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CEDIA: Custom Suppliers Promote Different Agendas

9/05/2003 10:07:00 AM Eastern

Indianapolis — Custom suppliers are using the CEDIA Expo to promote a variety of agendas, from making distributed-audio and home-control systems more affordable to developing more elaborate systems for the highest income brackets.

Select suppliers are also diversifying their product selections to become one-stop-shopping resources for their dealers.

More companies have also unveiled Ethernet-connected distributed-A/V systems, and at least six companies unveiled their first home satellite radio tuners, some optimized for multizone use.

At least three XM tuners and three Sirius tuners were shown.

Companies pursuing a diversification strategy include Russound and Elan, which have introduced their first dual-tuner AM/FM tuners, and Niles, which has launched its first rock speakers and its first touch screen, positioned as a more affordable alternative to general-purpose custom-install touch screens.

As part of its diversification strategy, SpeakerCraft unveiled its first two multizone/multisource receivers, intended to drive down the cost and complexity of distributed-audio systems.

For its part, IntelliNet Controls launched a color touchscreen said to offer distributed-audio and integrated system control at a lower price than competing models.

For dealers who install elaborate systems, Elan announced first-quarter availability of its highest capacity multizone A/V controller, Sonance launched its first 16-channel amp, and Audio Design Associates (ADA) unveiled a 32-channel amp.

Also at the show more companies introduced their first digital amps, including Elan.

CEDIA also saw more companies connected to the Ethernet, with ADA unveiling Ethernet bridges to send control signals over an Ethernet network to control its distributed-A/V systems.

IntelliNet showed a new wireless-Ethernet (802.11b) browser-based touch screen, which controls the company's existing Ethernet-connected distributed-audio system.

Onkyo and NetStreams showed systems that send audio and control signals over an Ethernet, and Denon and startup Kaleidescape showed systems that distribute audio and video content, not just control signals, over an Ethernet network.

More companies also introduced home satellite radio tuners. ADA launched a four-module tuner called Tune Suite, which can accept any combination of up to four AM/FM or XM Satellite tuners.

For its part, Niles announced plans to offer XM Satellite radio technology as early as the second quarter but is still determining its final configuration.

Other satellite tuner introductions included XM tuners from NetStreams and Crestron and Sirius Satellite home tuners from Kenwood, Audiovox, and Antex.

Here's a look at what select suppliers announced:

Audio Design Associates: The 32-channel, 16-zone amp, the PTM-3245, is rated at 45 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 85 watts into 4 ohms, but its 2-ohm-stability allows for connection of up to 128 speakers. Price was unavailable.

The four-tuner Tune Suite component accepts up to four tuner modules, including AM/FM/weatherband tuner modules and XM Satellite Radio modules. An entry-level module package consists of one AM/FM module and one XM module at $2,499, including antennas, line amps and line receivers. Availability and pricing of additional modules were unavailable.

For homes prewired with an Ethernet network, ADA unveiled Ethernet bridges for its existing ADA-Bus-based distributed-A/V systems, enabling system control via Ethernet wires. The bridges also enable installers to remotely troubleshoot a system. Three wired ADA tabletop keypads are outfitted with an Ethernet port to control the zone in which they are located. Prices and ship dates weren't available.

A fourth new product, the Cinema X preamp/surround processor, features 1394, USB, DVI, and AES/EBU ports for future-proof connectivity, the company said. It connects digitally via two CAT-5 cables to the X Terminal source termination block, which can be located at long distances from the preamp/processor for connection to remote sources that feed the preamp/processor. A similar device, the OTS-X output tube stage, also connects digitally via dual CAT-5 cables to the Cinema X. The OTS-X connects to amps that can be located at a long distance from the preamp/processor. Pricing and ship dates were unavailable.

Elan: The company announced first-quarter availability of its highest capacity multizone A/V controller, the $5,950-suggested System 12. It's lower in price than its predecessor HD system but delivers more sources to more zones — up to four can be connected together. A single System 12 allows for up to eight zones of audio or eight zones of audio and video combined. It allows for connection of up to 12 audio sources or 12 sources of audio and video.

As a video-only controller, it connects to 16 video sources and delivers up to 16 video zones. By linking four System 12 controllers, installers can design a distributed-A/V system with up to 32 zones of audio and video combined or 64 video-only zones.

Also new from Elan: its first digital amplifier, the 12 by 100-watt (into 4 ohms) D1200 at a suggested $1,999. It's available with Class T technology said to be 90-percent efficient. It's only three racks high.

Elan also launched its first wireless RF touchpanel, its first AM/FM tuner (the dual-tuner DTNR) and the new VIA!dj digital music server.

