HAI is known for their award winning home automation controllers, so when I heard that they are getting into distributed multiroom audio I was excited to see what angle they would be taking. The OmniPro II currently supports multiroom audio systems by Russound and NUVO, however, HiFi By HAI won’t ship as a rack mounted controller, which incidentally, is nice for people that don’t want to deal with cooling issues in their equipment rack since multiroom amps heat up when in use. HAI designed the HiFi by HAI with an unorthodox view, don’t have all input sources in one location, instead place the input jacks where the sources are. If the XBOX 360 is in the family room, fine, plug it into the remote input jack and enjoy the music from that device anywhere in the house. The idea of scattering sources around the house is counter to what I have been doing, but can understand applications and times this is needed or required. What I like so far about the HAI solution is the simple volume/source control. It is easy to use and understand, something I am figuring out by seeing my fiance and parents trying to use the more complex and powerful Russound CAV6.6 Uno S2 controllers.
As for product details, the volume controls and the remote input modules are wired to the amp via Cat 5 cable. From there, speaker wire is feed from the amp to the speakers, like a traditional amp to speaker system. The four-zone/four-source amp is rated at 20 watts-per-channel and it’s digital so it won’t produce much heat. HAI will be selling a universal mounting plate which willl make the unit snap into structured-wiring panel.
HAI designed the system to be modular so you can expand on the standard 4×4 system up to a 6×8 (six sources, eight zones). If an amp or source needs replacement, just plug in the new module. You can also plug an external amp into the variable output for additional power. They also will be offering a IR control system for controlling the devices in remote rooms.
Pricing on this system will be on the lower end compared to multiroom audio, think A-BUS… so for around $1000 you will be able to buy the amp, four keypads, for inputs modules and IR flashers. I think HAI might just be on to something with HiFi by HAI.