Connected Cinemas is a new concept from established CI distributor Connected Distribution. Launching in November its purpose is to focus on the provision of the ‘Cinema In The Home’ model for domestic cinema installations, which was introduced at the Essential Install Live exhibition.
The launch coincides with the completion and opening of the dedicated ‘Cinema In The Home’ demonstration facility at Connected’s Cheltenham office. This state-of-the-art cinema has been designed to present the mainstays of the company’s cinema offering – Aurea loudspeakers and Acurus electronics – to installers, retailers and their more discerning clients.
The 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos cinema has been built to show off the incredible audio performance that this combination of products achieves. As Connected Cinema’s Mike Bonnette explains, “We set out to build a facility that would enable us to showcase our ‘Cinema In The Home’ offering, which differs from practically all other home cinemas as it genuinely delivers true cinema performance in the home, so much so that we don’t refer to it as ‘home cinema’.
“The Aurea cinema speakers are designed using exactly the same criteria for dispersion, SPL, intelligibility and timbre as the company’s professional cinema speakers which are used in such locations as Odeon Leicester Square and BFI Imax.
“Combine them with Acurus processors and amplifiers, whose remit is to take the encoded film soundtrack and process it without compromise, and the result is a domestic solution that is as close to the experience of being in a commercial cinema as is possible.”
The Connected Cinemas demo facility is permanently equipped with the Aurea In-wall series 6+6 model for the LCR channels, IW 5+5 model for the side and rear surrounds and the Coaxial 5 model for the four height channels. Two Sub 12 in-wall subwoofers are employed, taking the LF response down to 23Hz. The total system is capable of a maximum continuous SPL well in excess of the 105dB Dolby specification.
Processing is done using the Acurus Muse, a 16-channel processor that is devoid of unnecessary and often unused features found in other brands, allowing it to do nothing but decode the immersive audio experience to the highest possible levels of performance. Power amplification comes from the Acurus M8 eight-channel power amplifiers, delivering 200 watts per channel.
The room has been calibrated using the Acurus AspeQT speaker parameter and EQ tool, a comprehensive four microphone system that enables the room to be tuned to the required target EQ curve.
In addition to the Aurea and Acurus brands, Connected Cinemas also specifies and distributes Euroscreen screens, Yamaha AVRs and Parasound amplification – a brand used in commercial movie production studios such as Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm. These products can also be demonstrated in the Connected Cinemas room.
Connected Distribution has secured exclusive UK distribution rights to the Acurus range of home cinema electronics, bringing this highly respected brand to UK installers for their high-end cinema installations.
Acurus, a brand of Indy Audio Labs, is based in Indianapolis USA and has been manufacturing in the US since the company was founded in 2008. Acurus and sister brand, Aragon, were acquired by IAL in 2009 and since then the product range has been developed to point where the Acurus processors are now among the most respected in the world.
The product line up consists of two immersive audio processors, an eight channel power amplifier, plus a five and seven channel power amp. The flagship Act 4 is a 20 channel immersive processor that utilises the Dolby Atmos and DST:X formats. The Muse is a compact 2U high processor with 16 channels, sufficient for all but the largest home cinema installations. Both processors can handle high resolution audio up to 24bit/192kHz, feature Parametric EQ and host of HDMI, digital and analogue audio inputs and XLR audio outputs for connection to power amplifiers. Control is via the large full colour touchscreen, which makes set up a very simple process and there are drivers for popular third-party control systems such as RTI, also distributed by Connected Distribution.
The matching 2U high M8 power amplifier outputs 200 watts per channel into 4-8 ohm speaker loads, with all channels driven. It has the ability to bridge any combination of channels, to give an output of 320 watts into 4-8 ohms. Configuration is done via a simple web interface and would be useful for, as an example, an 11.1 channel system whereby one amplifier is bridged to provide four channels of 320 watts for the LCR and subwoofer. A second M8 amplifier would power the surround and height channels.
Indy Audio Labs has also created its own room tuning system called ASPEQT (Automatic Speaker Parameter Equalisation Tool). This easy to use, hugely powerful tool enables room and loudspeaker interactions to be tuned to achieve the desired response curve for a true cinematic performance to be enjoyed. Installers will be able to purchase their own ASPEQT kit or make use of a loan kit from Connected Distribution for use during the set-up process.
“Adding the Acurus products to our range of brands is the perfect companion for the recently acquired Aurea cinema brand,” says Mike Bonnette, Connected Distribution’s product director. “The combination of this class-leading, and much sought after, electronics brand and Aurea’s speakers enables us to offer our existing and new customers an absolutely state of the art cinema experience for them to specify for their clients.”
According to Rick Santiago, Indy Audio Labs’ CEO, “Partnering with Connected Distribution marks a huge milestone for our company and enables world-class sales and support for our rapidly-growing customer base in the UK market. Connected Distribution has deep experience in supplying and supporting state-of-the art immersive cinemas. Their product and project support experience is second to none. We're truly excited to expand our efforts in the UK through Connected Distribution.”
Connected Distribution’s cinema installation concept is based around the premise of a “Cinema In The Home”, not a home cinema. Processing of the quality provided by Acurus, combined with its exceptional multi-channel amplification and Aurea speakers, that are designed using the same criteria as commercial cinema speakers, makes the Connected offering a very attractive proposition. Installers will shortly be able to bring their customers to Connected Distribution’s Cheltenham offices to experience the concept in a dedicated “Cinema In The Home” demonstration facility.
More information from: http://www.acurusav.com/
Connected Distribution, UK distributor for Heed Audio and Parasound will be presenting three systems at varying price levels at the North West Audio Show on 17/18 June.
