CE Pro News and Product Briefs: March 2017

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

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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.


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March 31, 2017

Fusion Research, a Control4 manufacturing partner, has announced that its latest music server driver built to support their new Summit operating system has been officially certified by Control4. This driver includes mini-driver support for Fusion’s streaming apps which gives Control4 dealers immediate access to those apps from the Listen screen on the Control4 interface.

Now available directly in Control4’s Composer, this latest driver was designed with input from Control4 engineers and makes the Fusion line a rich third-party music server line available for Control4 installation applications. Fusion says the driver takes advantage of all the new features available in the new Summit line of music servers, including all of its popular streaming apps. In addition, Fusion’s multiple iTunes account synchronization and back-up make it ideal for client’s who want to be able to play all their own music without keeping the host iTunes computer turned on.

“We worked hard to make this driver similar to the former driver that Extra Vegetables employed for Control4 that was such a dealer favorite”, states Alex Fanti, CTO of Fusion Research, “In this way, dealers can ensure that the product installation and consumer feel will be close to what they used to be able to achieve with that now defunct driver.”


March 30, 2017

Logitech has announced that its Logitech Harmony hub-based products now work with the Google Assistant on Google Home, expanding the possibilities of in-home voice control. Now integrators can set their clients' homes up with Logitech Harmony remotes that control via traditional methods and voice control.

“Voice has a powerful role in simplifying the connected home experience and people absolutely love it,” says Renee Niemi, vice president and general manager of Logitech Smart Home. “Controlling entertainment is an important activity within the smart home and Logitech Harmony has been focused on optimizing the ways people can enjoy this. By working with Google, we are now able to make home entertainment even more seamless and fun.”


March 29, 2017

Microsoft has announced new features for its Xbox One gaming console that includes Blu-ray player bitstream passthrough support for DTS:X. This update allows the receiver to decode DTS:X audio natively, which replicates and conveys the fluid movement of sound to create a richer experience than previously possible by moving sound to precisely where the mixer placed it. 


“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2″ are now available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc. The Harry Potter home video releases feature 4K resolutions with HDR and DTS:X immersive audio to provide users with a state-of-the-art A/V experience.

DTS explains that its DTS:X replicates and conveys the fluid movement of sound to create a richer experience than previously possible by moving sound to precisely where the mixer placed it. 

Additionally, the audio company points out that DTS:X immersive audio technology adapts to the speaker layout to best fit the individual viewing space by seamlessly transporting sound to and through specific locations within the viewing environment – in front of, behind, above and beside the audience. 


March 28, 2017

Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA), a hybrid retail and custom integration buying group, has announced that it has added several new brands through several new manufacturer agreements. 

HTSA new brands are as follows:

  • European Audio Team
  • Peachtree Audio
  • Roon Labs
  • SurgeX
  • Luxul

The buying group states that each of these brands address different product and service segments, and have a common thread running through them: Each represents a high-performance alternative when compared to other brands.


Legrand's NuVo brand announced that its Nuvo Player Portfolio whole-home audio system is now supported by HomeSeer, a third-party home control platform. No updating of Nuvo software is required.

“This creates new selling opportunities for dealers whose customers have HomeSeer and want a home audio system that will run seamlessly as part of that platform,” says Desirée Webster, senior marketing communications manager, Legrand. “For existing Nuvo customers, it expands their options for adding a home automation system.”

Webster points out the Player Portfolio support is enabled by the latest operating system release by HomeSeer.  She explains that it allows the home controller to automatically discover the Nuvo music system on the home’s network and operate features, including individual zone control of music selection and volume.


Capitol, a national distribution source for residential systems and light commercial contractors, is expanding its selection to include products that are Works with Nest certified.

The Works with Nest program is designed that once users identify the Works with Nest integration they’d like to use, they can go to the Works with Nest section of the product’s app and login with their Nest account to authorize the connection. Capitol currently offers dealers and resellers 31 Works with Nest products.

Among the Works with Nest products Capitol distributes is SkyBell HD, a smart doorbell camera that sends a live video feed to the owner’s smartphone or tablet. Users can turn Nest Cam on or off through the SkyBell app and if Nest Cam detects sound or motion while in Away mode, it will tell SkyBell HD to turn on and start recording. Additionally, if Nest Protect detects smoke or carbon monoxide, SkyBell HD will blink red to indicate it is not safe to enter the house.

