Press Release

Product Briefs: Legrand Alexa Voice Control; Kaleidescape Offers NBC Universal 4K Titles; Z-Wave

Keep checking back for CE Pro's brief product and company news in custom electronics.


So many product news items come across the CE Pro desks, and we don't want to miss them. Neither do our readers. This is the place where we tell you what's now shipping, which reps and distributors picked up what new products, which products are newly compatible, how public companies are faring, and other briefs in custom electronics.

June 26, 2017

Legrand, the global manufacturer electrical and digital building infrastructures, announced that its radiant RF Lighting Control and adorne Wi-Fi Ready Lighting systems now work with Amazon Alexa.

Legrand’s adorne and radiant Collections homeowners a selection of wall plates, dimmers and switches, scene controllers, plug-in modules and outlets. The collections enable integrators to offer endless choices of diverse functionality and stylish design to fit every customer’s project and budget.

Owners of these systems and Amazon Alexa-enabled devices can now power and dim lights simply by saying phrases like, “Alexa, dim the living room lights 25 percent,” or “Alexa, turn on the kitchen light.” They no longer need to reach for their phone, tablet or light switch. Using the Groups function within the Alexa app, users can also easily control multiple lights with a single command.

“Amazon Alexa is immensely popular, so we are pleased to make our radiant RF Lighting Control and adorne Wi-Fi Ready Lighting systems compatible with this platform,” says Fritz Werder, vice president and general manager of Legrand’s On-Q and Nuvo lines. “This is another example of how we are living up to our commitment to offer customers the ability to connect with our products simply and in any way that suits their lifestyles and preferences.”

This announcement supports Legrand’s recent launch of its Eliot (Electricity + IoT) program in North America. Eliot is a global Legrand IoT program that brings together the company's global resources to speed the development of Legrand connected devices wherever the Internet of Things can enhance value for all users.

Kaleidescape has announced that NBCUniversal’s 4K HDR movies are now available to its customers. These movies are rendered in the finest audio and video quality available for home cinema, and they can be played on any Kaleidescape Strato or Strato C movie player.

The California home video technology company has licensed NBCUniversal’s catalog of 4K HDR movies, including family favorites such as "The Secret Life of Pets," the latest entry from the "Fast & Furious" action series, including "The Fate of the Furious," and the complete "Bourne" franchise.

Currently there are a total 28 Ultra HD 4K HDR titles available, and 11 of these movies are already in Kaleidescape's Movie Store.

Available titles include:

  • "Everest"
  • "Lucy"
  • "The Secret Life of Pets"
  • "Sing"
  • "Warcraft"
  • "Fate of the Furious"
  • All the "Bourne" titles 

The Z-Wave Alliance, an open consortium of leading global companies deploying the Z-Wave smart home standard, has announced a new growth report for the Z-Wave ecosystem, detailing its latest market achievements.  

The Z-Wave Alliance now includes over 600 member companies and a certified device portfolio that now surpasses 2,100 Z-Wave certified devices.

In 2017, 98 percent of new certifications were Z-Wave Plus with overall Z-Wave Plus certifications making up nearly half of the 2,100 lifetime total. Z-Wave exlains that its Plus solution is an advanced technology platform that enhances the end-user experience, delivers top-levels of security and makes installations even faster and easier to install and set up. 

Since January 2017 over 150 companies globally have joined the Z-Wave Alliance, including August Home, Toshiba Visual Systems, CenturyLink. 

June 23, 2017

MantelMount, a mount manufacturer for flat-screen televisions, has announced an agreement with Volutone, a full-service distribution company.

Volutone will carry two of the newest MantelMount models: the MM540 and MM700 (pro series).  The company will also carry the RB100, an add-on recess box specifically designed for the MM700 that provides the flushest TV-to-wall storage on the market. 

Headquartered in Simi Valley, Calif., Volutone features seven facilities located throughout Southern California and Nevada.  The family-owned and operated company distributes products in multiple categories, including Home Theater, Commercial AV, Networking, Security, Automation and Lighting Control.

 “We’re very pleased to have a company with a stellar reputation like Volutone represent our products,” says KC Bean, CEO, MantelMount.  “Distribution is not just about getting your product into dealers’ hands, it’s spreading the word throughout the industry.  Volutone has the resources to help us gain the kind of name-brand recognition we’re striving to achieve.”

Steinway Lyngdorf has released new software for its P200 processor which adds full support of Dolby Vision, Dolby’s advanced dynamic HDR format. 

The new software release also includes minor bug fixes and feature enhancements that include the wrong lipsync at power on issue fixed, discrete ON/OFF commands for IR, wrong lipsync at power on issue fixed, Control4 SDDP protocol added, and a new full bypass video mode.

Software 2.0.14 is live now and can be downloaded directly from the P200 processor or manually by downloading it through the dealer extranet.

AVAD LLC, a national distributor serving the residential and commercial custom installation markets, has announced a new website that features added enhancements, as well as AVAD’s newly launched logo. The new website, a direct result of feedback from valued AVAD dealers, launched back on April 24, and will include phased enhancements throughout 2017.

To ensure dealers have access to the tools they need to better serve their customers, AVAD invested heavily to create an enhanced website with added features. The new AVAD site includes upgraded searching functionality, access to detailed order history, easy-to-access promotional pricing and custom product recommendations. Designed to provide dealers with a simple, more efficient search, the new site allows dealers to utilize an advanced search functionality with better results and simplified sorting. In addition, dealers can access an extensive order history, displaying 24 months of web, branch and phone orders, as well as shipment tracking or scheduling a pickup at an AVAD Depot location. AVAD’s improved site is the beginning of many digital enhancements as the company continues to invest in tools for residential and commercial custom installation integrators. 