Parasound’s NewClassic 200 Integrated is an ultra slim integrated amplifier that doesn’t sacrifice anything in terms of features and performance. Its 110 watts per channel is matched with four analogue inputs, USB, coaxial and optical digital inputs, a high-grade DAC and a phono input that is switchable for MM or MC.
Moving up a gear, the second Parasound system is the P6 pre-amplifier with matching John Curl designed A23+ power amplifier. This combination from the renowned Halo series continues the legendary performance and value traits of the entire Parasound range of products. 160 watts per channel with a phenomenal current delivery for powerful, tightly controlled bass, ultra-fast transients and an incredible resolution set this amplifier apart as one that ‘punches above its weight’.
Hungary’s Heed Audio is well known for its half width electronics and a history that can be traced back to the iconic British Nytech and Ion brands. On demonstration at the show will be the latest incarnations of the company’s compact electronics: the Elixir integrated amplifier and Abacus DAC. The essence of Heed’s DNA is clearly retained in this pair but has been brought right up to date with state-of-the-art digital electronics that can handle any resolution up to natively processed double speed DSD.
Visit Connected Distribution in rooms 123 and 124 and hear the best of both worlds.
Connected Distribution has appointed Alan Briggs to oversee UK sales and installer/retailer support across the company’s portfolio of custom installation and hi-fi products.
Prior to his appointment by Connected Distribution, Alan, who lives in South Lanarkshire, worked with some of the leading custom installation distribution businesses and previously was employed by Connected Distribution when it was The Multi-Room Company.
“I am very much looking forward to my return to Connected Distribution after a period of 11 years. The experience I have gained working for other major distributors will be of great benefit as I take up this new role,” says Briggs.
He continues, “Connected Distribution is a dynamic and exciting business, which has some incredible brands in its range that offer superb performance and great benefits for installers and end-users alike. My decision to re-join the company was driven both by these brands and the directors’ plans for growth in the high-end cinema and commercial installation sectors, through its new brands including Aurea cinema speakers and Muxlab AV and Unified Communications products. I am confident that together we can make a significant impact.”
Welcoming him to the company, Mike Bonnette, Connected Distribution director, says, “We are delighted that Alan is returning to the Connected family and can’t think of anyone more suited to the task of developing the business across the new sectors. His prior experience with our products and in-depth knowledge of custom installation and high-end home cinema will be invaluable as we continue to develop our portfolio and sales through the CI and retail channels.”
MuxLab’s innovative MuxMeet Wireless Presentation and Video Conferencing Solution is being introduced by Connected Distribution, to service the growing demand for home working and collaborative video conferencing systems.
The MuxMeet range of products enables companies’ workforce, customers and business partners to share content and presentations and to communicate clearly and professionally, increasing productivity and efficiency of meetings. It is also ideally suited to the education and healthcare sectors.
The product range comprises the MuxMeet Videobar, Share Base, Share Base-2, Share Dongles, Tablet-1, Tabletop Panel and Mini PC, which can be used in a variety of configurations depending upon the exact requirements of the users.
In its simplest guise, meeting participants can dispense with the poor-quality cameras and speakers in their laptops by connecting the MuxMeet Videobar via USB to the computer and HDMI to the TV screen. It also comes into its own when used in a larger meeting room situation as it is fitted with four microphones, an eight-watt full frequency speaker and 4K PTZ 120-degree camera with auto tracking and auto framing. DSP acoustic echo cancellation ensures crystal clear sound, and the camera can be set to follow or zoom in to preset locations, such as a white board at the back of the room, at the press of a button.
The Share Base-1 is a wireless presentation module that replaces the traditional Pro-AV switch found in typical meeting rooms. It makes sharing content an easy experience regardless of the user’s platform. iOS devices stream natively via AirPlay, Android users can download the Muxlab BYOD app (Bring Your Own Device) from Google Play, Windows and Mac users can connect via the BYOD app or by using the Muxlab Share Dongles (HDMI or USB-C).
Simultaneous screen sharing and video conferencing is achieved by using the Share Base-2 and MuxMeet Videobar combination. Share Base-2 meets today’s hybrid workforce’s requirements, supporting not only local presentation sharing, but collaboration with remote participants. Conference calls can be hosted using many of the popular solutions, e.g. Zoom, Teams, Webex etc. and users can share their screens wirelessly using the same technologies employed in the Share Base-1.
Plug and play Share Dongles, with either HDMI or USB-C connections, allow meeting participants using Windows or Mac laptops to wirelessly share content at the push of a button. They provide the ideal solution for visiting participants who won’t necessarily have the MuxMeet BYOD app installed on their computers.
For more permanent and heavy use situations, or use in shared offices, the combination of the MuxMeet Tablet-1 and Mini PC-1 provides the ultimate in flexibility and control. The Mini PC-1 becomes the heart of the system, running the video conferencing software and connecting to the MuxMeet Videobar, TV and the LAN. The touch screen Tablet-1 can be desk mounted and is perfect for controlling the video conferencing software and scheduling conference rooms.
Connected Distribution’s product director Mike Bonnette, commenting on the introduction of MuxMeet says, “The global pandemic changed the workplace beyond recognition, with almost 45% of the UK’s population working from home in April 2020, up from just 6% in January of the same year. And, while this has dropped off since the peak, there is now a definite trend for hybrid working with staff splitting their time between office and home.
“This provides huge opportunity for technology companies to service the new model of working, to provide a seamless communications experience whether in the office or remotely. MuxMeet is a very simple to use, but hugely powerful solution from MuxLab, a company famed for its robust distributed AV and broadcast products. MuxMeet offers the flexibility required for many different situations, enviable reliability and comes at a very affordable price, making this cutting-edge technology available to all.”
