Colorado vNet Vibe Audio Distribution System

the listLast year, I reviewed NetStreams' DigiLinX, an advanced IP-based audio system that captured our Editor's Choice Award for multiroom product of the year. So my curiosity was piqued when I heard about the Colorado vNet Vibe audio distribution system. Not only did the company claim to offer similarly cutting-edge IP audio distribution and sound quality, but also an affordable touchpanel interface. Plus, Vibe promised ultrasimple installation and virtually no programming. This I had to see.

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SETUP The typical Vibe system starts with a dedicated audio server and IP encoders for legacy audio components. These are ultimately wired to a touchscreen controller/digital amplifier in each zone that drives your speakers. Wiring a Vibe system couldn't be much easier. And, since system components connect using standard Cat-5 data cabling - at about 25¢ a foot, some of the least expensive wire around - it couldn't be much cheaper, either.

Components communicate via a network router or switch, and Colorado vNet recommends creating a separate Vibe network (independent from your computer network) to maintain reliability. Depending on the number of Vibe components, Colorado vNet offers three switches: 8-port ($270), 16-port ($200), and 24-port ($860).

Vibe components connect to the network switch via Cat-5, and the speakers attach directly to the Vibe Color Touchscreen Amplifiers (the in-wall CA1-70, $1,300, or the desktop CA1-70D, $1,450) with standard speaker cable. Each touchscreen also includes line-level audio outputs configurable for either fixed or variable output - perfect for large rooms requiring an external amp to drive multiple speakers or for adding extra bada-boom via a subwoofer.