June 22, 2017

AudioControl, manufacturers of high-performance audio solutions for the residential, commercial and automotive markets since 1977 is celebrating 40 years in business.

Back in 1977 the company introduced its first equalizers and signal processors manufactured specifically for home audio applications. 

“Our customers far and wide simply love what we do, and our engineers have a well-deserved reputation for being legends within the audio engineering community—they know a thing or two about creating fine audio products that offer great reliability, performance and value,” explains Alex Camara, CEO, AudioControl.

Back in the analog days, AudioControl's product lineup consisted of specialty audio components that were sold through traditional stereo stores. 

Over four decades, as audio engineering advanced from LP records, tape, CDs, MP3s and beyond, AudioControl has created a legacy of premium home theater and whole-house entertainment products, distributed audio amplifiers for commercial applications, remarkable audio analyzers as well as a revered lineup of outstanding car audio processors, amplifiers and OEM interface solutions sold and installed worldwide by the most qualified professionals.

Today, AudioControl is leveraging the power of advanced technologies to forge ahead with nearly 100 new and exciting audio products. 

June 21, 2017

The U.S. distributor of Rega Research, The Sound Organisation, has announced the availability of gloss-red finishes for the Rega Planar 2 and Planar 3 turntables. 

Selling for $945 without a cartridge or $1,145 with a prefitted Elys 2 moving magnet (MM) cartridge, the Planar 3 and Planar 2 ($675 with installed Carbon MM cartridge) represent more than two years of research and development by the U.K.-based consumer electronics company. 

June 20, 2017

The video entertainment equipment manufacturer Kaleidescape has announced the addition of concerts and music documentaries from Eagle Rock Entertainment to its Music Store. Eagle Rock's catalog includes concerts by Katy Perry, Monty Python, Peter Gabriel, The Rolling Stones, Dream Theater and Queen.

Kaleiscape explains that concerts have been among the most frequently requested content since it opened the Kaleidescape Movie Store. Over 50 Blu-ray quality Eagle Rock concerts and documentaries across a wide array of genres are now available in the Movie Store, and Kaleidescape says it has plans to double that number in the coming months.

Catalyst AV Distribution has announced that it will carry the new eero and eero Beacon customizable wireless networking products.

"eero is one of the most reliable products in the category and should be purchased through the most reliable distribution network, that is why Catalyst AV members were chosen to launch eero in the USA," says Helge Fischer, executive director, Catalyst AV. 

The eero Beacon is the company's latest wireless networking solution, and Catalyst points out the product is a small footprint wireless access point (WAP).

June 19, 2017

Sony announced pricing and availability details for its 77-inch A1E BRAVIA OLED 4K HDR TV. The 77-inch Sony XBR-77A1E BRAVIA OLED is priced at $20,000 MSRP. Pre-sales have begun, and delivery/in-store sales from authorized dealers nationwide will begin in late July.

The XBR-A1E delivers a 4K HDR experience with the superior picture quality and absolute black levels of OLED and the power of Sony’s 4K HDR Processor X1TM Extreme, which extends the capability of OLED to deliver a quality 4K HDR picture. Like the 55-inch and 65-inch models, the 77-inch BRAVIA OLED features the world’s first Acoustic Surface technology, making the screen the speaker, and an edge-to-edge stand-less form factor. 

June 13, 2017

The high-performance consumer audio company Audio Research has announced a limited, special-promotion trade-in incentive program. 

For a limited time, the Minneapolis, Minn.-based manufacturer offering qualified Audio Research amplifier, preamplifier and phono preamplifier owners the ability to trade their old gear in for the purchase of new Audio Research components. 

The program runs from June 15 to July 31 with participating U.S. dealers, and list of eligible components can be found on the company's website. 

"We are very excited to provide owners with older audio equipment the opportunity to upgrade to newer models with the latest product features and enhancements," says David Onan, CEO and president of Audio Research. "With over 115 qualifying models, audiophiles and music lovers alike can take advantage of this special offer. This program offers a win-win situation for consumers, dealers and Audio Research. Consumers can upgrade to the newest ARC [Audio Research products; dealers can can provide additional support and knowledge to new customers and Audio Research can provide support to both with lasting residual value after the purchase. The fact that we can offer up to 75 percent of the original MSRP value is a testament to our produts and their ability to retain high value on the secondary market as well."

June 12, 2017

AVAD LLC, a national distributor serving the residential and commercial custom installation markets, has launched new promotions and incentives for the upcoming Chicago Vendopalooza on Wednesday, June 21, at the Elk Grove Village, Ill., branch.

In addition, AVAD has announced Bob Stern as market account manager for Chicago. Stern will be based out of the Elk Grove Village branch, where he will be responsible for day-to-day operation and management of sales staff.

The upcoming Chicago Vendopalooza on June 21 will include more door prizes and raffles worth more than $10,000 in giveaways for dealers attending the event. Multiple raffle winners will be announced every two hours during the event for great door prizes, including a 65-inch Samsung TV, Denon and Marantz receivers, subwoofers, speakers, networking gear and gift cards.

The event will feature four classes of vendor training, free lunch and other discounts and promotions. 

