Multi-zone audio design

posted on Friday, 14th October 2011 by Steve May

Control 4  Multi-room 


Control4 and the art of good multi-room audio

Are dealers short-changing themselves when it comes to buying multi-zone amps? Certainly Hamish Neale, from Control4 believes so. He argues that there are key requirements that will determine just how successful a multi-room installation project turns out.

"It all boils down to using the right product for the job," he says. "It's a false economy to use products which haven't been designed from the ground up for CI use." According to Neale, a multi-zone amp needs to satisfy certain criteria. "It has to offer Class D amplification for a start," he says, "as this governs heat and in turn reliability."

It also needs to have sufficient power, he notes "particularly if you're planning on long speaker cable runs." And, arguably most importantly, "it should offer EQ - as every room you bring audio to will be different."

Naturally the man from Control4 believes his 4 zone (model number C4-8AMP1-B) and 8 zone (C4-16AMP3-B) digital amps fit the bill, but he does make a very valid point and provide food for thought.

A closer look at the Control4 four channel multi-zone model reveals that it packs 60w of highly efficient Class D amplification per channel, as well as a five band parametric equalizer. The larger eight channel model (pictured above) offers 120w per channel.

The power plant beneath the lid of these products is a D2Audio module from Intersil. Interestingly, Intersil recently got an audiophile credibility boost when it partnered with acknowledged sound engineer and equipment designer Mark Levinson.

Mr Levinson says the Intersil/D2Audio electronics enjoy "the best sound quality of any Class-D amplifier" he's ever heard. "It's the only Class-D amplifier that is in the same class as the best analogue amplifiers - in many cases even better."

Levinson says one aim of his partnership with the amp module maker is to do away with oversized heat sinks and hulking power supplies. It'll be interesting to see where the collaboration leads.

Both Control4 multi-zone amps include IP Control, full matrix switching, pre-amplification and parametric EQ, They can also be rack-mounted using a 4U rack mounting kit which allows ventilation above and below the chassis. They're controllable from any Control4 keypad, touch panel or system remote control. A control app for iOS devices is also available.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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