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Thiel Readies Audio Network

By Joseph Palenchar

—Thiel plans April shipments of its first networked-audio system, the Zoet. An upgraded version and upgrades to the first version are planned for sometime later in the year.

With connected music sources Zoet creates a five-zone networked-audio system that simultaneously delivers up to four two-channel audio streams and one multichannel audio stream up to 7.1 channels via a wired Ethernet network and via SST’s Melody Wing wireless 2.4/5.8GHz technology. Five different audio streams can be delivered simultaneously to up to 64 speakers throughout the house.

The system was first demonstrated at the 2008 International CES and has since undergone changes, including the elimination of HomePlug AV powerline-network technology. Pricing hasn’t been announced.

The system’s distribution processor, or brain, is the dB1, which features inputs for audio sources and incorporates Dolby and DTS 5.1- and 6.1-channel decoders and Dolby Pro Logic IIx 7.1-channel decoder. An upgraded dB1 shipping later in 2009 will add HDMI connections and embedded decoding of all authorized Blu-ray surround formats. At that time, owners of a first-generation zoet will be able to add those features to their units via a factory-installed upgrade.

The hub distributes two- and multichannel audio to a 250-watt SCS4D active IP-addressable bookshelf speakers and 500-watt IP-addressable SS1D powered subwoofers.

Each speaker features IR receiver for remote control of central sources. Each speaker in a room would be instructed to play only one of the channels in a two-channel or multichannel stream.

With a planned firmware upgrade targeted for summer availability, the Zoet will stream Internet radio without a PC and stream music stored on a networked PC that incorporates universal plug-and-play or DLNA technology.