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Product Briefs: Dish Offers 4K College Football; Acoustics Innovations Website

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


Product Briefs: Dish Offers 4K College Football; Acoustics Innovations Website
CE Pro Editors · September 21, 2017

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.


 

September 21

DISH has announced that it will deliver select college football games from FOX Sports’ FS1 in 4K, beginning with the Oklahoma-Baylor matchup on Saturday, Sept., 23 at 6:30 p.m. EST. Games will be simulcast in the pixel-packed format every weekend on DISH channel 540 throughout football season for Hopper 3 customers.

“DISH has offered 4K-ready set-top boxes for three years, and 4K TV market share is anticipated to exceed one-in-four U.S. households by the end of 2017,” says Vivek Khemka, executive vice president and chief technology officer, Dish. “The missing element? 4K programming. That’s why it’s great to see forward-looking companies like FOX invest in 4K production, so together we can deliver live entertainment in crystal-clear resolution.”

The popular entertainment services provider says the move to carry 4K sports is part of a broader agreement that also includes future 4K coverage of college basketball games, Major League Baseball and NASCAR racing.

DISH offers a slate of 4K programming from NBCUniversal, Netflix, The Orchard and Mance Media. The company has also delivered special 4K broadcasts throughout the past year, including a live PPV broadcast of Bellator NYC: Sonnen vs. Silva mixed martial arts fight, Planet Earth II, and NBC’s coverage of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad from Rio de Janeiro.

 


September 19

Acoustic Innovations, a designer, manufacturer, and installer of home theater seating, personal home theaters, and accessories, has announced the launch of its new 25th anniversary website. Organized by design style, the site features art deco, classic, modern sections, and themed theater galleries to help gives visitors inspiration to find the perfect style for any home and budget.

Featuring the all-new 25th Anniversary Curated CINETheaters collection, the new site expands the possibilities for creating the ultimate home theater experience.

"The launch of a new 25th anniversary site is a great opportunity to refresh our brand by showcasing our latest products and expanded capabilities," says Jay Miller, founder of Acoustic Innovations. "In addition to our world-renowned home theaters, visitors can also view our exceptional portfolio of home theater seating, as well as the immersive Starry Fiberoptic Ceilings we offer. The new site also introduces all of the stakeholders to the process of working with our in-house team of experienced craftsman."


21st Century Distributing, a regional distributor serving the Southeast and PowerHouse Alliance member, has added Vanco International’s Beale Street Audio brand of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, subwoofers, and amplifiers, for greater variety of solutions for dealers and custom installers.

Beale Street Audio speakers’ Sonic Vortex technology, caught the attention of Vanco International, who acquired the line earlier this year. The line’s patented design provides an unprecedented level of bass output and dynamics from a shallow speaker, and a 6 to 9 dB boost in the mid-lower bass ranges and a flatter frequency response across the audio spectrum compared to sealed models.

“We have been selling AV products and accessories from Vanco International for many years and have a great partnership with them,” says Don Vicini, CEO and owner of 21st Century Distributing. “Our dealers are big fans of Beale Street Audio’s signature sound and solid build quality, so adding the line was a logical move.” 


Lucasfilm has announced that it is teaming up with six of the world's most well-known brands: Christian Louboutin, General Mills, Nissan, Royal Philips, Verizon and VIZIO for the launch of an extensive global promotional campaign in support of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," opening on Dec. 15.

"Our promotional partners have come up with some very exciting, imaginative campaigns to support 'The Last Jedi,' and we can't wait to share them with fans," says Lylle Breier, senior vice president, global marketing partnerships, Walt Disney Studios.

"This film will be blazing new ground in the Star Wars saga, and we feel our partners have designed some truly compelling experiences to match," adds Lynwen Brennan, general manager of Lucasfilm.
 
With their specific, custom-designed campaigns and innovative programs, the six global brands complement the overall marketing campaign for the latest episode in the Star Wars Skywalker saga.


September 14

Crestron, a global manufacturer of control, automation, audio and video products, has announced a partnership with Hatteras Yachts, a global luxury yacht manufacturer, and AHT Global, a global technology integrator. Together, the three companies will deliver the new M90 Motor Yacht that is completely outfitted with Crestron technology.

“Crestron and Hatteras both understand the importance of providing customers with versatility and a customizable experience when it comes to their unique transportation needs,” says Casey Collins, director of business development, Crestron. “People want to uphold the same comfort level and amenities they have at home while they travel. By utilizing Crestron automation solutions they can experience the same quality of automation from anywhere in the world.”


September 8

Domotz, a provider of remote monitoring and management systems, has announced the initial roll out of the Domotz Marketplace. The company states this solution is a gateway that delivers partner and Domotz-specific enhancements to users of its Domotz Pro application and ecosystem. 

The Domotz Marketplace lets manufacturers leverage the Domotz Pro platform to give professional installers and service providers a richer remote monitoring and management experience, while also gaining access to advanced Domotz ecosystem capabilities that augment their sales, marketing, and support offerings. Professional installers and service providers will enjoy an even simpler system deployment experience through enhanced device discovery, along with one touch access to manufacturer support, and the ability to utilize advanced functionality specific to partner products—all through the Domotz Pro app.


September 6

VIZIO, Inc., has announced the rollout of VIZIO SmartCast TV to all 2016 VIZIO SmartCast E-Series, M-Series and P-Series Ultra HD Display models. SmartCast TV allows viewers to quickly access the content they love from popular apps on the big screen with just a tap of the remote. An intuitive home screen greets viewers with content recommendations along with top apps such as Fandango’s premium digital video service FandangoNOW, and other favorites like Amazon Video, Crackle, Hulu, iHeartRadio, Netflix, Pluto TV, Vudu and XUMO1. Now rolling out to all 2016 displays through an internet update, VIZIO SmartCast TV gives users another way to control the content they love, according to the electronics company.

