Riverside, Calif. – SpeakerCraft is developing its first
IP-based multi-room-A/V system, which will distribute multiple simultaneous
streams of audio and 1080p video over category cable from connected CE and PC
The IP system will appear under the Nirv brand at the CEDIA
Expo in September in preparation for tentative shipments during the mid- to
late-first-quarter period of 2010, said electronics engineering VP Jason Craze.
“We needed to be networked,” Craze said in citing the
company’s review of the SpeakerCraft electronics line and industry as a whole.
Dealers also suggested the network approach, he said. “RS-485 is going the way
of the buffalo.”
An IP-based system for multi-room-A/V distribution is
simpler to design and install because audio and video cables don’t have to be
home-ran to each room from a central A/V rack; they’re less expensive; and
they’re scalable a zone at a time so consumers don’t pay for zone capacity that
they don’t need, he explained. They’re also more suitable for retrofit installs
than traditional multi-room-A/V systems, Craze said.
SpeakerCraft’s iteration will be simple to configure because
all setup is done via a TV-screen interface, he added. “It will take a couple
of hours to configure rather than days.”
For its Nirv system, SpeakerCraft eschews standard Ethernet
protocols for its own proprietary IP-based protocols to ensure quality of
service, Craze said. “Standard Ethernet uses quite a bit of headroom for things
we don’t need for media distribution,” Craze explained. As a result,
SpeakerCraft’s network will run parallel to a home’s Ethernet network. A Media
Bridge, however, will connect an Ethernet network to SpeakerCraft’s network so
that PC-stored media can be streamed to TVs and speakers around the house.
Because of its IP-based architecture, the Nirv system
accommodates up to 256 sources and 256 zones. Anywhere from four to six 1080p
programs can be streamed simultaneously along with multiple stereo-only
sources. The network is compliant with Blu-ray’s HDCP copy-control technology,
but its bandwidth won’t support Blu-ray’s Deep Color capabilities.
Two dozen SKUs will be available for Nirv, including a main
system controller, or brain, with ports to control connected home automation
systems. Audio-only and video source-input devices connect to legacy sources
such as cable boxes, audio servers, video servers, Blu-ray players and
changers, cable boxes, and DVRs. Because of Nirv’s network architecture,
different legacy sources can be placed throughout the house for connection to
the Nirv network without having to be grouped together in a main A/V rack.
Unlike other networked-A/V systems, all A/V content, control
signals and low-voltage power are transported around the house over a single
eight-conductor cable to and from source-input devices, decoder/receivers in
local rooms and in-wall controllers.
Rack-style receiver/decoders with built-in audio amplifiers
still require a separate connection to 110-volt household power to amplify
audio signals. These devices can be installed locally or in a main A/V rack to
drive in-room or custom-installed speakers.
Other Nirv SKUs include two in-wall
keypad controllers, an in-wall touchpanel controller, and a battery-powered
in-wall touchscreen that ejects from the wall and can be used as a tabletop
controller. SpeakerCraft also plans an RF Wand remote control with fewer than
10 buttons to control a Nirv system via an on-TV user interface. An iPod dock
is also planned.
The system can be
retrofitted into homes with Ethernet networks whose additional wiring backbone
provides two Ethernet ports per room, Craze said. In such cases, dealers could
install local audio receiver/amplifiers in each room, connecting them to
in-room or installed speakers