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Harman Outlines Multi-Room, Video Plans

NEW YORK — Harman wants to acquire
video-industry suppliers and migrate
Ethernet audio/video bridging
(AVB) networking technology from
its pro sound division to its Harman
Performance AV (HPAV) consumer
group, executive Blake Augsburger
told TWICE.

Augsburger is worldwide president/
CEO of Harman’s professional division,
which includes HPAV, the highend
supplier of Mark Levinson, Revel,
JBL Synthesis and Lexicon consumer
audio equipment. Augsburger is also
Harman’s North America country

Harman’s pro division, he said, is
“looking at the right opportunities” to
acquire a video company in any of four
key video segments: control, servers,
signal conditioners or displays.

Although the division would most
likely buy a pro video company, many
of which also offer consumer gear, the
acquired company’s technology would
likely migrate to HPAV and to Harman
Consumer, which markets the
JBL, Infinity, Harman Kardon and
AKG consumer brands, he said.

Harman is looking for a company that
manufactures, not just markets, video
products, he stressed. “Video is a logical
adjunct market for us,” he added.

In migrating the industry-standardized
Ethernet AVB technology from the
pro division to HPAV, the high-performance
group will bolster its position in
the multi-room-A/V market following
its recent sale of the Audioaccess brand
to Amplifier Technologies (ATI).

The Audioaccess platform, Augsburger
said, had technology limitations
that IEEE 802.1 Ethernet AVB will
overcome when it appears in HPAV
products in calendar 2011.

The Audioaccess multi-room audio
architecture consisted of a multi-room
hub that distributed control and audio
signals to amplified in-wall controllers
via CAT-5. Power was delivered from
the hub to each in-wall controller via a
separate two-conductor cable.

With Ethernet AVB, a standard
promoted by the AVnu
Alliance, Harman pro and
consumer products will take advantage
of AVB’s Ethernet-network
architecture to distribute
audio, control signals and power
over one RJ-45 cable while
eliminating wiring home runs.
The cable would deliver enough
power to operate local 50-80-
watt amplifiers, Augsburger
said. The AVB network can be
shared with a home computer
network, he added.

Ethernet AVB also has the bandwidth
to distribute uncompressed
1080p HD video around the house, and
in single-zone applications, the technology
would eliminate cable clutter by
transporting audio, video and control
signals over one RJ-45 cable, he noted.

Ethernet AVB already appears in select
Harman pro products and will appear
in most new Harman pro products
by June, enabling dealers to create
a complete Ethernet AVB system for
pro sound applications, Augsburger
said. The technology will appear in
HPAV products next year for the residential
market, although dealers might
get a first glimpse at the products during
September’s CEDIA Expo, he said.

Harman’s first residential Ethernet
AVB products will be multi-zone
A/V processors and amps, Augsburger
said. Those products would likely
be designed to connect to Ethernet-
AVB home-control systems that other
home-control companies will offer. “I
expect consumer companies that are involved
in integrated home solutions to
support Ethernet AVB in the future,”
Augsburger told TWICE.

For Harman, it would be
“cost-prohibitive” to bring Ethernet
AVB to the pro industry
alone, Augsburger said of
HPAV’s plans. Harman also
plans to migrate the technology
to its car OEM business,
where the technology will remove
200 pounds of copper
from vehicles, he added.

HPAV’s current multi-room
A/V presence consists mainly
of Revel and JBL in-wall speakers
and two-zone Lexicon and
Levinson preamp processors.

Under Harman, Audioaccess marketed
multi-room-audio and multiroom-
A/V systems, in-wall keypads
and touchscreen controllers, and inwall,
in-ceiling and outdoor speakers.

The AVnu Alliance promotes the
adoption of the IEEE 802.1 AVB standards
over various physical layers for use
in the automotive, consumer electronics
and professional A/V markets. It has
created compliance test procedures and
processes that ensure AVB interoperability
of networked A/V devices.

Members include Broadcom, Cisco,
Harman, Intel, Samsung, Xilinx, Analog
Devices, Applied Micro, Avid, Barco,
Lab X Technologies, Marvell, Meyer
Sound, Peligacore and Shure, which
announced its membership earlier this