IntelliNet: The wireless 802.11b AquaPad color touchscreen can be used to control the company's browser-based RS3000 distributed-audio system and other browser-based security, lighting, and HVAC systems.

The six-zone, six-source RS3000 leverages the economies of scale of Web and Ethernet technologies by sending control signals — but not audio — over a home's Ethernet network. It comes with six infrared-controllable in-wall keypads but can be programmed and controlled through browser-equipped devices, including remote PCs and the new AquaPad. It also lets installers remotely troubleshoot and reconfigure a system in real time from their office PC's Web browser.

The $1,749-suggested AquaPad, due in September, features 8.4-inch color touch screen and comes with charging display cradle, 802.11b networking card, and ability to wirelessly surf the Web via 802.11b.

Niles: For distributed-audio systems, Niles's first touchscreen is the TS-1, nicknamed Art. It connects via CAT-5 to either of Niles's two 12-channel, six-zone receivers, called Bob and Gloria. Due in November at a suggested $550, it's designed to be more affordable than general-purpose custom-install touch screens.

The two-gang 3.8-inch black-and-white touchscreen features seven back-lit hard buttons, auto-configuration for quick installs, real-time system-status display, a plasma-proof IR sensor, and the functionality of four existing Niles keypads to reduce keypad clutter.

To get its first rock speakers off to a successful start, Niles said it designed its models to look and sound more realistic than competing models. Two series are available in three styles: gray granite, tan sandstone and white coral. The RS6 series at $249 each features a 6.5-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter angled up at 20 degrees. The RS8Si adds an 8-inch woofer and two angled-up 1-inch tweeters, and unlike many rock speakers, it can be operated in mono, stereo, or single-speaker stereo mode in which the tweeters play in stereo and the dual-voice-coil woofer plays both channel simultaneously.

Russound: New products include the ST2 dual tuner and a standalone IR in-wall keypad said to be the industry's only such keypad with an LCD display to simplify use.

The dual-tuner ST2 tuner, due in October at $699, is Russound's first source component incorporating two AM/FM tuners. Because of its modular design, the company said it could ship the device with digital AM/FM (HD Radio) tuners or with one AM/FM tuner and one satellite-radio tuner. The ST2 can be integrated with any RS-232 or IR-controlled distributed-audio system and with the company's CAV6.6 controller amplifier and UNO-S2 in-wall keypads.

The UNO-IR2 preprogrammed/learning IR keypad features 12-character backlit LCD, choice of green or amber backlighting for the buttons and LCD and IR eye for use with optional handheld preprogrammed/learning remote. It's due in September at an expected everyday price of around $349.

SpeakerCraft: One of the company's first two multizone/multisource receivers is the $1,999-suggested MZC-66, a six-source, six-zone model featuring 12 by 30-watt amp, direct push-button selection of sources, AM/FM tuner and included keypad with IR receiver. The other receiver is the $3,999 MZC-88 an eight-source, eight-zone model with 15 by 50-watt amp and two AM/FM tuners. It also comes with IR-equipped keypad.

Both receivers feature Ethernet connection, telephone functions such as paging, and doorbell functions such as mute. Ship dates were unavailable.


TAG McLaren Audio

TAG McLaren Audio has turned up to announce that it will remain in the U.S. home audio market following a strategic review of its options. The company, however, will reduce its two-channel music presence and focus on home theater audio products and DVD players. One new product is a video scaler module that plugs into the AV192 preamp processor to upconvert video to an HD output via component connection or DVI connectiuon. TAG McLaren is no longer marketing the products directly but is handing over U.S. sales and marketing to Ball Marketing Group, which is hiring TAG's U.S. employees and operating out of TAG's former offices in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.


Intelligent Audio Systems

Intelligent Audio Systems of Berkeley, Calif., is demonstrating a near-2,000-watt powered subwoofer with DSP that automatically calculates digital crossover and equalization parameters to match the subwoofer to its companion satellites and to the room's acoustics. Response is flat to 16Hz.


Meridian



Meridian is launching its G series of 11 components, which take the high-end company into relatively lower price points ranging from$2,875 for a CD player to $8,995 for a surround controller. The lineup includes a $3,595 stereo receiver and two DVD-A/V devices.

One is the G98 DVD-A/V transport at $5,995 or $6,495 depending on configuration, and the other is theG91 DVD-A/V player/preamp/tuner. Its built-in two-channel preamp/tuner can be used to build a two-channel A/V system.

Both DVD-A/V devices connect to the G68 surround processor/controller via a proprietary multichannel-audio digital connection to create a multichannel audio system.

The G68, at $6,995 or $8,995 depending on configuration, also incorporates digital room correction to eliminate muddiness and improve stereo and surround imaging.