Tired of wondering what to do with your time as you wait until the Grammy award ceremony on April 3? While some people continually resort to trolling social media for any sign of dramatic tension between nominees before April 3, there is still a contingent of people (us included!) who enjoy some good, clean fun listening to those nominees both before and well beyond the award ceremony.
According to Graham Higbee, Plumbing Category Merchandiser at Build with Ferguson, almost every manufacturer has incorporated smart home technology – including audio devices – into their bath products, enabling homeowners to be happier than ever. This means the chance to elevate their showering and self-care routine by adding 2022 Grammy-nominated Billie Eilish’s album, “Happier Than Ever!” to the mix.
Equipping your bathroom with audio devices
"When used for purely entertainment reasons, adding audio to your bathroom is a great way to create a spa-like experience at home," says Higbee. "From the comfort and solitude of the shower, you can boost relaxation by listening to your favorite audiobooks, podcasts or one of this year's Grammy-nominated comedy or spoken word albums."
Additionally, when you consider the therapeutic benefits of music, perhaps you can wash away stress during your morning or evening rituals. At a minimum, audio in the bathroom provides the added ability to drown out any bathroom noises you don't want to be heard beyond the bathroom door.
In past years, smart audio devices were more for the "wow" factor than actual functionality. Today's devices, however, offer much more beyond streaming the Grammy Leader Jon Batiste's "Freedom" in the lavatory, and the opportunity for a private (and pretend) shower duet.
For example, equipping your bathroom with an audio device such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa can save time for the busy homeowner. The smart device can deliver traffic updates, daily reminders, and remotely preheat breakfast or start your coffee on command. Many homeowners already use these platforms with ease, so connecting a shower, vanity or toilet and controlling the fixture through voice commands is not entirely foreign.
These smart audio devices can provide additional safety measures in a room where water can cause many hazards for family members of all ages. According to Higbee, the ability to use voice commands to control the water temperature to prevent scalds and burns is invaluable for parents of young children.
A guide to enjoying audio in the bathroom
Simple bathroom setup:
For a simple bathroom setup, you only need a Wi-Fi connection and power source to connect or to charge the device to get started. Here are some examples:
- The Kohler Moxie is a showerhead, plus wireless, waterproof and removable speaker combo. The speaker's charging dock has a small footprint and can be placed on your vanity so you can listen to music as you get ready from outside the shower.
- Elevate your bathroom experience indoors and outdoors with the Kichler Berryhill lantern. Pair the portable LED lantern with a built-in Bluetooth speaker with your phone or tablet. Then sit back in privacy with an audio system in your privy.
Medium complexity, possibly DIY:
If you are looking for something a little more sophisticated without a complete remodel, here are several options:
- Consider bath fans with an integrated Bluetooth speaker which connects to most Bluetooth-capable audio devices. A bath fan can be a relatively quick and straightforward upgrade.
- Many homeowners install recessed lighting with integrated Bluetooth speakers that work with any portable device capable of transmitting audio through wireless technology. You can link up to eight lights for a fuller, richer audio experience. If a home already has bathroom recessed lighting, this is a straightforward way to introduce audio.
- One product that has captured homeowners' imagination is Kohler's voice-enabled Verdera Voice mirror. It is part of Kohler's Konnect smart home products. According to their website, it’s "the first-ever bathroom mirror to use this innovative technology to improve your lighting quality, provide entertainment and keep you up-to-date with traffic and weather reports all in one unique piece."
More complex, contractor likely required:
Design innovations that include audio enhancements have become highly sophisticated today. For the audiophile, anyone tackling a major renovation or a homeowner transitioning to an intelligent home system, there are many options:
- The Kohler DTV+ Digital Shower Control with Kohler Sound Tiles can control audio and all your shower components, including steam and lighting. They are costly systems if you want all the features, or you can select the components you want if you are more budget-conscious.
- Kohler continues to improve the Numi toilet’s technology. The Numi 2.0 Intelligent model features surround sound speakers, ambient mood lighting, heated seat and foot warmer, remote control and Amazon Alexa voice-control technology. This toilet offers an unrivaled level of sophisticated features to enhance the modern bathroom environment.
- Steam shower systems with audio – MrSteam and Thermasol – have both designed audio into their more advanced steam controls. The iSteam 3 control by MrSteam can utilize this module to attach speakers from MrSteam or any bathroom-rated speakers you like. The speakers can be controlled through Bluetooth or steam control. Thermasol has designed an innovative showerhead that doubles as a speaker and includes Chroma therapy lighting. It comes in a package with one of their touch steam controls and a steam head.
Expectations: When can I watch music videos from my tub?
"Perhaps this year with a simple solution, you can listen to your favorites. But if you are looking for something more complex, you are looking at 2023 or the next. Getting a bathroom audio system up and running can be time-consuming and costly, depending on the system's complexity," says Higbee. "First, consider your priorities. Audiophiles may not enjoy the simpler systems and may prefer more complex systems that provide greater control over the quality, especially if you add in the audio and visual like a TV behind a mirror."
"Second, consider your budget and your commitment level. Installing a digital shower system or steam shower will require a complete renovation. During the renovation, there are many factors to consider: bathroom size, access to behind-wall panels, shower door height, and where to mount the steamhead. We recommend you work with a licensed professional contractor to ensure your shower is compliant with your local building regulations."
Sound & safety considerations
There are countless playlists dedicated to singing in the shower. Even famous musicians have commented about the acoustic benefits, both with seriousness and jest. Most people believe they sound better while singing in the bathroom, and there's a scientific reason. The hard, smooth surfaces typically found in the bathroom, such as tile, and the lack of soft furnishes create the perfect auditory environment for sounds waves.
“There’s no half-singing in the shower, you’re either a rock star or an opera diva.” - Josh Groban (Received a Grammy nomination in 2015!)
- When deciding where to position your audio device, you should follow the manufacturer's instructions. The manufacturer has considered the bathroom environment in terms of both sound and safety.
- If you have a plug-in device, be sure to position the speaker away from the toilet, tub and sink to avoid potential hazards.
- It’s important to note, even with plug-in options, you need to avoid unsightly and unsafe extension cords.
- Ensure any electrical components and speakers are rated for damp/wet environments.
- Consult a trusted contractor or installer before beginning any medium – or higher – complexity project. A skilled trade professional can help you understand and navigate local building codes
Determine your budget
A simple audio solution – speaker showerheads, recessed lights, and bath fans – can offer easy installation and seamless integration into existing layouts. This combination of remodel-friendly products will cost anywhere between $50-300 and provide a quick transformation to refresh a space's style and functionality.
A more sophisticated solution like the Kohler DTV+ System with Audio will start at $3,000. Beyond installation costs, expect to purchase additional components for the shower portion of the system. For example, a Steam System with audio could range from $1,500-5,000, depending on the steam generator size needed for your space.
When designing a new showering space, you will need to know your existing shower's space cubic footage. The larger the shower space, the larger the generator and the higher the price.
We get one step closer to a more robust smart home ecosystem and a context-aware smart home with every passing second. Developments in sensing technology and AI will result in bath fixtures with audio systems and intelligent tech that automatically respond and adapt to our house, personal preferences and environmental changes. Additionally, they will speak to the entire smart home ecosystem of appliances, HVAC systems, alarms, entertainment, and more.
So, what's the downside? Despite the potentially awkward side-effect of inviting family sing-a-longs or potentially disturbing your partner with your morning routine, bathroom audio is a great way to satisfy your love of music. Shower off your concerns and share your appreciation for music by enlisting the available equipment around your house.