More on MuxMeet HERE
Visit to Aurea – part 2
This is where the cinema demo room comes into the story. After lunch (fabulous by the way), we were taken into the residential cinema demo room (I really don’t want to call it a home cinema room) and treated to a playback using the Screen System products. These are like slightly scaled down versions of the pro cinema speakers and to say they sounded epic is an understatement. It was just like being at the Odeon.
Next Luis switched to the In-wall series – these are the speakers we were using at EI Live back in September if you came to one of our demos. It was astonishing how similar the sound was to the Screen System speakers – OK there’s more bass from the bigger boxes, but the crucial midrange and high frequency information was identical. Dispersion, precision, clarity – they were all the same, which is thanks to the use of compression drivers to delivery the sound at the SPLs required evenly throughout the room. We were blown away by the similarities and the possibilities it presents for mixing an matching the large scale Screen System speakers (say for LCR) with the In-wall range for surround and height duties.
Next up we visited the media room – designed like a domestic living room with a 50” TV instead of a 4m projection screen, it featured the Neo range of speakers. While these may be small – around the size of a regular set of compact standmounts – they too share exactly the same voicing as the speakers we’d just heard next door. OK, there’s not as much of it, and certainly not as much bass, but the tonality, and that all important clarity and precision in the mid and high frequencies, was all there.
They kept the best until last. So, if you are a hi-fi speaker manufacturer, you’ll have a demo room that’s somewhat similar to a typical lounge. If you’re a home cinema company your demo rooms will be like a media room and a projection based ‘double garage’ size cinema.
But what if you make cinema speakers – you know, proper cinema speakers? It’s obvious really, your demo room is going to be the same size as your local cinema. Ok there were only two rows of seats – they don’t need to fit 500 people in – but the size of the room, the screen and the number of speakers said ‘commercial cinema’ out loud.
We were treated to a number of demo clips played through one of those ‘small car’ size cinema projectors and an enormous rack of the LW Speakers amplifiers and DSP modules. At the time they were auditioning on a new design of centre speaker, with its ‘cylindrical wave’ technology that ensures absolute even response and SPL in every seat in the house.
The result? It kind of left us speechless, having never heard cinema sound as good as this. Sure there was an enormous amount of bass – but superbly well controlled and balanced – and more than sufficient SPL to fill the space (it was probably only turned up to 3 – imagine it at 11!), but the thing that got us was the midrange and high frequency performance. You’ve probably guessed it already, it was identical to the Aurea models we’d heard before – the same clarity, precision and dispersion. This was the icing on the cake, the proof of the pudding (or any other metaphor you care to choose) – Aurea speakers are cinema speakers, not home cinema speakers. They just happen to be packaged in cabinets that could can fit into a residential environment.
Hear them for yourself and you’ll see what we mean. Install them in your customers’ homes and they’ll thank you for the best home cinema experience they’ve ever had.
If you missed part 1 of this account, please click HERE
Learn more about Aurea speakers HERE
It was a beautiful sunny September afternoon in Madrid when we landed at the airport to be met by Aurea’s sales & marketing director and the CEO.
40 minutes later and we’re in Arganda del Rey, a city approximately 30km southeast of downtown Madrid, stepping over the threshold and into the world of Aurea and its parent company, LW Speakers, both part of the MCA Group of companies.
Founder of the business, Luis Wassmann was there to greet us and conduct the guided tour of the company’s production facility, in which every LW and Aurea speaker is produced. So, whether bound for the local Odeon or your client’s cinema at home, the speakers have come out of this building – there’s no outsourcing to far east suppliers going on here! So much so, that Luis explained that every component that goes into the products is sourced from Europe. The cabinets are made in a local factory, the drive units come from Scandinavia and Italy, capacitors and other components from Germany and even the inductor coils for the crossovers are wound just down the road. The advantages in terms of supply are obvious – no waiting on shipments from thousands of miles away for either finished products or components – an issue that has and continues to plague the electronics manufacturing industry.
All the R&D work and cabinet prototyping is done in house and they used to make all the cabinets here. But such is the demand that this has had to be outsourced so the space could be given over to storage of raw materials and finished stock. The cabinets are still painted in house, by a craftsman who applies the very durable finish that Luis demonstrated by hitting with a hammer – and not a mark was left on the cabinet!
We were also treated to a delve into the history of the company, which was founded over 40 years ago as a manufacturer of 35mm film projectors. In the foyer stands a beautiful example of a projector from the golden era of film – sadly (or maybe it’s just progress) this part of the company’s heritage was confined to history when digital projectors and now digital streaming of movie content took over in commercial cinemas. Still, it was great to see where the company’s origins lay, and it underpins the message that this is a ‘real’ cinema company. Aurea speakers are no different, apart from their physical size, from the LW Speakers that you will have heard in the Odeon Leicester Square or BFI Imax for example.
One element of the company’s activities, headed up by CEO Carmen Pereira, is the supply and installation of commercial cinema equipment. It was really interesting to see the size of a proper cinema projector – with its own built-in aircon unit! And while the scale of such an installation is bigger than the average residential install, there are many similarities, especially on the audio side. LW Speakers produce a DSP box that enables them to set up the commercial cinema to the industry standard Dolby response curve – the very same DSP box is also available for residential installs using the Aurea speakers. Luis then showed us the rack of LW badged amplifiers they use for their cinema demonstration room (more of that later) and the identical, but Aurea badged, amps that they can supply to be used with the residential speakers.
