As kids, we all huddled around our stereo receivers. It was the central command station for all your music needs, whether that was AM, FM, cassette or eight-track. As multiroom audio developed, the audio video receiver (AVR) maintained its role as the central source hub, linking to other sources such as CD players or vinyl record players and incorporating satellite radio and streaming media. But is the AVR a dinosaur remnant leftover from a bygone era?
Yes, according to Jeff Haynes, CEO of Zektor, a Poway, Calif.-based maker of advanced switching equipment.
“So many multiroom audio systems today do not need an AVR because the systems do not need a tuner. The tuner has been replaced by online streaming devices over the Internet,” he says. But the elimination of an AVR does not stop there. Haynes says dealers can build 4K distribution systems with HDR and HDCP 2.2 without the need of a receiver. The main exception to this is when the client is installing a dedicated theater or room with Dolby Atmos or higher end audio.”
“Dealers can now be more ‘free’ in their system designs,” he commented from his booth at the recent Pacific Northwest Consumer Electronics Expo in Seattle, noting that this eliminates the need for dongles and line level drivers. “Those are other items in the middle of the system that dealers do not want.”
Zektor makes various configuration HDMI matrix switchers designed specifically for audio distribution. The company has several lines, including the Palladia, Clarity HD, ProAudio, and SoloCAT HD series. Units, such as the company’s Palladia 8X8 HDMI matrix and Palladia III 6x4x8 HDMI HDBaseT Lite and pro matrices, offer a full complement of stereo, optical and S/PDIF digital audio inputs. The units seamlessly make all digital to analog/analog to digital conversions, as well has provide pre-amp volume controls for volume, bass, treble and five-band EQ. Lip sync and gain control are also taken care of.
In a roundabout way, Zektor’s products have been getting accolades. The company OEMs switchers for several companies, including Elan. Indeed, Elan’s UltraMatrix which is made by Zektor, has won several awards in the category.
Zektor itself has been in business for 13 years. Its focus has been on audio, but in 2013 it launched its first HDMI switcher and earned a Dolby license for downmixing.
“Many of our products go through UL, FCC Class B and CE testing. We’re not talking about the wall power supply, we take our entire unit through safety and emission testing,” he says.
Haynes understands that the company lives in a saturated equipment category, so he aims to differentiate not just on the equipment, but on customer service.
“Every move we make is based on input from integrators,” says Haynes. “We reach out to our top Zektor dealers, plus, more importantly, we talk to dealers who are necessarily fans of Zektor to find out what we need to be doing. We don’t have contests, BMW giveaways or cruises. WE do offer great products with unmatched features at competitive prices.”
The company offers nearly 50-point margins for integrators and sells direct to dealers using reps, but also has a national deal with distributor Capitol.