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S1Digital’s P500 May be First Media Center to Output Lossless Blu-ray Audio

Implementing Asus's Xonar HDAV1.3, the top-of-the-line Media Center supports PAPS and AACS content protection for 24bit, 96-192kHz Blu-ray audio.


S1Digital, P500 Media Center with Blu-ray player, up to four Cablecard tuners, RAID 5 (2 TB usable), RS-232 and Soundpack option featuring Asus’s Xonar HDAV1.3 A/V card

S1Digital's new P500 Media Center was "custom designed by us from the ground up for the CI [custom installer] market," says president Paul Heitlinger.

The unit – part of S1Digitals' ProLine Series -- is stripped of junkware, optimized for whole-house entertainment, and may be the first Media Center to implement Asus's highly anticipated Xonar HDAV1.3 sound and video card.

"Apparently, we’re going to be the first Media Center company to offer it [Xonar HDAV1.3] with a 10-foot user interface," says Heitlinger. "We’re working with [Asus partner] Arcsoft on getting it completed."

ASUS claims the HDAV1.3 is the world's first HDMI 1.3a compliant audio/video enhancement combo card. While it apparently "enhances video with an onboard Splendid HD processor," the card's real claim to fame is on the audio side.

The HDAV1.3 supports Blu-ray's two big content protection schemes -- Protected Audio Playback System (PAPS) and Advanced Access Content System (AACS) -- so it can output uncompressed lossless Blu-ray audio in all its splendor. (UPDATE: see note below)


Learn more about Media Center at Media Center University, exclusively at the Electronic House Expo, March 11-14, 2009 in Orlando, Fla. Check out the complete MCU agenda here. Media Center University is sponsored by the Media Center Integrator Alliance (MCIA).
Without both of these certifications, PCs typically must down-sample Blu-ray audio to DVD quality (48K/16bit).

S1Digital's implementation of the HDAV1.3 is called Soundpack, offered as an option for the P500.

Soundpack enables bitstreaming the latest HD audio formats on Blu-ray discs. "This means the P500 can take full advantage of lossless digital audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio," Heitlinger says.

The P500 is available with up to four CableCard HDTV tuners plus an unencrypted QAM/ATSC tuner, Blu-ray player with Profile 2.0 features, movie archiving capabilities, and three terabytes (2TB usable) of internal RAID-5 storage. It supports HDMI (with 5.1 channel audio), DVI and component video outputs as well as digital optical and 7.1 channel analog audio.

The machine is powered by Intel’s latest Core 2 Duo CPU, P45 motherboard and runs Vista Ultimate.

RS-232 control is available via a built in serial port – great for integrating with those home-control systems that still communicate the old-fashioned way.

All this … and it looks good too.

"The P500 was designed from the ground up to look great out on display," Heitlinger says.

He adds that the unit is "primarily designed for the living room," but it does support up to three zones of streaming audio and video via Media Center Extenders or additional Media Centers.

Do you want the P500 but you'd rather wait for Windows 7? Not to worry, S1Digital is offering free upgrades for its XP Media Centers purchased between Jan. 20 and March 31, 2009.

The S1Digital P500 starts at around $5,999.

NOTE: Derek Flickinger (surprise, surprise) suggested that the technology in question delivers lossless audio, but not uncompressed audio. S1Digital's Paul Heitlinger confirms. The files may be compressed but all of the original data in the recording remains.

Asus Xonar HDAV1.3

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Article Topics

News · Product News · Blu-ray · Media Center · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

6 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by David  on  02/11  at  01:43 PM

Too late Axonix already announced this at ISE last week.  It is called the ProPlayer.  It already supports the ASUS card and in a 2U Chassis.

Posted by Dave  on  02/11  at  01:47 PM

However, it is not Media Center based.

Posted by Paul Gregory  on  02/11  at  02:44 PM

Too bad S1 blatantly ripped off Parasound’s distinctive Halo design. It raises big questions about anything which S1 claims.

Posted by Inthe Know  on  02/11  at  03:45 PM

The only reason they may be first is because they are willing to ship with known bugs on a card that is not ready for primetime.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  02/11  at  03:56 PM

They’re not shipping that piece of it yet ... waiting til all is well with it.

Posted by Paul  on  02/11  at  03:56 PM

For Blu-ray movies, I don’t think there are any issues. I know it doesn’t playback HD audio formats on HD-DVDs (which is a dead format anyway) and the 24p issue is resolved, so what other issues are there?

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