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Russound Steps Up A-BUS Capabilities

Newmarket, N.H. — Russound boosted the feature set, performance and multizone capabilities of multiroom-audio systems equipped with A-BUS technology, which delivers power and audio signal over a single CAT-5 cable to in-wall keypads incorporating built-in amplifiers.

In its latest A-BUS system, Russound incorporated digital amplifiers for the first time to boost output by an unspecified amount, making the system the industry’s first A-BUS system to incorporate digital amps. A-BUS technology is licensed by its inventor, LeisureTech Electronics of Australia, to Russound and other companies, but only Russound to date has come up with a digital-amp variation of the core A-BUS technology, said Scott Sylvester, VP of LeisureTech’s U.S. operations.

The new Russound system “provides added performance and features like a more typical distributed-audio system,” Sylvester said. “We approved this system months ago while it was in development. It still offers the simplicity of A-BUS system design — one amplifier per location — and excellent energy efficiency.” Russound “worked hard to develop the system employing Class D amplifiers,” he continued. “Matched with their highly efficient Ratio line of speakers, all A-BUS systems can perform even more effectively.”

LeisureTech has been studying the inclusion of digital amplifiers in A-BUS’ basic design “for quite a while but to date has not chosen to move from analog amps to digital amps,” Sylvester added.

In other enhancements that it developed, Russound expanded the system’s capabilities to six sources and eight zones from four sources and four zones, and the company is offering a dual-gang in-wall A-BUS keypad system for the first time so users can view source names on one keypad’s LCD screen.

A kit consisting of six single-gang keypads, remote, IR emitters and system hub retails for a suggested $2,599 and was to ship at the end of March.

The system’s rack-mountable A-C68 hub, or controller, enables remote selection of up to six audio sources from eight independent zones and includes paging inputs, a 12-volt trigger and RJ-45 daisy-chaining of up to six hubs to create a 48-zone system. The hub also features a library of built-in IR codes to control other-brand source components. The hub also learns IR codes not in its library and features an embedded power supply, replacing the wall-wart power supply used in Russound’s previous A-BUS systems.

The included six single-gang A-K5L keypad/amplifiers are the company’s first A-BUS keypads with LCD display, which can be programmed to display source names up to five characters and features a 20-segment visual volume indicator. The keypad’s four buttons control on/off, source selection, volume, bass, treble, balance, loudness and such special functions as party mode. An IR passthrough allows for source and transport control via an included IR remote.

For the system, Russound also offers optional single-gang A-KSC keypad with source- and transport-control buttons, including track selection and pause. Common transport- and source-control symbols on 10 of the keys can be switched to numeric keys by pressing the 11th button.

Both keypads are available in five colors and can be mounted together in a double-gang box.

“The new keypad and controller products retail the simplicity and convenience of the A-BUS system while offering features not previously available in this technology,” said product development director Andy Lewis.

In a related introduction, Russound added the first outdoor model to its high-efficiency Ratio speaker series, intended for use with low-power amplifiers such as those in A-BUS multiroom systems. The 94dB-efficient, 20-watts-maximum Ratio Outdoor, available at a street price of $449/pair, is an on-wall two-way model with 0.5-inch tweeter and 7.9-inch by 23.6-inch by 8-inch enclosure, which is available in black or white.

For 2008, Russound doubled the length of the warranty on its Ratio speakers to 10 years from five when the speakers are installed with Russound’s A-BUS system or with the company’s other multiroom controller/amplifiers. The multiroom system component’s warranties will be extended to four years from two. The warranties apply to defects and materials, and the products must be installed in calendar 2008.

In a separate development, Russound teamed up with HAI to offer packages of Russound multiroom-audio systems and HAI home-automation systems, which can be integrated with one another. The duo’s first integrated package consists of a Russound CAM6.6T hub/controller, six UNO S2 keypads, remote, six IR emitters, punchdown tool, wall plates and rack ears. The HAI components include the Lumina 44A00-2 lighting-control system with LCD keypad, powerline interface module, cable, phase coupler, serial cable, transformer and batteries, an OmniTouch touchscreen, two plug-in lamp modules and related products.