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Crestron Revolutionizes Audio Over IP

Flexibility and scalability are key to the company’s new audio over IP platform, which is now available and shipping.

The last time I saw John Clancy, executive vice president, residential, for Crestron, this excited was when he was giving me an early Crestron Home demo that showcased the speed at which real-time changes could be done in the app. This time, he was talking about Crestron’s new, now available, DM NAX audio-over-IP platform, which he expects dealers to embrace as quickly as they did the DM NVX video distribution platform.

“We’re super excited about DM NAX because I don’t think there’s anything like it on the market,” says Clancy. “Our dealers are lining up right now to get their hands on it — even blowing past our pre-launch estimates. This is the future of audio for Crestron, and the way it pairs to DM NVX makes it an awesome solution.”

Crestron DM-NAX-8ZAS

The first product in the DM NAX portfolio, the DM-NAX-8ZSA 8-zone streaming amplifier that was announced back in March, is now shipping. The DM-NAX-8ZSA provides eight amplified stereo zone (16-channel) outputs; the four stereo line-level outputs mirror speaker zone outputs 1 through 4. A dedicated streaming service player for each of the eight zones enables complete freedom to stream different content in every zone.

A number of streaming services are already available through the unit — including Pandora, internet radio and — with SiriusXM, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Amazon Connected Speakers, iHeartRadio, and more coming soon. “With the streaming services, a lot of the work is already done in many cases — we’re just waiting on certification,” says Clancy. “And with a minimal software update, we can turn on these additional services for the end user as they become available.”

A highlight of the platform is its scalability, which far exceeds the capabilities of previous generations of Crestron distributed audio. A single system can distribute audio to 32 devices, for a possible 256 audio output zones. Plus, DM NAX units integrate with DM NVX devices to pull audio from video feeds for rooms without displays. Unlike DM NVX, however, the DM-NAX-8ZSA is configurable to operate as a network AV encoder and decoder. The analog line level sources, digital S/PDIF sources, or media streams on one DM NAX can be sent to any other DM NAX-capable endpoint on the network.

DM NAX products are interoperable with AES67 and Dante audio networking, use hardwired connections, and require no custom network architecture or hardware. This sweeping interoperability and simple design allow integrators to use DM NAX to specify an entire house’s worth of audio systems with a single device.

“It is built off of these known standards — we didn’t make anything up and we didn’t choose a standard that requires specific equipment,” says Clancy. “Some of the other audio-over-IP solutions require product-specific switches, and that’s not required in the case of DM-NAX — it’s a multicast format.”

Crestron DM-NAX-8ZAS - Front

With the possibility of controlling a large system with DM-NAX, programming could get complicated, but Crestron has a solution for that: “We have this concept called Synchronized Control,” says Clancy. “So I’ll go to one IP address and it’ll show all the devices in one UI for me to configure all 18 zones, which, in this example, is really convenient. And I’m not copying and pasting settings from one web page to another or trying to copy my customer’s credentials for their streaming services from one page to another.”

Synchronized Control enables you to perform a majority of web interface configuration and management from a single browser window and IP address connection. When units are managed in a Synchronized Control, it enables you to consolidate programming and save IP IDs in SIMPL Windows. A Synchronized Control system supports up to 32 zones in a single bus.

Other features include voice control through Amazon Voice Service, which is supported only when using the DM‑NAX‑8ZSA with Crestron Home, and a library of chimes built into the unit that can be assigned to different zones to help identify them. Whenever a chime is triggered, the zone audio will duck or pause, so the chime can be clearly heard over active media until the chime concludes.

Like Crestron Home, the DM-NAX platform expects to have frequent software updates that will enhance the user experience. More hardware products — quite a few, according to Clancy — will be joining the DM‑NAX platform shortly.

“The DM-NAX-8ZSA is the first product in this platform,” he says, “but there are many more on the horizon that ought to be released over the next year and a half.”

Those attending CEDIA Expo this September will get the chance to experience DM-NAX in person, as Crestron will exhibit there for the first time since 2015.

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