Home Audio Q&A with Thomas Savarino of OSA Integrated Solutions

There’s an aspect of luxury home remodeling that you probably haven’t considered before and that’s audio. Picture this: You are throwing a party on a beautiful summer afternoon. There are drinks, snacks, and happy guests mingling from your kitchen all the way out to your back patio. The vibes are great, except you walked too far away from your Bluetooth speaker outside and the music keeps cutting out. And then right when you walk out to fix it, the speaker dies because you forgot to charge it. Your incredible home deserves professional, high-quality, balanced audio inside and out.

Whether you host weekly dance parties or love jamming to your favorite music all by yourself, consider how important quality speakers are to you. If you want to learn more about how audio can be incorporated into your Chicago remodel project and enhance your home, check out our interview below. Our team had the pleasure of sitting down with Thomas Savarino of OSA Integrated Solutions to discuss the ins and outs of audio systems and get all of our questions answered.

stone wall

When is the best time to think about incorporating audio into your home remodel design?

As early as possible. At the end of the day, what it comes down to is that there are too many times when it feels like it’s an injustice to a client if you don’t bring it up. This is something that’s important to people. I tell people every single day, “Find me a minute in a day that technology hasn’t touched.” But when it comes to audio and video, it’s the last thing thought of. I feel bad when I come into someone’s home that’s been fully remodeled, and they go, “Yeah, we’re thinking about doing something,” and I’ve got to tear up all their walls.

So, as early as possible, I encourage dreaming big and finding out what’s possible. At least you find out the stuff that you don’t want, you don’t need. And you can always scale back. When we’re talking, it never hurts to dream of it. So just kind of do it and scale your way back as expenses add up. Once the walls are closed, I could install both audio and visual components, but the cost goes up.

If I’m a client that already has a few large speakers in my home, what would be the benefit of integrated speakers?

I would tell you it’s about balancing the performance and the aesthetics.  We have speakers that are just beautiful and perform amazingly.  The biggest thing is deciding what’s important to you. If it’s just sound quality, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the speaker is. If you’re interested in regaining living space, especially in Downtown Chicago, we can install speakers inside of your wall or ceiling and you regain that expensive square footage.

If it’s improving the look there are many ways to have it blend into the decor or if you don’t want to see them at all, I even have an invisible speaker.  Again, it’s a matter of just balancing the performance and aesthetics.  There’s a company that I work with that can completely customize whatever a client desires.

You have to think of sound like lighting. The way that sound and light should be dispersed in a space is similar. So, you want to have that coverage, right? Just like you shouldn’t haphazardly throw one overhead light into a room, you shouldn’t just add one or two speakers and think that you’re fully covered. It gives you the ability to enjoy the entire space and get the same sound no matter where you’re at and still have conversations.

home audio

What are the necessary components of a complete home audio system?

A lot of times, it comes down to your network in your home. As much as the routers provided by internet service providers keep getting better and better, coverage can still be fairly spotty in larger homes. If the Wi-Fi is spotty inside, how do you think it is outside? I would say one of the biggest things is you want to make sure that you have a solid network because that’s something that’s not just for your audio/video, but for everything you do. So the network is huge.

Are there any specific smartphone apps that you recommend to control an audio system or for home automation?

The most crucial thing to understand is that, whatever service you choose for home automation, you’re building a relationship with the installer. Sometimes, clients that choose a system, such as Control4 or Crestron, don’t realize that the installers will need to return to optimize their system should it be necessary. It’s important that a professional works on it, because as soon as it’s broken, then you’ve wasted money.

We partner with Savant for home automation, although total home automation systems aren’t as big anymore because there’s a lot more “smart stuff” on the market. But there are vast benefits when you’re starting to look at the automation side. My best advice is this: when you choose something, get yourself a good installer, because you guys are kind of going to work together. They’re going to be your liaison for adding and changing any components of your system.

Having a central device for everything makes it a lot easier so that you’re not searching around for remotes at the moment when you need them most. There’s also the option to automate to have something triggered by either an action or with a timer. And then, there are even ways that automation can aid in energy conservation. There are ways that you can have automated blinds that will go up and down at certain times of the day so that your plants don’t die, or so that, when I come home, my AC is not working too hard.

entertainment center

Can you integrate with Alexa, Google Home, and those sorts of systems?

Yes, we work with them. Control systems, a lot of times, work with those brands. They’ll work with your Hue lights and your TVs. Most TVs can be controlled via IP now, so by connecting to one of our systems via Ethernet, you can control every aspect of the TV.

The biggest difference between a smart home and an automated home is that, with a smart home, it’s multiple apps. Automation is taking all your things and making them work cohesively. You’re taking all the different ecosystems and you’re making one all-encompassing system to control it all. It makes your life a lot easier so you’re not opening up your Google Home app. You’re not opening up your Alexa app. I think some people have both of those, like both Google and Alexa in the same house. That’s crazy. It couldn’t be me. I walk into a room and go, which room’s got the Alexa?

You said that you work with a company that can customize speakers. How do the speakers get painted? How does that process work?

They take them apart, spray paint them, then reassemble them. If you go with a soundbar, for instance, Sonos is a great company with affordable options. What they do is great. But if it breaks, you’re throwing everything out. If you have an actual speaker, that’s forever. So why not invest to customize it to your space? Take that into consideration when you’re designing.

bathroom audio

Thanks to Thomas and OSA Integrated Solutions for inspiring us to dream big when it comes to integrated audio systems. We loved learning that speakers can be dispersed evenly to achieve incredible sound wherever you are, incorporated seamlessly with your smart home systems, and painted or concealed to match the aesthetics of your home. Sound shouldn’t interfere with your style, it should flow harmoniously with the design of your home.

Other automated features of your home, like smart blinds, timed climate control, or smart lights can not only customize your experience within your home but also save you money on your energy bills. Getting all your home systems in one interface can give you the control center you need to keep things simple when it comes to piloting your smart home. Finally, choosing an installer with good customer service that you trust will pay off as you add on to or simply maintain your automated home systems.


If you are ready to move forward and get started on your home remodel, contact the experts at Areté Renovators to help achieve your vision for a luxury Chicago remodel with professional integrated tech systems. If balanced sound or smart home management is important to you, our design team will make sure that we talk about integrating a high quality system with professionals that meet all your needs before we even begin. Providing design that is thoughtful and matches your expectations is our highest priority.

We will partner with you to ask important questions to ensure our design and tech selections are within your investment range, lifestyle, upkeep expectations, and long-term goals. Contact our team today at 773.683.3033 to schedule a consultation to review your Chicago remodel project and guide you on any aspect that you have questions about. We will be here every step of the way from initial consultation through construction, project completion, and warranty. We look forward to welcoming you into the Areté family.