started doing my own systems [and was] continually reading and learning,” Lafrenz explains. “And then buying nicer equipment. Pure Audio was a store here in town — they started more of what we call a ‘hi-fi’ shop. They were selling higher-end speakers and components, so I decided to go talk to those guys. The former owners and I would always end up talking about speakers, components, cables, and music. I ended up making a couple of transactions with them so that kind of started our relationship.” 

Later, Lafrenz would work at Pure Audio part-time, and after he left for another opportunity, he stayed in contact with the owners, who eventually asked him to come back.

“So we basically talked about [me] buying into the business and being a partner,” Lafrenz remembers. “All of that was happening [when] one of the original owners passed away, and so that kind of kind of changed things; we were transitioning on how to grow the business and what our plans for the future were. [After that owner passed], they just decided that they wanted to actually sell the whole business. So, I bought it.”

Today, Pure Audio creates its audio/visual magic with a team of three: Judd, Adam Bequette (another technician), and Amanda Huff, the office manager. 

Hi-Fi to High Tech 

Lafrenz laughs at the suggestion that what Pure Audio does today seems very Jetson — or even Ray Bradbury-esque, depending on how you view technological developments’ inundation on society and our personal lives. Smart homes are the wave of the future.  

That’s not hard to believe when you consider everyone has a smartphone these days; you also know someone who has a video doorbell, a smart TV, and/or something like an Alexa device in their homes. November 2023 data from Statista shows that market penetration of smart devices in U.S. homes is 52.4 percent and is expected to rise to 75.1 percent by 2028. Getting into that rapidly growing market was a smart business decision. 

“Most of what we do now is wiring houses, with integrated sound all the way up to smart homes and custom theaters–we do ground up,” Lafrenz adds. “Let’s say you’re building a custom house. We’re going to work with your contractor and pull the wires during the build process for your TVs, internet, and speaker wires.” 

Lafrenz continues to explain the process: “We’re going to pull all of what you need in the house based upon your system design. We’ll install it all — TVs, components, and speakers — and then we’ll program the remote, and hand it to you for an overview and training on the system.” 

He says Pure Audio wires anywhere from ten to twenty custom homes each year, but it also takes on a lot of smaller projects, including those for existing homes. (It seems that everyone these days wants their TV mounted so the wires don’t show and/or they want flush-mount, in-ceiling speakers.) 

“We’ll go in and we’ll pull some basic wiring and maybe mount a TV and do a sound bar — something a lot simpler,” Lafrenz says.

He notes that the current demand is for whole-home audio. 

“A lot of people like whole-house audio. That’s where you have speakers in the kitchen, the master bedroom, the outside — that could be on a deck or around a pool,” Lafrenz says. “Mounting TVs is super common because that’s just kind of standard anymore for most houses; we take care of a lot of that so that the cords don’t show.” 

It’s impressive that Pure Audio can accomplish this with just three employees, including Lafrenz. And perhaps that’s part of what sets the business apart from its competitors — the business owner is involved in every design, build, and project. 

“I’m personally involved in each system that we do,” he explains. “We’re a small crew. So, you’re usually talking to the owner [when you work with us]. I’m a member of the community and doing [business], so I run into homeowners at the grocery store and other local establishments. I try to make a connection by finding something that I have in common with each person.” 

Judd says a big part of his job is decoding what people think they want — ”bluetooth,” for example, has become so ubiquitous that people often use it to describe a variety of needs; understanding that they are asking for the ability to control music from their phone throughout the house is an important skill, as Lafrenz wants your home system to be as simple and streamlined as possible. He gives a lot of credit to Bequette and Huff for Pure Audio’s success; Bequette can do full installations himself, and Huff does everything from answering the phone to processing invoices and helping with designs and even wiring.

The Future of Home Automation 

With technology evolving as rapidly as it does, Lafrenz and his team do their homework to stay ahead of market trends. He expects to see more demand for voice-operated devices, and the ability to have lots of things, like lights, window shades, thermostats, and security systems, to always be “running in the background” on a schedule. 

“We can, for instance, [use] a universal remote, and with the same button press that turns on the TV, we can add automation [that] also makes the lights dim and close the blinds all in one function versus let me find this remote and close that, let me turn this to that input, let me set this,” he adds. 

Lafrenz, 41, is something of a “professional appreciator of music,” like the character Rob Gordon of High Fidelity fame, except he sells whole-home systems instead of vinyl; and just like Rob, he doesn’t play a musical instrument, which he laughs about when asked.  

“I always joke with people that I can’t play an instrument, or I can’t make music,” he jokes, “but I can listen to it really well.“ 

To be sure, Rob Gordon is a deeply flawed character, so the comparison to Lafrenz ends at the music, but since Lafrenz is such a ‘90s-guy musically, here’s one more nod to Nick Hornby with Lafrenz’s “Top Five Best Albums to Listen to at Home Alone on Full Blast”:  

  • Dave Matthews Band, Under the Table and Dreaming 
  • Hootie and the Blowfish, Cracked Rear View 
  • Weezer, The Blue Album 
  • Blue October, The Answers 
  • Jack Johnson is a tie between Brushfire Fairytales or In Between Dreams 

“My tastes have changed over the years,” he concedes. “But I guess, my true [go-to music is] singer-songwriter stuff or ’90s alternative.”  

Pure Audio
3211 S Providence Rd., Suite 107 

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