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Product Briefs: Doorbird, Snom; Guardian Protection Services Changes Name; AudioResearch

CE Pro new products—home automation, audio, video, IoT, motorized shades, lighting control, energy management, home theater, networking and more.


Product Briefs: Doorbird, Snom; Guardian Protection Services Changes Name; AudioResearch
CE Pro Editors · May 24, 2019

 

 

 

 

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 comp itatible, how public companies are faring, and other briefs in custom electronics.

 


SEE MORE PRODUCT BRIEFS, PAST & PRESENT 

May 24

DoorBird's IP-based video door intercoms can now be integrated seamlessly with Snom phones. When the doorbell rings, the audio and video signal from the door intercom is transmitted to the Snom IP phone providing two-way audio communication as well as video via the phone video display. With the DoorBird and Snom integration, the video image is immediately visible when the doorbell rings, even before the call is answered.

Bird Home Automation, the Berlin-based manufacturer of the DoorBird product line, developed a special Common Gateway Interface (CGI) to enable Snom IP phones to retrieve image data from the DoorBird camera. All other data is transmitted via standard SIP protocol. The user can communicate with the visitor via the hands-free function or by picking up the handset. The IP door intercom can also be controlled via the Snom phone to open the entrance door whenever required.


May 22

Lutron joins the Philips Hue ‘Friends of Hue’ program with the introduction a new smart bulb dimmer. The product solves the problem of smart bulb users losing control of their smart lighting when a light switch is accidentally turned off. The Aurora smart bulb dimmer, a wireless, battery-powered dimmer that can be mounted directly over a toggle switch, keeps Signify’s Philips Hue smart bulbs and fixtures ready for use.

Touching the Aurora dimmer turns on and off Hue lights; turning the knob brightens and dims them.

“Lutron is pleased to join the Philips Hue ‘Friends of Hue’ program and offer this unique, wallmounted smart lighting control that enriches the Hue experience,” says Matt Swatsky, vice president, Residential Mid-Market Business at Lutron. “Lutron prides itself on aligning with global, best-in-class companies like Signify to improve and evolve the lighting experience. Together, Lutron and Signify are addressing smart bulb user feedback with an attractive and practical solution that locks toggle switches in place to keep smart bulbs ready, while providing an additional point of control.”

Just like the Philips Hue system, the Lutron Aurora smart bulb dimmer operates via Zigbee technology. You can still control your Hue lights with the Aurora dimmer even if the Wi-Fi goes down.


May 21

Savant will showcase a first wave of products that are compatible with Apple HomeKit at the Lightfair tradeshow in Philadelphia, May 21-23. The products will include Circuit Breaker Companion Modules for Lighting and Energy, and the company’s entire lighting lineup:  Savant Smart Bulbs, DMX LED Light Strips, DMX and 0-10V light fixtures and any third party fixture connected to Savant’s DMX or 0-10V controllers.

The newest solution to join the HomeKit-compatible portfolio is the Circuit Breaker Companion Module.

Designed in partnership with sister-company Racepoint Energy, Savant Breaker Companion Modules are engineered to deliver both control and energy management functionality of lighting loads as well as other devices throughout the home. Large appliances, outlets, pool pumps and other electrical loads (up to 30 Amps) can be connected to Savant’s modules and are designed to deliver energy consumption data across the whole home. During peak usage times or other electrical events, homeowners can see power consumption and make real-time adjustments or rely on their Savant system to make adjustments automatically.


 

VIZIO, Inc., is adding new features to its VIZIO SmartCast 3.0.  The additions include: support for Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, expanded voice search functionality through Alexa and Google Assistant, new WatchFree channels and more entertainment apps. The new updates and features will begin to roll out in the coming weeks via free cloud-based updates to new and existing VIZIO SmartCast TVs and displays.

 

“The beauty of VIZIO SmartCast is its ability to evolve. Through continuous cloud-based updates, we’re able to help users truly make the most of their entertainment experience by providing them with the latest features and content on an ongoing basis,” says Bill Baxter, chief technology officer, VIZIO. “With the new performance and interface enhancements, expanded feature set, and bountiful content offerings, VIZIO SmartCast 3.0 serves as a gateway to a more robust and streamlined smart TV experience.”  

The latest 3.0 iteration of the platform will deliver an even more responsive smart TV experience highlighted by quick-to-access apps and a redesigned home page.

Soon, users with Alexa-enabled devices will have the ability to search content by titles and genres without lifting a finger. Users with a Google Home or Google Assistant-enabled device will also be able to use simple voice commands to launch apps, switch picture mode, select inputs as well as pause, resume, stop, fast-forward, rewind content and more.

With support for Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit also being added to new and existing SmartCast TVs and displays in the coming months, millions of VIZIO SmartCast users will be able to effortlessly play content more directly from their iPhone, iPad and Mac to SmartCast TVs.

VIZIO SmartCast 3.0 also includes VIZIO WatchFree, the completely free streaming service that provides access to live news, sports, movies, TV shows, viral videos, concerts and more all without the expense of monthly subscriptions or transaction fees. WatchFree is easily accessible via a dedicated input and is also located on the SmartCast Home screen.


Nortek Security & Control LLC releases the new NOON Lighting System Driver for its ELAN control system. Built by driver developer Chowmain, the new driver enables NOON Light control to be easily managed from within the ELAN control platform.

Coordinating all the lights in a room with one-touch, NOON’s modern switches work together to transform a room’s mood or accent an activity. Exclusive bulb detection technology combines with scene-creation algorithms to automatically create lighting scenes, using the fixtures already in installed within the home. The new ELAN NOON Driver provides automatic discovery of all loads and scenes in the NOON Lighting system, plus two-way control and feedback of lighting scenes and dimming. Instant feedback within ELAN is provided when lighting is controlled from a switch or another application.

