Thenaudio is pleased to introduce our new ZONE2-PRO Dual eARC Processor.
ZONE2-PRO highlights and summary:
- Continue using the existing HDMI audio system, whether it be an AVR or a soundbar that does not have an eArc port.
- Combine almost any two audio systems for use at the same time. Essentially allows the reuse of any older audio systems together with new systems.
- soundbar and an AVR (e.g. a main soundbar + extra Atmos heights powered by an AVR)
- extra subwoofer and any audio system ( e.g. Sonos ARC + subwoofer driven by an AVR )
- two soundbars at the same time ( e.g. Atmos in two rooms )
- Add an optical output port that supports DD+ Atmos 192kHz output.
- TV internal optical port never exceeds stereo PCM or basic DD/DTS capability
- Effectively adds the much-needed optical port for Xbox setups
- Volume control with a new volume TRACKSYNC algorithm
- Thenaudio proprietary algorithm to tackle volume changes across connected devices
- Two 8K / 4K120 FRL6 VRR ALLM capable input ports
- Controlled using CEC from TV or source remotes
ZONE2-PRO has somewhat similar functionality as the popular SHARC-V2 processor for activating any older HDMI receiver or soundbar that does not support the latest eARC protocol. ZONE2-PRO has an HDMI audio output port but also adds an eARC transmitter port. This opens up many possibilities to reuse existing and older audio system components in any setup at any location.
It is now possible to connect a brand new soundbar while also using the existing one as a supplemental device for wider bass or extra speakers in the same room or in another zone, for example, outside. This saves the perfectly capable existing audio system from being forced into an early retirement for reasons only pushed by the big manufacturers wanting to obsolete perfectly capable audio systems
For instance, in case you purchased a new eArc-capable TV you are by now probably aware that no lossless audio such as multi-channel PCM or MAT Atmos formats can be passed through or received from the TV unless the connected audio system also supports eARC transport. This is a sad truth and something we actively work against by introducing products that enable the reuse of old audio components.
To give a better understanding of the key technologies in ZONE2-PRO we would like to highlight the following three points and discuss them in detail:
- eARC RE-ENCODING: Improves compatibility and fixes metadata issues prevalent in the industry
- INPUT PORTS: Two FRL-6, 48Gbps input ports with a smart CEC control zone.
- VOLUME TRACKSYNC [TSV]: a proprietary novel algorithm for controlling the volume levels and tracking of connected devices in a CEC system.
The incoming eArc data is not simply passed through but is fully decoded and then re-encoded with our version of the metadata needed for optimal compatibility. Over the years we have seen TV eARC progression issues firsthand and have dealt with them to improve compatibility across models from different brands for interoperability. This has helped numerous customers to achieve correct speaker placements, the number of active speakers, extending the number of audio formats supported and more.
ZONE2-PRO has two input ports that are capable of handling all HDMI2.1 features. Each port supports FRL6 / 48Gbps video formats to effectively cover every video format under the HDMI 2.1 specification. The ports are forwarding audio and video to the TV/projector and support any level of encryption or video signaling as long as it comes from an HDMI source. The bandwidth of FRL6 is very high and therefore the performance is limited by the choice of cables. Only the best quality cables should be used for 48Gbps. Of course, any other video format is also supported such as 4K, 1080p and ports can be mixed with FRL and non-FRL signals at will. Furthermore, ZONE2-PRO supports other features such as VRR, ALLM and others.
ZONE-2PRO inputs support pass-through of any audio format that can be sent over HDMI. This covers all flavors of lossless and lossy Dolby Atmos, TrueHD, DTS:X, 7.1 PCM, and others. ZONE2-PRO eARC processor also supports every one of these formats and can convert them and send them to the connected audio system. However, ZONE2-PRO does not extract audio formats from the input ports but utilizes the eARC channel from TV for audio. It means that TV ultimately dictates which formats can be supported by the customer system.
CEC PORT SWITCHING:
The input selection is handled by CEC from the TV side or the source side using their respective remote controllers. We advocate the use of CEC for channel switching in ZONE-2PRO and simplified the design by removing IR and any manual buttons. Since ZONE-2PRO is always connected to an eARC-capable TV it means the TV is CEC capable and can therefore communicate properly with ZONE-2PRO. Of course, the sources connecting to the input ports of ZONE-2PRO should be CEC capable as well to work properly.
ZONE2-PRO input sources appear under the TV input selector and can be chosen with the TV remote. Additionally, many source remotes activate the channel switch once pressed. This wakes up the source and also informs ZONE2-PRO to channel switch.
You can continue to use the other inputs on TV as well and mix and match inputs as needed.
ZONE2-PRO has a new proprietary VOLUME TRACKSYNC -feature. A very essential feature of any audio processing is the ability to control volume levels. This is something that is rarely even considered a specific feature since it’s taken for granted. The technology behind effective volume control in a system like ZONE2-PRO is far from simple. It is due to the differences between the connected devices and all inherent issues in the CEC specification for interoperability. We have tackled these issues for years in various setups and TRACKSYNC is based on this experience and research.
You may have noticed how some TVs show a volume bar whereas some TVs show a simple +/- sign when pressing the remote controller buttons. Different brands expect different responses and since we are acting as the bridge between the new and the old equipment we need to cover a multitude of possibilities. For details on the actual algorithm and how to use it, please refer to the ZONE2-PRO user manual included with the unit.
To order, follow the link here: ZONE2-PRO eARC Audio Processor.