“TV shows, music and movies can now be accessed in multiple ways thanks to VIZIO SmartCast TV,” says Bill Baxter, senior vice president, engineering, VIZIO. “With favorite apps such as FandangoNOW on the big screen, SmartCast TV really is the ideal solution for traditional TV loyalists, second screen users and digital natives. Not only can users access content via a dedicated remote control, but SmartCast Mobile makes it easy for those who want to search and control their viewing experience on their mobile devices.”


September 1

Lenbrook International, the Canada-based developers of the BluOS music operating system, announced its intent to develop a two-way driver that allows the BluOS hi-res distributed audio system to integrate with ELAN’s API. With an anticipated launch this year, ELAN would become the sixth control system supported by BluOS, which already supports similar drivers for Control4, Crestron, URC, RTI, and Push.

“An ELAN driver has been a popular request from our dealer and installer community,” says Andrew Haines, BluOS product manager. “We believe that every great custom installation project needs a comprehensive hi-res audio distribution system that works seamlessly with the central control system, and are excited to give ELAN installers the option to use BluOS for that purpose.”

As a stepping stone towards a fully functional two-way driver, an early beta driver will be made available to allow the BluOS team to start engaging with interested ELAN dealers as part of the BluOS/ELAN driver development program.

Coupled with advanced hardware architecture, and a music-driven approach that focuses on delivering optimal sound whether listening in one or many rooms and playing lossy or lossless music, BluOS is one of the industry’s most innovative and scalable custom audio solutions. With “Enabled” and “Ready” products available that range from audiophile-quality traditional hi-fi components to custom rack-mounted multi-zone amplifiers, dealers and installers will be able to vastly expand their ‘Internet of Things’ offerings for entertainment and audiophile-grade music enjoyment, and have it controlled, automated and monitored seamlessly within the ELAN system.

The beta driver will be available to home integrators and retailers interested in integrating BluOS Enabled productS into ELAN control systems starting in September 2017. Download the BluOS driver through the ELAN dealer/support portal, nadelectronics.com or bluesound.com when available.


Yamaha is ramping up integration of Amazon Alexa with more than 40 of the company’s MusicCast wireless multiroom products through an Alexa skill, making it faster and easier for audio enthusiasts to control their home entertainment experience.

The new hands-free capabilities will arrive as a firmware update in early October. An Alexa skill that adds support for MusicCast commands will be made available concurrently for Alexa-enabled devices, including the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Tap and Echo Show.

The MusicCast skill for Alexa will allow a user to power MusicCast products on and off, control basic playback functions, make selections from a playlist of favorite music and use the link function for playback of multiple MusicCast products simultaneously.

Taking things to the ultimate level of enjoyment, the update will enable Alexa control of a Yamaha Disklavier ENSPIRE, the seventh generation of the Disklavier reproducing piano family and the most advanced instrument of its kind, linked to other MusicCast wireless devices. This makes it possible for the piano to play beyond the four walls of a single room to any room in the home—even outside—and all controlled by spoken commands.

The Alexa skill and associated product firmware updates represent an initial step for integration of Alexa control with Yamaha AV products. Yamaha plans to offer deeper integration of Alexa in AV products by this winter.

“Playing music throughout the home simply by speaking a few words is truly remarkable,” said Robert Goedken, general manager, AV division, Yamaha Corporation of America. “And when the source of that music comes from a real piano, it’s like magic. We’re excited that our customers will be able to experience this in their homes next month. In the coming months, we’ll be taking Alexa integration even further, to provide a deeper, more seamless experience. We’re just getting started.”

 First introduced in 2015, Yamaha MusicCast unites Hi-Fi and home theater performance with wireless multiroom simplicity. MusicCast features a broad spectrum of wireless speakers, sound bars, AV receivers, streaming amplifiers, Hi-Fi receivers, to a selection of the finest Disklavier reproducing pianos, representing an industry leading range of performance levels, price points and listening experiences from which to choose.

Designed to work with an existing home Wi-Fi network, MusicCast offers access to a wide range of audio content from virtually any source. These include streaming services, internet radio, digital music downloads, Bluetooth devices, and even external sources connected to MusicCast products, such as TV set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players and turntables. Unlike other wireless audio systems, MusicCast supports true high-resolution audio formats, bringing accurate reproduction of tonal nuances and expression. 


August 30

Core Brands has introduced the Dealer Rewards Program to U.S. custom integrator channel dealers. The program offers up to 12.5 percent in quarterly rebates– the best in the industry, according to the company.

“Delivering market-leading programs to our dealers is a key element of our mission,” Core Brands President Joe Roberts said today. “We are thrilled to give dealers terrific incentives that add to their bottom line while they provide exceptional control and A/V experiences to their customers. Our Dealer Rewards program launched at the start of the year, and heading into CEDIA is the ideal time to let every dealer in the industry know that we are here to help them elevate their businesses.”

The Dealer Rewards program is open to all CI channel direct dealers and applies to purchases of Elan, SpeakerCraft, Panamax, Furman, Gefen, Niles, Sunfire and Xantech products. Rebates start at 2.5 percent for quarterly purchases of just $2,500, and increase all the way to 12.5 percent for quarterly purchases of $50,000. Plus, all orders placed on the Core Brands Portal receive free shipping. The program also offers other benefits such as demo gear discounts that help dealers outfit their showrooms.

In addition to quarterly rebates, when dealers achieve Premier and Elite volumes, they earn up-front savings on product purchases, plus deeper demo gear discounts and other benefits.