“We are excited to provide our dealers with the ability to control NOON Lighting within the ELAN systems they are installing,” says ELAN Product Manager Jeff Shaw. “NOON’s new scene-based, in-home lighting control is exceptionally easy to personalize, which makes it a great fit with ELAN. It’s an upscale lighting experience that is both cost-effective and easy-to-use.”


Guardian Protection Services, the number two company in this year's CE Pro 100 unveiled a new branding initiative Monday along with announcing a multimillion-dollar integrated marketing campaign.

The company dropped Services from its namesake and now goes to market as Guardian Protection, along with a new logo and brand identity. The new branding initiative includes several new partnerships in Pittsburgh and across the United States.

“For nearly seven decades, we have been a leader in the security services industry and today, our future looks even brighter as we continue to lead, innovate and bring value to our loyal customers,” Guardian Protection President Bryan Cipoletti states. “I’m excited to unveil our new branding and our ‘Protect Your World’ marketing campaign that launches today in 17 markets nationwide.”

In the announcement, the company explains its brand evolution comes after months of intensive strategic analysis conducted by senior executives, with input from employees and Guardian customers. Read the full article here


May 20

Cary Audio has introduced a new integrated amplifier to its lineup. Building off the reputation of the company's SLI-80 vacuum tube integrated amplifier, the new SLI-80 HS (Heritage Series) features circuitry with very little feedback. Solid-state rectification adds pace to the music and improved dynamics and bass detail over earlier versions of integrated amps. A pair of toggle switches enable the selection of either triode mode producing 40 watts per channel of Class A power, or ultra-linear mode which doubles power to 80 watts per channel in Class AB. The LSI-80HS carries a list price of $4,495.


NAD Electronics announces that its C 658 BluOS Streaming DAC will soon be equipped with room correction software from Dirac Research. The update is scheduled for mid June. 

"Speaker placement is hard to get right," says Cas Oostvogel, NAD Electronics product manager. "You are limited by practicalities like leaving doorways clear, placement of other furniture, and location of electrical outlets. Dirac Live essentially does the heavy lifting to make your music sound as if your speakers were ideally placed." 

The C 658 includes a microphone so users can calibrate the listening enviroment using Dirac's app. As many as five different listening profiles can be stored. 


May 16

Audio Research has launched a new amplifier, the Reference 160S. It follows on the footsteps of the company's 160M monaural amplifier introduced in 2018. The new model featuers a vacuum tube design with dual transparent power meters that float in front of eight KT150 output power tubes. It also includes an auto-bias circuit, switchable Triode or Ultra linear modes of operation, balanced and single-ended inputs, and an output tube monitoring mode. It carries a retail price of $20,000. 


Kwikset now offers the second-generation of its Signature Series Deadbolt with Home Connect. The two upgrades include the inclusion of a newer Z-Wave 500 Series chip and a smaller interior footprint. Like its predecessor, the new lock features Kwikset's SmartKey Security technology which allows homeowners to re-key the lock in seconds without a locksmith. It carries a retail price of $129. 


DTS, a global developer of audio solutions and a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corporation, has announced the availability of AirPlay 2 in select DTS Play-Fiproducts. AirPlay 2 support is now available on the McIntosh RS200 and Arcam rPlay, with additional products to be announced this year.

AirPlay 2 opens a world of multi-room streaming possibilities. Music playback on AirPlay 2 products can be started via spoken commands to Siri or to a HomePod. Alternatively, users can use spoken commands to add AirPlay 2 speakers into a group with a HomePod or even transfer music playback from the HomePod to other AirPlay 2 products in the home. Apple users have a variety of other ways to access their AirPlay 2 products, including direct streaming from iTunes, iOS, MacOS and AppleTV. The additional network buffering in AirPlay 2 provides greater transmission reliability in cases where Wi-Fi connections are temporarily unavailable or unstable.

“We are thrilled to bring AirPlay 2 into the DTS Play-Fi experience,” says Dannie Lau, general manager, DTS Play-Fi. “With this new ability, our partners can better service Apple users with a feature set that meets their expectations for interoperability with the products they love.”


Lenbrook International, the owner of award-winning high-fidelity audio brands NAD Electronics, PSB Speakers, and Bluesound wireless multiroom players, has announced that the company has joined the D-Tools i3 (Industry Information & Insight) Program. Lenbrook’s participation provides D-Tools Cloud users access to the company’s complete, detailed product specifications and access to dealer specific pricing, and related information for use in the sales, system design, documentation, and procurement of their products for their client engagements.

With a full suite of rack-mounted and traditional distributed audio components, many of which run Lenbrook’s multiroom control and music management platform called BluOS. With the addition of Lenbrook’s brands to the D-Tools Cloud, customer integrators are offered versatile components for residential and commercial use cases.

“We are excited to be an i3 Partner,” says Joe de Jesus, custom integration product manager for Lenbrook International. “Our goal is to offer convenient ways for custom integrators to specify our products into their projects and D-Tools is the global leader in specification software.”


Access Networks has announced that it has partnered with Domotz, a remote monitoring and management platform for IoT.

As a result of this new partnership, Access Networks is now outfitting every newly deployed Core custom system with the powerful, flexible, and scalable Domotz solution for remote network monitoring and management. According to Access Networks, its growing network of dealers will now have the means to improve customer service, reduce support costs, and operate more efficiently using Domotz.

