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AVPro Edge

AVPro Edge specializes in full bandwidth audio/video distribution, working alongside HDMI, HDBaseT and HDCP, we pride ourselves on developing uniquely engineered solutions for today’s integrator.


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ThenAudio: The Best Friend You Never Knew You Had…
Posted on Monday, March 4, 2024
ThenAudio: The Best Friend You Never Knew You Had…

March 4, 2024 - In November 2023, AVPro acquired ThenAudio from X-Vue, LLC, with X-Vue founder and CEO Juha Nurminen also joining AVPro as Director of Engineering. Foundational for ThenAudio is a broad portfolio of core intellectual properties involving algorithms intrinsic to FPGA programming, which find their way into embedded systems, offering new or extended perspectives for use with existing technologies. One such place where ThenAudio excels with novel solutions is Consumer Electronics Control (CEC). 

ThenAudio products fall comfortably under the FIX IT TOOLS category, each deserving inclusion on every integration company’s installation and service trucks. Installation projects often include a mixture of existing gear with new items plus overlapping CEC, HDCP, and HDMI histories. Frequently, these hybrid systems become plagued with complex interoperability issues ranging from insufficient, format-challenged, or legacy input facilities to poorly implemented, compromised product features. Having ThenAudio devices at hand eliminates added truck rolls and embarrassing (and costly) re-visits, amending an issue that would have been remedied with one of the three problem solvers below. 

THENAUDIO ZONE2-PRO is a dual-zone eARC audio processor and Fixed Rate Link (FRL) 6 HDMI switch designed to distribute eARC audio simultaneously to separate audio systems. One common use is with the client that has purchased a NextGen TV and soundbar and wishes to integrate the multichannel eARC soundtrack also through a still viable, though years behind, AVR. The ZONE2-PRO is inserted into the signal path from the TV eARC HDMI output port, splitting between the soundbar and AVR. The dedicated TV eARC input directs the signal to an output designated as eARC output to a soundbar. Meanwhile, en route to the dedicated AVR output, a proprietary ThenAudio algorithm first decodes the eARC audio data, then proceeds to re-encode the signal without alteration, adding metadata that automatically optimizes the signal to interface with the legacy audio processor. Video data is not decoded and passes through unchanged if desired for viewing in an alternate location. It should be noted that the audio extraction performed by the ZONE2-PRO remains in multi-channel codec form and is NOT downmixed for distributed multi-zone stereo use. 

The ZONE2-PRO may also function as a two-input, HDMI 2.1, 8K/ 60 fps, 48 Gbps video switcher.

The THENAUDIO SHARC-V2 features two-zone eARC audio breakout like the ZONE2-PRO but removes the dedicated eARC-to-soundbar HDMI output, adding a 3.5 mm analog output jack fronted by a quality DAC that natively converts up to 384 kHz sampling rates for high dynamic range audio. Like with the ZONE2-PRO, audio is extracted and remains in its digital multi-channel codec form; it is NOT downmixed or converted into analog stereo for distributed multi-zone use.

For analog output, the source must originate in two-channel PCM, and this is where the SHARC-V2 shines through for those keen to listen through high-quality, direct-connected headphones or use the output jack to send signal via a transmitter wireless headphones. Some TVs fail to process PCM pass-through correctly; with the SHARC-V2, ThenAudio has implemented proprietary run-time code fixes to compensate. Often, a TV is simply connected to a two-channel audio system. The SHARC-V2 is the perfect interface device to decode PCM TV audio for systems where audio performance is paramount, as it also enables flexible output level control from either the TV or the source remote. 

GUIDE-4 from ThenAudio is the world’s first HDMI 2.1 CEC-controlled switch. Early adopters find that sometimes having the latest-greatest comes at a price. The first HDMI 2.1 TVs and Projectors were often saddled with having a single HDMI 2.1-capable input. For gamers with multiple media consoles and even a dedicated gaming computer, this meant repeatedly manipulating HDMI cables to access this input. The GUIDE-4 provides four additional HDMI 2.1, 48 Gbps, 8K/60 fps, FRL 6 inputs that can cleverly be switched using the TV remote, though they all enter the display through the same HDMI input.

ThenAudio’s proprietary CEC interactivity visibly populates all four GUIDE-4 inputs into the TV menu, linking them through the HDMI input the GUIDE-4 output is connected to. For example, when GUIDE-4 is connected to HDMI Input 1 of a display, the onscreen data populates under Input 1 as four associated inputs. Additionally, the TV remote accesses each sub-input with the actual switching occurring automatically inside the GUIDE-4. More impressive, pressing a PlayStation 5 remote control menu button will issue a specific string of ThenAudio CEC commands processed by the GUIDE-4 that cues up the PlayStation to its sub-input within the TV to HDMI 1, ready for use. Essentially, a significant degree of automation occurs minus the automation system and programming woes.

With Perfect Pass-Through, the video signal never undergoes processing by the GUIDE-4, remaining bit-for-bit perfect from the source.

ThenAudio products are designed to take the drama out of encounters where NextGen products must mesh seamlessly with legacy products. AVRs and Pre-processors that are as much as a decade old still perform perfectly from an audio perspective, perhaps only lacking the latest HDMI 2.1 video chipset. While some aficionados ply for the newest version of each piece of gear, many remain wary of realizing any real-world improvement if their current audio kit continues to match the surround codecs presently in use. And they are not immune to the impact a 40-something-pound box of electronics has environmentally. ThenAudio devices enable integrators to have an on-the-spot solution for price-conscious (and price weary) clients to interface new displays with still viable audio processors until such time when a format change forces replacement.

Be sure to have ThenAudio products at hand next to AVPro scalers and downmix devices so the longest trek you have to undertake to complete a scheduled project is to your truck at the end of the driveway.