“We are happy to announce a new lineup of prizes and promotions for our upcoming Chicago Vendopalooza,” says Seth Evenson, director of customer experience management, AVAD. “We invite all of our local Chicago dealers to come out and join us for a great event with expert-level training and superior prizes. Those attending the event will also have the opportunity to meet our new Market Account Manager, Bob Stern, as well.”

Dealers can also mark their calendar for the next Vendopalooza events on July 11 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and July 21 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Seymour-Screen Excellence has provided 10 of its high contrast, 16K ambient light-rejecting film screens for Vivitek Corporation to use at its InfoComm 2017 booth (#4443).  Positioned about 10-feet off the floor, the Seymour-Screen Excellence’s Ambient-Visionaire Black 1.2 screens will aid Vivitek's latest commercial and residential projector demonstrations during the annual trade event.

The material absorbs 90 percent of ambient light through a design in which the surface, which is comprised of billions of nano-mirrors, dithered at the desired viewing angle, and layered so that side light from any direction will be absorbed by carbon particles and the substrate.

DVDO, Inc., a provider of ultra high-definition (UHD) video image processing, switching and connectivity solutions, has announced the inclusion of its proprietary video image processor in new MirageVision outdoor television systems. 

MirageVision is a developer of ultra high-definition outdoor televisions that are weather-sealed and calibrated for reliability in a range of climate conditions.

Some of the applications in which the products are used include sports stadiums, resorts, zoos, yachts, sports bars, and thousands of backyard homeowners. 

Optimized for the outdoors, the products employ Mega Picture Enhancement Technology (MPET) calibration process, which has resulted with the MirageVision Video/Image Processor (MVVP) that enhances picture quality under the peak luminance of high-noon outdoor situations. 

"Since most streaming content is still 1080p resolution or below, the technology built into DVDO's proprietary processor is exactly what consumers need to ensure their 4K TV displays brilliant UHD content, even in the toughest situations and environments," says Doug Fealtman, CEO of DVDO, Inc. "Your top of the line television is only as good as the signal it's receiving. By adding our processing technology to MirageVision Outdoor Televisions, consumers get to fully realize their investment by enjoying the highest picture quality available."

June 9, 2017

Sound United—parent company to several popular audio brands in the consumer market, has announced that Denon, Marantz, Polk Audio, HEOS, and Definitive Technology will support Apple's AirPlay 2 protocol, which debuted at Apple's 2017 WWDC event.  Initial offerings will include A/V receivers and Hi-Fi products with other product categories to follow. 

PS Audio, has announced availability of its Huron Operating System upgrade for the DirectStream and DSJ DACs. Since the release of the Torreys OS last year, Ted Smith has worked to not just improve sonic and measured  performance of both DACs, but to also prepare the Bridge II network card for MQA and Tidal. The Huron OS for both DACs will soon be followed by a new OS for the Bridge II.

The Bridge II network card is optional on the DirectStream, and is standard with the DSJ. Bridge II allows a wide range of streaming and network options, including Roon. The Huron OS on DS and DSJ will not by itself provide MQA and Tidal capability, but Huron is required for use with the forthcoming new Bridge II OS. The combination of the two new operating systems will allow full unfold of MQA up to 192 kHz, and complete applicability of streaming service Tidal.

June 8, 2017

AVAD LLC, a national provider of solutions for the residential and commercial custom installation markets, has announced a partnership with Séura to include Séura’s outdoor televisions, including the Storm and Storm Ultra Bright, to AVAD’s expanding line card.

Séura Storm and Storm Ultra Bright combine modern industrial designs with advanced outdoor imaging technologies to deliver 4K UHD picture clarity to any outdoor entertainment experience.

The outdoor displays feature Seura's Triple Lock Seal™ weatherproofing technology to protoect the products from the elements, and at 2.7 inches in total thickness, the Storm televisions represent the sleekest outdoor televisions in the industry.

In addition, Séura's Storm Ultra Bright televisions are only 3.7 inches deep to provide nearly the same level of aesthetic value.

“Partnering with AVAD to distribute Outdoor TVs and Indoor Waterproof TVs is an exciting opportunity to bring the Séura brand to more dealers throughout North America,” says Séura vice president of sales and marketing Keegan Coulter. “The outdoor living and design technology markets continue to grow and Séura’s partnership with AVAD will provide integrators additional opportunities to deliver more unique and design-forward video experiences inside and outside the home.”

Other Séura technologies include the company's Adaptive Picture Technology, which automatically adjusts multiple picture settings as lighting conditions change throughout the day and into the night to ensure the best outdoor viewing experience. Adaptive Picture Technology gradually adapts to outdoor lighting with 110 unique picture mode variations for a smooth transition from bright sunlight to soft moonlight. 

TiO, the Florida-based provider of home automation products, has announced a partnership with the Fla.-based custom home builder ABD Development.

Since the 1980s ABD Development has earned a reputation as Central Florida's leading custom builder of luxury homes, setting trends and standards in the home building industry and crafting a legacy of award winning excellence as one of Orlando’s most prestigious neighborhoods. 

TiO’s partnership with ABD will include a basic system from TiO with additional levels of upgrade available for those looking to expand their system. With TiO, it’s simple to add more components or upgrade lighting and audio, and users will be able create a TiO system that fits their lifestyle.

“We’re pleased to be working with such a recognized builder in Orlando,” says Sanjay Patel, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of TiO. “With the growing trend of homebuyers looking for move-in ready homes with automation, it’s great to see many builders understanding the value and investment in automation. We look forward to working with ABD and growing our list of builder partners.”