“Our focus every day is delivering dealers exceptional service, innovative products and market-leading programs,” Roberts continued. “Dealer Rewards is an important part of this commitment. If you are not already working with Core Brands, come talk to us at CEDIA. We appreciate the opportunity to earn your business.”


August 29

Domotz, a provider of remote monitoring and management systems, has announced that its Domotz Pro application is now available with lifetime licensing. A lifetime license is one of several enhancements to the Domotz business model the company is announcing in conjunction with the upcoming CEDIA Expo in an effort to simplify and improve upon the overall Domotz experience.

Under the new program, in addition to still having the option to “pay as you go” via the company’s established monthly credit program, Domotz installers and service providers can now purchase a one-time lifetime license for their customer installations. This gives them more flexibility in how they pay for and monetize service offerings.

“Offering a lifetime license is in direct response to installer requests for simpler, friction-free onboarding and long-term servicing of their customers,” says Clark Roundy, CEO of Domotz. “With a single purchase price and no ongoing fees, we’ve made it easy for pro-installers and managed service providers to include advanced monitoring and management services with every project.”


August 28

Domotz, a provider of remote network management systems, has announced its new Powered by Domotz program. This new initiative for manufacturers and managed service providers is one of several enhancements to the Domotz business model the company is announcing at CEDIA Expo this September in San Diego in an effort to simplify and improve the overall Domotz experience.


As part of this program, Domotz also announced that it will no longer sell hardware directly. Instead, OEM partners and managed service providers will offer their own branded Domotz Agents through their established distribution channels and direct sales programs. This gives professional installers a variety of vendors from which to obtain Domotz functionality and support, while enabling OEM partners to offer bundles and better integration with their own products.

"As we explored ways to better serve the professional installer community, it just made sense to work more closely with manufacturers and managed service providers to make Domotz Agents more accessible," says Clark Roundy, CEO of Domotz. "Most installations pros have their vendor preferences and the Powered by Domotz program gives them the flexibility to work with their preferred supplier."


Capitol, a national distributor serving residential systems and light commercial markets, now offers A/V and control products from Radio Design Labs, Inc. (RDL), a market leader serving both the commercial and residential channels that is known as the pioneer of application-specific electronic modules.

Based in Prescott, AZ, RDL is making a wide range of products available to Capitol’s customers, including stereo and mic stereo line audio mixers, audio converters, power supplies, transformers, attenuators, a microphone preamp, and more.

“RDL is one of those companies that approaches familiar product concepts with fresh thinking,” says Curt Hayes, president and CFO, Capitol. “Consider innovations such as RDL’s single-function modules that enable multiple features to be added to A/V system designs. It’s that type of innovative thinking that makes it one of the most in-demand brands in both the commercial and residential sides of the business.”


VSSL is pleased to announce a new partnership with Adonia Yachts of Page, Ariz.

At the heart of each Adonia yacht’s entertainment system is a VSSL A.6, driving the music for inland water lovers.  For example, VSSL can simultaneously play classical music in the dining room while hip hop permeates the beach for the kids and jazz plays on the upper deck. Anyone on the yacht can control the music for the six VSSL zones. Or turn the entire yacht into one big party zone.

Sean Shelton, director of technologies for Adonia, says the company is excited about VSSL and the possibilities.

“We discovered VSSL a year ago, when it was nearing completion of development, and are excited to install it in our builds to drive our TruAudio speaker systems.  VSSL adds a welcome level of simplicity to our yachts both for the end users and those of us who maintain the technology," he says.  "There are times when internet access is not good on open water and being able to play to all zones through Airplay is perfect for us.  Having the ability to use Google Chromecast, Airplay and Spotify Connect with built-in amplification in a single package, is a huge benefit.”


MartinLogan, has announced a complete reset its internet business approach. The first step the speaker company is introducing in to revamp its Internet businnes step involves the dissolving of its direct partnership with Amazon.com and other online retailers.

MartinLogan states it will move forward with a limited number of customer-centric online retail partners chosen based on their reputation in the industry, consultative web based sales/service methods, brick and mortar retail presence, and historical dedication to the MartinLogan brand.

“Our focus on brick and mortar retail dealers with experienced associates has always ensured customers get an incredible buying experience," says Allan Tarrant, vice president of sales – North America, MartinLogan. "We feel it’s time to improve that experience online, while further supporting our traditional retail partners.”


August 24

NuBryte has started to ship its NuBryte Smart Switches. Featuring built-in features unlike any on the market, according to the company, these motion-based smart switches allow integrators to mix and match up to four smart switches per switch box for a customized smart home solution, ideal for retrofits or custom-built homes.]

The switches run on a ZigBee protocol, and they connect wirelessly with the NuBryte Touchpoint for customizable whole-home control.  


August 23

Capitol, a national distributor serving the residential systems and light commercial markets, has announced that it now offers select home theater installation accessories from Vanco International LLC, an industry leader in AV distribution and electronic accessory products.

In addition, Capitol added a high-performance, weatherproof speaker with Bluetooth wireless technology and a Bluetooth wireless transmitter from PulseAudio, a brand of Vanco, to its product mix.

“As the leading distributor of electronics for residential and light commercial contractors, it’s our job to give our customers the tools they need for efficient and reliable installations, no matter the size of the project,” says Curt Hayes, president and CFO, Capitol. “Vanco’s AV accessories assure the reliability our customers count on, with an emphasis on simplicity and ease of installation every time.”


August 21

CEDIA has created a new set of tools to help integrators market their certifications to both homeowners and to their fellow industry professionals. Part of the new tool kit that CEDIA has emailed to all certified professionals is a new set of CEDIA Certification logos for all levels of certification including: CEDIA Electronic Systems Certified (ESC), CEDIA Certified Technician (ESC-T), CEDIA Certified Networking Specialist (ESC-N), and CEDIA Certified Designer (ESC-D).   

