MAS3 Multi-channel 5.1 Audio Switcher
When DVD-Audio and multi-channel SACDs were first introduced, a problem emerged for those of us who needed to switch between the two different audio players. Most A/V receivers and preamplifiers only have one 5.1 analog input interface. This becomes an issue when several 5.1 sources exist in a system. My current audio switcher is a homemade product that uses three DPDT (double-pole double-throw) latching relays to switch two 5.1 sources to a single 5.1 output. While this works fairly well, there are limitations such as the inability to control the switcher using a remote. A company called Zektor has introduced a great new product that is designed to switch up to three 5.1 sources to the single 5.1 output to drive a receiver or preamplifier. The user can easily switch between MAS3 inputs using the front panel buttons, each of which has an indicator light showing the active source. In addition, the user can program the MAS3 to automatically select an input based on an IR remote command from their remote control. We found this feature to be one of the best aspects of the MAS3. The front indicator lights on the MAS3 automatically dim soon after the user changes a setting making the unit less noticeable in a dimly lit home theater environment. Optional rack mount ears are also available from Zektor for those who need to place the unit in a 19" rack.
The rear panel of the MAS3 is simply arranged with three sets of 5.1 inputs on the left, and a single set of 5.1 outputs on the right. All of the RCA connectors are gold plated for long-term reliability and low contact resistance. Also shown in the picture is the optional RS232 interface board available from Zektor, which allows users to control the audio switcher using serial commands. The Setup button on the rear places the MAS3 in a programming mode so that the user can program IR commands into the switcher from their remote. Practically any universal remote with its existing library of codes can be used to control the MAS3. However, the MAS3 also has a learning capability to respond to new IR remote commands read by the unit. This flexibility is invaluable for today's systems that already have too many remotes. The MAS3 is powered with a 9VDC AC adapter provided with the unit.
The MAS3 does have active electronics, but only for controlling the relays and communicating with the IR devices. The design is built around an Atmel AVR 8-bit RISC-based microcontroller. This small, yet powerful processor allows the unit to have capabilities far beyond the typical switcher. Nonvolatile memory within the processor stores information received via the remote. The processor also provides a simple way to interface the optional RS232 card into the system.
- Kevin Nakano
Projector: Epson PowerLite
LCD Home Theater Projector
|Review - At a Glance|
Zektor - MAS3 Multi-channel Audio Switch
Source: Manufacture supplied
Warranty: 1 year parts and labor
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