June 7, 2017

Eurofins Digital Testing, an end-to-end quality assurance (QA) and testing services, has announced that LG Electronics and MStar have committed to Eurofins’ 4K HDR Ultra HD logo technical requirements in their forthcoming products.

Eurofins Digital Testing’s logo scheme identifies devices that have been fully tested and proven to deliver the highest picture quality currently available, including High Dynamic Range (HDR), Ultra-High Definition (UHD) and Wide Color Gamut (WCG) simultaneously, from broadcast and broadband sources, as well as HDMI. Beginning later this year, applicable models of LG Electronics’ TVs will carry the logo, and feature the latest generation of 4K HDR Ultra HD display. MStar will use the test materials in development of their latest SoC components, to better enable their customers to support HDR in end-devices. Eurofins Digital Testing’s logo ensures that LG Electronics’ and MStar’s next-generation of UHD HDR screens will be easily recognizable in the marketplace.

“LG is a global force in the TV industry, and we are proud to be the first manufacturer to carry Eurofins’ 4K HDR Ultra HD logo on a range of our next-gen TVs,” says SY LEE, head of TV product planning team at the LG Home Entertainment Company, LG Electronics. “The logo will make it easy for consumers to identify those TVs that receive and display HDR, UHD content – resulting in a significantly better viewing experience.”

OPPO Digital announced that its UDP-203/UDP-205 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players will receive firmware upgrades that enables Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) compatibility.

Back in December 2016 and April 2017 respectively, the OPPO UDP-203 and UDP-205 have won numerous awards from consumer and industry publications for their excellent picture quality. This new firmware makes the OPPO UDP-203 and UDP-205 the first Blu-ray disc players to support Dolby Vision to enable the players to deliver state-of-the-art images.

Dolby Vision delivers greater brightness and contrast, as well as a fuller palette of rich colors. Dolby Vision is the preferred HDR mastering workflow for major studios and a growing number of creative professionals, so consumers will have access to more of what they want to watch in HDR, including a robust portfolio of movies and episodic content. 

The OPPO UDP-203 and UDP-205 support the playback of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs as well as regular Blu-ray and DVD. Offering a resolution of up to 3840 x 2160 pixels, UHD Blu-ray delivers four times the pixels of regular Blu-ray. Prior to the Dolby Vision upgrade, the UDP-203/205 already supported HDR10 (High Dynamic Range) and Wide Color Gamut. With the addition of Dolby Vision, the players further transform the home theater experience by delivering brilliant colors, vivid white levels and deep black levels. 

“The addition of the OPPO Blu-ray player to the Dolby Vision ecosystem is a major milestone that will provide expanded choice and accessibility for consumers,” says Roland Vlaicu, vice president, consumer entertainment group, Dolby Laboratories. “With Ultra HD Blu-ray, we are able to scale faster to meet the growing demand for Dolby Vision content globally.”

June 6, 2017

DTS, a high-definition audio solutions and a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corporation, has announced the world’s first DTS Virtual:X-ready products will be launching in the market this summer. DTS Virtual:X technology can be implemented in a variety of products to provide an immersive sound experience without the need for additional speakers.

“Our mission at DTS is to make the world sound better and deliver premium audio solutions to our partners and consumers,” says Joanna Skrdlant, general manager, home audio at Xperi. “With the introduction of DTS Virtual:X technology, listeners can enjoy height and surround sound with simply a sound bar, making it more accessible and affordable than ever to experience the benefits of immersive audio at home.”

DTS Virtual:X technology supports any input source from stereo to a 7.1.4 layout (11.1 channels), and is optimized to work with all DTS codecs, including the flagship DTS:X. For legacy content, an efficient upmixer is included to provide a natural, immersive experience. The flexibility of its architecture enables product manufacturers to utilize one or more features concurrently, including Virtual Height, Virtual Surround, Bass Enhancement and Multiband Hard Limiter. 

The first release being with the Yamaha YAS-207 soundbar in early July 2017 with the DTS Virtual:X firmware update coming in August. 

The Media Networking Alliance (MNA) will demonstrate  AES67 interoperability at InfoComm in booth – #5991.  –The live demonstration of AES67 interoperability features the integration of multiple, different networked audio systems, and the MNA says the demo is directly analogous to practical real-world AoIP networking applications.

Three racks of networked audio devices, running Dante, Livewire and Q-LAN respectively to correspond to a typical performance venue, theater or another networking scenario with a Dante based FOH (front of house) and stage monitoring solution in the auditorium, a Q-SYS based installation providing extended distribution of the audio feed throughout the wider venue, and an in-house recording / broadcast and post production facility, operating on Livewire+.

AoIP networking specialists from MNA member companies will staff the booth throughput the duration of the show, to provide one-on-one ‘walk-throughs’ and demonstrations.

June 2, 2017

One Firefly, LLC has launched Automation Unplugged, a weekly interview series that will feature live insights with leaders and influencers in the industry. Hosted by Ron Callis, CEO and founder of One Firefly, the series will broadcast every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time through Facebook Live.

“We created Automation Unplugged with the goal of providing an easily accessible, visually appealing medium for industry leaders to share valuable insights into our ever-evolving industry,” remarks Callis. “At the same time, we wanted to create something that is also light-hearted and entertaining.”

