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 Multiroom Audio Making Installs Simpler

DENVER — More multiroom-audio and multiroom-A/V systems are using fewer boxes to distribute music and video to multiple rooms of the house.

Exhibitors at CEDIA Expo, being held here this week, are combining multiroom controllers with multichannel amplifiers, tuners, and other components to simplify installations and in some cases deliver low-cost solutions that they hope will broaden the customer base. In many cases, the solutions are taking on the look and functionality of stereo and A/V receivers, though with multizone capabilities.

Crestron and Niles, for example, are expanding their selection of receiver-based multiroom systems incorporating tuners and amplifiers that drive remote speakers (see stories, p. 48). In Crestron’s case, the company is tossing in additional amplifier channels and surround processing to simultaneously power a home theater.

Like Niles, Netstreams is packing controller, amplifiers and tuner (though FM only) in one box in its $2,500–suggested Quartet system, which is also systems and a line of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers.

The multiroom selection includes two-,
four- and six-room DLA speaker selectors controlled by RF remotes and
delivering independent control of volume, mute and on/off from remote rooms. Optional IR receivers or touchpads in the remote rooms will contol all audio sources connected to the speaker selectors.

The company also offers a DH44 multiroom-audio system based on amplified in-wall keypads with 30-watt
amplification and CAT-5 distribution of digital music to the keypads. The keypads also feature local-source input and IR passthrough.

A third product is a four-source, four-zone HD video router delivering video and digital or analog audio over CAT-5.

Elan: The company is expanding its selection of multisource/multizone
A/V controllers to fill in price points between the current entry-level model and top-end model and to offer a good-better-best selection.

The new models, the $2,000-suggested S8.6AV and $1,400-suggested S8.6AVP, are eight-source, six-zone A/V controllers that deliver audio and composite video to each zone. The former comes with integrated 12×40-watt amplifier section to drive six audio zones. The latter lacks amplifiers. Up to four of each model can be linked to deliver audio and video to up to 24 zones. Both are due in October.

The current entry-level S6 is a six-source, six-zone audio-only controller with integrated amplifier. It’s not expandable. The top-end S12 is an 12-source, eight-zone
A/V controller without amp section. It’s expandable to 32 zones and can distribute high-definition component video.

Both new models can be controlled from in-wall volume controls, in-wall keypads and touchscreens, and Elan’s Ole Film-Interactive touchpads.

NetStreams: The company is expanding its multiroom-audio selection with the receiver-based entry-level Quartet, which is the company’s first system that does not use IP technology to transmit control or audio signals. Other NetStreams systems use IP for control and audio, and the current opening-price Musica system uses IP only for control signals when an optional module is added.

At a suggested $2,500, including four packaged in-wall keypads, the Quartet is priced significantly lower then the current opening-price Musica system, whose price ranges from $4,400 to $6,500.

The Quartet, said to be the first entry-level system with whole-house and room-to-room paging, consists of a five-source, four-zone Q4000 “multiroom processor” with integrated FM tuner. It’s packaged with four in-wall double-gang keypads incorporating microphone for push-to-talk paging and controls for source selection and other playback functions. Each keypad can also be connected to a local source via optional Audio Port.

Audio performance in each room can be enhanced through five-band equalization and adjustments for loudness contour and balance.

Russound: The company will announce fourth-quarter shipments of two components in the brand new E series, announced earlier this year and available only to installers certified under the company’s Sphere certification program.

The ACA-E5, with a $5,650 street price, is an eight-zone, 12-source controller/amplifier with embedded AM/FM tuner, optional Sirius and XM satellite-radio modules, optional AM/FM tuners, 16×40-watt amplification, source inputs, doorbell and paging interface, and composite-video switching. Current Russound controller/amps top out at six sources and six zones.

The double-gang KLK-E5 click-wheel keypad at $599 MAPfeatures LCD screen, menu-driven interface, capacitive-touch scroll wheel, hard keys, IR receiver and metadata display.