Another important component of the tool kit that CEDIA is providing to certified professionals is access to digital badges through BadgeCert. Through this program, digital certification badges can be easily added to email signatures, LinkedIn accounts, websites, and other social media platforms. Clicking on a digital badge allows clients to verify the current status and expiration date of an individual certification and see what knowledge and skills it represents.
 

"CEDIA professionals work very hard to earn and maintain their certification and we have been looking for new ways to help them elevate this accomplishment," says David Whitney, CEDIA Certification Manager. "We are very excited to be able roll out both the new certification logos and the digital badging program right before CEDIA 2017."


August 18

Screen Innovations is now shipping its variable aspect ratio screen, Transformer. First introduced as a concept screen at CEDIA 2015, Transformer is designed to display multiple aspect ratios without utilizing any masking material.

“Masking has been an integral part of projection screens for decades, because they are a simple solution to a problem; not all content has the same aspect ratio,” says Skyler Meek, director of marketing, Screen Innovations. “However, they are unnecessary. Instead of covering the screen with obtrusive draping systems or masking panels, we have created a screen that transforms, seamlessly changing its shape, depending on the type of content the viewer is watching.”

Transformer is available for order now, and is shipping globally starting at $18,000.00 MSRP.


August 17

Klipsch Group, Inc., owner of the Klipsch, Jamo, and Energy audio brands, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of VOXX International Corporation, has announced a strategic alliance with AVAD, LLC., to solidify and expand distribution throughout North America and Canada.

Jamo is a designer speaker brand that combines modern aesthetics, advanced technologies, and natural sound. Effective immediately, AVAD will become the primary national distribution partner of Jamo custom installation, home theater, and outdoor speaker solutions throughout the United States, and the exclusive distributor in Canada.

Additionally, Klipsch Group and AVAD will collaborate in reviving the Energy brand by introducing a diverse portfolio of quality speakers and related product solutions tailored to the custom integrator market in 2018. These new products will be available exclusively through AVAD. Energy has a history of being a leader in audio research and delivering high-value speakers packed with pure performance. 

AVAD will also distribute a select of group of Klipsch brand premium home theater and custom install speakers. Qualified AVAD dealers will be required to meet the criterion established by Klipsch to carry the line.

Klipsch states that AVAD has made headlines over the last year for implementing positive changes in its ownership, management and business model to enhance and increase its presence in North America. Serving the residential and commercial AV markets, AVAD offers integrators 22 locations throughout the United States and Canada.

In addition, the company has created more than 230 AVAD Depots for enhanced distribution services to allow integrators access to products when and where they need it, as well as inventory storage options.  

“No one else in the market offers the solutions that AVAD does for integrators. They have evolved to become the preeminent supplier of high performance products, and deliver award-winning services and tools for integrators to compete and succeed in this ever-evolving industry,” says Paul Jacobs, president and CEO at Klipsch Group, Inc.


August 15

Lone Mountain Audio, the Nev.-based U.S. importer of the U.K.-based company ATC Loudspeakers, has announced that Rutherford Audio as its new exclusive U.S. sales representative for ATC consumer range of loudspeakers.

Rutherford’s other European made products include Burmester, Vertere Acoustics, Thorens, Acoustical Systems, Vertere, Scheu Analogue, and others.

Brad Lunde, president of ATC’s U.S. distributor Lone Mountain Audio, states the company has been looking for a sales representative and Rutherford Audio meets its partership qualifications.

“We searched for a U.S. sales partner that aligned with ATC’s philosophy of premium 'in house' handcrafted products and limited distribution to the best U.S. consumer retailers," notes Lunde. "Rutherford Audio’s reputation for presenting and selling in the same manner made them our perfect choice.”

Lunde adds that ATC's Hi Fi products offer an alternative as high-end brands change their product and distribution philosophy away from independent dealers.

“We know that ATCs product technology (currently dominating the professional recording studio market) combined with a family-feel work ethic focused on stable long term relationships is exactly what the US retail dealer market is seeking," he says. "Lone Mountain’s ATC product and brand support and Rutherford’s sales expertise and existing long-term dealer relationships are a perfect combination. The ideal plan would be partnering exclusively with 25 of the top independent high-end dealers, those with extremely limited Internet marketing and seeking alike brand protection."


Capitol, a national distributor serving the residential and light commercial markets, has announced that it is now carrying FIBARO’s selection of home control electronics.

FIBARO, a manufacturer of residential IoT solutions, provides a comprehensive ecosystem that adapts to the specific home’s environment and the needs of its users. Designed for both reliability and ease-of-use, FIBARO’s catalog includes sensors, dimmers, wall plugs, remote controls and data gateways.

“FIBARO is a great example of a company that is clearly focused on using a powerful home network as the backbone of a smart and intuitive web that ties security and controls together in one expandable package,” says Curt Hayes, President and CFO, Capitol. “Not only are their products tailored to the needs of casual users, they also control some of the leading brands in the business, including Russound, Philips HUE, Yale locks, and many more.”


iPoint LLC, a full-service business management software provider serving the home technology market, has announced updates to its award-winning iPoint Control. The business automation platform now features an expanded offline mode for proposals, further boosting productivity and profit across the user's business. 

The offline mode for proposals enables the sales team to continue working on existing proposals and create new proposals without an internet connection. This enables them to be as efficient as possible even when they're on an airplane or out in the field and unable to access a stable internet connection.

