A new lineup of Acoustic Research (AR) products have been launched that will help home theater installers solve problems that have crept into the high-definition experience at home. Nothing is more frustrating than setting up a new HDTV only to find that the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI™) digital connection you've used to get the best possible audio and video doesn't work, forcing you to resort to a lower-quality — and more complicated — analog hook-up. To ease concerns over HDMI compatibility, which has been a frustrating obstacle for installers and enthusiasts alike, Thomson's Acoustic Research brand is introducing a line of HDMI switchers and repeaters, with HDMI cables that have been rigorously tested by Simplay Labs, LLC to maximize performance and compatibility with other HDMI gear.
AR is also introducing a line of paper-thin MicroFlat™ speaker wire, speaker selectors that support six and eight pairs of speakers, and a variety of in-wall A/V distribution products.
The new HDMI cabling products are believed to be among the first to carry the Simplay HD logo, signifying that they have passed tests that focus on maximizing compatibility with other Simplay HD-verified products. A number of major consumer electronics manufacturers, including Thomson's Accessories business, are participating in the Simplay HD Testing Program, which has support from major Hollywood movie studios.
HDMI Switchers to Overcome Single-Input Syndrome
Many high-definition televisions only have one HDMI input, which is a dilemma for consumers who have more than one A/V source component with an HDMI connector and crave the superior performance that an HDMI connection delivers — not to mention the beauty of using a single cable to carry high-definition video and multichannel audio.
The AR solution comes in two flavors: The two-way ARHD21 HDMI switcher, which provides two inputs, and the four-way ARHD41, which has four inputs. Both models are HDCP-compliant and incorporate the latest HDMI chip set in addition to a built-in repeater that minimizes signal degradation with long cable runs. Other common features include isolated construction to reduce crosstalk, a low-profile 17-inch, rack-mountable chassis with an anodized aluminum face plate, 24K gold-plated connectors and a credit-card-size remote control.
HDMI Repeaters and Cables for High-Performance Connectivity
For situations when cables must be run from one end of a room to the other, or from one area of the house to another, signal degradation can become an issue. This can often ruin what should be a pristine HDTV image. The AR488 is designed with an aim to make sure that doesn't happen. Measuring 2 1/8 x 1 5/8 x 7/8 inches and weighing only 1.4 ounces, the AR488 is a cinch to install because there are only two connections — an input and an output. If the cables are hooked up incorrectly, a red LED lights up. A green LED light signals that the cables are properly connected. The repeater features an isolated construction to reduce crosstalk and 24K gold-plated connectors. The AR488 is also compatible with 1080p signals. A DVI format repeater is also available.
AR's new Simplay HD-verified HDMI cables also feature an isolated construction — a small circuit board inside the connector is designed to eliminate many of the crosstalk problems experienced by consumers with other HDMI cables. The cables will also pass a 1080p signal.
MicroFlat™ Speaker Wire Makes Unsightly Cables Disappear
Wiring up a home theater sound system with six or more speakers can be a tricky proposition, especially when it comes to running cables to surround speakers in the back of the room. Things become even more challenging when forced to snake cabling through the walls. Enter the Acoustic Research MicroFlat™ speaker wire.
The paper-thin wire is easily hidden under wallpaper, carpeting, or molding and has an adhesive backing for simple installation. It can even be applied directly to a wall and painted over. And from a performance standpoint, MicroFlat™ wire is able to carry more current than other cables because of its greater surface area and ability to cool more quickly.
Speaker Selectors to Control a Whole-House Music System
The new model AR1106 and AR1108 speaker selectors are designed to switch six and eight pairs of speakers, respectively, and are rated to handle 300 watts of continuous power per channel. In addition to boasting silent, "no click" speaker switching, both models are equipped with high-quality binding posts that will accept any kind of connector and incorporate Dual Dynamic Load Balancing circuitry that automatically protects the amplifier and speakers from potentially damaging power overloads. When an overload condition exists, a blue light glows behind the AR logo on the front panel.
Inconspicuous A/V Distribution
Expanding beyond speaker selectors, Thomson is introducing its first line of in-wall distribution products, aimed at the custom installation market. Highlights of these AR-branded products include: