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SpeakerCraft Nirv IP Multiroom A/V System Hits Field

After three years of development, SpeakerCraft's Nirv IP-enabled multiroom A/V and control system is in the field.


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SpeakerCraft president Jeremy Burkhardt shows off a Nirv controller.

Well, it took a few years, but the IP-enabled Nirv multiroom A/V system from SpeakerCraft is now shipping to a limited number of dealers. Several installations have been completed.

“It’s unlike anything else SpeakerCraft has done,” says Nirv product manager Dan Kippycash.

He doesn’t mean the product, necessarily, but the rollout. It is happening very slowly, with a handful of dealers getting access to the line - 33 are now certified - and the manufacturer participating in many of the early installations. “We’re not trying to do it too fast,” Kippycash says.

That may be an understatement. SpeakerCraft has been working on Nirv for about three years, first presenting the system at CEDIA Expo in 2009. It is unquestionably SpeakerCraft’s most ambitious undertaking after nearly two decades of making and selling mostly loudspeakers and traditional multiroom audio systems.

Nirv delivers audio, video, data, voice and control over a single Cat 5 cable. And while many of its competitors are using one-wire technology based on HDBaseT or IP, SpeakerCraft opted for CobraNet, a technology found mostly in large commercial audio installs. The SpeakerCraft version is called Nirv Net.

Early on, SpeakerCraft planned to ship Nirv as a full-blown home-control system on top of a rich multiroom digital A/V solution. Demos showed lighting and thermostat control through the TV on-screen display, and intercom features through the handheld remote.

The first iteration of Nirv, however, sets aside these features and focuses on audio and video and simplicity. And it is simple. So simple, in fact, that one of the industry’s most program-phobic integrators has no problem configuring it himself.

Brad Sundberg of BSUN Media Systems, based in Fairhope, Ala., was one of the first Nirv installers. He says, “I’m not a programmer. I have always hired great programmers. My brain doesn’t work that way.”

But his rep assured Sundberg he could program Nirv all by himself. Lo and behold, “I had it going in about two hours,” says Sundberg. “Anyone who is experienced at programming could probably do it in 30 minutes.”

And the physical installation is just as simple, Sundberg says: “The controller is just one piece of Cat 5 and a short little HDMI Cable. If an installer can’t do that in three minutes, something’s wrong.”

The Master System Controller (MSC), the hub of Nirv, supports 16 Nirv devices. Those Nirv devices might be 5PE or 16PE extenders, which accommodate five or 16 more Nirv devices, respectively. In all, Nirv can support more than 1,000 Nirv Net devices, which can sit anywhere on the network.

SpeakerCraft provides its own Nirv Net-enabled amplifiers, as well. Sundberg says, “An amp is an amp is an amp, except with this one you plug in one piece of Cat 5 instead of eight or 12 RCA cables.”

Amps can be assigned for multiroom distribution, 5.1 surround and/or 7.1 surround. Two-channel amps further enhance the flexibility of the system. Sources can reside anywhere on the network.

Simple for Clients, too
The simple side of Nirv translates to the client experience as well. Sundberg has installed a system for a woman, Tiffany, with cerebral palsy. She says, “Controlling my motor skills can be challenging” and it is “difficult to implement day-to-day activities, such as using a standard remote control for the television.”

Nirv’s on-screen guide, however, is intuitive and easy to navigate: “The Nirv system not only allows me to turn on and off the television, change the channels and play music throughout my house independently, but I can also choose a movie to watch from my home collection - all with a touch of my iPad.”

In Tiffany’s house, Nirv is feeding and controlling 10 TVs. Sources include a security camera DVR, three satellite receivers, two Blu-ray players, a Kaleidescape movie server, Apple TV, Roku, and two Nirv iPod docks. Nirv feeds 16 zones of music, plus a 5.1 surround in the theater.

Tiffany is looking forward to the addition of lighting and thermostat control for her system, as well as intercom functionality.