“Works with Nest is the most comprehensive and compelling connected home platform today,” says Curt Hayes, president and CFO, Capitol. “All the developments in smart home technologies don’t mean anything if consumers find it frustrating to sync their connected devices. Works with Nest is an important key in alleviating these challenges with products that play well together as they become essential to consumers’ lifestyles.”


March 24, 2017

AVAD LLC, a national distributor serving the residential and commercial custom installation markets, has announced a partnership with the video manufacturer BenQ.  

BenQ offers a full line of display and presentation solutions that incorporate the very latest technologies. The global manufacturer's range of products includes digital projectors, professional monitors, interactive large-format displays, digital signage solutions, mobile computing devices, and LED lighting solutions that address just about any application. Some the applications BenQ's products cover range from education, home, gaming, enterprise, government, house of worship, to digital signage, A/V and IT.

“Our partnership with AVAD provides real value to our customers,” says Terry Ramahi, director of distribution sales at BenQ America Corp. “For home cinema, our new 4K HT8050 projector will complement AVAD’s residential product line. Combined with AVAD’s expert technical support, we’re certain integrators will be equipped to deliver the best end-user experience possible.”


Core Brands has launched the Elan Builder Program to help builders sell more homes. The program offers builders aggressively priced base packages, direct manufacturer support and project oversight, and model home and incentive programs. 

“Elan offers builders the best home automation standard to help sell more homes,” emphasized Core Brands director of builder sales Bret Jacob.  “Today’s homeowners demand home technology and entertainment options in their new homes, and they want their technology and entertainment to be easy and personal. The Elan Builder Program takes the confusion out of offering and delivering home automation standards. ELAN has been innovating home technology solutions for three decades with a philosophy of ‘Your World Made Simple.’  Most recently, Elan was recognized for offering the best user interface by the CTA Tech Home Mark of Excellence Award Committee. We are now making it easier than ever for our dealers to bring ELAN solutions to their builders, and we are certain that this program will generate new builder leads for our dealers.”

Dealers can learn more about the Elan Builder Program by attending one of the Selling More Homes with Personalized Home Automation dealer workshop webinars. These webinars will feature homebuilding authority Mike Moore. The first two webinars will be held on March 28 and March 30, 2017.  Registration for the webinars is now open.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern
Thursday, March 30, 2017 11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern

The presentation will include a program overview from Jacob, and a summary from Mike Moore on the best practices for selling new homes faster and for more money by personalizing them with technology. Jacob and Moore will then launch a series of webinars and in-person presentations directly to builders.

In 1996, Moore co-founded and developed Options Online, an online design studio and operating system for the homebuilding industry, now available as Studio Chateau. Moore has been inspiring, motivating and coaching builders and product suppliers to new home builders ever since. His workshops help sell more homes through personalizing new homes with compelling options.


March 23, 2017

SCP and Current Audio are extremely excited to announce Richard Turner as their new Vice President of Sales for North America. 

Turner brings 20 years of sales, marketing and operational expertise. He was formally with AVAD LLC for 6 years, where he served as director of North American sales in his most recent capacity.


March 21, 2017

Marketing Matters, a strategic integrated public relations, marketing and advertising agency specializing in consumer electronics, custom installation, technology, start-ups and high-end home goods, has announced company president Coleen Sterns Leith’s debut book: Ultra Hi Def Marketing. The ‘5-Step Guide to World Domination in the Tech Industry” is now available for order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

“The days of complacency are over. Your competition is trying everything they can to take your market share,” states Leith. “It’s time to execute strategic marketing efforts. After years of experience in the tech industry, I’ve established proven methods for brands to be successful. Marketing Matters has played an integral role in many successful startups and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with an industry I’m so passionate about.”


StormAudio, a European manufacturer of high-performance home theater equipment, has entered into an agreement with Dirac Research, the global developer of platform optimized sound enhancement technology, to incorporate the company's the Dirac Live room correction solution into its new StormOptimizer suite. StormAudio says that by equipping this powerful tool into its products, professional integrators can effectively and efficiently correct the acoustic behaviors of the room and speakers as a complete system.

