updated 10:50 pm EDT, Wed September 3, 2008
Sony multi-room theater
Sony has introduced a multitude of products for multi-room home theater integration. Two new receivers, the STR-DA6400ES and STR-DA5400ES allow HD audio/video transmission to a second room. Products in the new HomeShare HD line can be used to distribute entertainment into 16 zones, with four zones of HD video. For custom installed home entertainment and automation, Sony has unveiled new rack systems, the NHS-70c and NHS-A30C, combining whole home HD capabilities with integrated controls for movies, music, lighting, temperature, and security systems.
The new AV receivers, STR-DA6400ES and STR-DA5400ES, include CAT5e ports for connecting a second room to HD audio/video, and outputs for three zones of just audio. The 6400 includes an input for CAT5e as well, enabling the receiver to stream music, video, or photos from a PC, or play online music such as Shoutcast or Rhapsody without being connected to a computer.
With a focus on HD, both are compatible with Blu-Ray 1080p/24p signals, x.v.Color/Deep Color sources, and Dolby Digital Plus, TrueHD, DTS High Res., or DTS HD Master Audio formats. Using two video processors allows standard definition to be up-scaled to 1080p in the primary room and 1080i in the secondary room. The graphical user interface is also shared.
Direct Stream Digital audio is supported, while coding such as MP3 can be up-scaled to 192kHz. Two media ports can be used to connect other devices. Users can purchase iPod/Network Walkman docks, or PC client and Bluetooth adapters. "Digital Cinema Auto Calibration" can be used to tune the surround sound speakers.
Each of the seven primary output channels receives 120 watts of power, at 8 ohms with a frequency range of 20Hz - 20kHz, with .09 percent harmonic distortion. Six HDMI inputs are available, with two HDMI outputs. The Ethernet connection requires a DLNA compliant PC. The 6400 model also features Sony's "High Quality Audio Transmission System" to manage digital signals.
The STR-DA5400ES receiver will be available this month with an estimated price of $2,000, while the STR-DA6400ES will be released in October for $2,500.
The HomeShare HD multi-room system works as an intercom and distributes audio/video to a maximum of 16 zones. Sony designed the line to be plug-and-play, claimed to reduce the costs associated with custom installations. A control keypad, the HS-KP1, features a 4.3 inch LCD screen with a "XrossMediaBar" user interface.
Four HD sources can be connected using CAT5e cable. Digital Media Port technology allows users to connect and control players like iPods over the system, allowing the content to be viewed on the keypad. "Wallports" can be used to allow sources to be connected from each room. Connection to the ES receivers mentioned above will enable 2-way communication across the whole system.
The keypads allow IR pass-through and IR-in for control of disc players or cable boxes and connection with systems from other manufacturers. Two extra video inputs are provided, one for a front door camera and the other for a room such as a baby room. The video feed can be accessed from any room that has a keypad, and the intercom can also be used to selectively communicate room to room or to the front door.
The HomeShare system won't be available until next year, with pricing that will vary depending on individual needs. Sony estimates installed systems to cost between $1,000-$2,000 per room.
The two rack mount entertainment/automation systems, NHS-A30C and NHS-70C, both come pre-built and wired. The NHS-A30C is built for 5.1 channel HD home theaters, and includes a Blu-Ray player. Two zones of HD video are supported and three zones of audio. Lighting, thermostat, and security systems can be automated using Control4 technology.
The NHS-70C system adds audio improvements and wider expansion of zones- 7.1 channel HD audio in the main room and up to six zones of HD video. A 400-disc DVD/CD changer with a disc management system allows for control of complete libraries. A 160GB music server is built in, along with the option of adding three other devices such as HD cable boxes or HD gaming consoles. This system also uses Control4, but adds the HC-500 controller that manages the music content.
The rack mount systems will both be available later this year. Estimated installed costs were given as $15,000-$30,000 for the NHS-A30C or $30,000-$50,000 for the NHS-70C.
[HomeShare HS-KP1 Keypad]
[HomeShare HS-WD1 Wallport]