By now we really were understanding the difference between Aurea and other home cinema speaker manufacturers. Actually, that’s doing them a disservice – they’re not a home cinema speaker manufacturer, they are a cinema speaker manufacturer. It doesn’t matter whether the products are for the cinema or the home – they’re designed the same, made by the same people, they use the same components and, most importantly, they sound exactly the same.
Connected Distribution has been appointed as distributor for the class-leading MuxLab range of AV Signal Distribution products for the custom installation market and other channels in the UK. The new deal brings the largest AV over IP line-up in the industry to residential and commercial installers, alongside the company’s many other HD and audio distribution products, allowing installers to benefit from the quality of MuxLab’s professional broadcast industry heritage.
Montreal, Canada, based Muxlab designs and manufactures Pro AV signal distribution solutions for multiple sectors, including professional broadcast, residential and commercial install, digital signage, video conferencing and live streaming. Its product range is vast, with solutions for a multitude of AV distribution scenarios, all of which are designed and engineered in Canada.
For the custom installer, the company’s extensive range of AV over IP products, including HDMI 4K/60 KVM over IP Transceivers for UTP/Fibre and Audio/RS232 over IP with 50W amplifier will be invaluable as the move to AV over IP for residential use becomes more common. HDBT applications are also well served, with 4K matrix switches and 4K HDMI extenders, alongside a multitude of HDMI splitters, switches and scalers.
And, with the rising interest in Dante equipped products, the MuxLab in-ceiling and line array speakers with Dante and quad channel audio gateway, which converts analogue sources to be receivable by Dante compatible equipment, will prove useful additions to a Dante installer’s toolbox.
Connected Distribution will also be bringing the MuxMeet Unified Communications product range to the UK market. These innovative products bring powerful wireless presentation and video conferencing solutions to individuals, businesses, healthcare and educational establishments. With the phenomenal rise in home-working, MuxMeet enables the custom installer to fully equip their customers’ homes with professional grade conferencing equipment, such as the MuxMeet Videobar, for a more reliable and higher quality experience than a laptop or tablet can provide.
Mike Bonnette, Connected Distribution’s product director, says, “MuxLab is a truly professional grade solution for the residential and commercial installer base. Its background in professional broadcast means the products are incredibly robust – after all you don’t want a system going down during a live outside broadcast – which makes them perfect for installers, who all need ultra-reliability and don’t want to have to keep going back to site to fix video problems.” He continues, “And, with the huge product range from MuxLab we’re now also able to service requirements for video conferencing, live streaming, video walls and interactive displays for the commercial sectors, in addition to providing the very best in HD video and audio distribution for residential installs and home working solutions.”
Daniel Assaraf, MuxLab’s CEO adds, “We’re very excited for our new partnership with Connected Distribution. Connected brings a strong team, experience, and technical knowledge to promote and support the MuxLab Pro AV & Broadcast product lines in the UK.”
Connected Distribution has secured exclusive UK distribution for the Aurea range of cinema loudspeakers, bringing a true cinema sound experience to the home, thanks to the brand’s long history of supplying the world’s leading commercial cinema companies with speaker systems.
Aurea, based in Madrid, Spain, is the domestic brand created by LW Speakers, one of the world’s foremost suppliers of professional loudspeakers to the cinema sector. Its speakers are used in hundreds of cinemas around the world, including such prestigious locations as BFI Imax, London; Odeon Leicester Square, London; The Hackney Picture House, London; and ten screens, including two Dolby Atmos and one Imax, at the Odeon Milton Keynes.
LW Speakers and Aurea were founded by cinema industry legend, Luis Wassmann, whose 40 years in the industry started with the manufacture and supply of 35mm film projectors. In the early 1990s, when Dolby systems started to appear in cinemas, Luis diversified into speaker design and development to service the growing need for better quality audio systems, to complete the package of projection and sound.
He launched the Aurea brand in 2015 specifically for use in the home, to provide the same quality and dispersion characteristics of movie soundtrack reproduction in the home as the LW Speakers have been delivering in cinemas. Luis is careful to point out that these are not home cinema speakers, but are in fact cinema speakers for the home, a point that Connected Distribution’s product director Mike Bonnette takes up.
“Aurea speakers are designed using the same principles around intelligibility in the near field that are so important in commercial cinemas. Cinema sound is different from music reproduction as the soundtrack contains dialogue that tells the story, as well as music and special effects, and spans a vast frequency range.
“The majority of home cinema speakers are essentially derivatives of traditional hi-fi speakers, albeit in and on-wall variants, and these are not designed along the same lines as cinema speakers. What Aurea has achieved, with its residential products, is the goal of intelligibility in the near field in the same way it did for commercial cinema, allowing home users to experience their movies sounding like they do ‘at the movies’.”
The Aurea range is vast, covering every eventuality for home installation, from the diminutive neo range of compact enclosures that are perfect for media rooms, up to the almost professional sized Aurea 26 screen system and Aurea 21 Sub with its 21” bass driver. These larger models are available with or without built-in amplification and DSP control.
Perhaps more commonly installed in domestic settings are the Aurea In-Wall range, which are designed to fit in standard stud walls, behind acoustically transparent screens or fabric walls.
Several specialist ceiling mounted co-axial speakers and wedge-shaped surround speakers complete the line-up. And the ability mix and match all the models in the Aurea range without compromising tonality or dispersion, makes it hugely versatile and suitable for all installations.
Under the Aurea brand a complete suite of amplification products is available, which is identical to the amplifiers supplied to the commercial cinemas. These range from two-channel to 16 channel models with up to 12,000 watts. And, to achieve the perfect performance characteristics, a dedicated DSP processor is available, enabling each speaker and the entire system to be configured to the cinema industry response curve.