The Dirac Live room correction solution, integrated into StormAudio’s product line, will be demonstrated at the High End Show, May 18-21 in Munich and available shortly thereafter.

“At StormAudio, it’s our mission to provide our integrators and end-users with exceptional sound and service, and our agreement with Dirac enables us to achieve both,” says Yves Trélohan, StormAudio’s SVP, Home Entertainment and Luxury Audio Product Division. “Dirac Live has been well recognized as the best room correction solution on the market. Advanced yet simple to use, Dirac Live will be a powerful tool for our integrators – they will deliver a premium listening experience to their customers while spending less time on site.”


The new BoschMeasureOn app is designed to provide users with a clear digital overview of all project details, including floor plans, measurements, photos and notes. These features are all viewable with a smartphone or tablet in one app. MeasureOn is free to download and free to use. The app will be available on March 20 at the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

The app works with Bosch's laser measurement devices to speed up the measuring process, improve measurement precision, enhance the organization and reliability of project documents, reduce information transfer mistakes, store project images with measurements and notes, and create floorplans. All data can be instantly transferred to an iOS or Android smart device to make MeasureOn a solution that professional electronics installers, architects, contractors, trade professionals and real estate professionals can use.


March 17, 2017

Apple has launched a new HomeKit website page. The page lists compatible products in categories that include lights, outlets, thermostats, window and shades, HVAC, security products such as door locks and cameras, and network range extenders. 


March 16

Audirvana Plus, the desktop music player for macOS, has released the latest version of its software which now includes integrated MQA audio technology. The MQA Core decoder, contained within the new Audirvana Plus 3 player enables the first origami ‘unfold’ and also authenticates the file using a blue or green light to confirm that the sound is identical to that of the source material.

In addition to optimising sound quality and authenticating file provenance, Audirvana Plus 3  also includes these benefits:​

  • A complete library management system with full metadata and cover art display for all music, whether stored locally or streamed
  • Integration with premium streaming services such as Tidal and Qobuz

The MQA Core decoder’s initial file ‘unfold’ recovers all the direct music-related information and makes it available for either analogue or digital output at 88.2 or 96 kHz. With a non MQA-enabled device, any listener can experience enhanced sound. Teamed with an MQA-enabled device, the listener benefits from the highest possible sound quality, as the music will continue to unfold with precise file and platform-specific DAC compensation and management.

“I am thrilled to work with MQA because our companies both share the same goal to bring the magic of hearing the original live performance to everyone,” says Damien Plisson, founder, Audirvana. “The integration of MQA technology is a major step toward enabling all Mac users to hear their favourite artists as if they were right there in front of them.”


Genelec, a manufacturer of active monitoring technologies for nearly 40 years, is holding a two-day listening showcase in Nashville, Tenn., at Addiction Sound Studios in the city’s Berry Hill neighborhood (506 East Iris Drive, Nashville TN 37204).

The event is open-house-style, taking place on Monday, March 20, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Tuesday, March 21, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  

Genelec will have 3-way SAM active monitors on hand to represent its product range, all set up to audition in a controlled listening environment. The lineup will include Genelec’s 1234A SAM, 1237A SAM, 1238A SAM, 8351A SAM and the 8330A SAM with 7360A SAM subwoofer. Guests are encouraged to bring their own playback material.   

No RSVP is required; Genelec says that visitors can stop by anytime during event hours on either day. All attendees will be entered to win a pair of Genelec 8010 monitors.  


RTI, a global manufacturer of control and automation products for the residential and commercial market, and its subdivision, Pro Control, have announced partnerships with AllnetCapitol, and AVX Wholesale to strengthen product access and dealer support across the U.S. Midwestern and Southwestern territories.

“By strategically expanding our distribution network, we are providing dealers with more access to leading-edge partners who have deep market knowledge and technical expertise,” explains Mike Everett, vice president of global sales for RTI and Pro Control. “Along with direct access to our solutions, these companies will broaden service and support while enhancing dealer training in these regions.”

As distributors for RTI and Pro Control, Allnet and Capitol will carry the full range of joint in-wall touchpanels, handheld system controllers, central processors, audio distribution systems, and accessories; while AVX Wholesale will distribute Pro Control's complete line of controllers and accessories.


