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Tales from the CEDIA Expo Trail, Part 2

Adventures in Dallas, day two.

Onward to the official Show Floor Day One of CEDIA Expo 2022, which included several booth appointments along with a lot of wandering on my never-ending quest to find cool stuff.

Did you read part 1 yet? If not, check it out here. We’ll be here when you are done.

Sony has reaffirmed its commitment to the channel and is continuing to develop innovative products that will address the needs of the channel, integrators, and customers alike. New to all Sony XR models is a custom install dashboard that will allow quick access to common settings CIs use for faster and easier setup. I also got to see some demos with Sony’s flagship GTZ-380 10,000-lumen 4K laser projector firing onto a 220-inch Stewart Filmscreen screen and driven by a 13-channel Wisdom Audio speaker system.

From Sony, I went to Hunter Douglas to see the new PowerView Gen3 shades. But even more exciting was the separate room demo of the company’s upcoming “daylight on demand” Aura Illuminated Shades. With LED strip lighting concealed in the headrail, they can create a variety of lighting conditions throughout the day from using the light’s color temperature to match the sunlight or to increase the lighting for more productivity.

CEDIA Expo 2022 – Hunter Douglas Aura
Hunter Douglas Aura

Located in the Vanco booth, Pulse Audio’s new Collaboration Video Bar is a terrific solution for work-from-home or family video chatting. The company feels this product is a perfect fit for small conference rooms and home workers. Included is a camera capable of 4K/60 resolution, with a camera that will track either video or voice and utilizes “smart framing” to automatically adjust the view to ensure everyone fits on screen. It also incorporates an 8-beam microphone array and speakers to ensure audio is captured and played back intelligibly. All that it requires is a USB 3.0 connection to a computer.

Now featuring more than 4000 certified devices, Z-Wave showcased a truly integrated smart door from Masonite. With a single Romex power connection, the door powers an internal smart door lock, Ring camera, and a variety of lighting and motion sensors. Beyond natively running the lock and Ring apps, the door can also be configured to push notifications if the door is opened and allows a variety of settings for adjusting the lighting.

Also in the Z-Wave booth was the Matter Bridge, an upcoming smart home connectivity standard. With support from all the major providers — Google, Apple, Samsung, and Amazon — it aims to ease connectivity and interpretability across disparate devices and platforms. Specifically, the Matter Bridge aims to help Z-Wave and Zigbee devices function together as part of the same system.

At its first appearance at CEDIA Expo since 2015, Crestron stressed how easily and quickly its systems can be configured and deployed using its Crestron Home platform. The company also showed a variety of controls and keypads developed by partners that are Crestron Connected, allowing homeowners to choose the style of a device that suits their décor, while still getting full Crestron functionality and integration.

The company also showed off its tunable lighting, allowing for precise color control that can either bring out colors in artwork or woodgrains or be used for human-centric lighting. A new SolarSync automation places a device outside the home, which continuously measures the color temperature of outdoor lighting and automatically adjusts lights inside the home to replicate natural light.

CEDIA Expo 2022 - Crestron Tunable Lighting
Crestron Tunable Lighting

Originally shown as a work in progress at CES, the 3000 in-wall subwoofer from SVS is expected to ship in early 2023, giving another option to owners that want killer bass without the big box. The system will incorporate dual 9-inch drivers that can play down to 24 Hz, while a single amplifier delivers 800-watts RMS/2500-watts peak and can power up to two 3000 in-wall subs.

The SVS Prime Wireless Pro is also getting closer to primetime as a complete audio solution. There have been a ton of improvements over the first model with the addition of Chromecast and AirPlay 2, while still retaining Play-Fi and Bluetooth. The speaker system also includes eARC for connection to displays and includes larger drivers and a larger cabinet to deliver more bass.

When I felt the need for another home theater demo, I wandered to the Sound Rooms. My first stop was MSE Audio to check out the new dARTS (Digital Audio Reference Theater System) theater system. All dARTS systems are calibrated to be within 1/2 dB of the reference response at the factory, and then again using software and measurements within the finished room. What really struck me about this demo was the detail and cohesiveness of the surround.

