The latest entry in the Crestron DM NAX™ audio-over-IP line of products is a small, powerful amp that's ready for a broad variety of commercial and residential applications
Jan. 20, 2023 - When Ekin Binal and his team sat down to design the latest amplifier for the Crestron DM NAX line, there was a mission to create a solution that would be at home in both the residential and commercial worlds. The result: what Binal refers to as the "Swiss army knife" of amps, a flexible, 300-watt powerhouse with a diminutive form factor called the DM-NAX-AMP-X300. The amplifier was inspired by a previous analog version, the AMP-X300. "That device had proven to be very, very popular, so it made sense to do a digital version," says Binal, Crestron's director of product management for AV solutions.
"One of the big differentiators between this new model and our DM-NAX-8ZSA is its high-impedance support for commercial enterprise projects," says Binal. While it's not a streaming amp, its list of features is long. "We really tried to include everything that would make sense for both business and home integrators," he adds.
One of those features is a microphone mixer. "That's perfect for everything from adding a public-address function into a distributed audio system in the workplace to karaoke singalongs at home or in a pub," Binal notes. "The line-ins will handle mic levels, and there are phantom power supplies in there, too — the user can input analog or network mics in, mix them, and then put that audio out on one or many channels."
Other features include an AGC, compressor, limiter, and 10-band equalization among an array of very robust DSP features, says Binal. "We've included all the Crestron Certified Audio Profiles in this device, so it's ready for pretty much whatever you throw at it right out of the box — including a broad range of speakers and mics from Crestron and our partners."
A Flexible, Scalable Solution
A feature-rich amp such as this one is built for a broad variety of use cases. Binal explains: "In the residential universe, it would be a two-zone amplifier. From a commercial amplifier perspective, it would probably be a two-zone as well because you'll put it into a high-impedance 70- or 100-volt mode, and then the two channels are 150 watts each."
Another selling point: scalability. "It's scalable because of the DM NAX capability," says Binal. "When we talk about DM NAX products, the philosophy of the design is based on three tenets: interoperability, flexibility, and scalability." The latter comes by way of all the audio inputs and outputs that the amp provides. "You can really leverage a network with this amplifier," says Binal. An example: "You could feed a bunch of audio inputs from the network into it, do a mix, and then output in parallel to PoE speakers in addition to the line and/or speaker outputs." All of these options allow the integrator to "stack" the amps to provide as many zones (or as much power) as may be warranted.
As for the amp's flexibility, "You can take mic-ins, line-ins, network inputs, mix them, manage them, and then put them out, both on the line output or the network outputs," says Binal. Additionally, a simple Web UI switch takes the amplifier from DM NAX into native Dante® audio mode. (Binal further notes that the amp doesn't require any special tools or software to configure the device: "Just dial up its Web UI and you can tweak it to your heart's content.") While DM NAX and AES67 modes are often completely fine in residential projects, that's not always the case in the commercial world, where Dante may already be deployed. "When you put this into full Dante mode, it's a truly native amplifier that just shows up in the Dante controller," says Binal.
Since the DM-NAX-AMP-X300 is fundamentally a two-zone amp, it's perfect for applications in which a homeowner needs to add just a few more zones to an existing system. It's a cost-effective way to go from eight to 10 or 12 zones by marrying it to Crestron's DM-NAX-8ZSA.
Binal is using these new amps in his own home. "One is being used as a subwoofer amplifier. I just put it into a one-by-300-watt mode, and it's driving a passive sub," he says. The DSP native to the amp allows Binal to tweak the signal perfectly. Binal also uses the amp to drive outdoor audio: "For my landscape system, I use two channels for surface-mount speakers and bridge the two remaining channels to power our in-ground subwoofer."
Another unique aspect of this amp: It comes with all the hardware a dealer needs. "It comes with a rack outfit, so you can put it into the rack traditionally," says Binal. "There are attachable joining plates to mount two amplifiers side-by-side." Much like its analog predecessor, the amp is small enough to sit behind a display, under a table — literally anywhere the amp is needed. "Take the power this thing wields for its size, add all the features — there's really nothing like it on the market," says Binal.