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Artison Readies Multizone Light/Speaker System

6/25/2010 01:46:41 PM Eastern

Incline Village, Nev. - Speaker maker Artison has become the second company to unveil a wireless multizone audio system that uses combination LED-light/speakers that screw into existing recessed-light fixtures in the ceiling.
The company teamed up with lighting maker Osram Sylvania and fabless semiconductor company Eleven Engineering to develop the do-it-yourself four-zone system Eleven developed the 2.4GHz wireless technology that distributes music to the in-ceiling light/speakers.
At January's International CES, Klipsch unveiled a two-source, two-zone multi-room-audio system that supports up to eight speakers for four rooms of synchronized stereo playback.
Artison founder Cary Christie said his system, marketed under the MusicLites brand, will expand the multi-room-audio market to renters who wouldn't be allowed by landlords to install custom speakers in walls or ceilings. The company, however, plans to offer a MusicLites system for custom installers. The system could be controlled from home-control systems that use the ZigBee wireless standard, enabling installers to add multi-room audio to rooms where an installed system is impractical.
Artison's system will ship in September or October following more input from dealers and reps, Christie said. Pricing hasn't been announced.
Artison also plans in-ceiling LED lights without speakers to match the light emitted by light/speakers in the same room. A table lamp is also planned.
Each in-ceiling light speaker operates as a left or right speaker, and each incorporates a 70mm driver, 25-watt Class D amp, and LED light that delivers the equivalent of a 65-watt incandescent bulb.
To supply music to the speakers, consumers could connect up to three AC-powered wireless transmitters into separate audio sources, whose music would be transmitted up to 30 meters. Each transmitter could serve up to four speakers, but repeaters would expand that capacity to 16 speakers. Each transmitter would stream only one source at a time, and three transmitters could operate simultaneously when located within 50 meters of one another.
In addition, music in a single room could be supplied by an iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone connected to a 30-pin wireless dongle, whose output would extend 10 meters and would override streams from a 50-meter transmitter.
A USB dongle for laptops, as well as a dongle that connects to the 3.5mm analog headphone output of an MP3 player or smartphone, could also be used to deliver music to light speakers in a local room.
Up to three dongle-equipped sources could be used simultaneously, each in different rooms.
A credit-card IR remote aimed at a speaker would control source selection, volume and light dimming in a local zone. The local-zone functions could also be controlled via RF wireless from a dongle-equipped PC or iPhone/iPad.
If a PC or iPad/iPhone is the music source, consumers would use their PC or iPhone/iPad user interface to select songs for playback through speakers. Likewise, consumers would select songs from A/V receiver-connected sources at the source itself.
MusicLites speakers are small enough to screw into 4-inch in-ceiling cans as well as into 5- and 6-inch cans, Christie said. Trim rings are provided to hide any gaps. The 4- and 6-inch cans account for the majority of the installed base of in-ceiling lights, Christie noted.
For use in 6-inch cans, the speaker-light doesn't require consumers to remove the Edison connection from the can's L-bracket before screwing in the light speaker. Installation in 5-inch cans is also simple, he said. Because the Edison connector is loose in 5-inch cans, Artison provides a spring-loaded adapter that holds the light speaker in place.
Klipsch's system is designed for use in 5- and 6-inch in-ceiling cans.

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