Evolution Digital has announced that it has signed a certified guide renewal agreement with TiVo to deploy eGUIDE, a newly-designed interactive program guide (IPG). eGUIDE, powered by TiVo Metadata, will feature rich graphics and a navigation scheme designed similarly to TiVo’s current i-Guide. The new solution provides cable operators in the United States and Canada with an IP-capable alternative to easily migrate legacy set-top boxes using i-Guide.

eGUIDE is available on Evolution Digital’s IP Hybrid eBOX, which can be configured to support all-IP video including live linear channels, IP video on demand, network DVR and catch-up TV. eGUIDE features a 16:9 HD format, rich graphics as well as navigational features similar to iGuide. eGUIDE is enabled by TiVo’s enhanced metadata services, which helps users easily find their favorite TV shows and movies, as well as discover new content across various channels.

“Evolution Digital joined forces with TiVo to further our mission of offering low-cost solutions for cable operators seeking to transition to IP video distribution,” says Brent Smith, president and chief technology officer at Evolution Digital. “With eGUIDE, operators can easily upgrade customers with legacy set-top boxes and begin offering advanced IP video features, like Video on Demand, while minimizing user confusion by providing a familiar navigation scheme and remote control. It is a win-win for operators and for consumers.”


March 14, 2017

Dirac Research, a global developer of platform-optimized sound enhancement technology, announced an investment of $4.865 million from current and new investors. The capital investment will be used to accelerate Dirac’s expansion into new markets such as virtual and augment reality; it will be used to strengthen its position in the mobile audio optimization technology market, and to further develop its management and engineering teams. The company also announced that Jörgen Lantto,long-time Ericsson executive and former CEO of Fingerprint Cards AB, has joined Dirac’s board of directors, effective immediately.

“Dirac is now the global leader in mobile audio optimization, with a growing customer portfolio that includes Huawei, OPPO, OnePlus, and Xiaomi, as well as new customers to be announced in the coming months,” says Dirac CEO Mathias Johansson. “At the same time, we’ve also established strategic positions in the virtual and augmented reality markets with the recent launch of our Dirac VR audio platform. This new capital infusion, along with the appointment of Jörgen to our board of directors, allows our company to keep pace with the industry’s exploding demand for premium audio in nearly every consumer technology product category – from VR and AR, to mobile, headphones, speakers, home theatre, automotive, and more.”


Cat Toomey, founder and CEO of CATalyzing Communications, announced that her firm aided in the creation of Home Technology Specialists of America's (HTSA) new website, which recently launched. Toomey and her team drove the project, messaging, navigation and visual impact, and the redesign's implementation and software coding was performed by Site On Time, web provider and partner for HTSA and Nationwide Marketing Group. 


March 13, 2017

Jetbuilt, a provider of web-based Mac and PC A/V proposal and estimation software, announced customer relations management functionality as a new optional add-on to its platform. For a limited time, existing and new users will be eligible to receive Jetbuilt’s CRM feature for free throughout the life of their account. The added tool, a supplemental module within Jetbuilt, will ultimately be listed as an extra package option for future subscribers.

Jetbuilt’s new CRM functionality allows users to track potential clients while including multiple contacts, including description and contact information. 

“We’re excited to launch our sales CRM within Jetbuilt to provide our dealers with more tools for success,” states Paul Dexter, founder and chief executive officer for Jetbuilt. “Our CRM functionality adds another level of tracking and client management, something many of our users have been asking for since day one. The new features will allow our users to stay connected with their leads to turn more of their Opportunities into sales.”


AVAD LLC, a national provider of solutions to the residential and commercial custom installation markets, has announced a new alliance with LG Electronics USA that gives AVAD dealers nationwide access to LG’s line of home entertainment products, including its OLED TVs and the new LG SUPER UHD TVs featuring Nano Cell technology.  

“At AVAD, we’re thrilled to provide a wider breadth of premium display brands for our dealers, along with more profit and revenue opportunities.” says Jon Zabel, vice president of sales and vendor management, AVAD. “The new AVAD means giving our dealers exciting new choices such as LG along with leveraging our national footprint and expansion plans into new markets to provide more solutions for more dealers.”