Next door to the MSE booth was Martin Logan, which featured an in-wall/not-in-wall audio system. The system included three Tribute 5XW speakers in the front, four Icon 3XW as surrounds, four MC6 height channels, and three Dynamo 1100X subwoofers.

Utilizing the company’s new on-wall frame mount, the speakers can mount on the wall allowing for some flexible installation options. The unique on-wall frame mount lets you have the benefits of a CI speaker without having to leave it behind when moving.

My goal is to see every JBL Synthesis demo at CEDIA, so this show was no different. This 9.4.6-channel theater featured three SCL-2 triple 8-inch in-walls, six SCL-4 7-9nch in-walls, six SCL-5 7-inch in-walls, two SSW-3 dual 10-inch in-wall subs, and two SSW-4 dual 8-inch in-wall subs, along with full processing and amplification. Detail and dynamics are the rule of the day with Synthesis, and this room definitely didn’t disappoint.

CEDIA Expo 2022 – JBL Synthesis Demo
JBL Synthesis Demo

My next stop was the RTI booth where the company was talking about its new programming software, Designer 11. We all know programming time is a huge thing, and the company says this is not only more powerful but allows for the fastest deployments and installations ever.

Also, way cool is the company’s new KX4 touchpanel keypad. Not only does this thing look sexy, it features a built-in control processor. Yep, this thing is a total standalone control solution, with a high-res, customizable 4-inch capacitive touchscreen powered via PoE.

I was way impressed with what Blustream had to offer. The company is one of the first to offer HDBaseT 3.0 hardware that can send full uncompressed 18 Gbps HDMI 2.0 signals — 4K/60 4:4:4 — up to 100 meters. The latest generation also supports Dolby Vision, eARC, and full 1 Gig Ethernet. For clients looking for no compromise video extension, this is a real winner.

Blustream also makes full-featured HDMI matrixes with a ton of install-friendly features like numerous mirrored outputs for both HDMI and HDBaseT, along with multiple digital and analog audio inputs. Blustream is also control-agnostic, with support for major brands like Crestron, Control4, RTI, Savant, and URC.

CEDIA Expo 2022 – Blustream Matrix Systems
Blustream Matrix Systems

Another innovative company that was completely new to me was Lithe Audio. This company offers what could be a game-changing option in architectural audio with powered in-ceiling speakers. With three different in-ceiling models, the amplification is located at the speaker. Entry Bluetooth and Wi-Fi models require local high-voltage wiring to the speakers, with the flagship Pro Series capable of powering via high-voltage or PoE++. To accompany its in-room speakers, Lithe Audio also offers the MSW subwoofer to fill in low-frequency information. The biggest thing about this sub is its size — at only 6.69-inches, it is one of the tiniest subs I’ve ever seen.

The big news at the Just Add Power booth was the company’s new MaxColor Gigabit PoE transmitter and receiver that will handle true 4K/60 4:4:4 video from the source to screen. The devices downscale video quality to “less fortunate” displays, if needed, allowing the best displays to receive the best signals while delivering lower-resolution video to those that can’t handle it. The units are also compatible with Dolby Vision and full lossless audio.

I try to avoid hyperbole, but I think the Quantum Media Systems LED video wall is the best video quality I have ever seen. This 16-foot-wide screen looked like a massive, gorgeous OLED with incredible black levels that delivered a truly engaging and cinematic experience.

CEDIA 2022 – Quantum Media Systems Demo
Quantum Media Systems Demo

Quantum Media sells turnkey solutions that start at system design and consultation, extend to automation control and system integration, and involve the team assisting with the install and full system optimization.

My final stop of the day was at Meridian’s suite at the Omni. Not only did this suite have an amazing view, it also held the company’s latest flagship loudspeaker, the DSP8000 XE. While the speaker outwardly resembles the existing DSP8000, it includes a near-ground-up redesign of the cabinet, drivers, amplifiers, and powerful DSP systems.

What immediately struck me was the deep, fundamental bass. Low notes in music had real weight and gave the music the deepest foundation. The speakers also image exceptionally well, with incredible spatial depth. Plus, the speakers have an incredible fit and finish, and are offered in bespoke colors to enhance or exist in any décor.

Don’t stop now! Move on to Part 3!