"Moving at the speed of business is critical in the ultracompetitive audio-visual world, where delays in information can cause critical failures," says Brian Good, vice president of sales and marketing at iPoint. "With this new offline capability for proposals, iPoint Control allows users to 'check out' an existing proposal from the server and update the products, change the descriptions and pricing, and more without worrying about the internet connection slowing down the process. From now on, even if a user has poor web service, they maintain the ability to continue pushing a job toward completion."


August 8

MSE Audio, parent of audio brands Phase Technology, Rockustics, Induction Dynamics, SoundTube, Soundsphere and SolidDrive, is available through the PowerHouse Alliance's 12 distributor members. 

The brands include a wide array of innovative CE and integration-oriented products including commercial loudspeakers, IP networked speakers, high-performance floor standing loudspeakers, home theater, subs, amplifiers, architectural speakers/subwoofers, rocks and in-ground outdoor landscape speakers and specialty CI items.  

“The PowerHouse Alliance and our 12 distributor members across the U.S. are delighted to now carry MSE Audio brands,” says Dennis Holzer, executive director of the PowerHouse Alliance. “Adding six high-quality unique speaker brands from one vendor provides our dealers and installers with a broad range of choices for any application in both the commercial and residential markets.”

“MSE Audio is pleased to be partnering with The PowerHouse Alliance,” says Chris Combest, president of MSE Audio. “PowerHouse represents a formidable group of companies with extensive reach throughout the residential and commercial AV industries, and we look forward to the exposure Powerhouse can give to our speaker brands.”


Aug. 3

Russound, a manufacturer of multiroom audio solutions, has announced today the availability of RTI drivers for its MCA-series controllers and XStream streaming audio systems.

Through the new two-way drivers integrators have the power to add complete control and metadata support for the RTI control system. Russound also includes pre-built templates for the RTI KX2 and KX3 keypads, and iPad/iPad Mini with its new driver packages.

The controls offer everything from transport and volume control, to management of zones across multiple controllers, audio adjustments and access to “favorites.” 

“We’re staying true to our commitment to make Russound electronics compatible with the biggest names on the block,” says Charlie Porritt, CEO, Russound. “RTI is one of those control companies, and we’re proud to tell our customers that our top products work in harmony with RTI’s industry-leading controls.”


Aug. 2

Ihiji, a provider of remote network monitoring for the home-tech channel, has added three manufacturers to its Vendor Insights Program (VIP). VIP allows manufacturers to easily communicate current device firmware to both the Ihiji Invision platform and also as part of the new Ihiji Device Visibility Protocol (DVP). The three new VIP members are Russound, Middle Atlantic and the Onkyo/Integra/Pioneer audio family. They join nine other VIP partners -- Acurus, APC, Audio Control, Furman, Panamax, Sony, SurgeX, TechLogix and WhyReboot.


Aug. 1

Onkyo, a manufacturer of home entertainment products, has announced the release of firmware updates that activate DTS Play-Fi wireless multiroom audio compatibility on select stereo and home entertainment products.

The DTS Play-Fi firmware update is now available for the Onkyo SBT-A500 Network Surround Sound Bar System and Onkyo NCP-302 Wireless Network Speaker. The company also announced that select 2016 models and all 2017 models are scheduled to receive a DTS Play-Fi update by end of September.

Pioneer Corporation has also announced the availability of its DTS Play-Fi wireless multiroom audio technology firmware update for its MRX-3 Wireless Speaker and FS-EB70 Elite Network Soundbar System.

Firmware updates for network-enabled 2017 Pioneer/Elite AV receivers, entertainment systems and audio components, along with three 2016 Elite Class D three network AV receivers—SC-LX901, SC-LX801 and SC-LX701—are due by end of September.

DTS Play-Fi technology integrates with a variety of smartphones and tablets, and allows listeners to wirelessly stream music over the home Wi-Fi network to an unlimited number of DTS Play-Fi- compatible speakers.

The newly released Pioneer Music Control application (iOS/Android) features a bright and user-friendly interface for easy control of streaming music from an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or Android device, and offers access to popular streaming services. DTS Play-Fi can also locate, display, and stream music stored on a media server or selected cloud-based services, as well as music stored on the device.


Legrand, a global manufacturer of digital building infrastructures, has announced that its On-Q Digital Audio System has been integrated with Alarm.com.  Legrand says that Alarm.com service providers now have the opportunity to create new revenue streams with an affordable multi-source, multi-zone audio system.

Alarm.com’s smart home and business solutions enable property owners to secure, monitor and control their homes and businesses from anywhere.  With Alarm.com’s family of mobile apps, users can connect to a broad ecosystem of connected devices – which now includes the On-Q Digital Audio System from Legrand. 

The On-Q Digital Audio System delivers user friendly listening experiences with convenient in-wall amplified keypads through an easily installed structured wiring design. The system is scalable and repeatable, enabling users to enjoy music in up to 16 zones throughout the home from mobile devices, networked computers and streaming services including Pandora, iHeartRadio, Napster, SiriusXM, tunein, Spotify and more.


Bluebird Music, has announced that is has been appointed exclusive North American distributor for Sonoma Acoustics.

The Sonoma Acoustics Model One is a electrostatic headphone system specifically developed and optimized to reproduce today's high quality high-resolution recordings with clarity and overall sound quality. 

Bluebird says the Sonoma Model One uses a High-Precision Electrostatic Laminate Transducer that it says is lighter, more consistent and more durable that any previous electrostatic.

Sonoma processes all signals using custom 64-bit precision algorithms. By using 64-bit technologies, Bluebird adds  Sonoma is able to achieve accurate frequency response with no noise or loss of fidelity, as well as extended dynamic range.

