ZON Digital Multiroom Audio System Washington DC
Baileys Crossroads, VA
Falls Church, VA
ZON Digital Multiroom Audio System
June 1, 2005 By Brent Butterworth
A glowing ring of blue light summons me in the dark. I touch my finger to its center, and a luminescent display above the ring comes to life. I now see in the soft cobalt radiance that an ultramodern, curvaceous silver panel holds the ring and the display. A yellow light races around the ring and back as strange, futuristic music begins to emanate from hidden speakers. Have I stumbled into Captain Kirk’s quarters on the Starship Enterprise? Hardly—it’s just my kitchen, and the music I hear is the everynight electronica of Los Angeles’ KCRW-FM.
Each audio source (CD, radio, etc.) requires a ZIM-4 module (above), although your installer can plug an audio source directly into the ZR-98 router (below, shown with the remote that accompanies each ZAC-60). (Click image to enlarge)
Struck by a sudden passion for the past, I push the button in the center of the blue ring again, spin the dial surrounding it until “CD Changer” appears in the display, then punch the button once more. The music switches immediately to guitarist Wes Montgomery’s album California Dreaming. I hold down the dial for a couple of seconds, punch the button again, and controls for the CD changer appear on the display. I skip forward to “Sunny,” my favorite track, and I am in heaven. I can also change to a different radio station or switch over to music from my Apple iPod, but for the moment, Wes suits me just fine.
All this entertainment pours forth at the touch of a dial and a button on a 4.8-by-5-inch wall-mounted panel. I am listening to what is surely the most modern multiroom sound system available today, the ZON digital audio system. Instead of the button-laden, intimidating keypads found on so many older multiroom systems, I face a sleek, simple silver plate that attracts the touch of even my most technophobic guests. And when they touch it—practically no matter how they touch it—sound fills the room. This kind of instant gratification even Captain Kirk would envy.The panel—which appropriately goes by the Star Trekish moniker ZAC-60—may be the only part of the ZON system you ever see. No bulky external amplifiers are required; the ZAC-60 has two 30-watt digital amplifiers built right in. All of your source components (such as a radio tuner, a CD changer, and an MP3 player) hide away in a closet along with the ZON system’s central router. Befitting ZON’s futuristic vibe, all signals travel from the router to the ZAC-60 in digital form, so the audio does not degrade as it follows the wires through your walls and ceilings.
And running those wires takes hours instead of days, because each ZAC-60 is tethered to the router through only a single, slim CAT-5 network cable. Speaker cables run from the ZAC-60 to whatever speakers you choose to use. Incidentally, the ZAC-60 is also available in white or black for those whose tastes in decor are mor...