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Article Topics

News · Product News · Audio · Distributed Audio · Video · Multiroom Video · Home Automation and Control · Control Systems · Speakercraft · Nirv · 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.

18 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by DrFlick  on  01/31  at  08:30 AM

Julie,

This platform is looking better every time you write about it.  However, it technically still is not an “IP-enabled” solution as you state.  It really uses proprietary (and licensed) layers below IP for its connectivity and distribution functionality.  This is important to understand from a system design perspective because it is not something that integrators can just overlay on top of their current IP-based LAN implementations, as you would lead one to believe.

Regards,

  =D-

Derek R. Flickinger
Interactive Homes, Inc.

Posted by Richard  on  02/01  at  12:41 PM

Folks this story doesn’t even begin to tell the story even as it is today. We just installed our demo system and I thought Kippycash was out of his mind when he did our training. I admit I was wrong. He taught us this thing is real. I programmed our full demo with 2 video zones, 6 audio zones, 1 5.1 surround room, 5 video sources (DirecTV, Comcast, Apple TV, WD Live TV and BluRay) and iPod dock in 1 Hour. Yes 1 hour.

Love the GUi and the App was done automatically. Plus I have never heard a better sounding multi room system. Sure many additions coming but we are blown away. In January we demo’d to private VIP clients and took 4 contracts. 2 from clients who were considering Crestron and Control4 from competitors.

I love what we see so far and how they are bringing this to market. To Kippycash and My rep Aim High Audio major props men! You have shown me a light!

Posted by dkippy  on  02/01  at  01:11 PM

Thanks Richard and glad to hear your team is enjoying Nirv. Thanks for the article coverage Julie. We’ve spent the last 6 months working side by side with dealers making sure all goes well, getting their feedback, client direct feedback and taking notes from all.

A couple of clarifications. Dealers will be able to create custom drivers and macros on a larger scale when NirvCenter software is released. This is in development and not released just yet.

To clarify for Derek Nirv is an IP enabled system. However that term is bounced around a great deal. So help point out how Nirv operates we do fully communicate via IP and use an IP Stack but is indeed separate and dedicated to NirvNet for our audio and video. We can control devices and other things via IP layer. We can communicate IP on our Net but can also communicate over the home network when connected to that network. Hope that helps and if still unclear just let me know and I’ll be happy to answer. For many reasons we feel strongly about we do not run on a shared network and feel this is the best for client experience, installation and performance.

As Julie pointed out we’ve taken a great amount of heat over the time investing into getting Nirv right. All for a reason. When everybody understands all that Nirv is and what it does their eyes OPEN WIDE. Many great options out there but for many of our competitors they either can’t do what Nirv is doing, would need a dealer to purchase several different product families to accomplish similar features and still leave out some major features. Then we get into programming and we feel we are hitting the mark for performance, time and ease.

Thanks to all our partners who have been THE BEST in helping us make sure we do this right and have provided outstanding feedback and ideas we are implementing.

This is just the beginning everybody. To keep learning more and seeing how our dealers are using Nirv and winning projects check out our Fan Page on Facebook. Sorry I was unable to make it to ISE but enjoy the show everybody.

Posted by Petro  on  02/01  at  03:01 PM

@Derek, note the article mentioned Nirv is an IP-Enabled System (passes control signals and communication), which is indeed correct and different from an “IP-Based system” (streams content over IP).

Pretty cool system all in all and I completely agree with Kippycash that dealers should look at putting it on a segmented section of the network for easy troubleshooting.

Congrats to Kippycash for all of his hard work thus far!

Posted by Scott  on  02/01  at  06:47 PM

Congratulations to the whole crew at SC Nirv. I was visiting one of my dealers who did a Nirv install and got the full demonstration with their client. I was blown away. Julie mentioned the Wand and not liking it. IMO I loved it. I had easy control, understood in in seconds and when the dealer turned off the room lights I didn’t have to look anywhere but the screen. I think these guys are onto something huge. Then my dealer told me how long it took to program and I didn’t believe him. He then walked me through changing some channel presets in minutes right on screen. Cool stuff.