Connected Distribution is stocking demonstration products from across the ranges to enable installers to experience the speakers for themselves. Customer installations will be manufactured to order and Connected will be offering on-site DSP configuration assistance to installers to ensure the perfect ‘Cinema In The Home’ results.
More information from https://www.connecteddistribution.com/index.php/online-store/aurea
Come Meet Us On Stand 63
Don’t do any more work on your home cinema proposals until you speak to us at EI Live, 14-15 September, Farnborough Exhibition Centre. We’ve got a very exciting new concept for cinemas in the home to show you on stand 63. It will change your perspective of what makes a home cinema and we can’t wait to share it with you.
Plus get the chance to experience products from these great brands:
We have been in business for over 22 years, and we like to offer more than just ‘boxes’ for our customers. As technology has changed and disciplines have merged, we now are part of the vital support chain for your project's needs. With over 70 years of combined experience, we aim to give you informal, professional advice on all of our products. On a daily basis we focus to try and help you optimize your projects with our service and brands.
So come see us at the show on stand 63 for more information on how we can help you and your business!
After Three Years The Popular Connected Expos Return For 2022!
We’re pleased to announce that after an enforced abscence of three years the hugely popular Connected Expos are back for 2022. Starting on Wednesday 29 June at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Newbury North, we'll be bringing all your favourite Connected Distribution brands and new products for you to discover and learn all about.
There will be representatives from some of our suppliers on hand for you to talk to and twice during the day, at 11.30am and 2.30pm, we'll be running a short 30 minute presentation to highlight some key products and also to give you an overview of Dolby Atmos.
We will be demystifying Dolby Atmos at the Expos and explaining how you can use it as a serious revenue generator. Atmos is more than just extra channels and ceiling speakers, it's a whole new world of immersive audio and visual entertainment that can significantly improve your customers' experiences. Join us to fully understand what it is, how it works and how it can benefit your business.
As a result of your feedback the Expo events will be drop-in style - not a day of formal presentations as in previous years, so it won't eat into your whole day.
So contact us today to come along - and see how we can start adding extra value to your business.
Mike Bonnette, Connected Distribution’s director explains.
When home-based distributed audio was first introduced, way back in the dim and distant past, it followed the typical product lifecycle for a tech development. The engineers had come up with a great idea - “let’s send audio all round peoples’ houses” - without actually knowing whether there was a demand for it. Uptake was really slow, awareness was low, the products were expensive and beyond the reach of most people. As a result, it was only the ‘early adopters’ or uber-wealthy who bought into it and so sales just crept along. Oh, and the products could be really buggy.
But it was a pretty cool thing and word did slowly begin to spread. The tech got sorted, the bugs ironed out and more manufacturers started making products. The prices began to come down and more people decided to put systems in their houses. For custom installers this was a boom time – the products were complicated and so needed the experts to make them work.
After a few golden years it slowly began to go a bit sour for the CI distributed audio market. A group of four clever internet savvy people in the US began working on a wholly wireless multi-room streaming audio system. They saw wires, speaker cables and piles of black boxes as the enemy, and even the PC as an unfortunate necessity (as a music server in the days before music streaming services). They created a product that delivered synchronised, multi-room music streaming from a product that could be purchased on the high street and controlled using the recently released iPhone. Why would you ever need a hard-wired, centralised, server-based system, with wall-mounted keypads that also required a demolition team and decorators to install?
That’s the tech lifecycle for you in a nutshell: an engineer’s idea, the early-adopters, wider acceptance and then the mass market version that leaves the idea’s originators scratching their heads and wondering how they’ve been left behind?
The question for us, now we are firmly in the latter stage of this lifecycle, is how do we, as a traditional installer-based industry compete? Should we even try keep on pushing our centralised, installed solutions? Or should we join the bandwagon and sell the very same product because that’s what the customer is asking for (it is, of course, synonymous, like Hoover is to vacuum cleaners).
All is not lost for the installers; we have some great alternatives up our sleeves. Manufacturers such as Russound have been working hard to take wireless audio distribution to the next level and offer additional features that benefit the consumers. Take the MBX series – compact streamers that create wireless multi-room solutions and also act as room-based amplifiers that connect to a TV’s audio output, auto-sensing when the TV is switched on and then reverting to streaming when it’s switched off. And they do high-res audio, have Bluetooth connectivity as well as Airplay 2 and Chromecast, are fully controllable and come with the legendary Russound sound quality. They’re the perfect product for people who want all the features, convenience and appreciate good quality audio.
They also come with a good margin for the installer – akin to other specialist CI electronics - and they’re protected from grey imports and DIY installation as they’re part of the Russound Certified Installer programme. You have to be signed up to unlock the product, helping protect the livelihoods of hard-working installers.
Industries will always evolve and new players will come along to challenge the established brands, but, in Russound at least, there is a brand that has risen to the challenge of the challenger and is firmly behind the custom installer.
More about Russound HERE
Connected Distribution has been appointed as distributor for Euroscreen, the Swedish manufacturer of high-quality projections screens, projector lifts and AV furniture, providing UK home cinema installers with a comprehensive range of projection system solutions.
Euroscreen products are manufactured by Draper Europe AB, a subsidiary of the US based Draper Inc. The company’s Swedish made screen range includes electric screens, tab tensioned models, manually operated and fixed frame screens.
For home cinema installers, the company manufactures screens using a variety of different materials, from Arctiq, the standard matt white surface, to ReAct 3.0 – a revolutionary screen surface for enhanced light control and high contrast, even in ambient light situations. And, taking its environmental responsibilities seriously, Euroscreen has recently introduced the Xpert screen material, which is 100% PVC free and is manufactured without the use of any hazard substances.
