By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
DENVER — Multi-room A/V suppliers are coming up with new options for shuttling audio and video signals around the house.
Autonomic and CasaTunes are turning up at the CEDIA Expo with new features for their multi-room audio servers. Control4 is launching its first HDMI matrix switcher and new multi-room audio amplifiers. Russound is showing off its Xstream X5 networked tabletop music-streamer/amplifier, which can be used to create a decentralized 16-zone wireless-audio system.
Wyrestorm is launching its first controller for audio and video distribution and automation control, and Audio Design Associates (ADA) is launching two products that make it possible to add ADA amplification and audio distribution for multi-room-audio systems that include Sonos wireless tabletop speakers.
Here’s a roundup of what these and other suppliers are showing:
Accell is launching an UltraCat HDMI extender that uses HDBaseT Lite technology to transfer HDMI audio, video and control signals from point to point over a single Cat-5e/6 cable1080p.
A sender, receiver, one IR-TX infrared transmitter, one IR-RX infrared receiver, and one power adapter for the sender is packaged at a suggested $349. Because the solution Power Over Cable (POC), the receiver gets power through the cable, making a power adapter unnecessary at the receiving end.
HDBase Lite support Category cable runs of 70meters/ 220 feet with 1080p video. Full HDBaseT supports cable runs up to 100 meters/328 feet with 1080p. HDBaseT Lite chips are also less expensive, the company said.
Audio Design Associates is showing the two products that integrate Sonos speakers with ADA’s multiroom- audio systems are the PTM-1645-SNS 8-zone, 16-channel power amp and the A-16D Card digital-and analog-input card. The amp, which retails for less than $4,000, features built-in audio bussing to make it easier to share two or three Sonos Connect receivers in installations with six to eight rooms rather than use six to eight Sonos receivers, said Richard Stoerger, ADA’s VP/COO. A single Sonos Connect can drive four audio zones with independent volume control.
For larger projects involving more zones and audio sources, the new A-16D card for ADA’s Suite 16 and Suite 32 multi-room-audio systems permits a digital connection of as many as eight Sonos Connects in addition to another eight traditional analog sources, the company said.
Autonomic is adding features to its Mirage Audio System (MAS) multi-room music server systems, including a redesigned UI, streaming of Slacker Radio and SiriusXM Radio 2.0, and access to the Gracenote database.
Gracenote finds and adds cover art to server-stored tracks that are missing artwork, and it delivers enhanced album art for radio sources such as Pandora and SiriusXM, the company said. A planned firmware update will enhance metadata on an existing local library and make it consistent from song to song after Gracenote reads the songs’ digital fingerprints, Autonomic added.
A secure dealer portal enables integrators to access a customer’s server to conduct remote diagnostics and deliver firmware updates.
The 2.0 upgrade delivers SiriusXM On Demand, SiriusXM favorites, and ability to jump forward and back in a live stream to listen to the previous song again or to jump to the start of a show.
Autonomic’s TuneBridge feature lets users explore new music across multiple streaming services and local content.
MAS consists of a Mirage Media Server, choice of two digital amplifiers, two in-wall control options, and control applications for iOS and Android devices. Suggested retails are $4,945 for a four-zone MAS-4 and $8,350 for an eight-zone MAS-8.
CasaTunes is showing its newly announced universal plug-and-play (UPnP) and DLNA upgrades to its multi-room media servers and multi-room audio systems, which distribute music to wireless and wired speakers and multizone A/V receivers. The upgrades add the capability to play music stored on a networked PC’s Windows or iTunes music libraries and on network- attached storage (NAS) devices with UPnP builtin. The servers also play music from mobile and portable devices running UPnP media-server-based apps.
The systems also play AirPlay streams from Apple mobile devices and iTunes-equipped computers.
The systems are controlled from CasaTunes apps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry smartphones and tablets as well as from a web browser or in-wall keypad.
The systems start at $1,499 for a version that delivers up to three separate music streams simultaneously to three wired rooms and five wireless rooms.
Control4 is unveiling five A/V-distribution products, including the company’s first HDMI matrix switcher, an audio matrix switcher, and a four-zone and eight-zone amp.
They are said to be suitable for retrofit and new-build projects.
The lineup, shipping in September, consists of a $6,900 HDMI matrix switcher with HDBaseT, a $350 HDBaseT receiver, a $1,500 audio matrix switcher, a $1,100 four-zone amplifier and a $1,400 eight-zone amp.