I’ve represented products that Kippy has been involved and the fact that he convinced Jeremy to move slowly is like keeping a tiger in a cage holding a piece of stake outside the cage. haha JB. Love you dude.

The industry needs some NEW excitement and from what I saw this certainly is one to watch. Way to go team. One last thing. I which I was the rep in my region. wink

Posted by David McCoy SpeakerCraft NSM Canada  on  02/01  at  08:48 PM

Julie,
I’m not feeling you have been nor had the opportunity to become really engaged into the NIRV design and operational process.

With good reason it has taken a few years, we didn’t want to ever put dealers in the position of being pre-beta guinea pigs for the development’s benefit. Julie this product IS completely unlike anything SpeakerCraft has done – Digital Audio – Video – Intercom and control on a single cat5. This isn’t your Dad’s “EZC-1.0 and Eazy6 Combo”! 
So is it a bad thing we are rolling out slow and in a limited capacity? Is it possible we have learned a thing or two from ours and many other’s history in this industry about product delivery and roll out? And for the historical record our heritage is of 36 years, includes inventing / innovating & the OEM for many famous brand many speaker products not just the making and selling of speakers.
NIRV is not just about being the audio / video / voice and control delivery system; it is about the experience of seamless functionality and ease of operation. IPad put a computer into the hands of people who wouldn’t go near a computer (shhhhh and don’t spoil it for them by telling about that!)

NIRV does the same for its user by taking that perceived & literal complexity of operation out of the equation for the user and the installer for that matter.

Having had a System to evaluate and feedback on since June I can say that it is such a pleasure to use, we have gone from OS150 to Version 165 while I’ve had it and looking forward to the next drops as there is lots more features and improved operational stuff coming.

Appreciate that Jeremy cannot comprehend the phase “Sold Too Much” and if asked how much of the NIRV System we will sell he will tell you “Billions I hope!”
So believe me, from the top down we all hate the slow roll out but as SpeakerCraft the whole point of a dealers experience with us is that it be “Better than any experience with any manufacturer that you ever or will ever have!” So we are making sure that NIRV will not let anyone down who installs and experiences it.

The wand has proven why products like the Wii were ans are still successful; you never have to take your eyes off the screen to make something happen in the system. “Ridiculed?” Ridicules is my response to that.
No TV or Display in the room or area then use an app driven device and if you want the Gucci touch then there are lots of cool in wall mounts for iPads.

Can you tell we are all intellectually and emotionally invested in this product!

Hooray for Our Side!

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  02/01  at  09:21 PM

David, it sounds as if you think this is a negative story. Quite the contrary. I’m all for slow Rollouts, and respect the discipline it takes.

Posted by Jeremy Burkhardt  on  02/01  at  11:18 PM

Julie, Thanks for a great story.  Nothing gets by you kid, yes some people do not like controlled simplicity.  We will take market share, deliver better sound, I may be the only person on the planet that wants Nirv to control vinyl because it sounds so pure.  The amplifiers compare to Krell FBI integrated amps.  Our whole team and dealers are to thank for such an amazing product.  David, billions…tens of billions would be nice, oxox, jeremy Burkhardt

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  02/02  at  01:03 AM

Derek, Derek, Derek! What Petro said.

Congrats team Speakercraft.

Posted by Laurence R  on  02/02  at  03:18 AM

Jeremy/David,

Sounds cool, cant wait to see it in the peg.

lr
ATG

Posted by DrFlick  on  02/02  at  05:23 AM

Okay, maybe it actually is “IP-enabled” for the control side and can integrate with IP-based control points, but it still sounds confusing from a technical rather than marketing perspective.  My question is from a design standpoint.
- Can Nirv coexist on the same home “IP network” as all other devices in the home or does an integrator need to put in a separate network, IP subnet, and set of Ethernet switches?
- Can an integrator use an IP-enabled automation and control platform and talk directly to the Nirv devices?
- Can one “stream” to and from Nirv devices using an IP network in the home?  If so, what protocol standards can one use for doing that?

