Russound, a provider of multiroom audio, will soon ship a new IP-based system that utilizes the Home Plug Alliance's Power Line Carrier technology for audio and intercom communication throughout the home.
Christened Collage, the new system is designed to give end-users complete multiroom access to digital audio entertainment, legacy sources, intercom system and color security cameras by way of a home's standard AC wiring. By negating the need for a centralized controller, amplified keypads and system sources can be placed anywhere in a home where AC power has been run.
"Russound is bullish on PLC," said Michael Stein, Russound's Senior Director of Research and Technology. "It's the smartest, most efficient option for moving entertainment over a home's AC wiring, which is why we were quick to take advantage of its capabilities when we first announced the Avenue and iBridge Power Dock products over the past year.
"Collage takes the promise of PLC to an entirely new level by 'freeing' the technology to operate without having to first install an RNET system, and leveraging IP delivery of digital assets as well as analog content without having to rely on any add-on pieces of hardware. From entertainment to intercom functions, Collage is the easiest, most reliable retrofit solution that will be available to our dealers and end-users."
The Collage amplified keypad is connected to a standard RomexTM wire run that supplies both power and a communications pathway to a Media Manager that bridges the PLC signals to a local area network (LAN). In turn, sources such as IR devices - including DVRs, CD players, iPod docks, CCTV cameras, and even online music services, such as Rhapsody® and SHOUTcast – are now part of the network, and can be accessed from any of the installed keypads.
As illustrated by the topology, Collage is comprised of a few key ingredients that are simple to install, set up and enjoy. Each one of these components plays an essential part in the process.
Collage Amplified Keypad – The most visible element in the Collage mix, each Collage keypad features a TFT display that clearly communicates all top-level information, including metadata retrieved from sources that utilize it. A convenient, user-friendly click wheel and capacitive touch buttons make it easy to select and control a desired source in a matter of seconds.
To ensure that integrators can install the keypad in a fraction of the time typically associated with such a project, Russound designed the in-wall power supply with a slim back box design that fits comfortably in a standard stud bay. The supply itself is fully serviceable and meets UL requirements.
More than a simple control mechanism, the Collage keypad features an internal FM tuner, effectively adding radio to every zone's source selection – as well as an alarm clock and sleep timer. An intercom function opens the pathway for clear communication from room to room, in addition to room monitoring and all-zone paging. Collage systems with CCTV cameras in place allow the user to see who is at the door or within sight of any installed camera on the keypad's screen.
The modular keypad accesses from 1 - 10 zones, and provides full audio control, including a 5-band graphic equalizer, 'night mode', loudness and preset curves. Room speakers are powered by the keypad's internal amplifier, which supplies 15 watts per channel at 8 ohms and is stable at a 4-ohm load.
Collage Media Manager – When plugged into a standard wall outlet, the Collage Media
Manager receives commands from a keypad before passing them along to the selected source, and sending the desired content to the zone of choice.
Every Collage system requires one Media Manager in order to function, as it serves as the bridge from PLC to the LAN and WAN. In addition to legacy sources, up to four unique streams of media can be managed by each Media Manager providing the consumer with a wide selection of entertainment options. These streams include files from Network Attached Storage, iTunes and music from your PC.
Collage Source Bridge – Adding a legacy source component is easy with the Collage Source Bridge, which includes a variety of common inputs, such as S/PDIF - IR and L/R analog audio, plus composite video input for CCTV cameras. Any number of Source Bridges may be used in a Collage system.
Collage Dock – Without a doubt, the iPod is one of the most popular consumer electronics products to surface since the category was first established, and it is common for consumers to store most, if not all of their music files on one or more players.
Russound, which offers a number of advanced iPod docks in its iBridge family of products, brings its knowledge of the category to its new Collage system with the Collage Dock. When placed in the dock, metadata is displayed and browsing is available from any Collage keypad.
Collage recognizes an iPod through auto source discovery when it is placed in a dock. Up to 10 Collage Docks can be added to a Collage system.
"'Retrofit' is the battle cry in today's custom installation market," commented Walt Zerbe, Product Manager, Emerging Technologies for Russound. "But what we have done with Collage is take the retrofit concept to its simplest, most efficient, and even more important, most profitable manifestation to date. Any home with AC wiring is a candidate for a Collage installation."
For more information, visit the company¹s Web site at www.russound.com.
*According to August 2005, 2006 and 2007 studies by EH Research