Easy to deploy, Domotz is downloaded on local hardware or on the Domotz Agent, a dedicated appliance that sits at the broadcast level of the network. Through the Domotz Cloud and the Pro Mobile Application, users are notified when changes occur that could affect the network connection, speed, or performance.

“We’re excited to be working with Domotz because of our integrators’ familiarity with the product, the engineering of Domotz, and the company’s ability to add new features and capabilities at a fast pace,” says Bryce Nordstrand, chief sales officer, Access Networks. “The Domotz team has been working hand-in-hand with our engineering staff to be certain we have the tools we need to facilitate faster response times and better service for our dealers and their clients.”


May 14

Bedrock Learning, Inc., has expanded its systems installation training curriculum with the release of updated online courses, including one in Spanish. 

The Connected World online course provides an overview of the smart home industry and IoT, and presents trends and future technologies. The four-hour course offers information and statistics on smart home topics, and discusses subsystems comprising an integrated building, the phases of a project, and the stakeholders involved. The course is recommended for employees involved in sales, marketing, management, and those in the field. The course costs $99 and is availalble online 24/7.

For technicians starting out in the field or those who need a refresher is an updated eight-hour online course, Fundamentals for Electronic Sytems Technicians. It covers construction and electrical basics, jobsite safety, tools and industry standards, fasteners and anchors, structured wiring, testing, and troubleshooting. This course prepares students for entry-level industry certification C-EST by ESPA.


May 13

IntelliVison Technologies Corp., a subsidiary of Nortek Security & Control LLC, is demonstrating at IoT World 2019, May 13-16 in Santa Clara, Calif., a full range of AI and video analytics applications, including facial recognition, aimed at embedded smart cameras and IoT devices. 

The company is showing examples of facial recognition such as personalization in Nortek Security & Control's Elan Intelligent Touch Panel and access control with anti-spoofing. Examples of video analytics include human and vehicle detection, traffic control, and collision/lane departure warning and driver monitoring. 

"Face recognition is becomeing the pervasive application of embedded smart cameras," says Vaidhi Nathan, SVP Cameras and Analytics at NSC. "and IntelliVision is a laeder in optimizing analytics for in-camera use. Peronalization for homes and vehicles, access control for smart buildings, and face-based authentication are just some of the applications that face recognition is powering."


May 6


Rhapsody International Inc., a digital music and music streaming technologies company, has announced it has completed a global agreement with MQA, the developer of authenticated master quality music in a stream-friendly format. Rhapsody’s Powered by Napster platform service now offers partners the option to choose high-resolution and studio-quality audio for those who select MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) as their format of choice.

Powered by Napster will offer MQA music tracks across multiple platforms including mobile, automotive and home.  

“Powered by Napster brings new and innovative branded streaming music services to partners intent on transforming their customer experience. High-resolution audio is a powerful tool to have in our box,” says Angel Gambino, chief commercial officer of Napster. “Our work with MQA signals the growth of high-resolution audio streaming and quality becoming a bigger part of the conversation.”
 


May 2

Harman's Mark Levinson high-performance audio brand recently introduced the No.5805 and No.5802 Integrated Amplifiers and brought a high-quality listening experience to more than 250 people at ListenUp's annual Music Matters event on April 24-25.

The No.5805 and No.5802 were created to deliver high levels of performance, while implementing state-of-the-art features and efficiencies gained from decades of superlative audio engineering. With a brand-new industrial design, fully discrete PurePath circuitry, Precision LinkII DAC, MainDrive headphone power, and robust dual monaural Class AB amplification, the No.5805 and No.5802 deliver luxurious fidelity with premium features and flexibility – proudly-designed, engineered, and precision-crafted in the USA.

"We were honored to be a part of Music Matters 2019 with our partners at ListenUp. It's always a great event where we can share high-quality music and listening experiences with their customers in a personable and relaxed environment," states Jim Garrett, senior director of product strategy and planning for Harman's Luxury Audio Group. "We look forward to the next one."


April 30

Audio-Technica has announced that it has entered into a partnership with VPI Industries, Inc., an audiophile-centric manufacturer of turntables. Audio-Technica will supply phono cartridges for select VPI turntable models, which will be sold with premounted Audio-Technica cartridges.

In addition, Audio-Technica will supply pre-mounted phono cartridges for the Shinola Runwell turntable, manufactured by VPI.

"We are extremely proud and excited to be partnering with VPI," says Greg Pinto, vice president of marketing and consumer sales, Audio-Technica. "VPI is well-known among audiophiles and music lovers as one of the world's finest turntable brands, and we are honored that the company has chosen Audio-Technica to supply VPI with cartridges that complement the turntables' exceptional musical performance."


Luxul has announced a firmware update for its AMS-1208P; AMS-1816P; AMS-2616P; AMS-2624P; AMS-4424P; XMS-1208P; XMS-2624P; XMS-5248P, and XMS-7048P network switches. 

The 4.1.3 firmware addresses these Issues: 

Changes IGMP settings that were set with factory default for firmware version 4.1.2 that would cause discovery of devices to fail for systems like Savant, Control4, Luxul controllers, etc.

After completing the upgrade to 4.1.3, there are 2 options for the settings to be applied:

In the web UI navigate to Configuration > IPMC > IGMP Snooping > Basic Configuration. Uncheck Snooping Enabled and check Unregistered IPMCv4 Flooding
Factory default your switch and the configuration will be automatically applied.


Alula, a manufacturer of smart security and automation systems, has announced the launch of AlulaConnect, a new partner portal that makes it easier than ever for security professionals to connect customers to the Alula Platform.

AlulaConnect replaces the previous portal, AlarmDealer.com, which will remain available throughout the year as security professionals begin a phased migration to the new interface at www.AlulaConnect.com.