The PowerHouse Alliance has announced the addition of Hikvision, KEF and Zigen to its list of vendor partners. Effective immediately, PowerHouse members will have inventory and provide support of the new brands to their dealers nationwide.

”Partnering with Hikvision, KEF and Zigen was a no-brainer for the PowerHouse Alliance,” says PowerHouse Alliance Executive Director Dennis Holzer. “Each of these new brands are well known in their respective fields and are in high demand. We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with all three brands.”

According to the PowerHouse Alliance, it selected its new lines carefully.

“KEF is as good as it gets for premium home and custom loudspeakers and are desired by both discerning listeners for their unmistakable acoustic signature, and by design-conscious consumers for their stunning and modern aesthetic,” adds Holzer. “Zigen is highly-trusted by installers for their HDMI switches, extenders and distributed amplifiers and Hikvision is a big player in the security space for video surveillance solutions.”


RTI, a manufacturer of control and automation manufacturer for residential and commercial settings, has announced new video intercom support for select RTI controllers and third-party intercom-enabled devices. Designed for front door access, security gates, intra-office, and room-to-room applications, this new capability allows users to conveniently and safely communicate from point-to- point via their RTI devices..

“The demand for intercom continues to increase, and we are pleased to add video functionality across a range of RTI devices,” says Mike Everett, vice president of global sales for RTI. “Our lineup of video intercom-enabled controllers includes wired and wireless interfaces, which allows our dealers to offer their clients convenient communications between their RTI devices and third-party door stations.”

RTI's video intercom capabilities are supported on the KX3, KX7 and KX10 in-wall touchpanels, the CX7 and the upcoming CX10 countertop/under-cabinet touchpanels, as well as the company's flagship T3x to deliver the company's first video intercom-enabled handheld controller. 


The N.H.-based audio manufacturer Russound now provides Control4 functionality for five of its products, including its new XZone70V 70/100-volt Streaming Audio Amplifier. 

Other drivers available include solutions for its two MCA-series controllers, and its XZone 4-stream/four-source multiroom audio systems. 

“Russound strives to design audio products that play well with others, especially market leaders like Control4,” notes Charlie Porritt, CEO, Russound. “Control4 compatibility is a necessary point-of-entry in an increasing number of projects of any size, especially large-scale installations. Our customers can install our latest models with comfort of knowing that they integrate with the most popular control systems in the custom channel.”


March 10, 2017

Access Networks, a Calif.-based provider of enterprise-grade network solutions for residential integration, has announced the availability of its comprehensive live monitoring solution that provides the highest level of support to integrators. Built upon a channel-exclusive partnership with Cenersys—whose founders have deep roots in enterprise-grade monitoring, Access Networks Live Monitoring (ANLM) is a proactive solution that enables Access Networks' team of Cisco and Ruckus Wireless certified engineers to monitor, diagnose and repair problems before it becomes visible to the homeowner.


March 9, 2017

As part of its commitment to affiliate partners, and offering a “one-stop shop” for its customers, SnapAV has formed a new partnership with BenQ, a projection company known worldwide for its professional-grade projectors.

“We’ve been looking forward to this deal for a long time,” says Andras Balassy, product manager of distributed products, SnapAV. “This was about finding the right partner – someone who offers the performance, product quality, and profit margin our installers need. Although BenQ’s been known in the past as a consumer-oriented brand, that’s only a small part of what they bring to the table.” He’s equally excited about the protected line SnapAV will offer their customers. “BenQ’s Integrators’ Choice projectors are built for installers—and not only that, due to diligent quality testing and certifications, they surpass the image quality of a lot of big names. From a competitive standpoint, nobody else even came close.”


Studio Six Digital has expanded its AudioTools-app based audio testing and calibration suite. The company just added Dosimeter which is available in the latest AudioTools release, 10.0.

Dosimeter keeps track of a person's noise exposure over time, to either US or international standards. Explaining in greater detail, Studio Six Digital points out, a dosimeter measures a persons cumulative noise exposure over time. It was designed to help prevent hearing loss by allowing a user to monitor the amount of noise that they have been exposed to, which over time can correlate to hearing damage.

In addition to the traditional dose measurement, the Studio Six Digital Dosimeter also provides visual feedback of the current SPL conditions with an SPL Meter that uses completely independent settings from those used by the Dosimeter. It will flash yellow or red as preset trigger levels are reached.


