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AirPlay Comes To Multi-Room Audio Systems

7/16/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern
FORT COLLINS, COLO. – Multi-room audio supplier CasaTunes is integrating Apple AirPlay technology into its next-generation music servers to deliver music through a combination of custom-installed wired speakers, wireless AirPlay speakers and other AirPlay-equipped devices.

For music sources, the company’s music servers still use hard drives, embedded Internet radio apps, and a connected external source such as a satellite-radio tuner, but with newly developed CasaTunes Air technology, the servers add AirPlay-enabled mobile devices and iTunes-equipped computers as music sources. No matter what the source, music is directed to wired custom-installed speakers, wireless AirPlay speakers, and other AirPlay-enabled devices such as AppleTV and Apple’s wireless AirPort Express.

“To my knowledge, we are the first [multi-room audio] company to provide this kind of integration,” said Casa- Tunes president David Krinker.

The servers, which are available, connect to multi-roomaudio amplifiers to drive custom-installed speakers.

CasaTunes Air automatically discovers all AirPlay enabled devices on the network, and from a multi-room system’s in-wall keypads or touchscreens, consumers can select a particular handheld iOS device as a source, though particular iOS-device apps have to be selected from the iOS device itself.

Up to nine different iOS handheld devices can stream music at a time, including music from AirPlay-enabled apps. Because most iOS music apps are AirPlay-enabled, Krinker noted, consumers’ multi-room-audio systems can access more music services than ever before. The Casa- Tunes servers themselves stream music from Grooveshark, Last.fm, MP3tunes, Shoutcast, Spotify and TuneIn as well as Internet radio stations.

Besides adding more music sources to a multi-room system, CasaTunes Air technology “is ideal for retrofit installations and to extend existing systems where customers have maxed out their wired solution but are still looking to add music in more rooms,” Krinker said. CasaTunes Air servers can also be used to add music to rooms where hardwiring isn’t feasible. A wireless solution is also an efficient way for consumers to expand their systems over time, he said.

Four new stand-alone CasaTunes servers priced from $1,499 to $2,799 feature CasaTunes Air, as do two PCbased solutions, the $749 Xli and $2,499 XLe.

The stand-alone servers start with the $1,499 CT3S, a three-source 320GB server designed to integrate with third-party multiroom-audio systems from Russound, NuVo, Channel Vision and Audio Authority. A step-up $2,199 version integrates with the same other-brand multi-room systems but adds four-source capability and 1TB server capacity. At $2,799, CasaTunes’s XLi music server with included output switching features 1TB capacity, five-source six-wired-zone capability, and six wireless AirPlay zones. At $4,299, the XLe server steps up to nine-source, 12-wiredzone capability plus additional AirPlay zones. The number of wired zones supported by the XLe can be expanded to 48 with three expansion boxes, each at $1,499.

All four servers also stream music from a networked PC with Windows Media Player.

To turn a PC into a music server, CasaTunes offers two new CasaTunes Air server solutions.
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