SpeakerCraft bows Vital multi-zone digital amps

posted on Sunday, 15th April 2012 by Steve May

Speakercraft  Multi-room  Hi-fi 


SpeakerCraft has begun shipping its first multi-zone, digital amplifiers into the UK, and seems as pleased as punch with the new designs, hailing them more powerful and versatile than anything it has produced before.

The incoming Vital 1250 and Vital 850 replace the brand's Big Bang 1235 and 835 amplifiers, which were Class A/B in design. Adrian Blundell, SpeakerCraft's International training manager told Inside CI the new models "offer greater power output, 50W rather than 35W, and excellent stability into low impedance loads, down to 4 Ohms." He adds that sonically the new models represent a significant improvement over the company's previous models.

First seen at last year's CEDIA US Expo, the newcomers bristle with CI friendly features, including multiple power-on modes, pass-though outlets and independent level control for every channel, allowing volume levels to moderated across multiple zones. This is particularly useful, says Blundell, as it's "possible for an installer to set a maximum volume to prevent speakers being overloaded, say during a party."

Massive muscle
The Vital 1250 delivers twelve 50w channels while the 850 offers eight; but if you need more juice, that's not a problem as the power output can be doubled when channels are bridged, giving 170W x 6 (from the Vital 1250) or 170W x 4w (from the Vital 850).

Both Vitals offer uniquely assignable channels, so that installers can give them left, right or mono duties where appropriate. Other CI niceties include multiple daisy chaining and a 12V trigger for controlling auxiliary devices.

Build quality appears high, with gold plated channel inputs and heavy-duty binding posts suitable for banana plugs, spades or bare wire. Phono inputs are provided for audio sources, but as Blundell explains, every channel can be fed from one of three different inputs: local phonos, BUS and AUX.

"For example," he says, "with the Vital 850 simple switch positioning would enable a four zone multi room preamp, such as an MZC-64 or a third party alternative, to independently power four separate stereo zones. Alternatively, with different switch settings, a single source plugged directly into the amplifier could be routed to eight separate mono zones."

Apple friendly
Blundell also confirms that both the 1250 and 850 have been "used very successfully with wireless devices such as Apple's Airport Express" making them "a cost effective and high quality distributed audio system controlled by an iPhone or iPad."

Adds Blundell: "With a Vital 850 and four AirPort Express units, a client would have a four zone app controlled system providing independent volume control in each zone and access to a central iTunes library or individual Air Play sources from the iPad or iPhone itself. The input flexibility of the Vital 1250 and 850 means with one Airport Express a single master volume system to multiple areas can be created (ideal for restaurants and the like) while additional AirPort Express units enable the creation of a multi volume, multi zone system."

Both the Vital 1250 and 850 stand 3U (152mm) high and ship with bolt-on rack ears. The models have a retail price of £1,300 and £1,000 respectively.

Also joining the Vital line, albeit only in the US, is the 170V, although this is a slightly different proposition. It's also a smaller 6 channel amp, running at 60w per channel. Refinements on this model include balanced line inputs and an advanced protection system, including output current limiting, DC protection, circuit breaker/fuse and thermal protection. The brand expects the Vital 170V to find applications in Stateside commercial and industrial projects.

For more, visit our SpeakerCraft partner page here.

Also read:
SpeakerCraft unveils Profile and Seamless
SpeakerCraft RooTs review

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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