DM NAX Audio-over-IP for Commercial Applications
        Crestron’s distributed audio solutions can provide the best sound for any business
        March 26

        In 2017, Crestron rolled out its DM NVX® AV-over-IP platform. It’s been a hit, closing in on one million units shipped in just seven years (you might have heard about that at the ISE® 2024 trade show).

        That success highlighted the need for another solution: an audio-specific ecosystem that could leverage the network. “In traditional video-centric AV systems, audio followed video to a display and then got ‘broken out’ to a small audio system that could include a processor and audio amplifier,” explains Dustin Plumb, Crestron’s senior product manager of AV solutions. “Today, audio from nearly any source can be encoded to a DM NAX, Dante, or other AoIP protocol and freely routed between devices on the network. Network audio devices handle signal routing and processing and can be remotely configured, managed, monitored, and controlled. DM NAX technology leverages all the advantages of network audio architecture in a comprehensive ecosystem of audio products.”

        There was a clear starting point from the outset, says Delix Alex, director of product management for AV solutions at Crestron: “DM NAX Audio-over-IP is based on AES67, an accepted standard within the industry that allows for interoperability.” From there, “we could layer the Crestron goodness on top,” he adds. That “goodness” is more than just interoperability with other Crestron digital media but also brings other benefits into the audio world, such as control solutions, far-reaching management and configuration options, and the reliability Crestron is known for.

        The initial creation of such a system fell to another member of the team, as we explained in a previous blog post regarding marine applications:

        When Ekin Binal (now director of core technology and strategic partnerships) first joined Crestron, he was tasked with building the company’s next-gen audio platform. “He started reaching out to the people running commercial, residential, hospitality,” recalls Daniel Kerkhof, director of Crestron Marine. “And he also came to me and said, Hey, I hear that you do something with large yachts — what would I need to have as functionalities in my new solution for you to be able to use it on board?" Kerkhof came back with a long list, and Binal began to realize that different subsets of that list would also come in handy for the other verticals.

        Binal designed the Crestron DM NAX® Audio-over-IP technology solution with marine installations top of mind — and those requirements more than matched the needs of every other application for the DM NAX technology.

        As it turns out, marine deployments can be among the most demanding, and they require devices that feature maximum toughness and durability — high standards that make them perfect for an incredibly wide variety of commercial applications. Since it can handle conditions at sea — from violent movement to extreme humidity — that means the DM NAX technology solution is ready for anything you can throw at it.

        Benefits of the DM NAX Audio-over-IP Ecosystem

        It provides high-end audio — anywhere — with minimum cabling. Tune the audio to match your application, whether it’s for speech, video content, or background music.

        Audio is delivered with ultra-low latency — no lag at all. Instantaneous audio (and communication) makes for a seamless, engaging, and interactive client, employee, or student experience.

        It’s interoperable with audio industry standards. It’s compatible with a wide range of audio-over-IP audio systems, including DM NVX AV-over-IP solutions, Dante® audio networking, AES67-capable devices, and more.

        It’s easy to install. Simple deployment brings you versatile audio distribution over the network, native streaming service support, and local analog or digital inputs — all in a single platform.

        It’s scalable. A system can support hundreds of audio sources, delivering sound to hundreds of zones.

        It supports enterprise-grade network security standards. It can be deployed in secure facilities where latency matters.

        It offers a wide array of streaming service capabilities. Stream AirPlay® 2 software, Amazon® Music, internet radio, Spotify® Connect, Pandora®, SiriusXM®, TIDAL®, Deezer®, and Qobuz® music services, podcast providers, and many, many more.

        It’s energy efficient. DM NAX Audio-over-IP devices are energy efficient and designed for 24/7 usage.

        It’s future-ready. Firmware updates add new capabilities, saving costs and ensuring long lifecycles for products.

        Transitioning to Commercial Applications

        Creating an incredibly sturdy solution is only part of the process, however. “Commercial audio is a discipline in itself,” says Plumb. “Customers expect audio signals to be available on the network where they can be routed and processed between audio-over-IP endpoints and controlled and configured remotely. Crestron decided to do it right and not only develop video products with audio support but create an entire portfolio of comprehensive, flexible, and scalable network audio products that make deploying and managing large-scale audio systems as simple as possible.”

        And since Crestron already had an excellent reputation in creating large-scale, mission-critical AV-over-IP projects, the move to audio-only solutions was a logical next step — driven in part by dealer feedback. “We are well known for our control systems and intelligently controlled AV content distribution hardware,” says Plumb. “Crestron video and control are already a big part of large-scale commercial AV systems, and extending our range of solutions to cover audio applications was a natural evolution that customers regularly asked for.”