Sonoma Acoustics is a new start-up founded by key members of the SACD project who were responsible for the development of the Sonoma Digital Audio Workstation, the world's first DSD recorder/editor. 


SnapAV is currently the first North American distributor of BenQ’s new 4K LED projector, the HT9050, which is now shipping.

“Nobody else delivers a better picture, as far as I’m concerned,” says Andras Balassy, manager of distributed products, SnapAV. “It does 18Gbps 4K, it’s got this powerhouse HLD LED engine, plus there’s a huge leap forward from Rec. 709 to the DCI-P3 color standard. From a feature standpoint, I think our dealers will love it.”

The North Carolina company explains the HT9050 represents years of research by BenQ as it grows its presence in the home cinema projection space. Driven by Phillips' ColorSpark engine, and operating at 2,200 Lumens, the HT9050 is not only brighter than conventional LED models, but also has a higher standard of color accuracy due to its DCI-P3 spec and Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology SnapAV emphasizes.

SnapAV adds that through its DLP technologies the HT9050 also offers 4K UHD with 8.3 million pixels.


AVAD LLC, a national distributor serving the residential and commercial custom installation markets, has introduced “The Frame” by Samsung at locations throughout North America, with exclusive dealer-focused regional launch events across the U.S. throughout August.

The Frame, the new lifestyle product from Samsung, transforms from a television into a gallery-like art display. Designed in collaboration with renowned designer Yves Behar, The Frame is designed not only to provide a premium entertainment experience, but also to enhance the look of any home, just like a piece of artwork that you would hang on your wall. When powered on, The Frame offers 4K Ultra HD picture quality, and when not displaying TV or movies, The Frame becomes a customizable work of art that can elegantly exhibit artwork and photographs via ‘Art Mode.’

The Frame is available in two sizes: a 65-inch model, priced at $2,799, and a 55-inch model, priced at $1,999. Samsung supports the products with interchangeable frame bezels in colors that include white, beige and walnut shades of real wood. AVAD points out that pricing for the frame accessories are $200 for the 55-inch model, and $250 for the 65-inch model.

Additionally, The Frame comes preloaded with 100 works of art. Users will also have access to Samsung’s ‘Art Store’, which includes a growing library of more than 400 pieces of established and emerging artists, curated by several international organizations, galleries and museums such as Albertina Museum, Artspace, LUMAS, Magnum Photos, Saatchi Art and Sedition. 

Consumers can purchase an individual piece for $20 or subscribe to the full collection for $5 per month.

Moreover, owners can save and upload their favorite personal art work or photographs to The Frame using “My Collection,” which allows them to store their favorite content away for easy access to display whenever they choose.


July 28

D-Tools Inc., a producer of system integration software, and ProjX360, have announced the official integration between the two platforms. This integration offers system integrators the ability to seamlessly use ProjX360’s Sales CRM and project management software with D-Tools’ System Integrator (SI) platform for proposals and drawings without the need for double entry of information.

Available now, this integration provides system integrators with the advantage of utilizing these powerful software tools together, and ensuring that critical project information flows seamlessly throughout the project lifecycle.

D-Tools states the combination of its estimation, design and documentation capabilities, along with ProjX360s’ sales and project management tools provides integrators with a complete solution to manage their projects from initial client contact through project completion and service.

Starting the process in ProjX360’s Sales CRM, users can manage their leads from prospect, to opportunity, while keeping appointments, notes, and all associated information organized within ProjX360s’ sales CRM. When ready to create a proposal and design systems, users simply execute a single click to push the client information through to D-Tools, which eliminates the need to re-enter that information while ensuring data integrity.

Once the D-Tools proposal has been approved, ProjX360 users can then pull the project information, such as product, pricing, and labor by phase, directly from D-Tools and into the ProjX360 for managing the project. This includes the ability to quickly create POs from products in the proposal, as well as generate pick lists and work orders, manage field techs, track install time, and more.

To introduce and share details of the new API integration, a webinar is being offered on Tue., Aug. 8, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EST. The session, “Improve Operational Efficiency with D-Tools and ProjX360” will teach participants how to execute a seamless workflow from the initial proposal through the install.

To register for the webinar click here


Azione Unlimited (AU), an education and buying group for custom installers, and Steinway & Sons have announced the formation of a new partnership. Through the new agreement, Azione Unlimited dealer members have preferred access to Steinway Spirio, which is described as a high-resolution player piano. 

The national buying group states the Spirio represents "a masterpiece of craftsmanship, technology, and artistry ... [and it] provides an unrivaled musical experience, indistinguishable from a live performance."

Azione also points out the Spirio is a fully playable Steinway grand piano delivering the long tradition for which Steinway & Sons has been known for since 1853.

“This is an innovative partnership in which both companies stand to benefit from the synergies of our brands,” says Eric Feidner, senior vice president, Steinway’s Music, Technology, and Media Division. “Azione’s dealer members are in constant contact with homeowners who place a priority on high-end audio experiences. Steinway Spirio is a perfect fit for this market. We’re very pleased to have more ambassadors who can share the remarkable Spirio experience with consumers.”


July 27

SnapAV has brought back its Holy Snap rewards program.

This time, it’s exclusive to SnapAV Partner Rewards members, and it will last a
full year so installers can earn bigger and better rewards the company says.

“Our goal for Holy Snap is simple,” says Adam Levy, president of SnapAV.  “We just want to reward our dealers for thinking of us first. For example, guys can get HDMI cables anywhere. So
when they come to us, we want to give them something back in return.”

The year-long program was designed to give participants more time to earn points
toward rewards, and new rewards include a 2018 iMac Pro, jet skis, pool tables, and pontoon boats, as well as a variety of vacations.