“A new look, new features and a new name–we have rebuilt this element of our platform from the ground up,” says Brian McLaughlin, CEO of Alula. “We extended the capabilities to elegantly manage the full suite of services: security, video and home automation. Additionally, we aligned this with our Connect family of products as it really brings all the elements of our vertically integrated solution together–from sensor to hub to network and data.”


April 25

Audirvana, the maker of expert audio software for Mac, has redesigned its software to produce hi-fi quality audio. The new software version 3.5 for Mac transforms a Mac computer into a source of high-fidelity audio. By mastering the computer’s flow of audio signals, the Audirvana software avoids the intervention of other applications during music listening. It also stabilized the power supply to minimize digital distortion or radio interference.

The software allows the playback of audio formats including FLAC, WAV, AIFF, and MQA, as well as DSD files. It also integrates with Tidal, Qobuz, and HRA streaming services.

The version 3.5 software includes a new graphical user interface to allow users to search by artist, track or album.

A trial version is available for free for 30 days; suggested retail price of Version 3.5 is $75.


Dish and Josh.ai have joined forces to enable voice control of Dish’s Hopper family of set-top boxes. Using natural language cues, Dish and Josh.ai customers can now navigate the Dish guide, menu, play, pause, fast-forward and select content. Examples of a voice commands executed to Dish devices by the Josh.ai platform: “Watch the Weather Channel,” “Channel 200,” and “Guide.”

These commands can be joined by other commands to change the entire room environment. “Watch ESPN, turn down the volume on the TV, open shades to 30 percent and turn on the lights,” for example, will issue commands to all devices.

Dish’s integration with Josh.ai follows on the footsteps of the company’s integrations with other voice control platforms including Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

The integration of Josh.ai is available on Dish’s Hopper (all generations), Joey (all models) and Wally set-top boxes.


Screen Innovations (SI), a company known for its Black Diamond projection screen, has announced a new “Quick-Build” screen program offering a three- and five-day build on a pre-defined set of SKUs. This new program incorporates the most popular sizes and materials from SI’s line of Motorized, Fixed, Zero Edge, and Zero Edge Pro screens.

“The goal of the Quick-Build program is not simply supplying our customers the screen they want faster but doing so reliably. What we are really promoting is consistency—we will ship on time, every time,” says Jason Reis, COO at SI.

In addition to jumping into a three-day or three-day build line, Quick-Build screens also take less time to order compared to SI’s existing custom screen builder tool. The Quick-Build ordering system displays a selection of filterable screen products with instant screen drawing downloads and a quick checkout system.


April 23

The voice control and automation company josh.ai has partnered with Sonos to launch VoiceCast. 

According to josh.ai, the partnership provides a new way for homeowners to interact with its systems through the utilization of Sonos speakers to deliver voice responses. 

Compatible Sonos products include the Amp, Play:5 Gen 2 and the Sonos One. 

josh.ai points out that dealers can activate the voice options by making configuration changes to the Micro settings, and in its web portal that corresponds to the Sonos product located in a particular room. 

"Sonos has always been a leader in innovative experiences for music in the home, and we're thrilled to be working closely with them to offer exciting featurs to our clients," states Alex Capecelatro, CEO, josh.ai. "Our team is extremely proud of our device integrations and the continuous development of revolutionary ecapabilities that add value to living with josh.ai. Our goal is to deliver a magical user experience, and VoiceCast with Sonos is another step towards that vision."


James Loudspeaker, a designer and manufacturer of décor-friendly entertainment products for both residential and commercial applications, has announced the formation of the Mavericks Architectural Cinema (MAC) division. The James Loudspeaker MAC division will focus on the design, engineering and product specification of high-performance cinema sound systems, relying on the expertise of division Executive VP John Bishop. 

The Mavericks cinema speakers from James Loudspeaker provide ultra-wide bandwidth, very high sound pressure levels and ultra-low distortion. The James Loudspeaker MAC division will focus on the design, engineering and product specification of high-performance cinema sound systems ranging from a simple 5.1 systems, to immersive audio systems utilizing one or more of the available object-based home theater formats. 

John Bishop has leveraged his expertise in cinema design over the last 20 years as sales engineer, consultant and technical rep for many companies, including Runco International, Christie Digital, Barco Residential, Stewart Filmscreen, ACURUS and Trinnov. “John’s genuine passion and expertise in the residential cinema category has been evident to us during our entire working relationship,” says CEO Mark Schafle. “John has been at the forefront of exceptional residential cinema design since the category began, and I am confident that he will bring significant value to James Loudspeaker and our discerning customers in this role.”


April 18

The Home Technology Association has updated its smart home technology Budget Calculator, to make it easier for builders, interior designers, architects, construction estimators and homeowners to allocate budget for and physically accommodate technology earlier in their projects.

Launched in conjunction with the HTA website and free for anyone to use, the Budget Calculator has grown into the association’s most-used resource to empower decision-makers in the technology buying process. New updates for 2019 make the calculator more accurate, more specific, and easier to use.

Here is a video that explains the calculator in greater detai. 


Pioneer & Onkyo USA Corporation have announced the availability of for the brands' Apple AirPlay 2 firmware for select network-enabled components. This update covers a broad lineup of products to include models like the Pioneer SC-LX901, which was released in 2016 to current best-selling models such as 2018's VSX-933.