The 2017 edition of the DSI catalog is now available and is full of the latest models of products, services and accessories to make it a complete reference guide, according to the company. Major brands represented in the catalog include AT&T, DIRECTV, Exede, Vivint Home Automation and others.

“This year’s catalog offers more services and offerings from DSI Systems than ever before. No matter what products our retailers provide to consumers, this catalog is a complete reference guide to help our retailers grow their business,” says Doug  Robison, president and CEO for DSI Systems. “When retailers make the decision to partner with DSI Systems, we make it a priority to provide them with the support and training needed to succeed.”


LG Electronics has announced that more than 50 commercial displays have earned Crestron Connected certification for enhanced control system compatibility. To date, eight series of LG digital signage displays available worldwide, including products ranging from 32- to 65-inch class sizes are certified as Crestron Connected, while other models are undergoing certification testing.

By joining forces with Crestron Electronics, LG says that it has created a portfolio of digital signage monitors designed to provide customers a higher level of integration and reliability. 

The Crestron Connected certification further enhances LG’s presence in the corporate, retail, government, higher education and hospitality markets, all of which use professional AV controls. 

As part of the Crestron Connected program, LG is embedding Crestron control software into its commercial displays, which allows certified partners to natively connect, communicate and monitor activity from one central location. Because each display can be connected directly to the Crestron Network and recognized as a native Crestron device, customers will be able to seamlessly monitor and manage their LG displays through any web-enabled computer or mobile device without the use of an external control system.


The U.K.-based distributor Custom AV Distribution (CAVD) has added the high-performance home theater electronics manufacturer Datasat to its product lineup.

“Since starting Custom AV Distribution in 2014 my intention was to represent only the finest manufacturers in the CI channel. Datasat audio processors compliment a Wisdom Audio system perfectly and are a welcome addition to our exceptional portfolio,” says Jamie Pullen, CAVD MD.

CAVD will carry products like Datasat's RS20i processor and RA2400 amplifier to provide U.K. integrators with the ability to offer their clients the brand that was spun out of DTS.
 
“Datasat is thrilled to be working with Jamie Pullen, and the team at Custom AV Distribution. Jamie’s passion and expertise in the high-end will be invaluable to both our current dealer network and those wanting to be added to our family,” adds Steve Evanitsky, senior vice president of Datasat.


March 8, 2017

Relativity Education, in conjunction with AudezeAbleton and SubPac, have announced new Ableton-Certified Electronic Music Sessions (EMS) programming, beginning March 23, 2017.

The music production course offered by Relativity Education is a 12-week Electronic Music Sessions program designed by Ableton Certified Trainer, Ryan Origin.  According to the course organizers, the weekly series features lectures and tutorials from Origin, as well as technical artists/instructors all with the purpose to increase users' abilities to employ Ableton Live.

Relativity Education offers training in a music education environment that includes Audeze Planar Magnetic Headphones, SubPac Physical Audio Systems, and Ableton Push 2 at every workstation. 

Connectivity via Dante lossless audio distribution ensures a quality experience for students during the seminars reinforce the platform's curriculum. 


March 7, 2017

The company 21st Century Distributing, a consumer electronics distributor serving the Southeast, have announced its first annual award winners for Branch of the Year presented to its Charlotte, North Carolina branch and Vanco International as Vendor of the Year.

“After nearly 40 years in business, we are excited to start a new tradition at 21st Century, honoring those who deserve to be recognized annually with two awards,” says Don Vicini, CEO and owner for 21stCentury Distributing. “Both Vanco and our Charlotte, North Carolina branch were major contributors to 21st Century Distributing’s success over the past year and they deserve special recognition for their outstanding teamwork, responsiveness, customer service, priority to drive sales and most importantly, for catering to our dealers and their individual needs.”

The distributor says the award is not meant to recognize which branch had the highest sales, but the Charlotte brand was its most profitable in 2016. 

A primary developer and manufacturer of HDMI switches, splitters, scalers, extenders, volume controls and cables, Vanco International offers accessory products that advance connectivity designed with A/V integrators in mind. The distributor has been selling Vanco products for many years, and 21st Century Distributing says it chose the company as the 2017 award winner because, “Vanco offers a phenomenal product at a reasonable price with good margins, and also support their dealers and the 21st Century Distributing team across all locations.”