Installations that require the speakers to be positioned behind the screen are catered for by the FlexPerf material option. This acoustically transparent screen material works without compromising the audio quality or the picture quality thanks to FlexPerf’s white front projection surface, which provides a complete viewing experience, with full contrast and accurate colour rendition.
Due to the vast range of products, sizes and options available, Connected Distribution will not be holding stock, instead it will act as consultants on the specifying of screens for each installation before placing the order with the Swedish manufacturing facility. However, unlike screens that are made and imported from the USA, the lead-time for Euroscreen products is very short and delivery is made direct to the installer or end-user’s property within a couple of weeks of ordering.
Contact us for more details HERE
Connected Distribution, Russound’s UK distributor of 20 years, is introducing the MIXAMP-60, an all-in-one 70V/100V mixer amplifier ideal for light commercial and resi-mercial applications. Designed to meet the diverse multi-room audio needs of restaurants, retail stores, medical offices and schools, the versatile MIXAMP-60 features a wide range of distribution inputs. As well as built-in Bluetooth connectivity, it offers an FM tuner, a USB/SD MP3 player, and the ability to connect combinations of up to four external sources and three microphones.
Many light commercial businesses require a comprehensive multi-room audio solution to broadcast ambient background music (BGM), public addresses, and paging. With the launch of the MIXAMP-60, Russound addresses those needs with a single, all-in-one solution that can quickly adapt to and accommodate changing audio input requirements. Its versatility and ease-of-use is instrumental to the product’s value because it will likely be employed by multiple users throughout the day, each with a different level of comfort with AV hardware.
Convenient front panel controls allow for precise volume level of all connected sources as well as an integrated LCD display showing currently selected audio from the built-in sources. Background Music (BGM) and Music On Hold (MOH) integration are available as well as a Telephone Paging Input. The MIXAMP-60 also provides Phantom Power for the primary microphone as well as adjustable ducking levels.
“Integrators challenged us to create a mixer amplifier that delivered versatile functionality for their light commercial clients while also being easy to install and service and provide maximum value,” says Russound CEO, Charlie Porritt. “To meet the dynamic audio needs of these environments, MIXAMP-60’s generous offering of inputs, and particularly Bluetooth compatibility, can easily accommodate a wide range of future uses.”
Mike Bonnette, Connected Distribution’s product director, adds, “Installers know that future-proofing for clients’ needs is the best way ensure long-term customer satisfaction. To meet those needs and be robust enough to adapt to future needs, the MIXAMP-60 prioritises flexibility in functionality in its design. In addition to its wide range of audio inputs, the MIXAMP-60 features a 2U rack-mountable form factor with front-facing controls that will allow installers to fit it in just about any environment.”
Connected Distribution has been appointed as UK distributor for leading US smart music system brand, Como Audio, making these user-friendly connected audio products available to the UK’s consumers.
Boston based Como Audio was founded in 2016 by 40-year veteran audio pioneer and Hall of Fame audio designer, Tom DeVesto. Formerly the founder of Tivoli Audio, Cambridge SoundWorks and other well-known brands, DeVesto’s goal with Como Audio was simple: “To make a high-quality product that supports the latest technology, is simple to operate and makes it easy to access all of the music content available through one device that would deliver multi-room, true high-fidelity sound, in a compact and beautifully made distinctive design.”
The first Como Audio products, the Solo and larger Duetto, were designed to achieve the objective - listening to music from an iPhone, Spotify, Bluetooth, Internet, FM or DAB Radio is as simple as touching one button. Today the company produces a range of products that include the original £399 Solo and £499 Duetto and now also features the £449 Amico, a portable multi-room audio system for indoor or outdoor use and the £749 Musica – a complete Wi-Fi streaming multi-room audio system with built in CD player that also includes Tidal, Deezer, Napster, and Amazon Music. Recently Como introduced the £349 Turntable, that connects directly to the Como Audio music systems, or a stand-alone hi-fi system, and the £549 Bluetooth Turntable which, as its name suggests, connects wirelessly to the Como Audio products.
Mike Bonnette, Connected Distribution’s product director, says, “We knew as soon as we heard the Como Audio products and met with Tom DeVesto, that they were something special. The audio quality is exceptional for a product in its class, and the ease of operation makes them one of those rare technologically advanced products that isn’t daunting to use.” He continues, “We are very pleased to be able to bring another of Tom’s winning product lines to the UK consumer and open up the benefits of streaming and multi-room audio to people who would never have previously considered it.”
The full range can now be purchased direct from www.comoaudio.co.uk
Connected Distribution announces the launch of five new Russound CI loudspeakers, including two single point stereo variants, enhancing the options available to installers and advancing sound quality, performance, aesthetics and ease of installation.
Joining the existing Russound speaker line up are the IC-605, IC-830, IW-630, IC-620T and IC-820T. Each model benefits from over 50 years’ experience in audio design and enhances the existing very popular IC Series. The IC-605 is a contractor grade speaker, its two-way design incorporates features normally found on much more expensive speakers, from the inverted parabolic surround, to critical mid-range and higher frequency reproduction. Its pin cushion EasyGrip™ tweeter bridge has been specifically designed to be held in one hand to aid installation.
The IC-830 is the new top-of-the-line in-ceiling speaker, perfect for critical listening areas and home theatre installations. It includes a +/- 3dB tweeter adjustment switch to adjust for the room's acoustic characteristics and has been developed to produce intelligent highs and deep rich low frequencies. Using advanced materials, from the 25mm pivoting titanium tweeter to the 200mm injection-moulded polypropylene cone with vapour-deposited titanium, the IC-830's performance will impress clients for years of enjoyment.