The Pioneer models compatible with this update include:

AVRs

  • SC-LX901 
  • SC-LX801 
  • SC-LX701 
  • VSX-LX503 
  • VSX-LX303 
  • VSX-LX103 
  • VSX-933 
  • VSX-S520 

Network Stereo Receiver 

SX-S30

Onkyo products compatible with the update include:

AVRs

  • PR-RZ5100 
  • TX-RZ3100 
  • TX-RZ1100 
  • TX-RZ920 
  • TX-RZ830 
  • TX-RZ730 
  • TX-RZ630 
  • TX-NR787 
  • TX-NR686 
  • TX-NR585 
  • TX-L50 

Network Stereo Receivers 

  • TX-8270

 


April 17

KanexPro, a provider of connectivity solutions to the IT and AV markets, announces a partnership with DTVGameControl, a solution designed for controlling and managing video tiling and video walls in sports bars and restaurants. KanexPro will feature DTVGameControl in select AV over IP products, including the Network AV over IP Encoder and Decoder.

By incorporating DTVGameControl in KanexPro products, end users can manage and control DirecTV, Dish Network, cable receivers, video tilers, and video walls. DTVGameControl features “Game Day” tabs to detail current sporting events for quick access to the latest game, without having to spend time searching through channels. Through DTVGameControl, televisions will automatically turn on each device at a scheduled time on the desired set channel. 

“We’re pleased to announce our partnership with DTVGameControl for increased compatibility and enhanced user-experience with our Network AV over IP Encoder and Decoder,” says Tracy Thomas, director of marketing for KanexPro. “Our Network AV over IP Encoder and Decoder is the ideal solution for digital signage in bars, restaurants, houses of worship, large universities and corporate AV settings. Providing high-resolution audio and video, our Network AV over IP Encoder and Decoder are now even more simplified for bars and restaurants, allowing them to control their video feed within seconds.”


Luxul has announced a firmware update for its XAP-1510; XAP-1410; XAP-810; XAP-1440; XAP-1240; XAP-1230; XAP-1210; XAP-310 & XAP-1500 wireless access points (WAPs).

The new 6.3 firmware includes enhancements such as the elimination of reboots when making configuration changes to the WAPs, as well as a correction for a subnet display error, and it also provides support for future wireless controller updates. 
 


April 16

Kwikset brand of Spectrum Brands, Inc. – Hardware & Home Improvement Division, has announced that its SmartCode 888 Deadbolt Lock was chosen to become part of the new Home is Connected smart home system from D.R. Horton, Inc.

D.R. Horton’s Home Is Connected system is included in the base price of each new home from the company’s family of brands. The system includes a robust central hub by Qolsys that controls the smart home features, including a home alarm and automation platform by Alarm.com, Honeywell Home thermostat from Resideo, smart switches by Eaton Corporation, video doorbell by SkyBell and hands-free, voice-first experiences with Amazon Alexa.


Yamaha is bringing music and entertainment fans closer to their favorite artists by giving them access to even more streaming and voice control capabilities with a series of upcoming firmware and app updates. Beginning this month, 15 current home audio products, including a soundbar, wireless speakers and AV receivers, will start offering Apple AirPlay 2 support, Qobuz high-res streaming services and expanded Spotify Connect capabilities. Additionally, starting tomorrow, more than 70 Yamaha audio products will gain support for Actions on Google through an update to the Yamaha MusicCast app. 

These new capabilities join a growing family of built-in services – including Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM Internet Radio, Deezer, TIDAL and Napster – as well as an impressive lineup of features such as high-resolution audio support, voice control via an Alexa device, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. 

Firmware updates will also add eARC (enhanced audio return channel) functionality to 23 of its industry-leading AV receivers. 

“Our line of home audio products features some of the most robust hardware in the industry. We’ve been meticulously focused on building on that foundation to enhance the value our customers derive from our latest products through a series of free firmware updates,” says Alex Sadeghian, director, consumer audio, Yamaha Corporation of America.


April 11

D-Tools, Inc., the worldwide developer of system integration software, is offering a free 45-day trial of its new cloud-based platform to Metra Home Theater Group (MHTG) customers. D-Tools Cloud debuted at the 2018 CEDIA show as an affordable multi-OS, web-accessible platform. D-Tools explains the platform enables home technology professionals and system integration companies to better manage their project sales and design process – from pipeline and opportunity management through system design, quoting, proposal, acceptance, and procurement. 

All of Metra Home Theater Group’s products are available to authorized dealers who are using D-Tools Cloud, allowing them access to pricing and product information when designing and quoting their projects.

“We want to assist our customers and make it as easy as possible to use our products for their projects. By partnering with D-Tools, we are excited to provide dealer-specific pricing within the D-Tools Cloud so that they can quickly create proposals and then order products from one place,” says Jessy Crabb, general manager of Metra Home Theater Group. “Now, a 45-day free trial gives dealers a way to try out the software before making any commitments.”

Click here to sign up for the 45-day free trial offer. 


April 10

Roku has announced its new 9.1 operating system (OS). 

The software update is available on select Roku streaming players, and it is expected to roll out to all supported players in the coming weeks. Roku TV models are expected to receive the update in early summer. 

As part of the update Roku says the new OS provides these benefits:

Voice enhancements

We’re making it easier for users to get to the entertainment they love even more quickly. When using the voice search, movies and TV shows on The Roku Channel will now begin playback rather than display search results, including those available on 25+ Premium Subscriptions services.

Updates to Roku Search

Searching for popular genres like “comedy” or “action” using text or voice search will now return a result for a browsable collection of movies and TV shows. This collection will be categorized making it easy to find free, on-demand, subscription, 4K, and other types of content.

Guest Mode

Previously known as Auto Sign Out Mode, this feature allows visiting guests to sign in to subscription channels using their own account credentials. With Roku OS 9.1, users can now enable or disable the feature for specific Roku devices from the “My linked devices” section on your My Account page on Roku.com.