The HDMI switcher is an 8 by 8 model that transmits full 1080p 2D or 3D video, multichannel audio, Ethernet, and RS-232 (serial) and IR control signals over a single CAT-5e or CAT-6 cable. Besides eight HDMI inputs and eight HDBaseT outputs, the device also features two local HDMI outputs, eight LAN passthrough ports, eight stereo audio outputs, eight RS-232 ports, eight bi-directional IR control ports and an Ethernet port for control.
The HDBaseT Receiver accepts the incoming video, audio and control signals from the switcher via a single CAT-5e or CAT-6 cable and breaks them out into individual HDMI, LAN, and two-way RS-232 and IR outputs at the endpoint.
For audio distribution, the audio matrix switcher is a 16-input/16-output analog audio matrix with input gain controls for proper source level balancing, audio sensing inputs that provide control and feedback to the Control4 system, and half dB volume steps for smooth volume control.
The two multizone audio amplifiers, available in four-and eight-zone versions, feature a global stereo line input and output, input gain controls for both global and individual zone inputs, and selection switches for zone or global input.
The eight-zone model delivers 30 watts per channel into 8 ohms in stereo mode, or 60 watts per channel into 8 ohms when bridged. The four-zone model 45 per channel in stereo mode into 8 ohms and 90 watts per channel bridged into 8 ohms. Both amplifiers are stable to 4 ohms.
Fusion Research’s latest Ovation Wireless Players are on display, letting installers connect up to 16 players to an Ovation multi-room audio server, which integrates with control systems from Elan, RTI, Savant, Control4, Crestron, AMX and others. The server can also be controlled from Android and iOS apps. Fusion sells its solution only through the integrator channel.
HydraConnect is introducing four HDMI matrix switchers up to 16 by 16. Two of the switchers feature new, proprietary DSP technology that enables multiple zones to simultaneously play stereo or multichannel Dolby Digital audio simultaneously from the same source. This feature also enables the switchers to send analog stereo signals to a distributed audio system.
HydraConnect is the only matrix-switch brand that Dolby has licensed to offer this capability, the company said.
The new matrixes consist of one 16 by 16, one 8 by 4, and two 8 by 8 models. They and a new third-generation HDMI extender use HDBaseT technology to extend HDMI audio and video 330 feet over category cable.
One of two switchers with the new DSP technology is the HMA-16x16BT with 16 HDMI inputs, 16 HDBaseT outputs, four HDMI outputs, 16 analog stereo outputs and 16 SPDIF outputs. The second switcher with DSP is the HMA-8x8BT, which offers eight HDMI inputs, six analog stereo inputs and two S/PDIF inputs plus eight HDBaseT outputs, two HDMI outputs and 16 analog stereo outputs.
The HMA-16x16BT ships in October. The HMA- 8x8BT ships in December, and the HS-8x4BT was expected to ship in time for the Expo.
Niles is showcasing its newest Systems Integration amplifiers, which consist of five new models for either home theater or multizone use.
Three are two-channel amps, and the other two are 12- and 16-channel models.
The two-channel models consist of the 2x50-watt Class AB SI-250, 2x100 SI-2100 and 2x150 SI-2150, all rated into 8 ohms. All drive 4-ohm loads and can be bridged. Each two-channel amp also features independent level control for each amp channel.
In multizone amps, the 12x30-watt (into 8 ohms) and SI-1230 multizone 16x50-watt (into 8 ohms) are available. All five amps feature three turn-on modes: music sensing, external voltage trigger, and manual turn-in via front-panel switch.
WASP Audio Technologies is showcasing its Link-Family of wireless audio systems for in-wall, onwall and in-room speakers.
Wyrestorm is showing Enado, its first product outside of its range of HD splitters, matrix switchers, extenders, up-scalers, converters and cables to distribute HD video over HDMI, coax, CAT-5e/6/7 and fiber-optic cables.
Enado is a controller for audio and video distribution and automation control. It’s targeted to midrange residential applications and ships in January at a suggested $1,999.
Enado’s browser-based user interface can be controlled from any Internet-enabled device. On any tablet or smartphone, it will appear and act like a traditional app, the company said.
A browser-based configuration tool is said to be intuitive enough to be installed by someone without programming experience at a competitive price point.
The 1U 19-inch rack-mounted device features 16 assignable IR ports, 8x integrated IP ports, an array of contact closures and built-in secure Wi-Fi for connection to any local-Internet-enabled devices.
Enado’s software includes a no-programming, browser-based configuration tool backed by a comprehensive IR database, IR device editor, and IR learner as well as RS232 and IP control options.
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