Using the same cone and tweeter technology, the IW-630 is a two-way in-wall design, which tonally matches the IC-830 and existing smaller IC-630 model. It is perfect for use as the LCR and surround channels in a Dolby Atmos system with the in-ceiling variants taking on the height channel duties.
The IC-620T and IC-820T are enhanced single-point stereo speakers designed for spaces where stereo speaker placement is difficult or impractical. They are a step up from the established IC-610T and perfect for hallways, small rooms, walk-in wardrobes, etc. With separate inputs for both the left and right audio channels, dual tweeters and a dual voice-coil woofer, these speakers are easy to install and connect, and are an excellent option for improving sound quality without needing to install multiple stereo speakers.
With the installer very much in mind, each of the new models, apart from the IC-605, is equipped with the proprietary SwiftLock™ tool-less installation system which has become a hit with the IC Series. With the simple press of a button at each of the three mounting dog legs, the new IC-620T, IC-820T, IC-830 and IW-630 (with four dog legs) will instantly and firmly clamp into place, with no screwdriver or drill needed. SwiftLock sees an end to the over-tightened or under-tightened fixing, just a clean and quick install with the dog legs precisely adjusted and spring-tensioned automatically to clamp firmly to the ceiling or wall.
The IC Series uses the same hole cut out sizes and most importantly, uses the same new construction brackets as Russound’s previous range. Because of that, transitioning to the new speakers for long-lead time installs that have been planned around any of the previous models, is quick and easy, and upgrading any existing jobs with the new models is a simple drop-in using the same cut out or bracket.
Aesthetically, each model has been upgraded to feature new bezel-less NanoPerf™ grilles that are finished in a paintable brilliant white and are available in round or square profiles. The in-wall speakers are also supplied with the same NanoPerf grilles for matched installations.
Mike Bonnette, Connected Distribution’s product director, says, “Russound has once again come up with a range of very well thought out speakers. The IC Series, from the entry level IC-605 to the flagship IC-830, provides a speaker for virtually every situation and benefits from the ability to mix and match while retaining tonal integrity. And the ease of fixing them in place using the SwiftLock system is a real plus point, saving time and the hassle of juggling speakers, drills and screwdrivers while at the top of a ladder!”
More about Russound speakers HERE
Parasound has added three models to its ZoneMaster™ range for custom installers. The two channel ZM 2 and four channel ZM 4 pack a lot of power into relatively small packages and the ZM12 provides 12 channels of amplification for up to 24 speakers. The flexibility of the new amps can be used to solve multi-zone design challenges and provide revenue opportunities for installers.
‘These new amplifiers mate the best of Parasound design with the cool, efficient reliability and space savings of Class D’, said Parasound president, Richard Schram. ‘The Danish-made ICEpower modules are the best available, offering amazing sonic performance and reliability. When paired with our premium Class AB stereo input stage and custom designed heat sinking, a powerful, cool-running, and rack-space friendly amplifier results. The performance rivals more costly audiophile amplifiers. Using independent power modules for each zone ensures that we can achieve this with all channels driven’.
The ZM 4's two output zones can operate from a common source bus or independently from two separate sources. Each channel has individually adjustable line-level gain controls and the output for each zone can be mono or stereo. It uses Phoenix-style speaker connectors and can power up to eight speakers using the A+B speaker outputs. Loop outputs are provided to enable daisy chaining additional amplifiers.
The half-width ZM 2 has similar performance for a single zone but includes an 80 Hz low-pass filter for subwoofers. The filter can be applied to the line-level output for use with a powered subwoofer. It can also be applied to the main amplifier outputs for use with passive subwoofers in mono or stereo mode. Using the A&B speaker outputs, up to four speakers can be powered.
Both amplifiers boast 150 watts per channel into 4-ohm and 2-ohm loads and 120 watts for 8-ohm speakers. They can be turned on using 12V triggers, audio detection, or front panel button. The ZM 4 offers turn-on for all zones or for each zone individually, offering exceptional flexibility, especially with popular, branded streaming sources that have 12V triggers.
The ZM 12 is a 12-channel, 2-ohm stable power amplifier for commercial and residential audio systems with flexible power options for stereo audio in six zones, and up to 24 individual speakers. The ZM 12 drives two channels at 120 watts each into 8-ohms, with the remaining 10 channels at 60 watts each. With 4-ohm speakers typical of architectural audio, the ratings are 150 and 100 watts respectively. There are also A and B speaker outputs for each channel.
‘Providing higher power for two of the 12 channels seems obvious now that we've done it’, says Richard Schram. ‘Nearly all installations have a zone which can sing nicely with higher power, either a large room, outdoor speakers, or a room for serious stereo listening’.
Each channel has an individual line-level input jack, level control, and two detachable Phoenix-connector speaker outputs. Each zone can connect to one of two line-level buses or to a speaker-level input bus. Buffered loop outputs facilitate daisy-chaining amplifiers. The ZM 12 has a suite of turn on options: global (all zones) auto turn on with a switch to select either a single 12V trigger or audio sensing and each zone can be independently turned on by 12V or audio sensing.
The Parasound ZoneMaster ZM 2, ZM 4 and ZM 12 are available now from exclusive UK distributor, Connected Distribution, at retail prices inc. VAT of £599, £1,199 and £2,999 respectively.
Connected Distribution breaks out the audio with the Pulse-Eight neo:X+ and neo:8a audio-video matrixes
Connected Distribution, the original UK distributor for Pulse-Eight, is introducing the neo:X+ and neo:8a matrixes to bring advanced audio functionality, including audio breakout and ARC, alongside the well-established HD video capabilities of the Pulse-Eight products.
