Russound De-Centralizes Audio Distribution

Typical whole-house audio systems require “home-running” all of the speaker and control wiring to a central location which then connects to a stack of electronics – sources, distribution switches, amplifiers, control system – that normally resides in a large rack. While there is nothing wrong with systems designed in this manner, they are typically best installed during construction when extensive prewiring can be done, and can be difficult to add onto. Many also feature pre-configured source and zone amounts, such as 6 source to 6 zone, meaning it can be difficult (ie: expensive) to add a single additional zone to a system. Russound showed some real out-of-box thinking at CEDIA by introducing the company’s new MBX-AMP, a completely scalable Wifi streaming audio amplifier that can be placed anywhere in the home yet link-up to become part of a system supporting as many as 32 audio zones!

The MBX-AMP is a single box solution smaller than a typical hardback book that can be installed virtually anywhere in a home where there is power and connect to any pair of passive speakers. Its thin profile means it could tuck behind a TV, and with a Toslink digital and analog audio input, it can serve as the perfect TV amplification solution. It could also easily be installed discreetly in a closet, making it easy to retrofit wiring to an added pair of in-ceiling speakers. The MBX’s internal amplifier delivers 50-watts per channel, and is 4-ohm stable to drive two pair of speakers. A sub out connection is provided to easily connect a powered sub for higher performance in critical listening areas.

A system can start with a single MBX-AMP which creates one listening zone, and then add more as needed up to 32, with synchronized audio for up to 16 rooms at once. The system is controlled either using Russound’s XTS touchscreens or via the company’s MyRussound App. In addition, it features voice control via Amazon Alexa and will have driver support for Control4, URC, and RTI systems.

Beyond the analog and digital audio inputs, the MBX includes Bluetooth with full AVRCP support, Apple AirPlay, and can stream from DLNA-compliant audio sources up to 192/24-bit resolution, or pull content from a connected USB drive. The MBX will also offer native support for Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, and TuneIn, with Google Chromecast, Deezer, and Tidal support in the works.

The MBX-AMP is scheduled for availability by June 2018 at a price of $599. A pre-amp version, the MBX-PRE was not on display at the show, but is expected around the same time for $399.

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