Seriously, the board members of Maybelline and Oil of Olay should be pretty peeved. They really missed the boat by not using the name “Renovia” to christen their new flagship line of youthful creams that will rollback that horrible, withered visage that is your face.
But the cosmetics industry’s loss is definitely the CI industry’s gain as NuVo’s new Renovia audio distribution system can roll back years of musical disdain and neglect and bring your clients racing into the 21st Century of music distribution. Much like Russound’s Collage System (reviewed in March), Renovia taps into HomePlug 1.0 technology to utilize a home’s existing power lines to distribute high-quality audio signals. This no-new (or more accurately “few new”) wires solution is a great way for installers to get in and retrofit systems into the inventory of millions of existing homes. And with new housing starts still in the pooper, retrofitting is something that both manufacturers and installers want to cash in on.
NuVo sent me a four-zone system consisting of the NV-RVM main system component ($1,999), four NV-RVZA50S 50-watt zone amplifiers ($499 each), two of the new NC-CGTP36 3.6-inch color touchpads ($999 each), two NV-18GCP OLED control pads ($349 each), the NV-MPS4 foursource Music Port server ($2,499), the NV-RVIPD iPod dock ($249) and a Sirius satellite connect-andplay kit ($89). You can say a lot about Renovia, but you likely won’t call it cheap, at least not from a hardware perspective. All told, my four-zone system costs $9,528, not including speakers.
The NV-RVM features dual AM/FM/Sirius-ready tuners and NV-RVZA50S zone amplifier is a very plain, white box roughly doublegang sized, that installs near a power source, such as an outlet or light switch.
The NV-RVM handles up to six sources to eight zones, and includes a dual Sirius-ready/AM/ FM tuner. It is also shockingly lightweight which is what happens when you remove all the amplification. NuVo seriously maximizes the back panel by going with mini-jack connections for all six source inputs. (Mini-to-RCA cabling is included.) A nice new change is the addition of front panel NuVo Net and USB connections allowing much easier access during programming, especially if the NVRVM is rack mounted (rack ears included).
The $349 NV-RVSAT Site Analysis tool is a crucial installation tool, invaluable for determining where Renovia components will work in a home. It is stupid simple to use; plug the black box into the outlet where you want to locate the main hub and source components and then plug the white box in where you want to install a keypad. Press the Test button, wait a minute, and look at the result. Clearly, pre-qualifying not only a job but also each location within the job is crucial.
The NV-RVZA50S zone amplifier is a very plain, white box roughly double-gang sized, that installs near a power source, such as an outlet or light switch. Because it connects to high voltage, a licensed electrician must perform the install. Cat-5 wiring runs from the amp to the keypad location, and speaker wiring to the speakers. (Oddly, speaker wires connect to the amplifier in a -/+/-/+ array which is different from the +/-/-/+ that prevents accidental shorts if stray wires should touch that every other manufacturer that I’m familiar with uses.) NuVo says that using the separate box allows them to use a higher power amplifier, 50 watts (25×2) in this case, however it does add an additional bit of wall clutter and requires additional wire retrofit.
Once all of the amps and keypads have been installed, there is some simple configuration performed via computer using Renovia’s Configurator software. Here you can adjust settings like naming zones, assigning sources, set turn on and maximum volume by zone, plus bass, treble, balance, and loudness settings. The Configurator software is also where you would add IR codes for any third-party devices like a cable box or satellite receiver.
Operationally, once Renovia is installed you will have no idea that it is anything different from a traditional hard-wired NuVo system. I didn’t experience any dropouts or communication loss or weird/frustrating lock-ups.
While the dual AM/FM/Sirius-ready tuners builtinto the NV-RVM and the iPod dock were great and worked exactly as intended, I was especially enamored of the four-port server. Beyond syncing with my iTunes (or Windows Media) library and keeping up to date with any changes, the 320 GB server delivers up to four simultaneous streams of internet radio in the form of Pandora, Radio Time, XM, or Sirius. I especially loved that I could easily create a new Pandora station from any song or artist in my library.
I used to think the NV-18GCP OLED pad was cool (and it still is) but that was before playing with the new NC-CGTP36 touchscreen, which offers a much better user experience. Not only is it easier and more intuitive to use and navigate, it also displays album art from the server (unfortunately not from the iPod dock) and facilitates browsing your library (MP3, WMA, WAV, M4A) by jumping directly to the first letter of an artist or album.
In the past, I have been unimpressed with Nu- Vo’s digital amplifiers, but the Renovia amp is a different animal and it banged out the tunes, playing plenty loud and delivering deep bass from both my bookshelf monitors and in-ceiling speakers.
Nuvo’s Renovia offers a ton of punch on all counts. With the ability to incorporate any of a client’s existing sources, plus access to all the 21st Century music with full metadata, it would be a welcome system in any home. Plus, powerline distribution gives installers a much easier retro and another arrow in their sales quiver.
Renovia offers installers a new tool for tackling the retrofit market, and I loved the server’s ability to create Pandora stations from my own music library.
At $2,000 per zone (with color touchscreens), Renovia is not cheap, and the separate wall amp creates a slightly longer/more difficult retro.
■ HomePlug 1.0 power line distribution of audio and control signals
■ D istributes 6 sources to 8 zones
■ N V-RVM includes built-in dual AM /FM/Siriussatellite ready tuners
■ N V-MP S4 Music Port server streams Sirius/ XM/Pandora/Radio Time Internet Radio
■ Zone amplifier has 50- watt (25 x 2) power