        And, of course, the move to network audio from the old cabling of the past was a huge benefit, especially for commercial deployments. “Network-based audio systems allow for the best scalability and the most flexibility in routing, processing, and distribution,” says Plumb. “Whether it's the sound system for a single lobby or a centrally controlled campus audio system, an ecosystem such as this one can make powerful audio systems a reality.” There’s a long and growing list of potential use cases, says Plumb: “Retail, hospitality, corporate campuses, higher education, training centers, conference rooms, bars, restaurants, and fitness centers all can benefit from Crestron commercial audio systems. DM NAX technology audio systems are 100% scalable and can therefore cover a wide range of applications while allowing for future growth.”

        There’s another plus: “These systems can be remotely managed and monitored, allowing support teams to troubleshoot and solve problems without putting a truck on the road.”

        The DM NAX Audio-over-IP Portfolio

        Audio Edge Devices: Endpoints for any Application

        Crestron rolled out its DM NAX® Audio Edge Devices at the 2024 ISE trade show in Barcelona. The concept is all about connecting whatever audio source lives at the “edge” of the network for a specific application. To meet the challenge, Crestron introduced four flexible devices to provide that solution for any enterprise, educational, hospitality, or retail installation.

        The entire line is compatible across DM NVX® AV-over-IP, DM NAX Audio-over-IP, AES67, and Dante® audio networking platforms, and they were all built for simple and hassle-free installations. They’re available in two form factors — wall plate and surface mount — and since each device is powered via PoE, local AC isn’t needed.

        There’s much more info on all the features and functions of each device in this article, but here’s a quick look at them all:

        The DM NAX Wall Plate with Bluetooth® Communications and Unbalanced Analog Audio Input and Output: The DM-NAX-BTIO-1G — If a client needs to give a user easy access to personal audio playback, here’s the answer. For example, think of a dance class where the instructor pairs a device for playing their audio over the room system along with their microphone signal or a presentation solution for conference rooms where meeting attendees need the ability to share audio over the system.

        The DM NAX Wall Plate with XLR Input and Balanced Analog Audio Output: The DM-NAX-2XLRI-1G — If you’ve ever seen a situation where a user needed to connect professional mic or line-level signals on XLR cables to a network, you know how useful this solution can be. XLR connectivity means condenser or phantom-powered mics, mixing boards, and other audio sources have a line right into the DM NAX Audio-over-IP network, making it a perfect option for conference rooms, meeting halls, classrooms, or a DJ booth at a restaurant or nightclub.

        The DM NAX Converter with Balanced Analog Audio Input and Output: The DM-NAX-AUD-IO — This device is essentially an analog to DM NAX and DM NAX to analog bridge, which allows the user to send an audio stream to a traditional analog amplifier. There’s no need to add expensive amplifiers to a network-connected version when one can simply add this small box to their system. Additionally, if a client has legacy audio equipment (cassette decks, CD players, turntables, and so on), this device is the perfect way to get that audio into the DM NAX technology ecosystem.

        The DM NAX Converter with USB and Unbalanced Analog Audio Input and Output: The DM-NAX-AUD-USB — Here’s an edge device that offers all the convenience and flexibility of USB connectivity, allowing the user to get PC or mobile device audio onto a DM NAX® technology network. It’s an excellent option for conference rooms, training facilities, lecture halls, classrooms, and a world of other use cases.

        Preamplifiers and Amplifiers: Tailor the Sound — and Stream Directly

        The heart of any audio system is the gear that takes the sound, processes it, and sends it to the speaker — and in the modern era of streaming solutions, an amplifier or preamp that arrives with those services built right in can deliver the source in the same box. Crestron offers multiple amp and preamp solutions — with and without built-in media streaming service capabilities — that are flexible enough to tackle any commercial project.

        The Eight-Zone Streaming Amp: The DM-NAX-8ZSA — The DM-NAX-8ZSA is our flagship streaming amplifier that features eight individual output zones. It has eight onboard media streaming service players (one for each zone) and supports a ton of great streaming services. With a robust 150W available for each zone (and up to 500W in bridge mode), it has enough power to cover a wide range of applications, and the device can be remotely controlled and configured. Other features include a built-in DSP and best-in-class noise and distortion specifications. It’s an excellent choice for retail and hospitality applications, restaurants, bars, doctor’s offices, and more.

