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Wireless Multiroom Audio Kicks Into Gear

LAS VEGAS – Wi-Fi-based multiroom-audio systems figured prominently in retailers’ fourth-quarter promotions, and it looks like a growing selection of models here at International CES will give dealers even more product choices to include in their next promotions.

Here’s what dealers will find at the show:

Braven: The Bluetooth-speaker maker plans first-quarter availability of its first wireless multiroom-audio speaker system, which is built on CSR’s VibeHub platform.

VibeHub can be used to build wireless speakers, wireless audio adapters, and networked audio amplifiers that simultaneously pull audio content from multiple sources, including computers, digital media servers, and mobile devices and distribute audio around the house via a home Wi-Fi or Ethernet network with low latency. The platform accommodates inputs using Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart with AptX coding. The platform also supports S/PDIF and analog inputs to connect to legacy audio systems and stream their content to other wireless speakers. Multiple sources can be streamed simultaneously to different speakers throughout the house, including sources connected to a speaker via analog input and S/PDIF intput.

CSR’s VibeHub platform encompasses a Vibe Station all-in-one hub/speaker, Vibe Replay speakers for use in additional rooms and as portable Bluetooth speakers; the Vibe Link, which adds VibeHub wireless streaming to legacy audio systems, and the Vibe App for iOS, Android and Windows devices.

The Braven iterations consist of the $199-suggested Vibe Link, $299 Vibe 3200, $399 Vibe 3300, and $349 Vibe 3200m. All are speakers except the Vibe Link, which is a compact product that connects any existing Bluetooth speaker or home audio system to make them part of a Vibe wireless multiroom-audio system. The Braven products lack S/PDIF input.

BSX Audio: The $199 Jookbox creates a proprietary 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network to enable one song to be played on up to 10 JookBox speakers at once or different songs played in different rooms. It also features Bluetooth with NFC pairing.

A free JookBox app for iOS, Android, iWatch and web lets single or multiple users stream music to any JookBox, create jointly curated party playlists, and control JookBox speakers. The app also features online music streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and 8tracks. The speaker also incorporates AirPlay Direct Connect and DLNA.

The 10-watt speaker features two 2.5-inch drivers.

Cabasse: The high-end speaker maker is bringing wireless multiroom-audio products to the U.S. for the first time with the February availability of four products.

The four-channel $800 StreamAmp is the size of a jewelry box and drives two pairs of stereo speakers, four speakers in mono, or through an impedance switch, up to eight Cabasse in-ceiling speakers. Power is 2×50 watts and 4×25 watts per channel.

Also coming are the $900 Stream 1 one-piece tabletop and wall-mountable speaker, the three-piece $1,500 Stream 3 2.1-channel speaker system, and the $500 Stream Source, which connects to existing stereo systems to make it part of a wireless multiroom-audio system. Audio distribution is controlled from iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

Stream products play back WAV, FLAC, WMA, AIFF, AAC, ALAC, MP3 files up to 96kHz/24-bit resolution stored on DLNA servers. They also stream music from vTuner, Deezer and Spotify, USB sticks or USB hard drives, and via Wi-Fi Direct and AptX Bluetooth from a mobile device. They’re also NFC-equipped.

House of Marley: The premium supplier of headphones and Bluetooth speakers is launching its first wireless multiroom-audio speaker, which incorporates Qualcomm’s AllPlay technology and interoperates with other-brand AllPlay speakers.

The new One Foundation, which also features Bluetooth, has built-in Wi- Fi, custom glazed oak wood baffle with magnetic breakaway speaker grilles, pair of 5.25-inch woofers, and 1-inch tweeters.

Navvo: The wireless-multizone-audio company is launching three new products at Caesar’s Palace: the Voco V-Amp, Voco V-Stick and Voco V-Dot speaker.

The V-Amp is the company’s first amplifier/wireless receiver, which connects to passive speaker pairs. It will retail for a suggested $399 for the 2×50- watt version and $599 for the 2×150-watt version.

The V-Stick is the company’s first USB-stick-like receiver that plugs into the HDMI ports of audio products or TVs. It also connects to legacy audio products via analog and digital outputs. It will retail for a targeted suggested retail of around $199 to $249.

The V-Dot tabletop speaker, targeted at around $199 to $249, is like the V-Spot speaker but lacks embedded YouTube.

With multiple Voco products placed around a house, consumers can stream up to 10 different songs simultaneously via Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n from multiple DLNA-equipped networked PCs, network-attached storage (NAS) drives, USB sticks and other USB mass-storage devices, and Wi-Fi-equipped Apple and Android mobile devices.

Voco products also stream Internet radio stations and select music services. Music selection and distribution are controlled from Android and Apple apps, which also deliver voice search to search a music collection for any artist, album or song or search for internet radio stations.

Paradigm: The company is unveiling its first three products incorporating DTS’s Play-Fi wireless multiroom-audio technology. They are two tabletop speakers and one streamer/amp, which will interoperate with other-brand speakers that use Play-Fi, including models from Polk, Definitive Technology, and Wren.

Philips: The brand plans spring shipments of the first Spotify-dedicated wireless multiroom-audio system with the spring launch of the $129 FW-700 speaker and larger two-way $179 FW-750. They are rated at 2×4 watts and 2×10 watts, respectively. The speakers stream only Spotify’s premium service, three months of which are included free. With Spotify, users can store albums in the Cloud for on-demand playback, the company said. One $9.95/month account covers all of a user’s devices.

Samsung: The company is expanding its selection of wireless multiroom-audio speakers to five from three and expanding the number of soundbars with multiroom-audio capability to five. The wireless speakers do double duty as wireless surrounds when paired with the soundbars. The company is using proprietary wireless multiroom-audio technology.