Wireless Multi-Room Audio Takes Many Shapes - Twice

Wireless Multi-Room Audio Takes Many Shapes

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Indianapolis – Wireless multi-room-audio technology took on multiple forms here at the CEDIA Expo from SpeakerCraft, Proficient, Wasp Audio and Navvo.

SpeakerCraft and Proficient, both part of Nortek’s Core Brands group, are showing wireless transmitters that can simultaneously stream music from up to four connected sources, each source supplying audio to up to eight wireless receivers at a time. One receiver features built-in 2x35-watt amplifier, and another is a preamp-only model. Both receivers feature local inputs and stereo Bluetooth with the ability to receive AAC streams over Bluetooth. Ship dates will likely be early next year.

SpeakerCraft will package a transmitter and an amplifier/receiver at $680. Additional amplifier/receivers will cost $430, and the preamp/receiver will be $280.

For its part, startup Wasp Audio is showing a single-source wireless transmitter that sends music wirelessly to up to three pairs of on-wall, in-wall and in-room speakers at a time. Up to three single-source transmitters can operate simultaneously. Wasp plans three- and four-source transmitters in the second quarter of next year.

Next month, Wasp plans to ship three wireless systems, each priced at $850. Each system includes a single-source wireless transmitter with both line-level and speaker-level inputs. One system, designed for on-wall speakers, consists of two wall-mount brackets and two behind-the-wall wireless receiver/amplifiers. Each receiver/amp gets low-voltage power via a DC wire that runs behind the wall to a DC connection plate installed close to the floor. On the front of the plate, a DC input connects to a wall-wart DC power supply plugged into a nearby AC outlet.

Another $850 Wasp package, designed for in-wall speakers, uses a similar configuration, and the system for floorstanding and bookshelf speakers uses DC connection plates that also feature speaker terminals.

All three companies point out that their transmitters can be connected to the zone outputs of networked A/V receivers to create a relatively sophisticated multi-room-audio system. Many such AVRs can be controlled via Wi-Fi from any room via tablets and smartphones equipped with the AVR supplier’s remote-control app, the suppliers explained. Consumers can then use the mobile devices from most any room in the house to turn on the AVR and direct the AVR’s music sources to different rooms. One of the AVR’s Internet radio services, for example, can be directed to one zone, music from a networked PC can be directed to another zone, and music from a USB-connected hard drive or iPod can be directed to another zone. Users can also set different volume levels in each zone.

For its part, Navvo is showing working models of an under-TV speaker called V-Base and a soundbar called V-Bar, both incorporating the wireless-audio features of its tabletop $399-suggested V-Spot. The V-Spot, due to ship in October or November in limited quantities, streams music via Wi-Fi from a networked PC or Wi-Fi-equipped mobile device, streams multiple online music services and Internet radio stations, streams YouTube, and plays back music from a USB-connected hard drive or iPod. Up to 10 separate music streams can be sent to 10 V-Spots at a time.

 V-Base and V-Bar will ship in the first quarter, and the company plans to take orders at International CES.

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