The series, which officially launched in April of 2017, has already featured industry veterans such as Paul Starkey of Bravas Group, Nathan Holmes of Access Networks, Ted Bremekamp of ETC, and David Weinstein of Lutron Electronics. In the coming weeks, Callis will be interviewing Tim Albright of AVNation, Andy Orozco of ProSource Buying Group, and other industry experts.

Interested viewers can be notified of upcoming interviews by subscribing to the One Firefly Facebook page. All episodes of Automation Unplugged are archived and can be streamed at a later date through One Firefly’s website.

June 1, 2017

KEF has announced a partnership with TIDAL, the global music and entertainment streaming platform, and the integration of TIDAL into its LS50W app. 

KEF states the LS50W’s ability to accurately playback all types of audio content will be complemented by TIDAL’s streaming of detailed, uncompressed, lossless streaming music files.

The global speaker company points out that unlike other streaming services, TIDAL provides more options for music lovers and it emphasizes that TIDAL shares its dedication to high-resolution sound. 

TIDAL is now available in the navigation drawer of the LS50W app after a simple app update. Users with a TIDAL subscription need only to tap on TIDAL and log in to begin enjoying TIDAL's services with their LS50Ws.

StreamUnlimited and Google continue their close collaboration, developed through implementation and certification of Chromecast built-in, with the native implementation of the Google Assistant into the StreamSDK ecosystem. Streamunlimited states that when StreamSDK is combined with Chromecast built-in enabled products, consumers can operate entire music playback services through voice commands.

“We enjoy working closely with the Google teams for both Chromecast built-in and the Google Assistant, delivering both features within the StreamSDK portfolio to our brand customers. This integration partnership enables our customers to access a high-level support network and therefore to bring these features to market in an efficient way, within the minimum possible timeframe.” says Markus Rutz, CTO of StreamUnlimited.

Over the coming months, DEWALT will launch a fully connected system, including WiFi mesh network, and later an Internet of Things platform to help increase productivity, profitability, and safety on the jobsite.

After extensive research, DEWALT identified an increase in digital dependency in the construction field, and in turn an unmet need for reliable connectivity and asset management across the jobsite. 

DEWALT’s upcoming WiFi mesh technology provides trade professionals ruggedized access points built that withstand the harsh and variable conditions of a construction jobsite. DEWALT WiFi enables general and trade contractors to collaborate in real-time across large-scale jobsites and to easily access critical site information such as prints, schedules, budgets and RFIs.

“DEWALT understands how vital the building and construction industries are to local and global economies,” says Tony Nicolaidis, vice president of marketing for connected systems, DEWALT. “Leveraging technology, our goal is to provide solutions for gathering in-depth jobsite data for better decision-making by general contractors and trade contractors, thus enhancing productivity and safety.”

According to the company, the WiFi solution is the beginning and foundation of an entire end-to-end solution. DEWALT will also offer an IoT platform, enabling contractors to understand the location and utilization of assets and data on site. As an initial offering, the DEWALT Tool Connect inventory management system is one component of total asset management. This will become part of the larger digital platform providing critical data to inform decision-making.

May 31, 2017

THX, a provider of superior audio-visual experiences, has partnered with ODG (Osterhout Design Group), which is a developer of augmented, virtual and mixed reality smartglasses, to pave the way for a new experience in headworn devices. The foundation of the partnership is the new THX Virtual Cinema Display Certification program, which ensures a best-in-class viewing experience for augmented and virtual reality wearable devices.  
The ODG R-9 smartglasses will become the first THX certified product in the program, and THX says the product will set the standard for display excellence for future headworn certifications. THX also states the ODG R-9's certification will ensure any future devices that are certified are calibrated to the same color and resolution standards that are used in professional Hollywood studios.  
"Augmented reality is the future of audio and visual advancement," explains Bill Rusitzky, CRO of THX Ltd. "We chose to partner with ODG to certify their product's best-in-class cinematic experience because we are dedicated to establishing high standards in next-generation technologies, as we have achieved with existing technologies over the past 30 years. We are excited to continue this commitment to consumers, and come together with ODG to deliver premium AV experiences in a very new way."
R-9 is based on ODG's 50-degree FOV, equivalent to looking at a 100-inch cinematic screen 8 feet away. THX points out the R-9 is a fully loaded, self-contained computer with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 1080p stereo display resolution.

The R-9s target a variety of wide field of view experiences from light enterprise to prosumer media consumption. The R-9 is also a development platform for sophisticated mobile mixed reality and smartglasses applications. THX tests for color accuracy, video processing, grayscale quality and visual geometry to ensure the perfect viewing experience. THX certification also guarantees smooth video playback without stuttering or motion artifacts, which might disrupt the truthful expression of the artist's original vision.

May 30, 2017

Bluebird Music has announced it has been appointed North American distributor for SME Limited effective immediately. 

Founded in 1946 SME has more than 10 million tonearms sold worldwide, and it is known for its no compromise passion for engineering perfection and extreme attention to detail. 

SME products feature precision engineered construction, extensional damping of major surfaces and vibration free moving parts.  SME says that its turntables deliver broad dynamic range and pitch stability, exceptional detail and resolution, superior tonal neutrality and the ability to more closely reproduce the sound of the original studio master tape.

In August 2016 SME was purchased by the Cadence Group, and its analog audio products are available through its limited distribution network.

"SME is the most iconic name in tonearm and turntable engineering and epitomizes the very best of British engineering. Combining innovation with meticulous manufacturing and attention to detail has made SME a market leader for decades. With increased investment allowing for new product development, the company will build on its legacy of designing and manufacturing the best tonearms and turntables in the world," states Stuart McNeilis, CEO, SME.

