Crestron Adagio Entertainment System

the listAnd the Trojans wheeled the great wooden horse into their city and shut the gates. Later, while the city of Troy slept, Greek warriors slipped out from inside the horse and pillaged the city.

With the Trojan horse, the Greeks gave us the ultimate sneak attack. That, as you'll see, is a bit like what Crestron has done with its new Adagio Entertainment System - except in a really cool, distributed-audio kind of way (and without all the pillaging).

Crestron is virtually synonymous with high-end automation. When you flip through magazines like Lifestyles of the Obscenely Wealthy, it's usually Crestron video touchpanels you see in those sexy shots. But the time to program a complete Crestron system can be measured in days at $100+ an hour, which has kept them from mass-market acceptance.

So when I heard Crestron was introducing a new, lower-priced audio distribution system that would work "out of the box" with "no programming required," well, you can understand my skepticism.

SETUP Crestron's new Adagio products (pronounced ah-dah-gee-oh, with Italian panache) are designed for true plug-and-play capability, automatically discovering and configuring themselves for operation. The main unit is the Crestron Adagio Entertainment System (AES), which can handle up to 10 separate sources, including up to three dual-tuner card modules that load into slots in the AES chassis. The basic system comes packaged with one of three different cards as either the AES-FM, with dual AM/FM tuners ($3,700); AES-XM, with AM/FM plus XM satellite radio ($4,100); or the AES-SR, with AM/FM plus Sirius satellite radio ($4,100). (Additional tuner cards cost $500 for the dual AM/FM and $900 each for the AM/FM/satellite combos.) Our test system included an AES loaded with an AM/FM/XM tuner card, which accounted for two sources; all other source components were connected via traditional audio interconnects.

The AES also has a built-in multichannel amplifier to power up to six stereo audio zones with 45 watts per channel (into 8 ohms). By adding Adagio Audio Expanders ($1,800), the system is expandable in six-zone increments to a total of 24 zones.