Multi-Room Audio With No Strings Attached

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Indianapolis - Wireless-audio suppliers aren't pulling the legs of installers who make their living pulling wires.

With new-home construction at levels not seen since the mid-1940s, installers have focused their energies on retrofitting existing homes, and new wireless products on display at the Expo give them an opportunity to make multi-room-audio retrofits cleaner, faster and simpler because wires don't have to be run through walls.

The systems could also expand the market to renters who aren't allowed to modify their apartments.

Proficient president Keith Marshall positions his new wireless system as a way for installers who are mounting a flat-panel TV to step the customer up to a multi-room-audio system that can be installed in one day in four to six rooms without creating a mess.

During the CEDIA Expo, electronic systems contractors will find new and recently shipped wireless-audio systems from Jamo, Proficient, Navvo Systems, SoundCast Systems and MusicLites.

Here's what they plan to show.


The company's recently released MusicLites wireless multi-room-audio system takes the form of combination LED lights/wireless speakers that fit into 4-, 5- and 6-inch

recessed lighting cans in the ceiling.

They can be used to create a five-zone system with up to 12 MusicLites per zone.

The speakers stream music from audio sources connected to 2.4GHz wireless transmitters. Sources include PCs, stereos, iPods, iPads and smartphones.


A powered two-channel speaker system and a 2.1-channel sub-sat system are designed for use with a wireless sender and receiver to stream music wirelessly from a PC or from MP3 players, smartphones and other mobile devices. They're due next year.

See p. 34 for more details.

Navvo Group:

The company, led by former Best Buy executive Wade Fenn, is coming to the CEDIA Expo for the first time, bringing with it an expanded selection of wireless multi-room-audio products that use Wi-Fi to deliver up to 10 audio zones.

The company's Voco wireless system uses Wi-Fi-equipped Android tablets and Android smartphones as system controllers. Unlike other wireless multi-room-audio systems, Voco also offers voice control of song selection via Navvo's free app, which also lets users select songs via an Android device's touchscreen.

An iPhone version of the app is slated for the fourth quarter.

Earlier this year, the company launched the $199-suggested V-Zone player, which connects to a home's existing audio and home-theater systems via HDMI, optical digital cable and analog RCA cables.

With multiple V-Zone players, up to 10 different sources or songs can be streamed simultaneously around the house via Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n from multiple networked PCs, multiple network-attached storage (NAS) drives and from a Wi-Fi-equipped smartphone. Additional music sources can include USB sticks, USB-connected iPods other than the iPod Touch and iPhone, and other USB-connected MP3 players plugged directly into the V-Zone player. Sources also include more than 50,000 free Internet radio stations and podcasts streamed by a smartphone through Navvo's app.

For use as a music source, networked PCs and NAS drives must be loaded with Voco software.

At the Expo, the company is showing the new V-Spot and V-Zone Pro, both due in the first quarter. The $399-suggested V-Spot is an all-one-one client incorporating speakers and amplifier. It also doubles as a Wi-Fi access point. To reproduce music from connected local sources, it features line input, front and back USB ports for USB hard drives and other USB devices, and eSATA port for external hard drives.

Five preset buttons can be mapped to playlists or Internet radio stations. Other buttons features volume control, play/pause, skip forward and back. Controls are LED backlit touch-sensitive controls.

At less than a suggested $599, the V-Zone Pro lacks amp and speakers but offers the same connectivity features as the V-Spot as well as embedded Wi-Fi access point, but it adds high-quality DAC, infrared blaster, and ability to host an internal hard drive.

Proficient Audio:

The brand plans a CEDIA Expo launch of a wireless multi-room-audio system with more capabilities than its predecessor.


Zero wireless audio system

promises wireless distribution of up to six audio sources simultaneously to freestanding stereo speakers in up to 24 rooms if three wireless transmitters are used at a time. Each transmitter supports up to eight tabletop amplifier/receivers, and each transmitter is capable of sending stereo audio from two separate sources while also sending mono wirelessly to a powered subwoofer in the same room or another room.

Zero's predecessor, called AirFlex, simultaneously transmitted music wirelessly from two sources to up to four rooms when two transmitters were used.

The new system, shipping in the fourth quarter, also extends transmitting range through walls to 90 feet from 70 feet. A wireless extender is planned for first-half 2012 availability to further extend range.

One Zero transmitter is bundled with an amplified receiver at a suggested $450. Additional receivers cost $250 each.

The transmitters connect to multi-zone A/V receivers, Internet radio streamers, and other music sources via a digital PCM optical input and a two-channel analog stereo input.

Using a supplied IR remote pointed at the amplifier/receivers, users can switch between the two sources connected to a transmitter and a local source connected to the amplifier/receiver via optical digital input or stereo 3.5mm input.

Using the amplifier/receiver's supplied IR remote, users can also switch among three transmitters to access additional remote sources.

The 2x35-watt Class D amplifier/receiver also features IR passthrough and IR output to control a local source. That feature was unavailable on the AirFlex, which nonetheless did come with an IR remote to switch between a remote source and a local source.

An unamplified receiver is in the works for the first half to add wireless multi-room capability to stereo systems or active speakers.

Like its predecessor, a Zero system can also be used to send audio wirelessly to surround speakers, and a Zero amplifier/receiver can be used alone behind a flat-screen TV to amplify TV sound.

Also like its predecessor, Zero systems don't enable users to turn on or control a source connected to a transmitter in another room.

Soundcast Systems:

The company will show its recently expanded selection of wireless multi-room-audio products, including the $199 UAT 1.2 Universal Audio Transmitter, the $299 UAT 3.4 transmitter, and the $249 SubCast.

Soundcast offers indoor and outdoor wireless speakers, wireless iPod-docking transmitters, wireless transmitters for PCs and other audio sources, a wireless subwoofer, and a transmitter-receiver pair that adds wireless capability to surround speakers.

The UAT 1.2 and 3.4 transmitters feature a USB port to connect to a PC to use a PC as a music server. The transmitters also feature analog input to connect a traditional audio source or MP3 player. The UAT 1.2 streams only source at a time, with one transmitter able to stream one source to one L-R speaker pair and three transmitters able to stream one source to up to three speaker pairs. The UAT 3.4 delivers up to three sources simultaneously to four zones when three are daisy-chained.


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