Sonance C4630 SE Home Audio Distribution System Page 2

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The Short Form
Price $3,099 (AS TESTED) / sonance.com / 800-582-7777
Snapshot
A reasonably priced but very basic workhorse with many custom features.
Plus
•Attractive, entry-level price •BBE Sound Enhancement •Many customizable features
Minus
•Keypads offer no metadata feedback •Only four sources accommodated •Poor backlight adjustment for C4630 SE Main and Numeric keypads
Key Features
•System as tested: C4630 SE ($1,800) C4630 SE Main Keypad ($100) C4630 SE Numeric Keypad ($60) Navigator K1 Keypad ($299) Navigator K2 Keypad ($550) C4630 SE IR Remote Control ($30) MR1 Micro Infrared Receiver ($110) iPort FS-2 iPod Docking Station ($150) •4-source, 6-zone Audio Controller •Up to 4 units can be daisy-chained for a 24-zone system •Includes 12-channel x 30-watt amplification •Features BBE Sound Enhancement circuitry •RS-232 serial control for integration with advanced third-party systems •5-year parts-and-labor warranty
Sonance sent me each of the three keypad options that work with the system: the C4630 SE Main and its companion C4630 SE Numeric, the Navigator K1, and the Navigator K2. Both the K1 and K2 pads have built-in IR receivers for use with handheld remotes, while the C4630 Main pad has a cool holster for installing an optional IR receiver. The system is also compatible with advanced third-party controllers from Crestron and others.

Programming requires a PC and the supplied Control Manager software, which offers some options I was delighted to see at this price. First, it gives the programmer control over each zone's turn-on volume as well as bass, treble, and balance adjustments. You can also set each zone's maximum and paging volume levels, or opt it out of the system's Party mode (which otherwise activates all zones). Further, the volume level of individual sources can be adjusted, which is incredibly useful for matching source components that are notoriously quiet (cable boxes) or loud (CD players).

Programming for the C4630 Main and Numeric keypads is stored in the system's chassis, not in the pads themselves, and downloads from the PC are made via the C4630 SE's front-panel USB port. This greatly speeds up programming, as a single download dump has the system ready to roll. Plus, when a programming change is needed, instead of walking all over the house and removing wall plates to reach the keypads' download ports, you simply jack into the chassis and hit download. (This isn't so for the Navigator pads, which store their programming internally and must be programmed individually.)

My C4630 SE came with a handheld IR remote. The system features an RS-232 connection, the preferred control method of custom installers. Through this connection, third-party controllers such as AMX or Crestron touchpanels do everything that IR allows plus much more, including receiving and displaying status information from the C4630 - which zones are on, which sources are selected, volume settings, etc.

Sonance also sent me the iPort FS-2 iPod dock, which provides a simple means of connecting an iPod to the C4630 and controlling it via infrared. The FS-2 charges your Pod while it's docked and offers both S- and composite-video outputs for showing photos or videos on your display. Two buttons on the FS-2's panel allow either track skipping or volume adjustment.

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