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Custom Audio Companies Show Their Cards In Vegas

Although September’s CEDIA show has become the launching pad for most custom-install introductions, the Consumer Electronics Show here had its share of custom product unveilings.

Traditional audio suppliers Rotel and B&K Components, for example, showed their first distributed-audio keypad systems for use with new multizone stereo receivers. New architectural speakers, including models in the emerging high-end sector, also appeared along with home-control, lighting, and intercom systems and other devices.

B&K is targeting first-quarter shipments of its keypad system, shown as a prototype at CEDIA as part of its effort to deliver complete custom solutions to dealers. Initially, the keypads will likely support one-way IR and RS-232 control. The system will ship with a CD-ROM database of manufacturer IR and RS-232 control codes. Down the road, the company hopes to add control of other home subsystems. The keypads feature an LCD screen and soft keys.

The six-zone, six-source system, the company said, may be unique in that it supports the ability to select on/off and control volume from up to 12 keypads.

The system will be able to mate with B&K’s CT series of multizone receivers. The CT310 and CT610 three- and six-zone receivers bundle two AM/FM tuners to allow homeowners to listen to different radio stations in different zones simultaneously. They also have three/six programmable IR inputs and nine programmable IR outputs. Power sections are rated at 2×150 watts and 4×55 watts for the CT310 and 12×55 watts on the CT610.

Prices are $2,798 (CT310) and $3,498 (CT610). They are available now.

Also entering the keypad market was Rotel, which showed the RMZ-1040 four-zone, four-source multiroom controller with a zone-splitting option that enables each zone to serve two additional areas. The system is programmable by an installer or homeowner who, using PC software, can download infrared code sets via the Rotel Web site. The RMZ-1040 is operated by wall-mount keypads with integrated IR receiver or by handheld remote controls. Features include room-to-room paging, the ability to turn on all rooms from any zone, and programmable bass and treble control. An RS-232 port is included. Price is $1,600 for the controller and $400 each for the keypads. Delivery is slated for spring.

Here’s what else dealers found:

Audio Design Associates: The custom pioneer launched the Langella Anniversary series of products to mark the company’s 25th anniversary in custom. The line will include a high-powered 7×450-watt amp and the Cinema Reference preamp, which features a five-knob control interface and an input indicator that displays the number of channels or type of input playing at a given time. It also indicates which inputs and outputs are active.

The unit’s right front panel features an LCD preview monitor that lets users preview inputs before selecting them. The small display also lets consumers bring up the DVD-Audio menu for navigation without having to fire up the entire home theater system. The preamp has on-board bass management to direct full-channel music information to the subwoofer. Prices were unavailable for the amp and preamp, which will ship in January.

ADA also showed the final version of its Sweet 16 multiroom distribution hub, which is designed to handle audio/video components as well as communications, paging and security products.

Audioplex Technology: The company entered the speaker market with two lines of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers that use a ported design to boost bass response at low listening levels. The 8-inch in-wall model boasts a frequency response of 45 Hz-20,000 Hz and has a swiveling tweeter with +/-3 dB adjustment. Available now, the 5.25-inch, 6.5-inch and 8-inch in-walls list for $180, $230 and $265 per pair, respectively. The in-ceiling 5.25-inch and 6.5-inch speakers retail for $170 and $196 per pair.

Audio Products Inc.: The company unveiled two lines of home theater in-wall speakers previewed at CEDIA. They mirror models in its enclosed Mirage and Energy lines.

AuraSound: The IWS-4 in-wall speaker features new Line Source II monopole tweeter with a suggested $199 each. Also on display: the IWS-Micro, which features a “Whisper” driver mounted in a single-gang box with suggested retail of $79.99. Also new: the Cinema Shaker System CSS-1 that combines the Pro Bass Shaker with a 75-Watt Pro Amplifier to cerate a complete Tactile Sensation System with a suggested $249.

RBH: The company took the wraps off the AWS-6 all-weather speaker with 6.5-inch cone woofer and 1-inch dome tweeter, which are housed inside a UV-protected ABS. The supplied bracket allows for either horizontal or vertical positioning. The $350/pair speakers ship in January.

Sonance: In upgrading its C series line of architectural speakers, the company showed five new models. They consist of the rectangular C101 ($125/pair) and C201 ($175/pair), the round in-ceiling CR-101 ($125/pair) and CR-201 ($175/pair), and the SSTR ($95 each), a stereo single speaker that employs a pair of ½-inch cloth dome tweeters and single 6.5-inch dual-voice-coil woofer.

On the electronics side, Sonance showed the ASAPII-SAT 30-watt-per-channel amplifier, previewed at CEDIA. The amplifier uses Sonance’s new module-based Smart Amp design to let custom installers configure an amplifier for different applications by swapping back-panel modules. Modules could include ones for a subwoofer or a balanced-line system. The amp will ship in March at $350. Sonance will also introduce in May the $700 SAT 275, a 2×75-watt amplifier with Smart Amp technology.