Russound, vNet Ready IP-Based Audio Distribution

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Newmarket, N.H. - Sister companies Russound and Colorado vNet are focusing on IP-based multiroom-audio distribution in a series of new products.

The vNet products will be the first new vNet products since the company's acquisition by Russound's owner in October 2009.

vNet, whose audio focus has always been on IP-based music distribution, plans two IP-based music-distribution products and its first iPad app for home-system control.

Russound, which is increasing its focus on IP-based audio, is readying a new IP-based audio product and has upgraded its IP-based powerline-networking multiroom-audio system. Russound is also planning such new products new custom speakers, an A-BUS sub-zone controller, and a new local-zone two-channel amp.

In other developments:

  • Mike Anderson was hired as product development director for both companies. He joins newly hired product development VP Tom McCarthy. Both hailed from Linear AVC Group. Sharing the talents of both men between the two companies is part of a strategy to create synergies between the two companies, said Charlie Porritt, CEO of Russound and vNet.
  • vNet has been moving product manufacturing out of its Loveland, Colo., facilities to Asian contract-manufacturing plants where Russound is already a major customer.

vNet tech support, engineering, and software-quality assurance will remain at the facility, Porritt said. vNet will continue to sell through reps, while Russound will continue to sell through distributors, including AVAD.

In new products, vNet plans June shipments of the MS1-1 six-zone streamer, which connects to vNet's IP-based multiroom-audio systems to stream up to six different audio programs at a time to six different zones via IP.

The device, whose pricing wasn't announced, lacks hard-drive to store music but will stream music from a networked PC's iTunes application, access Internet radio stations through the RadioTime service, and access the Pandora, Sirius XM, and Spotify on-line music services. The product was co-developed with Autonomic and will be co-branded with the vNet and Autonomic names.

A related product, also due in June, is the three-zone AS3-800/3 music server, which features hard-drive to play stored music but also streams music from a networked PC, syncs with a PC's music files, and streams music from select on-line music services. Pricing wasn't announced.

A third new vNet product is an iPad app that controls vNet systems. It will be available in May with ability to control vNet multiroom-audio systems. By the end of the year, the app will be upgraded to add ability to control lighting, security, and HVAC systems.

In the Russound lineup, the company has upgraded its multiroom Collage Powerline Media and Intercom system to use Apple handheld devices and Android-based devices as multiroom music sources.

 Russound added Apple's AirPlay technology to enable users to stream music from iPads, iPod Touches, and iPhones throughout the house as well as from a PC loaded with Apple's iTunes application. Consumers must connect Collage to Apple's Airport Express Wi-Fi adapter.

Android-based phones and tablets will also act as a Collage source if they use the Android 2.2 or higher OS.

Russound's implementation overcomes an AirPlay limitation that prevents an Apple hand-held device from streaming music to more than one room at a time.

Collage, which uses powerline technology to distribute audio over existing electrical wiring, features amplified in-wall keypads with integrated Internet radio tuner, integrated AM/FM tuner, and ability to stream music from a networked PC or NAS device.

 Through June 30, Russound is offering near-50-percent dealer-price discounts on its updated Collage keypads and the central Collage Media Manager component.

In another product announcement, Russound priced its previously announced DMS-3.1 Digital Media Streamer at $2,100 MAP and announced a ship date of early July.

The DMS-3.1 integrates with the company's C-Series multiroom audio systems, incorporates a traditional AM/FM RDS tuner, and connects to a home network to stream Internet radio programming and to stream music from a DLNA-certified networked PC. In addition, the Streamer features USB ports to distribute digital audio files from connected storage devices.

The DMS-3.1 distributes up to three separate audio streams simultaneously from the Internet, PC or USB-connected devices while simultaneously streaming content from the embedded analog AM/FM tuner.

In more traditional products, Russound plans CEDIA launches of its first bezel-less custom-installed speakers and an A-BUS sub-zone controller that connects to the company's multizone controllers to add a subzone to other zones.

Meantime, the company plans July shipment of a new local-source power amplifier for integration with multiroom audio installations. The $320-MAP 2x50-watt D250LS, smaller than the company's previous two-channel local-source amps, is a half-rack wide and one-rack tall. It's intended for rooms requiring local amplification and local source switching. It's bridgeable to 150-watts (into 8-ohms) in mono mode.

The amp's signal-sensing circuitry can sense when a user turns on a TV or PC in the room, then automatically overrides any music coming through that room's multiroom-audio speakers.


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