Pulse-Eight’s matrix switchers are well regarded among custom installers as one of the most robust solutions available. Now, with the addition of full audio matrix capabilities of the neo:X+ and audio break out on the neo:8a, Connected Distribution’s customers can enjoy far greater flexibility with their installations and offer a wider range of options for their projects.
The neo:X+, the latest addition to the Pulse-Eight range and its flagship matrix, provides the ultimate in audio and video installation. Eight HDMI inputs and eight HDBaseT Class C + DSC outputs permit UHD 4K video transmission at 4K/60, 4:4:4, 8bit or 4K/60 4:2:2, 12bit up to 100 meters. While that in itself makes it a class-leading matrix, where this unit comes into its own is the audio handling capabilities. Three modes: Source, Sink Active and Sink Passive provide varying options for audio distribution via the ten audio zone outputs, with optical, digital coaxial and analogue connections.
In Source Mode, the simplest setting, the audio can be extracted from each source input and sent to an external amplifier or audio matrix in the digital or analogue domain.
With Sink Mode Active enabled, the audio breakout outputs on the neo:X+ match what is being shown on the screen, with the audio from the TV re-directed down the HDMI ARC line, via the HDBaseT link, and into the matrix. From here the installer can extract it and send to the amplifier for that zone. And if the installer uses the analogue audio outputs, the original TV remote control can be used to control the volume via CEC.
For TVs without the benefit of ARC, Sink Mode Passive is selected and for whichever source connected to the matrix is being viewed, the audio will be extracted and sent to the amplifier for that room. Audio from the TV may be routed back to the matrix using the optical out on the TV, which is connected to the optical input on the HDBaseT receiver and sent down the HDBaseT line.
Neo:X+ also features four digial audio input zones. This enables the attachment of separate audio sources, such as streamers, which can then be routed to any zone using the audio matrix capabilities of the product.
Another new product from Connected Distribution is the neo:8a, with eight HDMI inputs, eight HDBaseT and two HDMI outputs, with the added feature of eight HDMI source audio breakouts. These can be routed via optical or digital coaxial connections to external amplification and audio distribution products, such as the renowned Russound range of audio matrix amplifiers. The audio breakout feature has been added to the existing neo:8, to make the neo:8a, at no additional cost to the installer.
As with all Pulse-Eight products, the neo:X+ and neo:8a include the company’s intelligent use of CEC for selection, routing and control of connected sources via the standard TV remote. And for peace of mind and to avoid the need for time consuming site visits to fix simple issues, the installer can check the performance of the system, diagnose problems that may be occurring and fix many issues via the cloud-based remote monitoring service.
In addition to the built-in CEC and web-based source selection options, the Pulse-Eight matrixes are controllable via many third-party systems, including RTI, also distributed by Connected Distribution.
Mike Bonnette, product director for Connected Distribution, comments, “With the hugely powerful neo:X+ and neo:8a matrixes, Pulse-Eight proves once again that it is at the forefront of HD video technology and is now also taking control of the audio side of things. The ability to break out the audio, add additional audio sources and route the multi-channel audio from the TV to the matrix, is going to make the installer’s life so much easier.”
Learn more about Pulse-EIght matrixes HERE
Connected Distribution is pleased to announce it has been appointed as a distributor for the Xantech range of high-quality video distribution products, including its class-leading Video over IP, to bring these respected and reliable solutions to the commercial and residential installation sectors.
Xantech’s premium Video over IP (VIP) platform distributes 4K UHD HDMI video over a 1GB Network switch with a virtually latency free performance of just 1-frame. Using lossless compression technology, Xantech delivers HDMI, IR and RS-232 to lengths of up to 100m over a single CAT cable.
As with all Xantech products, ease of installation is a must and the new 4K UHD Video over IP solution can be installed in minutes without the need for any networking qualifications or the creation of complex VLANs. The easy to use wizard-based installation means a basic product configuration takes just seconds, without needing a computer or any special set up software.
The entire system is modular in design, with separate transmitters and receivers that are powered via PoE or locally, meaning installations can grow as more sources and displays are added over time. This is a huge benefit for installers, especially in large commercial situations where the number of displays is very often considerably greater than the number of sources. Using traditional HDMI matrix products in these situations results in the unnecessary purchase of source inputs that remain unused.
Further simplicity in installation comes from the built-in scaling which ensures that every source will work with any display, including 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) and HDR at 24fps available on the latest HDMI 2.0 devices. Every receiver also features a ‘daisy-chain’ capability to permit content to be mirrored across multiple displays.
The Xantech VIP products can be controlled very simply using the Advanced Control Module with a drag and drop routing operation or via any number of third-party control systems, including RTI, also distributed by Connected distribution.
Mike Bonnette, Connected Distribution’s product director says, “Xantech are the undoubted leaders in Video over IP systems and we are delighted to have been appointed as a distributor for these impressive products.” He continues, “For our customers looking for the ultimate in flexibility and ease of set up and who require the highest quality video to be routed over long distances in commercial and semi-commercial environments, VIP is the only choice. And Xantech VIP is the very best product we have seen in this category – we know our customers are going to love it.”
Roy Legget, from Xantech’s parent company, NortekSecurity & Control commented, “We are very pleased to have partnered with Connected Distribution to make the Xantech range of VIP and other HDMI distribution products available to the UK custom and commercial installation markets.” He adds, “Having known and worked with the team at Connected Distribution for many years, I am confident that the product range will be very well represented, and the customers looked after with the professionalism I have come to expect from Mike and his colleagues.”
Read more about Xantech HERE