April 8

Bryston has introduced native support for the Qobuz streaming music service as an available firmware update for Bryston’s award-winning BDP Music Players. Qobuz, is a certified high-resolution (24-bit/up to 192 kHz) streaming service that enables users to stream uncompressed content from a library of well over 40 million tracks representing every imaginable style including jazz and classical music. Qobuz first became available to European consumers in 2007. 

Since the conception of the BDP series music players nearly 10 years ago, Bryston's goal has been to reproduce high-resolution digital content as faithfully as possible. 


April 4

Now that winter is here, Roku, Inc., has announced that HBO will be available via Premium Subscriptions on The Roku Channel starting immediately. This addition makes it easy to access all of HBO's original series in their entirety, plus hit movies, documentaries, live programming and more. Additionally, Cinemax will soon be available via Premium Subscriptions on The Roku Channel. HBO joins an array of 25-plus popular premium subscriptions already available on The Roku Channel.

“The Roku Channel delivers a single destination to discover great free, ad-supported and premium subscription entertainment,” says Rob Holmes, vice president of programming and engagement, Roku. “We are expanding Premium Subscriptions on The Roku Channel by making HBO more easily available to The Roku Channel’s highly engaged user base.”

Users of The Roku Channel can browse HBO via Premium Subscriptions and then trial HBO for free for seven days. Following the seven-day trial, subscribers will be charged $14.99 per month. The Roku Channel offers a single destination for both free and premium movies, shows and other content.


At the upcoming AXPONA consumer audiophile show in Chicago MQA will take part in the event's Master Class series by providing education on its technologies and high-resolution audio. 

The seminars will be held on Friday April 12 from 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., and on Saturday April 13 from noon to 12:45 p.m. 

MQA will conduct the educational presentations with support from its industry partners that include NAD Electronics, Estoeric, Technics, Aurender, iFi Audio and EMM Labs. 

"We are delighted to support our extensive partner base at North America's largest high-end show," states Mike Jbara, CEO, MQA. "Our commitment is to deliver the master recording all the way through to the consumer and there will be a wealth of hardware partners and services providing opportunities to learn about and experience MQA music at AXPONA."


April 3

The Pro-Ject Stream Box S2 Ultra is now fully Roon ready and certified. Pro-Ject, a European-based consumer audio manufacturer, explains Roon is a music management tool that allows homeowners to browse and organize their music, artist photos, credits, bios, lyrics, tour dates, and the seamless integration of local libraries with the 40-million track libraries of TIDAL and/or Qobuz. 

Pro-Ject's v1.029 firmware is now available and ready for download. 


For more than 50 years Russound has designed and built multiroom audio and video systems for the home. As the industry moves ever forward in its full transition to streaming audio, Russound states it is important to provide easy access to customers’ favorite, and most current, streaming tools. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) music recently released data showing that 75 percent of its revenue is now coming from streaming music. So, keeping up with the current market trends, Russound added two more of the industry leading streaming services, TIDAL and Deezer to the newly launched MBX-AMP and MBX-PRE streamers. 

“The new user adoption rate for streaming is around 1M new subscribers for streaming services per month," says Charlie Porritt, CEO for Russound. "So, we view it as very important to be able to provide our customers with popular streaming services like TIDAL and Deezer as built-in native streaming services in our MBX products in order to tap into that growing market.”


April 2

VITAL Mgmt has announced the introduction of its supplemental +Controller and +Coaching services.

“Bi4Ci dashboards provide a wealth of easy-to-read feedback about the financial performance of CI companies,” explains Steve Firszt, VITAL co-founder. “Areas needing attention are highlighted and improvement gaps quantified. Any owner who wants to better understand what their P&L and Balance Sheet are trying to tell them can benefit from the system.”

What the dashboards can’t do, is coach the business owner on best strategies and practices for improving areas of weakness. This commonly includes less-than-optimum Gross Margins, low labor productivity, and even poor bookkeeping practices.

The basic Bi4Ci monthly service is $300. The new “+” services are an additional $400/month each, and a company can opt for one or both, and opt out once they feel they can go forward on their own.

On Friday April 5 the company is offering a free 30-minute webinar at 11 a.m. CDT. Dealers can register here for the webinar. 


March 28

AudioControl, a manufacturer of high-performance audio solutions for the residential, commercial and automotive markets, has made product information easily available to technology integrators via the D-Tools Cloud that will enhance their operational efficiency. 

D-Tools Cloud users now have access AudioControl’s detailed product specifications, unique dealer pricing, and other pertinent information to be used as part of the sales, system design, documentation and procurement process at any moment, including the most the critical stage of their projects.

“Our objective in making this data easily available in the D-Tools Cloud is to support our dealers by improving project efficiency, enabling them to have fingertip access to our complete lineup and thus win more bids,” comments Chris Kane, vice president of sales and marketing for AudioControl.


March 26

Just Add Power, a manufacturer of Ultra HD over IP video distribution, has announced a new five-year warranty for all HDMI over IP transmitters and receivers in the company's 2GΩ/3G and 3G families. Effective immediately, the warranty covers parts and replacements for any 2GΩ/3G and 3G solution sold on or after March 1, 2019.

"The 3G platform started shipping in September 2015. When we analyzed the performance and durability in the field, we were pleased to see practically zero failures after a system is properly installed and running for an extended period," says Ed Qualls, president of Just Add Power. "Given this real-world result, we decided it would make sense to extend our warranty to five years. It will cost us practically nothing to do this, and it further expands the good will we have built up with the professional installer community."