“Lot of new rewards to work toward this time around,” adds Levy. “Ultimately, we’re in a pretty fun business. And sometimes when you’re crawling under somebody’s porch, it’s easy to forget that,” Levy says. “Holy Snap lets us inject some excitement back into the mundane, so guys aren’t up in somebody’s crawlspace thinking about how busy their day is. They’re thinking about how they’re one step closer to a jet ski in 2018. That’s what this is all about.”


July 26

August Home, Inc., a provider of smart locks and smart home access products and services, has announced that it raised $25 million in Series C funding. The round included August Home’s existing investors – Bessemer Venture Partners, Comcast Ventures, Maveron and Qualcomm Ventures – and includes new investors progressive, competitive energy retailer, AGL, Liberty Mutual and European private equity fund, SPDG. This brings the company’s total funding to $75 million.

Since the company’s Series B financing in 2015, August introduced four new products and developed partnerships with companies, including Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, Google, HomeAway, and Nest. These developments helped advance the company’s mission to help people control access to their homes, enabling secure delivery of goods and services inside the home. In doing so, August Home has increased  its lock sales by 300 percent year-over-year with more than 260 million lock operations and 500,000 users.

“I am incredibly proud of the work that we have done to establish the August Smart Lock as the category leader and partner to like-minded category disruptors that are using technology to bring innovation to the home,” says Jason Johnson, CEO of August Home.“This investment will allow us to capitalize on the opportunity ahead of us – to bring quality products and secure in-home delivery to the masses.”


Blink’r, a Cambridge, Mass.-based start-up that designs hardware and software tools to empower the Internet of Things (IoT), has introduced its “Internet in a module” toolset that reduces development time for IoT applications.

A complete, “all-in-one” development kit, the blink’r toolset effectively removes the barriers for rapid prototyping and development of IoT applications.  As a result, the time to bring a connected device or IoT application to market can be reduced by months, even years.  

Information relating to the company's crowdfunding campaign can be found here


July 25

RTI, a control and automation manufacturer for residential and commercial settings, has announced that its Integration Designer APEX software is now available. The enhanced Windows-based programming platform incorporate new features that RTI says speed up the installation process for projects of any size, while maintaining the ease of customization.

"We couldn't be more excited to say that our highly-anticipated APEX software is now available for our dealers to put into action," says Mike Everett, vice president of global sales, RTI. "For system designers, standard buttons and functionality that previously took hours to program can now be done in a matter of minutes, and customization has never been easier. This gives dealers an enormous head start on every project, allowing them to spend more time focusing on the possibilities of an RTI system with their clients, and providing the scalability to compete in new residential and commercial markets."

The backbone of RTI's control and automation solutions, Integration Designer APEX supports the advanced capabilities the company has planned for upcoming software releases, while delivering numerous immediate features that simplify programming and make system design more efficient.

Some of the features available include automatic generation of the graphical user interface and programming, a new IR library, multiroom programming, advanced graphic resizing, and more.

RTI points out the flexible software allows system designers to modify auto-generated templates, take advantage of third-party templates, or create their own pages while still utilizing APEX's powerful features.

The manufacturer adds that it will be conducting instructional webinars for the software. To learn more and to sign up for these webinars click here


July 24


D-Tools has announced the start of its new Online Training sessions that provide residential and commercial AV systems integrators the knowledge to use even more tools to help them maximize their investment in the System Integrator (SI) platform.

The live, instructor-led series of courses provides integrators with D-Tools training via the web using GotoMeeting to enable users to take advantage of the training from anywhere.

D-Tools says the courses are based on D-Tools’ Regional Training Curriculum developed by the D-Tools Professional Services Group (PSG), and the training is available as single-day or individual half-day sessions. 

In addition, D-Tools has also announced the formation of a strategic partnership with BlueDog Data Services, a provider of comprehensive data management services, which provides D-Tools users with access to BlueDog’s preengineered, curated and managed product catalog.


July 20

RTI, a manufacturer of control and automation products for residential and commercial markets, has announced it has extended its warranty program to three years (one year on batteries). According to the company its extended warranty policies demonstrates its commitment to product quality, reliability, and support. The new warranty will cover RTI and Pro Control's entire portfolio of control and AV solutions.

"Broadening our warranty coverage to three years reflects the confidence we have in our products," says Mike Everett, vice president of global sales, RTI. "We have been getting great feedback from our distributors and dealers, and moving to a comprehensive three-year warranty provides another selling feature and is an excellent way to show that we stand behind our partners and our products."


PS Audio has announced an update that provides its Bridge II-equipped DirectStream, DSJ, and PerfectWave DACs with full MQA up to 192 kHz/24 bit, and provides access to the streaming service Tidal.

Back in 2016 PS Audio released the Torreys OS upgrade that created a Roon Endpoint in the Bridge II ( the network-access input optional on DirectStream and PWD, standard in DSJ) making DACs with the Bridge II fully Roon Ready. This past June PS Audio released the Huron OS upgrade that provides major improvements in sound quality and functionality for the DirectStream and DSJ DACs, and it lays the groundwork for the release of new Bridge II code.


July 19

The whole-house audio company Russound has announced that it is now a part of Ihiji’s Vendor Insights Program (VIP), enabling Russound dealers to build incremental income by tapping into Ihiji’s extensive remote monitoring capabilities.

Through Ihiji’s advanced monitoring system, Russound dealers will be able to instantly monitor device health, update device configurations using Russound’s simple browser-based configuration tool, WebConfig, and perform firmware updates, all without having to leave the office.