        The Four-Zone Preamplifier: The DM-NAX-4ZSP — This device is an audio source as well, offering the same music streaming and DSP as the DM-NAX-8ZSA in a four-zone preamp model built to feed existing amplifiers (whether those amps are uncontrolled, high impedance, or high-powered). It offers a wide array of features, including a library of chimes built into the unit. Chimes can be assigned to different zones to help identify them so that alerts specific to an area can be recognized immediately, and if a chime is triggered, the audio will duck or pause.

        The Four-Zone Streaming Amp: The DM-NAX-4ZSA-50 — Packed with the same set of features as its eight-zone sibling, the new DM-NAX-4ZSA-50 provides four amplified stereo speaker outputs and one analog line-level stereo output for a total of five zones, or “4+1.” This smaller, 1RU half-rack width amp — at a lower price point than the DM-NAX-8ZSA — is perfect for smaller projects such as restaurants, bars, retail shops, fitness centers, small medical offices, and so on. It’s also great as an expansion amplifier for a larger existing system. Simply put, it’s the perfect device for situations where an eight-zone amp would be overkill.

        The 16-Input Encoder: The DM-NAX-16AIN — The Crestron DM-NAX-16AIN is an audio-over-IP encoder that provides 16 local stereo audio inputs to a DM NAX Crestron multiroom audio distribution network. This workhorse has all the audio connectivity you’d need to bring nearly any audio source onto the network for wide distribution. Instead of a central AVR, 16AIN acts as the onramp, and once the source signals are on the network as DM NAX Audio-over-IP streams, they can be picked up by any DM NAX technology endpoint on the network. The unique architecture of this solution allows for much better scalability and flexibility than competing solutions, all in a handy 1RU enclosure.

        The 300W Powerhouse: The DM-NAX-AMP-X300 — The Crestron DM-NAX-AMP-X300 is a high-performance, space-saving (just 1RU tall and half a rack wide), energy-efficient, professional-grade audio-over-IP amplifier that supports DM NAX technology, Dante audio networking, AES67, and local inputs, all with full DSP capabilities. This device can be configured as a four-channel amp (up to 75W per channel) or bridged from one to three channels at various other wattages, giving it the flexibility commercial deployments demand.

        The Audio Return Processor: The DM-NAX-XSP — This Surround Sound decoding DM NAX® digital signal processor can bridge streaming TVs to Crestron’s DM NAX multi-room audio distribution system. As TVs become audio sources, this device can add another layer of flexibility to any project. It includes 8K HDMI® connectivity inputs and outputs, ARC/eARC inputs, and a DSP decoder. It allows the user to send multi-channel audio into an AV receiver, integrating the capabilities of DM NAX Audio-over-IP Technology and DM NVX® AV-over-IP technology.

        Coming Soon — Our Best Speaker Options Yet: Saros In-Ceiling Speakers

        Of course, any audio ecosystem isn’t complete until the sound gets from the source to your ears — and our latest speaker offerings will streamline that last step with the kind of quality experience you’ve come to expect from Crestron.

        Be on the lookout for two new additions to our stable of existing speaker solutions, the Saros® IC6VLP and Saros IC6ULP. Those last three letters of the model designation stand for “very low profile” and “ultra-low profile,” making them perfect for installation in plenum-restricted environments. With 4" (VLP) or 2.5" (ULP) installation depths, these are true “problem-solver” speakers designed and tuned by our internal team of acoustical engineers.

        “We’re always paying attention to dealer and client feedback when we’re building these solutions,” says Plumb. “Whether it's lighting products, intelligent shades, video content distribution, or advanced audio systems — down to the speakers themselves — Crestron has the customers' needs covered.”

        Beyond building boxes, Plumb stresses the Crestron mantra of support from start to finish: “Our goal is always the same when we’re designing a Crestron ecosystem: To provide you with all the necessary tools to deploy and manage these very diverse solutions.”

        featured products

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        DM NAX™ Audio-over-IP

        DM NAX Audio-over-IP Distribution System is built on the DM NVX® AV-over-IP platform, so you know it provides unmatched flexibility, scalability, performance, and integration.

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        DM NVX AV-over-IP — Content distribution that reaches further. In real-time.

        DM NVX AV-over-IP technology delivers real-time lossless audio and video, USB signals, and device control to thousands of destinations at uncompromising quality, over your existing network, with down-to-the-second data delivery — at the highest levels of security.

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        Crestron Flex Pods — Scalable wireless audio

        Bring mics and speakers to rooms not wired for audio, extend large spaces or uniquely shaped rooms, and easily rearrange them with the furniture in multi-purpose rooms — Crestron Flex Pods let you collaborate in your spaces, your way.

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