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NuVo Renovia Delivers Whole-House Audio Over Powerlines

Using HomePlug 1.0 powerline technology, NuVo system can be installed in the wall, requiring (almost) no new wires for audio distribution, metadata and control.


The NuVo Control Pad is wired via Cat 5 to a local amp, which communicates to the Renovia hub via the powerlines. The Control Pad controls the sources and delivers metadata to throughout the house.
Julie Jacobson · August 19, 2008

NuVo Technologies may be first to market with a whole-house audio system that requires (almost) no new wires. Instead of delivering music over Cat 5 cables or speaker wire, NuVo’s Renovia system uses the home’s existing A/C wiring to distribute music and metadata throughout the house.

Specifically, NuVo is using HomePlug 1.0 powerline technology for its new multiroom audio system.

HomePlug for Music over the Powerlines

NuVo’s Renovia line starts with a hub that looks similar to NuVo’s other source and multiroom audio components. Unlike NuVo’s flagship Concerto and Essentia multiroom audio systems, however, the Renovia hub has sources built in.

Dual AM/FM tuners (Sirius-ready) are on board, and users can plug in two iPod docks and two analog sources (preliminary specs). In addition, the unit can control and play virtually any digital content on the network via NuVo’s Music Port module.

NuVo decided on one integrated box for the powerline solution because “the goal of the system is for the installer to do a one-day job,” says NuVo CTO Rick Kukulies. “That’s paramount for obvious reasons – like there’s just one truck roll – but I think the No. 1 reason that people don’t retrofit is because of the disruption.”

How it Hooks Up
Up to six sources connect to the Renovia hub (which itself has built-in AM/FM tuners). The hub plugs into any standard AC outlet. Music and metadata are distributed to in-wall zone amps (up to 12) via the powerlines, using HomePlug technology. NuVo touchpads, used to control the sources, connect to the amps via Cat 5. Two speakers connect to each amp via speaker wire.

The Renovia hub plugs into a standard AC outlet to deliver music to individual zone amps (25 watts per channel) that fit in a double-gang box – actually, two single-gang boxes connected via a jumper cable. The high-voltage power supply goes on one side of the box; the amp and processing technology goes in the other.

The electrician does nothing more than wire the power module like any other light switch or outlet. The integrator pops in the amp, connects a jumper cable to the power, and runs a Cat 5 cable to the keypad – any of NuVo’s standard ControlPad touchpads will do.

“It works just like the NuVo Concerto or Essentia,” Kukulies says. “You just don’t have to homerun the wires.

While NuVo did not have to reinvent its core products and industrial design to create Renovia, the company did put considerable effort into the in-wall amps. “We pack a lot of stuff into that 50-watt amp,” says Kukulies. “It takes a lot of time and effort to put so much into such a small package.”

The Renovia system accommodates 12 zones of audio. Currently you cannot “HomePlug-enable” NuVo’s traditional hardwired multiroom audio systems but such a solution may be forthcoming.

NuVo president David Rodarte says the Renovia system should cost “about the same price as our Grand Concerto, less wiring, less labor.” (The Grand Concerto is NuVo’s 6x8 hardwired multiroom audio system with 80 watts of power per zone.)


  About the Author

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. Email Julie at jjacobson@ehpub.com

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