Lenbrook, developers of the BluOS music operating system and parent company of Bluesound and NAD Electronics, has announced a partnership with URC. 

In addition to its new partnership with URC, Lenbrook has also announced its first two-way BluOS control module for integration with the URC Total Control system. 

The new driver allows users to seamlessly control music playback from URC Total Control interfaces, including the new TDC-7100 Tabletop Touchscreen Controller and TKP-7600 In-Wall Touchscreen, TRC-1080 and TRC-820 Handheld Remotes, Total Control Mobile Apps and more.

“We’re happy to see the forward movement of our integration with the URC Total Control system,” said Ted Wiles, BluOS Product Manager at Lenbrook. “This first driver represents a toe in the water as far as our partnership with URC goes. More importantly, it demonstrates our commitment to the custom installation market as we continue to add control partners to our platform.”

Some of the functions available through the two-way control module include:

  • Playback controls: play, pause, skip tracks
  • Volume Controls: up and down
  • Now Playing Screen: full metadata with album cover art
  • Play Queue Display: current, previous, and next track
  • Preset Selection: select and load presets

The Texas-based projection screen manufacturer Screen Innovations (SI) has produced an educational video demonstrating the effectiviness of its ambient light rejecting screen technologies. 

SI explains in the video how its Black Diamond, Slate and Short Throw materials reject ambient room light, and it emphasizes its leadership position in the product category. 

The video can be seen here

ZVOX announces it has set up a direct-distribution website for retailers and integrators to purchase the company's SoundBase and SoundBar home theater systems. Orders can be placed directly on the website for shipment to the retailer/integrator – or directly to a job site. There is no minimum order size, so an integrator can order as little as one soundbar. Integrators and brick-and-mortar retailers can inquire about the direct distribution program by emailing [email protected] or calling 866-367-9869.

May 24, 2017

Onkyo hase announced built-in Google Chromecast capabilities that are enabled as a software upgrade that include products from its Onkyo and Pioneer brands.

Working in partnership with StreamUnlimited, Onkyo will deliver Google Chromecast built-in via the StreamSDK software solution to both new and existing customers for audio and home theater.

“We are extremely proud to continue our partnership with Onkyo in enabling their Google Chromecast
built-in upgrade, which will further enhance the experience for their consumers in streaming and
multiroom audio” says Frits Wittgrefe, CEO, StreamUnlimited. “StreamSDK has powered Onkyo
products since our collaboration began in 2015, and we are eager to see consumers join countless others in embracing this technology.”

Lenbrook and Bluesound have announced the release of BluOS 2.12.  Bluesound explains this new version of BluOS includes numerous improvements to the operating system and app interface that include a new way to browse, sort and filter music, as well as quick and easy access to exclusive TIDAL music inside the app, and the ability to import iTunes playlists from a shared music library stored on a laptop or PC.

Lenbrook and Bluesound explain for integrators to update their clients' systems to BluOS 2.12 all that needs to be done is to follow the directions within the app when prompted.

May 23, 2017

CasaTunes, a manufacturer of streaming multiroom music solutions, has announced its call to Muslim Prayer feature (Adhan).  Available on both theCasaTunes Music Server and its DIY musicBox 6, Muslim Prayer support is a feature that gives customers the option to schedule and customize call to prayers.

The audio manufacturer says that when it is time to pray, CasaTunes stops the current music, and begins playing the call to pray. Once the call to pray is completed, CasaTunes resumes playing what was previously playing, all without any user intervention.

The Danish speaker company DALI Loudspeakers and Canada-based Lenbrook International, announced a worldwide partnership in which DALI will offer the BluOS high-resolution multiroom platform as an extension of its upcoming wireless speaker solution, which it will soon unveil.

The announcement marks DALI’s entrance into the growing multiroom streaming category, and it expands the reach of Lenbrook's BluOS operating system.

“There is a growing list and wide variety of wireless multi-room audio solutions that loudspeaker companies can choose to develop on,” stated Lars Worre, managing director, DALI Loudspeakers. “Our team reviewed the options and our performance values led us to the BluOS platform, which has earned an enviable reputation as a world leader in this space. For DALI this is a strong pathway for our future roadmap and it provides increased flexibility for discerning audio customers around the world.”

Gordon Simmonds, CEO, Lenbrook Corp., says the adoption of BluOS by DALI is an important milestone for the company.

“DALI is a highly respected company with 34 years of unwavering dedication to its pursuit of audio performance,” notes Simmonds. “Given our roots in high fidelity audio, we simply will not allow computer technology companies to convince users that compressed audio is true hi-fi when we know it is not true hi-fi. Therefore, DALI’s decision to join the BluOS ecosystem is another important signal to the world that convenient and modern access to high resolution audio matters, and BluOS is the platform of choice for this ambitious task.”

The Canadian audio manufacturer Bryston has announced a new USB upgrade for its SP-3 Surround Processor. 

Bryston says its new factory USB module supports stereo PCM 24-bit/192kHz and DSD native/64/128. 