March 22

FIBARO, a global manufacturer of wireless intelligent home automation and control devices, has announced integration with the SmartThings platform for Fibaro devices. Through this integration, many of Fibaro’s Z-Wave smart home sensors and devices are now fully compatible with the widely adopted and deployed SmartThings platform. 

SmartThings open ecosystem makes it easy to automate and manage the smart home with the SmartThings hub and the SmartThings app. Compatible with hundreds of third-party devices, now including the full line of smart home sensors from Fibaro, SmartThings enables user to expand their smart home with lights, door locks, cameras, voice assistants, thermostats and more.


March 19

The importer Rutherford Audio is now handling the Italian high-performance audio brand Goldnote. The Italian manufacturer develops a range of consumer audio products that includes everything from turntables to digital components. 


ProSource, a national audio, video and integration buying group, has announced the addition of DISH Network as a new vendor. Members now have access to DISH's best-in-class residential and commercial video offerings, including the company's flagship satellite television, live streaming and over-the-air solutions, Sling TV and AirTV.

This partnership allows ProSource members to participate in the DISH Custom Integration Program. The program gives integrators the ability to easily create accounts for clients, provides access to skilled technicians for site surveys and complex installs, and includes a dedicated support hotline managed by an award-winning VIP concierge team. DISH also recently introduced a new revenue sharing program, providing integrators with a recurring monthly revenue (RMR) incentive per qualifying purchased DISH account.

"ProSource recognizes the value of DISH as a content management partner," says Dave Workman, CEO and President of ProSource. "RMR for dealers that sell the satellite platform is an attractive option for our members."


March 15

D-Tools, Inc., a worldwide developer data-driven system integration software, has announced that Sonos has joined the D-Tools i3 (Industry Information & Insight) Program. One of the world’s leading sound experience brands, Sonos’ affiliation with D-Tools provides D-Tools Cloud users access to the company’s complete, detailed product specifications and access to dealer specific pricing, and related information for use in the sales, system design, documentation, and procurement of Sonos products for their client engagements.

“Our relationships with industry-leading companies such as Sonos are critical to facilitate the best experience for our growing D-Tools Cloud user base,” says Barrie McCorkle, director of supplier programs, D-Tools.  “Having access to the Sonos catalog – along with their specific pricing, will make it easier for D-Tools Cloud users to specify Sonos products at the critical design stage of the project, and better facilitate ordering after the project is won.”


March 14

Luxul is now offering a firmware update for its XWC-1000 controller. Firmware version 7.0.3 is now available for downloads and updates. 

On Wednesday March 20 at 9 a.m. MST, the network manufacturer adds that it is offering a webinar that includes a Q&A focused on its new Easy Setup App. 


March 13

WiSA LLC, the Wireless Speaker and Audio Association, which is comprised of leading consumer electronics brands founded by Summit Wireless Technologies, has announced the certification of Klipsch Reference Wireless speakers from Klipsch Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of VOXX International Corporation.

Available in June 2019, this new line of Klipsch loudspeakers work with any WiSA Certified and WiSA Ready* products, including the new 2019 WiSA Ready LG OLED and Nano Cell (Super UHD) TVs.

The Klipsch Reference Wireless line includes the RW-34C center channel speaker ($499 U.S. MSRP), the RW-51M front and rear monitors ($699/pair U.S. MSRP), and the RW-100SW wireless subwoofer ($499 U.S. MSRP). These speakers can be mixed and matched to create powerful audio systems in any configuration from stereo (2.0) to a bigger 7.1 home theater configuration. The Reference Wireless speakers also work with any WiSA Certified or WiSA Ready source connected to a WiSA Certified USB Transmitter, including the Axiim Link.

“After a positive reception at this year’s CES, the Klipsch team is very excited to launch our new Reference Wireless line in 2019,” says Vlad Grodzinskiy, product manager for Klipsch. “Our Reference Wireless speakers are designed for people that want the simplicity of a sound bar and high-performance multi-channel capable audio. They will be an ideal complement to the growing number of WiSA Ready platforms, which includes LG TVs, Xboxes, and computers.”


McIntosh, a global manufacturer of consumer audio products for 70 years, has announce that 11 of its products have received Roon Tested designation. 

Roon is an engaging way to browse, organize, and listen to music. Artist photos, credits, bios, reviews, lyrics, tour dates, and composers are located automatically, then interconnected by links to build a surfable digital magazine. Roon is also a multiroom, multi-user networked audio platform, it offers features such as bit-perfect playback, DSD and PCM upsampling, multichannel support, and Signal Path display. 

The McIntosh products receiving Roon Tested designation are as follow: the C47, the C52, the C2600 and the D1100 Preamplifiers. The MA5300, MA7200, MA8900 and MA9000 integrated amplifiers; MAC7200 receiver; MHA150 Headphone Amplifier; and the MXA80 integrated audio system also received the designation. All of these models utilize a powerful eight-channel, 32-bit Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) used in Quad Balanced mode. Their coax and optical inputs will decode music up to 24-bit/192kHz, while their USB inputs accept PCM signals up to 32-bit/384kHz, and they support DSD up to DSD256 and DXD 384kHz. 

“Many McIntosh customers have requested support for Roon, and today we are happy to announce that all of our current model preamplifiers and integrated amplifiers with digital audio are now Roon Tested,” says Charlie Randall, president, McIntosh. “All of these products were already full-featured units, and now with adding Roon Tested capabilities they will bring even more value and enjoyment to their owners.


