It’s clear that audio manufacturer RIVA Audio is not just another company chasing Sonos in the wireless multiroom audio space. The company has some serious audio chops behind it, both historical and technological.
The product is the brand of Audio Design Experts, Inc. (ADX), founded by Rikki Farr, chairman and chief creative officer. Farr’s roots in the music industry go back 50 years as an engineer for live performances for the likes of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, among others at famed concerts like the Isle of Wight. It is those roots that are the basis of the company’s slogan: “As close to live as it gets.”
“Today, music sounds like an elephant’s fart,” said Farr speaking in an upcoming PBS “Voices of America” documentary. “The ghost of my past is being torn to shreds,” he adds angrily.
Instead of just sitting idly by, Farr used his experience to design a high-end network audio solution that streams Wi-Fi, DDMS, Spotify Connect, AirPlay, DLNA and Bluetooth, while also being Google Cast ready. RIVA made its debut to the custom installation audience at CEDIA 2016, showcasing its WAND (Wireless Audio Network Design) Series customizable and easy-to-use multi-space audio system. The system uses its patented Trillium stereophonic technology to create high-quality sound from a single speaker that can be placed indoors or outdoors drawing content from any networked or online source.
The system is easy to setup and uses a WAND app to create zones, stream different music/audio content through the environment and voice control the system. The RIVA WAND Series includes the Arena ($249 MSRP) and Festival ($499) speakers and is expected to be available for purchase late November. For integrators, the best part is that the company promises “high margin” for CE pros.
“Specialty hi-fi/retail shops was our original distribution channel,” admits CEO Tony Hung. “But we are focused on the custom installation channel with this high-end product line.” RIVA also sells online, but Hung says there will be less emphasis on e-commerce in the future.
“Many talented people have worked very hard to bring such quality and flexibility at a very affordable price,” says Farr. “They’ve created a compact, open system that consumers can play with any source. Finally, I can listen to the music of my past played back as close to LIVE as it gets in a compact system that integrates into any situation! Very rewarding.”
The speakers offer multiple connectivity options, from a single direct connection to a whole-environment wireless networked audio system that can simultaneously stream to up to 32 speakers without acoustic latency. Take the speakers outdoors and they can create their own ad hoc network.
The Arena model is splash resistant and is portable with an optional connected battery pack (16+ hours). The speakers include analog and USB inputs with charge out for phones and tablets, and the Festival will also include an optical input. These inputs are beneficial for users with an existing wired or wireless system who want to introduce RIVA’s Trillium audio into their home.
Setup is easy and intuitive and guided through the RIVA WAND app. Once connected, users can pull up their music library or open a favorite streaming service to start listening immediately. The RIVA WAND app can be used to create zones and stream different music or play directly from a third-party app.
What is Trillium Technology?
Trillium sounds like a planet from “Star Trek” and the technology is certain futuristic. The WAND series uses the company’s patented Trillium audio technology, a proprietary three-channel audio technology that enlarges the audio image. It uses three discrete channels to create stereophonic sound and extended mid-range much larger than the actual speaker size.
Farr notes that much of today’s music, from hip-hop to garage, has strong base and treble but cloudy mid-range. The compact Arena speaker uses three full-range custom ADX drivers with three passive radiators to create up to 101dB of sound. Arena can be configured for single or stereo pair use and will have an optional 16+ hour battery pack for use as a portable speaker. The Festival drives six custom ADX woofers and tweeters coupled with four passive radiators to produce up to 106dB without dynamic range compression, while bass plays down to 38Hz. Both speakers are high-resolution audio (HRA) compatible, playing music files up to 24-bit/192kHz resolutions. Audio Codecs supported include: MP3, ALAC, APE, FLAC, FLAC HD, HLS, WMA Streaming, RTSP and PCM/WAV.
Voice control is in the works, along with a soundbar, according to CTO Raymond Wang. The Arena will be available in Black/Titanium and White/Silver. The Festival will be available in Black/Titanium. During the demo at the show,. president Don North had a glass of water on top of the speaker cabinet. Even with a drum-solo track playing there was virtually no vibration, showing how the audio energy is being directed pristinely with no energy loss through the speaker box.
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