Thanks,

  =D-

Posted by Sean  on  02/02  at  09:28 AM

You need to do a story on the installs going on in Sun Valley. A dealer i know did the very first client install in the world. Friggin’ cool and I understand that client is a tech guru who demanded waiting for Nrv over all other solutions. Buffalo Lamb AV also did a sweet commercial project at the visitor center I read about on SC Facebook page. I’m dying to get Nirv released into my region. Love what I’m seeing, reading and from what dealers are telling me Kippy and the team are really nailing this thing. Not rushing, pushing crap that doesn’t work out The door. I would like to see a story on how SC has kept their heads on straight with this. I knew something must be special because every competitor has been in my showroom bashing SC, Jeremy, Kippy, Nirv, CobraNet and such crap rumors that Nortek wasn’t behind Nirv. Man you name it. Proof is reading from dealers and installs. I’m Sean and I’m a SC dealer for 7 years…. Haha

Posted by dkippy  on  02/02  at  10:01 AM

Hello Everybody,

Thanks and love hearing the feedback. Derek I got your email and will have our rep contact you for details. Simple answer is YES NirvNet runs as a separate dedicated network but the processor has full IP capabilities to connect to the “home network” for necessary access. Our belief is singular that we do not feel it is the best practice to try and run everything we care to and achieve the results in Audio/Video/Control AND Sound Quality over a shared network.

Thanks Petro. You know all too well the challenge this technology can be. Now for JULIE….... You know how passionate this industry is and you can never make everybody happy. grin Now for your use and question of the Wand. I know what your using at home and don’t you worry we’ll get your hands on the system in the near future and I know you’ll see the benefits right away. grin

Yes Sean Buffalo Lamb has been a HUGE success story with Nirv. Pushing things and has been great with feedback. His client was the first client in the world and his entire house is all Nirv and SC Tantra. Talk about Killer Sound. Plus his being a software engineer and tech guy has been a joy to work with. A huge shout out to Lenny. People thought I was crazy agreeing to his being first. But he’s been wonderful. Great perspective.

This has been a roller coaster development but absolutely awesome. It’s all teamwork. Your all part of why and how this is going so well and as I keep telling everybody…..it’s just the beginning.

Lastly I hear you Sean. I hear all those rumors and a reality in competition. However so sad when some reach so far to make things up they don’t realize they only make themselves look small. As JB says Love Life and how can’t you love what we all do everyday!

Posted by DrFlick  on  02/03  at  08:21 AM

@dkippy,

Thank you for your response.  I look forward to seeing some documentation on designing the wiring system to support this exciting new product category.

However, I still stand by my original comment that integrators should be cautioned that Nirv does require a separate wiring infrastructure and set of pieces of equipment for connecting it all together and that it does not just “ride over top of” an IP-based Ethernet network.  I think “IP-capable” or “connects to an IP-based home infrastructure” technically is more accurate than “IP-enabled,” as originally stated.  There already is enough confusion in the marketplace regarding using CAT-5/6 cables versus using IP as the communications protocol.  Otherwise, I would be asking why it does not use 802.1AVB instead of being based on CobraNet….

  =D-

Posted by brian  on  02/03  at  09:24 AM

@Derek. Go home and read more white papers.what dong you get? Hell I’m not a dealer. Yet! But I get it. Nirv runs its own network! Your the only one confused. 

Confusion must be you. Then the head guy responds right to your question and yet you ask again. The whole world has confusion on IP and you think they should care about not confusing the outside world. Holy crap. I get it and seems others do and I feel their description is perfectly fine. From what my Rep told me this is the most limited distribution automation, digital media product in the industry. So all I care about is that all who are dealers understand. Not end users or trunk slammers.

Then AVB comment. Really? He just told you they choose Cobranet for reasons. You just love seeing yourself in print. How about you worry about why anybody would still be so confused to use Flash for web development.

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