Roku says that viewers can watch this year's college basketball games through Roku’s Featured Free offering that will allow users to watch three hours of the tournament for free before having to authenticate with TruTV, TNT, TBS or CBS.  Roku explains that basketball fans just need to grab a Roku player and navigate to the Featured Free tile on the Roku home screen. 

Supporting all of this basketball content, Roku will also be launching its own bracket on Twitter that will allow fans to weigh in on their all-time favorite TV theme songs.


March 12

Throughout the upcoming college basketball tournament DISH is offering an alternative bracket that pits hit TV shows against each other. Called the DISH TV All-Star Bracket Challenge, this competition gives TV lovers the chance to guess which shows are the most popular of all time for a chance to win up to $10K!

The popular television service provides some details on its new content:

  • Participants can place their picks at dishbracketchallenge.com now through through March 21.
  • Anyone can participate, whether you’re a DISH customer or not.
  • Results will be released with each college basketball round, ending with the championship game April 8.
  • Top scoring brackets will receive $10,000 as a first place prize; $5,000 for second place, and $2,500 for a third place finish.

 


IntelliVision Technologies Corp., (IntelliVision), a manufacturer of artificial intelligence and deep learning video and audio analytics software for smart cameras and a subsidiary of Nortek Security & Control LLC (NSC), has announced it has been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office titled “System and Method for Scalable Could Services,” number US 10,142,381 B2.

This technology of scalable cloud-based services is a key component of the IntelliVision video analytics service, which can also be deployed on the device or at the local server level.

The patent was granted for the highly connected and scalable cloud-based system that allows a video camera to recognize an event, upload the event data from the camera to the cloud server, and then allow retrieval of the event data by end-user devices such as smartphones, with the ability for on-demand live streaming/viewing and further analytics computation in the cloud. The key advantages of the patented system over other systems are its scalability, security, and consistent, reliable service for video cameras numbering in the millions.

“As more and more IoT devices such as video doorbells and security cameras are integrated into the smart home and the enterprise environments, the need to manage millions of these devices becomes more urgent,” says Vaidhi Nathan, SVP Cameras and Analytics for NSC. “This patent demonstrates that IntelliVision continues to be at the forefront of new technology for large-scale deployments of smart camera video analytics.”


March 11

TIDAL, in partnership with MQA, has announced that Master quality tracks are now available via iPhone devices. The update to TIDAL’s iOS app follows the recent Android news announced at CES in January. 

With TIDAL Masters playback now accessible on iPhones and Android smartphones, as well as desktop and connected devices, you can experience studio quality sound wherever you choose to listen. Using a process called ‘music origami’, MQA’s technology folds master files into smaller files that can be streamed on the go. The MQA decoder in the app recovers all the direct music-related information and also authenticates the source of the original master recording. 

“From our ongoing work with engineers and artists, we know the importance creators place on delivering the original sound they created all the way to the music fan," says Mike Jbara, CEO MQA.

"Through our global partnership with TIDAL, this becomes a reality wherever you’re enjoying your music.”


March 8


On Saturay March 23 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Value Electronics will present a reference theater demo in its Scarsdale, N.Y. theater room.  The theater will show off a special collaboration of new flagship products: JVC’s NX9 HDR 8K e-shift projector and Panasonic’s UB9000 HDR 4K Player.  


JVC and Panasonic engineers collaborated to build two modes that are exclusively designed to match all of Panasonic’s HDR Optimizer tone mapping.  These new custom modes exploit all of the dynamic tonal range and color gamut to reproduce images that closely match what the post production houses see when they are color grading and setting the HDR range.  
 


March 7

Qobuz, a certified Hi-Res streaming service, is now available on Sonos, which is a popular multiroom wireless smart home product line.  

In the U.S. with a subscription to the Hi-Fi level of Qobuz, Sonos users will be able to stream 16-bit CD to their sound systems.

According to Qobuz, many Sonos users listen to their music through MP3 streaming quality levels, but with its service, listeners can access their music at nearly five times that resolution (1411 kbps vs. 320kbps) to give them full, CD-quality performance. Qobuz's $19.99/month Hi-Fi subscription plan is now available in the Sonos App to stream CD quality on Sonos speakers throughout the home.
 


March 5

DTS, a global developer of high-definition audio solutions, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corporation, has announced that consumers worldwide can now utilize DTS Play-Fi powered devices as their Preferred Speaker for an Alexa Smart Home Group (SHG).

The new Preferred Speaker feature gives users the convenience of selecting a specific DTS Play-Fi powered device in their home to become the default music playback speaker for their Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, Echo Show or other Amazon Alexa device. Once a Preferred Speaker has been designated in the Amazon Alexa App, the user no longer needs to refer to the device’s name in order for music to play on the preferred device. Voice commands as simple as “Alexa, play top-40” to a linked Echo device will initiate playback on the associated DTS Play-Fi speaker. This functionality is available today on all certified “Works with Alexa” DTS Play-Fi products.

“We are excited to share this feature through the wide breadth of DTS Play-Fi powered devices,” says Dannie Lau, general manager, DTS Play-Fi. “With this new ability, customers worldwide now have a simpler way of playing their music on their preferred speakers throughout their Alexa smart home.”


Luxul, a manufacturer of IP networking solutions for AV integrators, has announced that the company's new Easy Setup App is now available as a free download for Apple and Android devices. For integrators, the app speeds up the installation process and ensures that key installation points are covered.

"This app has been put through its paces by Luxul dealers to ensure a reliable tool primed to speed up installations and lower costs," says Mike Grubb, vice president of marketing at Luxul. "We couldn't be more excited to say that initial testing is now complete, and the app is available to all integrators on the Apple and Google Play stores."

Luxul's Easy Setup App allows integrators to


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