The company explains it offers these upgrade options:

  • SP-3 with version 2, 3, 4 or 5 main circuit board provide upgrade options, as well as surround modes PCM 24/192 ($600)
  • SP-3 with version 2, 3 or 4 main board upgrade to stereo, plus surround modes PCM 24/192, and stereo DSP ($1,000)
  • SP-3 with version 2, 3 or 4 main board replaced with version 5 main board that's upgradeable to streo plus surround modes for PCM 24/192, as well as stereo plus surround modes for DSD ($1,500)
  • SP-3 with version 5 main baord that is upgradeable to stereo plus surround modes PCM 24/192, as well as stereo, plus surround modes for ($600)

Honeywell Total Connect Remote Services has expanded its support to include the new SkyBell Trim Pro high-definition smart video doorbells. SkyBell Trim Pro is designed for installation in narrow spaces where round doorbells may be too wide. It is an ideal replacement for traditional doorbells installed on narrow door trim.

Through the Honeywell Total Connect iOS app homeowners can see, hear and speak to visitors at the door directly using their smartphone or tablet. Additional app capabilities include arming/disarming and lock/unlocking the premises through one screen, while being able to see and communicate with a visitor during the process. The app can also send iOS push notifications and email notifications, providing homeowners with greater visibility and control over their home security.

SkyBell HD and Trim Pro smart video doorbells offer full color night vision, two-way audio, motion sensor detection with capabilities to alert when visitors are present, and live video with its “always on” feature.

Honeywell Total Connect Remote Services provides real-time messaging and alerts so homeowners can monitor their security systems from any location. For dealers offering remote services, it helps to increase RMR.

May 18, 2017

The N.H.-based whole-house audio manufacturer Russound, has announced its XStream series of streaming audio models are now fully compatible with the URC Total Control premium home automation and control system.

Through the compatibility Russound Certified Installers now have the option to add control of XStream streaming audio products to new or existing URC Total Control systems.

“One of our goals for XStream is to have it be compatible with the biggest names in control,” says Charlie Porritt, CEO, Russound. “Seamless integration of Russound XStream products with URC products gives our installers a lucrative new option when specifying our products for both new and existing whole-house audio systems.”

Russound’s XStream lineup includes the XZone4 single-box/four-zone streaming solution, XSource streaming audio player, and the 70 volt XZone70V streaming mixer amplifier.

May 16, 2017

VIZIO, Inc., has announced a new firmware update that enables HDR10 streaming on its SmartCast E-Series Ultra HD High Dynamic Range Home Theater Display models.

The large TV manufacturer says the firmware update provides consumers with access to HDR content through popular apps like Netflix, Vudu and FandangoNOW1.

E-Series Ultra HD HDR models receiving HDR10 streaming abilities range from the 55-inch class size and above and are available from a variety of dealers.

In addition, the update adds new convenience features, giving SmartCast users quick access to an on-screen side bar menu for easy control of picture settings right on the display.  

May 12, 2017

THX, the company formed to deliver legendary filmmaker George Lucas’s vision for high performance cinema and studio design, acoustics and hardware performance, has certified both StreamSDK and Stream810 hardware from StreamUnlimited. This certification enables manufacturers to include the internationally recognized performance standard within the products that utilize the Stream810 or StreamSDK products.

The flagship Stream810, designed by StreamUnlimited, is a premium platform available in several configurations and certified for numerous voice and music services, along with high performance audio formats, including MQA and DSD. The acquisition of THX certification further enhances the platform’s ability to assist brand manufacturers in developing audio products that improve consumer listening and home theatre experiences beyond measure.

May 10, 2017

Skywalker AV Supply, a nationwide distributor serving the custom integration industry, has announced an agreement with Luma Home to distribute its products.

Luma is a new line of mesh-networking routers designed to simplify residential and commercial Wi-Fi

systems. Skywalker has brought on Luma so that installers can use their expertise to create the perfect, personalized Wi-Fi network for just about any customer. T

“Traditional systems use one central router to provide Wi-Fi throughout the home or office which can incur dead spots,” says Craig Perreault, vice president of business development, Skywalker AV Supply. “The idea of mesh-networking is that you spread the bandwidth evenly by using several router hubs that are placed around the area. The product is easy to use and very intuitive”.

VIZIO, Inc., announced that popular networks from Turner, including TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network, will be the first TV networks to be integrated into its VIZIO SmartCast Mobile. This app is available for download for iOS and Android, and VIZIO says that it seamlessly transforms mobile devices into powerful touchscreen remotes. TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network will join VIZIO SmartCast-enabled apps like Fandango NOW, Google Play Movies & TV, Hulu, Vudu and XUMO, allowing consumers to search for content and stream shows from their mobile devices to their VIZIO SmartCast displays. Consumers can control their VIZIO SmartCast devices from any room in the home using VIZIO SmartCast Mobile.

“The integration of TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network into VIZIO SmartCast Mobile equates to an added level of convenience for consumers,” says Matt McRae, chief technology officer, VIZIO.  “The partnership with Turner allows popular network content to be infused directly into the SmartCast experience, allowing consumers to easily browse content catalogs before deciding on content to cast to the big screen.” 

May 9, 2017

TiO, the Florida-based provider of home automation products, has announced a partnership with Maddyn Homes to include TiO in Maddyn Village, one of the first subdivisions in Idaho to combine high-performance building techniques with solar and smart-home components.

Maddyn Homes has created Maddyn Village to provide homebuyers with green homes in a new, self-sustaining community. Each home in Maddyn Village will include a basic system from TiO with additional levels of upgrade available for those looking to expand their system. Homeowners will be able to add more components or upgrade lighting and audio, and users will be able create a TiO system that fits their lifestyle. In addition, TiO will be available to Maddyn Homes’ custom home clients as an additional feature to add on.

