Audioaccess W.H.E.N. Audio/Video Distribution/Surround System

The Audioaccess name is probably unknown to most Sound & Vision readers, so it may come as a surprise that the company is the custom-installation heart of Harman International - home to JBL, Infinity, Lexicon, and yes, Harman Kardon. With all that firepower behind it, you can bet that Audioaccess is capable of some big ideas. The W.H.E.N. system is one of them, and it's so logical that you can't help but wonder why more people haven't done it.

In short, Audioaccess is using a home theater receiver as the nexus for an entire housewide audio/video distribution system. W.H.E.N., a clever acronym for Whole-House Entertainment Network, offers audio and video distribution for as many as 20 independent zones, built-in dual FM/AM tuners, a full two-way intercom, large LCD keypads that display song metadata in remote locations, iPod compatibility, and 50 watts per channel of digital power per stereo audio zone. Combine all of that with programming that's done entirely onscreen through a graphical user interface (GUI), and you've got the makings of a potent workhorse.

SETUP Taking full advantage of everything W.H.E.N. does practically demands that your home be prewired with the system in mind during construction. It follows current industry standards, meaning Cat5 control wire, 16-gauge/4-conductor speaker cable to each keypad control location, and dual runs of RG-6 to each display. But it's where these wires run that's slightly different from the norm. Instead of home-running all of the audio and video wiring for remote rooms to the A/V electronics, you run A/V signal and keypad power wiring to the AVH21 Audio/Video Distribution Hub and the WPS21 Power-Supply Hub, both of which get mounted inside structured-wiring panels.

These two components power the keypads and distribute audio and video signals to each room. The AVH21 sends control and audio signals to as many as seven keypads, and it handles video distribution chores as well, with inputs for six video sources and up to seven video cameras. Loop-out connections allow daisy-chaining up to three hubs. The WPS21 powers as many as seven keypads as well as the AVH21. Remotely locating both components makes for a super-clean installation that saves the installer from looking at the Medusa's head of RG-6, Cat5, and 16/4 wiring that makes up a 20-room A/V distribution system.