“By partnering with Ihiji, we give our customers an incredible option for enabling simple remote system access and monitoring that allows them to re-configure and troubleshoot Russound internet-connected systems from wherever they happen to be, and without needing to roll a truck or schedule a service call for common tasks,” says Charlie Porritt, CEO, Russound. “Offering this benefit allows our customers to step up the level of service they can offer to their clients. It’s a proven, powerful tool.”


July 17

VSSL, the TruAudio brand that claims to have the "“world’s first multi-channel audio distribution system with Google Cast, Spotify and Apple Airplay,” has added voice support through Google Home. Introduced last year, the six-zone A.6 is now shipping.


July 13

AVAD LLC, a national distributor serving the residential and commercial custom installation markets, has announced the addition of Onkyo to its expanding line card. AVAD will carry a lineup of feature-rich Onkyo products, including AV receivers, components and amplifiers for the custom installation professional.


July 12

U.K. DIY smart-home brand Hive has released a second subscription-based smart home service plan in the U.S. called Hive Home Check, which combines a suite of connected devices and services with the newly launched Hive Camera.
 
The Hive Home Check subscription includes the Hive Camera, Hive Hub, Hive Motion Sensor, two Hive Contact Sensors and two Hive Active Light Cool to Warm White bulbs; in addition to an ongoing warranty on all Hive products, remote scheduling and notification capability, on-demand customer service and additional features in the pipeline like mimic mode, where lights can simulate normal occupancy.  

It is available for purchase online beginning July 12, 2017 and costs $19.99 per month. More about Hive.


July 11

Spectracal has announced that its CalMAN 2017 software is now available. According to the company several revisions have been made to the video calibration software that include:

  • Auto Calibration for Samsung 2017 QLED televisions
  • Auto Calibration for Panasonic 2017 EZxxx series OLED televisions
  • A new New Color Volume Workflow that quickly measures the color volume of any display
  • The software's new Color Volume Visualizer provides a three-dimensional graphing engine that displays the measurements of the Color Volume Workflow. 
  • Other features like its new HLG Workflow provide support for the hybrid log gamma version of high dynamic range (HDR) that is rapidly gaining acceptance for live video production

The new CalMAN 2017 video calibration software can be downloaded by clicking here


July 10

NAD Electronics, has announced a strategic partnership with Dirac Research, the global developer of platform optimized sound enhancement technology. The partnership will incorporate the Dirac Live room correction solution into upcoming, select products in NAD Electronics’ Masters and Custom Install lines. 

“NAD Electronics has pioneered amplifier technology for more than 45 years thanks to its unwavering commitment to innovation,” says Greg Stidsen, Lenbrook’s director of technology and product planning. “Dirac Research shares this commitment and has established itself as a true pioneer in room correction technology with their Dirac Live solution. This partnership is a natural fit and we look forward to working with Dirac to provide our customers with the best possible home theater experience.”


Savant, a smart home technology manufacturer, has announced today the release of the Savant smart home skill for Amazon Alexa. Savant has offered voice control as part of the connected home since the introduction of the Savant Pro Remote, which enables homeowners to activate a Savant Scene, choose a favorite channel or select a source within their entertainment system.

The Cape Cod-based company says with the introduction of its Alexa skill homeowners now have enhanced interaction with their Savant home systems. 

The new Savant skill for Alexa is intuitive—users create a Savant Scene; they enable the Savant Skill in the Alexa app, and link their account. and Alexa will discover it as a new Amazon Smart Home Skill that can be easily accessed via voice command. Consumers can initiate, schedule, edit or delete a Savant Scene, while retaining seamless Alexa functionality. Savant’s Amazon Alexa interface is based upon cloud-to-cloud communication between the two services, leveraging the power of Savant’s robust, redundant cloud infrastructure.

“Our objective is to deliver the best smart home user experience along with leading edge innovations that bring added value for our network of integrators,” states Savant CEO Robert Madonna. “Adding further voice control options with our Alexa skill accomplishes both without question.”  


June 6

Genelec, a manufacturer of active monitoring technology for nearly 40 years, is holding a listening showcase of its new “The Ones” series of Compact Coaxial Active Monitors. The event will be held at Addiction Sound Studios at 506 East Iris Drive in Nashville on Tuesday, July 11 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event is open to the public, and no RSVP is required.  

“The Ones” series includes Genelec’s 8351 three-way Smart Active Monitor, along with the newly released 8341 and 8331, which are small three-way coaxial monitors. These three models, along with the company's 1238A Smart Active Monitor will be set up to audition in a controlled listening environment.   

Genelec recommends stopping by Addiction Sound Studios any time during event hours. The company adds that attendees are encouraged to bring their own reference CDs or line-in program material for listening. All attendees will be entered to win a pair of Genelec 8010 Studio Monitors.


Cary Audio has announced a partnership with Roon Labs. The N.C.-based audio manufacturer says that its DMS-500 reference network audio player and AiOS all-in-one network receiver are certified Roon Ready, and all current DMS-500 and AiOS owners can update their firmware free of charge to bring it up to Roon Ready specifications. 

Additionally, all new units will come with a 60-day free subscription to Roon. Current owners can also contact Cary Audio to take advantage of the 60-day free subscription to Roon.


June 29

TiO, the Florida-based provider of home automation products, has announced that Charleston Angel Partners, an angel investment group as its latest investor.

The Southern home technology company also states that it has also changed its name to TiO Home, Inc. TiO points out that it was formerly known as Anuva Automation, and it has completed its name change to further strengthen its brand recognition. 

“Sanjay and his team at TiO Home, Inc are addressing a growing market opportun


  Article Topics


Home Theater · Displays · Speakers · Loudspeakers · Audio/Video · Outdoor AV · News · Products · Press Releases · Alexa · Amazon · Angel · Cary Audio · Genelec · Roon Labs · All Topics
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