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Custom Six-Zone iPod System Unveiled

Custom installation supplier SpeakerCraft unveiled a new in-wall distributed-audio keypad that controls up to six iPods connected to the company’s distributed audio systems via new iPod docking stations.

The company’s $299-suggested MODE (Music On Demand Experience) keypad and up to six separately available $99 docking stations connect to the company’s MZC multizone-control component to give multiple users simultaneous access to separate iPods from any keypad-equipped room.

The devices, which ship in September, are targeted to the many households that already own multiple iPods, the company said.

The system is SpeakerCraft’s first to give users access to iPod menus and metadata from in-wall keypads, joining systems announced in July by Sonance’s iPort division. The keypads are also SpeakerCraft’s first with color screen and the industry’s first announced keypads with thin OLED display.

Besides allowing users to select iPod songs by artist, title and genre, the MODE keypad also displays XM Satellite Radio text and menus, data from other hard disk drive music servers and AM/FM data.

Here’s how it works:

An iPod docking station placed in a home’s main distributed-audio component rack connects to the company’s MRZ distributed-audio controller, which uses CAT-5 cable to send control signals and data to in-wall keypads. Previously installed SpeakerCraft keypads can be swapped for the new MODE keypads, which also use CAT-5. SpeakerCraft uses the RS-485 transfer protocol instead of RS-232 over CAT-5 to extend range to thousands of feet rather than hundreds, the company said.