“On behalf of Vanco, I am honored to accept the award from 21stCentury,” states Mark Corbin, director of distribution markets, Vanco. “They have become an excellent distributor for us and show incredible support for our product and our employees. Thanks to 21st Century for this award. It means a lot to our Vanco team.”


Elite screens has announced the launch of an educational blog focusing on the projection screen industry. Industry Writer, Dave Rodgers will be writing content and administrating over the site. Rodgers has over 20 years experience in the technology industry and has made numerous TV, radio, print and online appearances giving advice on the many topics shared on the Blog.

The blog can be found here, and the email address for the blog is screenblog@elitescreens.com.


March 6, 2017

The broadcast service provider Dish is providing basketball fans with all the tools necessary to follow the 2017 NCAA tournament:

  • DISH Anywhere: Fans not at home during the games can use the DISH Anywhere app to watch all NCAA tournament games virtually anywhere from a mobile device.
  • Sports Bar Mode: This viewing option, which is also known as MultiView, Sports Bar Mode can be used to watch up to four games at once from a Hopper 3 DVR set-top box (STB).
  • Bracket View: Follow the NCAA tournament with DISH’s Bracket View, which is an app that populates an interactive bracket with upcoming, live and completed games.
  • Game Finder: DISH’s Game Finder app helps find current and upcoming games, as well as providing an easy means to schedule recordings and reminders.

March 2, 2017

ProSource, a national audio, video, and integration buying group, has announced the addition of Focal and Naim to its vendor line-up. Based in France, Focal has been manufacturing audio products for the consumer and professional audio markets for 35 years.

U.K.-based Naim was founded in 1973 and it manufactures a complete line of stereo audio products. 

Dave Workman, president and CEO of ProSource, says the addition of these brands will bolster the choice ProSource customers have to meet their clients audio needs.

 “We are proud to announce the addition of Naim and Focal to our best-in-the-industry list of audio vendor partners,” notes Workman. “Both of these brands are critical additions to our ultra-premium brand selection that is so important to the independent specialty dealer.”

John Bevier, national sales manager for Audio Plus Services, the American representative for Focal and Naim, says Audio Plus Services looks forward to working with ProSource.

“We are thrilled with the opportunity to join forces with ProSource to further their goals of bringing higher endpremium audio and video to their member base and are confident in our capacity to structure and support win-win relations,” adds Bevier. “Having worked with ProSource in the past, we know their ability to execute plans and deliver to goal is second to none.”


Yale Locks & Hardware has announced that its Yale Real Living deadbolts and levers with Z-Wave or ZigBee are compatible with Amazon Alexa when used in conjunction with a Samsung SmartThings Hub or Wink Hub.

The Alexa lock skill allows Yale Z-Wave or ZigBee users with a compatible hub to lock their door and check current lock status. Voice commands such as, “Alexa, lock my front door,” or “Alexa, is my back door locked?” will trigger automatic responses and/or actions from Amazon Alexa.  The lock will not unlock with voice commands for security purposes. 

“Adding Alexa voice control to Yale’s SmartThings and Wink integration offers many of our customers a new level of convenience and flexibility,” says Jason Williams, president, ASSA ABLOY U.S. Residential Group, which includes Yale Residential. “The popularity of Amazon Alexa clearly demonstrates a strong consumer preference for voice control, and the Alexa integrations make controlling a smart home easier than ever. We’re thrilled to now be part of that.”

The Samsung SmartThings Hub and Wink Hub are compatible with all devices with Amazon Alexa, including Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot and Amazon Tap. To operate the Yale Real Living Assure Lock using Alexa voice commands requires either a Samsung SmartThings Hub and the SmartThings app or a Wink Hub and the Wink app, an Amazon Alexa device and a Yale lock with Z-Wave or ZigBee, such as the Yale Assure Lock. 


