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A-BUS Multiroom Audio Platform Adds Wireless Bluetooth

The A-BUS distributed audio platform over Cat 5 cable has added wireless Bluetooth to its technology. Licensees Russound, Forte and Eaton have already added the module.


A-BUS Multiroom Audio Platform Adds Wireless Bluetooth
Russound's BTA-1 is among the new products with the new A-BUS Bluetooth module on the market.
Jason Knott · September 10, 2013

Market demands often make strange bedfellows and force companies to change or upgrade their core technologies. So as more wireless audio systems have come into fashion, it’s no surprise A-BUS, the multiroom audio over Cat 5 technology developed by LeisureTech Electronics, has added wireless Bluetooth to its platform.

Three A-BUS partners, Russound, Forte and Eaton, have introduced Bluetooth local input modules (LIM) to their A-BUS product ranges. The amplifiers are located in each keypad and/or speaker instead of centrally, as is the case with traditional multiroom audio systems. Historically, a local input option in any room has been a big A-BUS feature.

In many ways, the emphasis for multiroom audio remains on value-oriented audio distribution solutions. So the move to add Bluetooth to the A-BUS platform is logical, especially with wireless audio becoming so much more pervasive and Cat 5 audio distribution being tied so closely to new home construction in many ways, which fell off during the recession. Today, music libraries are mobile typically streaming and/or stored in smart phones and tablets. An A-BUS Bluetooth connection will allow homeowners and their families to play their music content wirelessly in the room or area of choice. The new Bluetooth LIMs are simple to install and simple to operate, according to the company. They can also be retrofitted in to any existing and future A-BUS system by inserting the device in the Cat 5 wiring. 

Why Wireless?

A format as simple as A-BUS might lead one to think it would be outdated by advances in technology, however, the technology is growing in the distributed multiroom audio market, according to the company. The A-BUS philosophy has always been based on simplicity and cost effectiveness. The technology has never been one that is based on sophisticated control systems that tend to rely on IR remote control. But as IR is being supplanted in the market by RF-based solutions, it has had little effect on A-BUS, even as access to music streaming is getting easier and expensive control systems are being replaced by apps on smart phones.

Indeed, wireless control reduces the need for in-wall keypad controls. The new A-BUS/Direct speakers from various A-BUS licensees incorporate the amplifier in the speaker and the units ship with a wireless remote that can be magnetically docked into a single-gang cradle. Integrators only need to run a Cat 5 cable from the hub to the speakers in the ceiling.

Andrew Goldfinch, president of A-BUS, believes the low-power solution is well suited to take advantage of the wireless trend.

“In the case of system control, the audio distribution side presents possibly insurmountable hurdles, not just in practical installation terms but also in reliability terms,” he says. “Speakers require amplifiers and they require power to operate and receive wireless signals. Typically in multiroom applications the speakers are located in the ceilings, power points are normally at floor level. If a power point is required in the ceiling of each room it will significantly increase the cost and complexity of the system, particularly if a low voltage installer is required to employ an electrician to install the power point. Audio is also a real-time technology any interference in the home is likely to cause irritating dropouts and range can be seriously affected by various building materials in homes. Regardless hardwiring a home during construction or renovation for audio is a must especially when the cost to wire a home with Cat 5 for A-BUS is so low.”   

In the hardwire arena, A-BUS believes traditional systems will continue to run speaker cable, but believes cost concerns (and to avoid sonic losses) will push more homeowners, builders and integrators to defer to Cat 5 of Cat 6 cable, which is easy to install and can deliver high-quality audio to each room.

“The custom integration market is in a fast-paced, challenging position and technology is getting cheaper,” adds Goldfinch. “Labor costs can make systems supplied by integrators look disproportionately expensive. The affect of this change can be seen in the popularity of packaged aftermarket products being adapted for multi-room such as Sonos. Consumers are putting up with black boxes and messy wires in rooms around the home because of the cost disparity. Integrators need to be conscious of labor costs as well as design and supervision costs. A-BUS efficiencies can produce big savings in all these areas.”



  About the Author

Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]

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