While HDBaseT has been all over custom channel media this year with the mantra “go farther,” it’s time to add to that mantra and say “go farther, do more.”
I recently tried out Wyrestorm’s AMP-001-010 Digital Amplifier/Receiver/Repeater. This product is a first of its kind, not only providing HD video over a single Category cable but also delivering amplified audio over the same single cable.
But the magic in this little box doesn’t stop there. To explain it, let’s break down the AMP-001-010 into its individual parts.
Wyrestorm is labeling this as an amplifier, but I look at it more as a multichannel receiver. While delivering a crystal clear 25 watts per channel, the AMP-001-010 also gives you the ability to add a powered subwoofer for a more encompassing sound, which is perfect for providing great sound to any viewing room. But don’t let the wattage number fool you. While most companies exaggerate the wattage, Wyrestorm seems to be providing a true 25 watts per channel that I was able to use to power a pair of Polk Audio TSx330T floorstanding speakers with awesome sound and plenty of power.
I was surprised to see that although Wyrestorm is not known for dabbling in audio, the support for the audio end was all inclusive, featuring DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby True HD – 2.1 PCM, and 4-, 6-, 8-ohm speaker impedance. As a single-room amplifier solution that can be used in a multi-room environment, the AMP-001-010 had already won me over before I even passed into the other features that make this a must-use product.
This little box really surprised me as an audio receiver. Of course, I was able to enjoy audio from my distribution system over the HDBaseT connection, but then there was more. In addition to the audio traveling over that single wire, I was also able to connect a local audio source through a 3.5 mm stereo connection. This allowed me to add a local audio source, like a Bluetooth receiver, to my already available audio arsenal.
Wyrestorm was able to capture my attention by adding something I have always thought should be included in soundbars that we are just now starting to see: audio return channel (ARC). By adding ARC, Wyrestorm offers the ability to take the audio from the media built into my smart TV and send it directly to the HDBaseT amp over the same HDMI cable that my smart TV gets video from. Wyrestorm took the receiver thought a step further by adding an analog audio output just in case you do want more power but need the functionality of the HDBaseT Amp.
As one of the first products on the market to actually employ the ability to repeat HDBaseT signals (limited to seven times due to HDCP regulations) over a single Category cable, this is a must-have device in a multi-display environment. You may just need a mirrored display, multiple displays, or something much more complex, but the ability to cascade HDBaseT with an amplified audio solution makes the AMP-001-010 a winner in just about any video distribution installation.
Wyrestorm has learned over time that control options are one of the most important parts of video distribution. So much so the company will be releasing its own control platform soon, Enado. This lesson learned by Wyrestorm translated well into the AMP-001-010. The amp features volume control, a separate subwoofer level control, a “Bass Control”, discreet HDMI audio “from the HDBaseT signal”, ARC audio, and local audio. Included with the discreet commands were also preconfigured EQ modes which included to my surprise one called “Metal”.
The one downfall in all this great control planning was the lack of discreet power control. All this joyous control and a power toggle was a little disappointing.
Taking device control in a distribution environment is where HDBaseT and this amp can shine. You get individual input and output IR ports to create a bidirectional IR control and a dedicated RS232 output for a display or other device that supports control over RS232. The nice thing that I found in my distribution system were more than one control option including IR, RS232, and a front panel control so that controlling the Amp by any means was simple and complete
Wyrestorm’s website features an AMP-001-010 system planner beta program that enables you to plan and map out an entire Wyrestorm distribution system from one room to many. It includes drag-and-drop blocks for HDMI sources, HDBaseT transmitters and switches, HDBaseT receivers (including the AMP), speakers, local devices, control options, and HDMI displays. This is a really good way to plan your distribution system in a quick and complete manner.
Overall, the Wyrestorm AMP-001-010 is a very successful example of what HDBaseT can do in the future by using so many of the rich features right now. With everything I have already mentioned and even more features included, like POH pass-through, this product should become a mainstay in any integrators arsenal. I am sure this product will make many of my installations easier, more profitable, and seamless in use.