March 1, 2017

Cary Audio has announced that its All-in-One-System (AiOS) is now MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) certified. This will be the second Cary Audio product to be MQA certified, and the N.C.-based company points out that its AiOS and DMS-500 are MQA’s first partner products to use MQA 16x rendering. Cary explains that this means all MQA files are decoded within the AiOS and DMS-500 to a 705.6 kHz (44.1 X 16) or 768 kHz (48 x 16). With these products and MQA’s 16x rendering, MQA files will take you back to the original master recording and capture the missing timing detail, the American company adds. 

All AiOS units shipping as of this announcement will have MQA preinstalled. Dealers can update AiOS units in the field free of charge using the AiOS Internet update features to bring their clients' AiOS up to date with the new MQA firmware.


FIBARO, a global manufacturer of wireless home automation and control devices, has announced integration with Russound, a N.H.-based whole house audio equipment manufacturer. The two companies have developed three plug-ins that allow Fibaro Home Center controllers, like Home Center 2, to remotely manage Russound’s XSource Streaming Audio Player, as well as two of Russound’s audio systems.

“We are always working on improving our controllers with new integrations that expand features while making it easy to manage all components within one system,” says Adam Jablonski, U.S. Systems Engineer for Fibaro. “From a custom installer’s perspective, Russound meets a very high audio standard. Whether it’s a single room setup or multi-room configuration, Russound’s integration is a seamless and reliable option while remaining cost-effective.”


TiO, the Florida-based provider of home automation products,  has announce the UL certification of its TouchStream 7, which is a 7-inch touch screen with an amplified streaming audio player. In addition, the StealthStream 1, TiO’s powerful digital audio zone player, has received Spotify Connect certification.

“The UL Certification of our new TouchStream 7 is the final step we needed to launch this powerful, stylish touch panel,” says Sanjay Patel, president and chief executive officer of TiO. “The TouchStream 7 provides simple control through the TiO Home app, allowing users to control many aspects of their home, as well as enjoy music from their favorite streaming services, Bluetooth and more. We’re also pleased to announce Spotify Connect certification of our StealthStream 1. Our Spotify Connect certification provides our users with another streaming option and we continue to partner with more services, as well.”


ProjX360 has announced the integration with QuickBooks Online. The Ariz.-based company says that with QuickBooks Online integration dealers can sync clients, products, proposals, purchase orders, service invoices, suppliers and time tracking. Having this capability ProjX360 adds will save dealers time and money and streamline their processes. 


Kwikset SmartCode smart locks are now controllable via Amazon Echo, specifically systems using Samsung SmartThings or Wink to control their Kwikset SmartCode 910, 912, 914 or 916 smart locks. This feature is a result of the new API launch from Amazon to include smart lock through the SmartThings and Wink hubs.

“The integration between Kwikset and Amazon Alexa devices offers homeowners even more convenience by simplifying the way they interact with their locks. Homeowners can now say, ‘Alexa, lock my door’ instead of having to open an app,” says Ashton Good, Kwikset senior product manager, Spectrum Brands Inc. – Hardware and Home Improvement Division. “We’re excited for Kwikset to work in cooperation with SmartThings, Wink and Amazon to greatly improve and simplify the homeowner’s smart home experience, whether they are at home or away from home.” 


February 28

Capitol, a national distribution source for residential systems and light commercial contractors, has announced that it now offers the full Pioneer and Pioneer Elite home audio/video lineup throughout the U.S.

First established in 1938 as an audio products manufacturer, Pioneer is recognized as a top company in electronics products. Under the terms of the agreement, Capitol now offers its customers the full breadth of Pioneer and Pioneer Elite home A/V electronics, including audio/video receivers, speakers, turntables, two-channel components, and mini-stereo systems.

“The Pioneer name is synonymous with industry-leading products that are in demand by A/V enthusiasts and casual listeners alike,” says Curt Hayes, president and CFO Capitol. “Pioneer’s deep selection and reputation for innovation and reliability will no doubt make it a profitable addition to our customers’ product offerings.”


Yamaha is bringing Amazon Alexa voice control to its family of MusicCast wireless multiroom audio products to make it easier for homeowners to control their home entertainment experience.

Starting this fall, more than 40 Yamaha MusicCast A/V products will be capable of streaming audio throughout the home will receive a firmware update to enable the control via spoken commands through Alexa-enabled devices. An Alexa skill that adds support for the MusicCast commands will simultaneously be made available for Alexa-enabled devices, including the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon&n

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson

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