“With Maddyn Village, we wanted to provide a sizeable, high performance house at a price point where homebuyers aren’t generally receiving those upgrades,” says Kyle Enzler, president and owner of Maddyn Homes. “Many of our homebuyers are looking for a move-in ready home with all of the bells and whistles integrated. With TiO, our potential homebuyers are able to see the power of home automation and, at the same time, it ties in with everything we’re doing on the high-performance and energy side, which can’t always be seen. Users will be able to cut back on their energy costs with TiO, allowing them to control their lighting, thermostat and more whether they’re home or away.”

Simply Reliable has released “Digital Proposals” feature in SmartOFFICE, the Enterprise online software for trades based small businesses, as part of its latest update.  

Whether a company's primary focus is residential, commercial, I.T., security, electrical, Simply Reliable says SmartOFFICE can assist a business in improving in improving its efficiency and profitability by creating processes that connect everyone in your organization.

“Digital Proposals provide an online experience for the Integrator’s prospects and clients” states Tom Coffin, president/CEO, Simply Reliable. “It is a whole new way to interact with the prospect.  Not only do Digital Proposals provide beautiful graphics and a modern way to view, present and accept proposals, we’ve added an easy way to add personalized videos as part of the proposal presentation.”

The Digital Proposal feature is included free with a SmartOFFICE subscription.  Simply Reliable points out that dealers' software packages can be customized to provide a tight branding connection with their brands.  

SmartOFFICE is sold in Editions starting at $40 per month, and Simply Reliable offers a free 30-day trial version.  

Capitol, a national distribution source for residential systems and light commercial contractors, is now shipping its new house brand of Ultra HD/4K Premium HDMI cables.

The new cable, which includes Capitol branding on the jacket and connector, provides integrators with a new HDMI cable choice at affordable price point.

“With 4K the de-facto standard in new TV sales, premium HDMI cables are a necessity with every purchase, both on the sales floor and in-home during custom installations,” says Curt Hayes, president and CFO, Capitol. “The HDMI Premium Certification Program set a new standard for the state-of-the-art in specifications for current products, and we are out to set a similar standard for value and reliability with any cable baring the Capitol logo.”

CasaTunes, a manufacturer of streaming multiroom music solutions, is integrating Amazon Alexa voice control via Amazon's Echo, Tap and Dot devices.  Available on both CasaTunes and the DIY musicBox 6 music servers, homeowners can now control the volume, muting, turning rooms on and off, sharing music in the home, and playing music using voice commands. The CasaTunes Skill for Alexa includes support for all transport commands, including play, pause, next track, previous track, shuffle and repeat. Homeowners can ask Alexa what is playing in a room, and schedule an alarm or fall asleep to music.

“At CasaTunes, we have been working on providing a robust voice control solution, based on the Alexa voice service, to existing and prospective CasaTunes and musicBox 6 homeowners.   With the growing popularity of voice based control systems, homeowners are looking for products that include voice control,” says David Krinker, president with CasaTunes. “At less than $50, the Amazon Echo Dot is an excellent alternative to keypads in the home.  We expect customers will deploy these devices throughout their home, and use these, along with the CasaTunes and musicBox 6 Apps to control their music.”

The Alexa Skill for CasaTunes and the musicBox 6, is currently in Beta, and CasaTunes says it expects that in late May 2017 the voice control option should be available. 

CasaTunes adds the Alexa skill is a free upgrade for all existing CasaTunes and musicBox 6 systems.

On Thursday, May 18 at 4 p.m. EST, CEDIA’s director of technical curriculum David Meyer and SDVoE Alliance president Justin Kennington will present an educational webinar titled "The Essential Download on AV over IP."

AV distribution over Ethernet continues to evolve and is now reaching the pivot point where benefits may far outweigh the compromises. This webinar will address the questions: What are the options available? What are the pros and cons of the different approaches? Will AV over IP really take over from the matrix switch as the go-to residential solution?

“CEDIA is renown for the depth, breadth and quality of its training and education programs,” states Kennington. “Our industry is hungry for AV-over-IP standards and education and that is a central mission of the SDVoE Alliance, so I am thrilled to be working with CEDIA to help clear up some of the confusion.”

Registration for the webinar is in the events section of the CEDIA website.

Azione Unlimited (AU), an education and buying group for custom retailers and integrators, has launched a Slack channel exclusively for Azione partners. The national buying group says its new initiative "perfectly embodies" its mantra, which it says is to share, trust and prosper.

The channel connects Azione vendors and members to promote the exchange of information, ideas, business tips and more. Azione says that by using this dedicated channel, integrator and manufacturer members can ask questions, discuss issues openly, and gain valuable insights from other dealers. 

“Through our Slack channel, our integrator and manufacturer members can share ideas and get to know each other better, further strengthening the bonds of the Azione family,” says Richard Glikes, chairman Azione Unlimited. “But with the information and knowledge we’ve provided, we’re confident our members and vendor partners will use Slack not just to stay up-to-date on Azione news and information, but to streamline communications and project management within their own organizations.” 

Azione adds that its partners will gain valuable insight into how specific products are performing in the field, as well as the types of projects being specified and installed, and what features might be desired on future products. Through the channel, dealers and vendors alike can share their challenges and triumphs, and continue building the insatiable sense of community and strengthening the relationships formed at the Azione Spring Conference, which was held this March in San Antonio.

To launch the Slack Channel for Azione Vendors and Dealers, the organization recently hosted a live introductory webinar to help integrator and vendor members become more efficient, t

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