Volume Rising For Multiroom Audio Systems

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DENVER — It’s good to be an installer of multiroom-audio systems.

Unit sales of multizone controller/amplifiers will rise 21 percent in 2014 at the wholesale level and by 11 percent in 2015, the latest Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) forecast shows. Sales of architectural speakers are also on the rise, CEA said.

Multiroom-audio system sales are caught in the updraft of an expanding CI market, which is rising for multiple reasons, marketers said. One is the stock-market wealth effect that persuaded the affluent to restart projects. Another is wireless technology that expands the market to include retrofit installs and upgrades of previously installed systems. Home-automation products that are easier to use are also helping, as is the ability to control home systems from tablets and smartphones.

With an improving outlook in mind, SpeakerCraft is coming to the show with its first multizone controller/amplifier in a decade, and Russound is making its biggest product launch in years.

Here’s what you’ll find:

CasaTunes: Four new products include the $1,495 CT-4S and $1,995 CT-8S music streamers, which intended for use with third-party multiroom-audio systems. The other new products are the $1,495 CT-4+ and $1,995 CT-8+ CasaTunes Multi Room Audio Systems.

The products integrate with RTI and Control4 homecontrol systems through free drivers.

The five-zone CT-4+ and nine-zone CT-8+ multiroomaudio systems feature 1TB music server and such music services as Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, TuneIn, Shoutcast, JazzRadio and others. Each system also plays iTunes or Windows Media running on any computer in the house, and they include CasaTunes Air. That technology lets owners send music from an iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC with iTunes to any combination of rooms in the house. Built-in AirPlay connects to AirPlay speakers, Airport Express, Apple TV and other AirPlay-equipped devices. An optional optical disc drive can be used to rip CDs for storage on the systems’ 1TB hard drive.

The two systems feature four (CT-4+) or eight (CT-8+) analog preamp stereo outputs, one digital optical output, plus up to five wired or wireless AirPlay rooms.

The CT-4S and CT-8S streamers are designed for use with third-party multiroom-audio systems. The CT-4S has four streaming outputs, and the CT-8S has eight streaming outputs. Streamed sources can be internet services, music stored on the streamers’ 1TB hard drives, or music stored on iTunes- and Windows Media-equipped PCs. Both streamers can be fitted with optional optical disk drives for ripping. They also feature CasaTunes Air and ability to send music to AirPlay devices.

The streamers are compatible with audio distribution systems and matrix switches from RTI, Audio Authority, Channel Vision, SpeakerCraft, NuVo and Russound.

McIntosh: The company’s latest products include a 1TB multizone music server.

Parasound: The company is bringing its first 12-channel multizone amplifier in years to the Expo.

Peerless-AV: Peerless-AV’s PeerSound Wireless Audio System is promoted as the industry’s first and only rack-mountable wireless audio system that sends up to four stereo sources or eight mono sources wirelessly to wireless receivers up to 140-plus feet away.

The base two-channel system, which retails for a suggested $699, consists of one component-style transmitter, a transmitter module with antenna, 10 feet of extension cable for the antenna, a remote-mount antenna bracket, and a 2x25-watt amplifier along with a wireless receiver for mounting behind an in-wall double-gang cover plate. The duo can also be mounted on a wall.

PeerSound can integrate with other-brand wired distributed- audio systems.

Remote Technologies Incorporated (RTI): A new in-wall audio-distribution keypad and matrix switcher are on tap. The KX1 audio-distribution keypad features a 1.2- inch color OLED display and two-way communications to display cover art, song metadata, and more. It features 11 customizable hard buttons, backlit volume-level indicator, ambient light sensors, and an integrated Ethernet connection.

The AD-16x audio-matrix switcher expands the matrix lineup with a model for large multi-zone audio installations with up to 16 audio sources distributed to 16 zones.

Sonance: The Dana Innovations brand will unveil an all-new line of Sonamp digital amplifiers, including models with high-resolution DSP.

The company will also introduce new Landscape Series speakers that offer more power and a smaller footprint. The line consists of two new satellite speakers and two new subwoofers.

URC: The company’s new SNP-2 streaming network player, designed for use with URC’s Total Control homeautomation system, uses built-in Wi-Fi to access streaming music services, internet radio stations, and networkstored music. Music services include SiriusXM, Pandora Internet Radio and Rhapsody.

When connected to a Total Control system, the SNP- 2 delivers two-way metadata communication and status feedback to Total Control remotes, keypads and touchscreens and to smartphones and tablets. The SNP-2 also can be used as a stand-alone music component with URC’s Complete Control system.

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