Peer Review: Basalte Asano multiroom audio system
Asano is a high-end multiroom audio system by Basalte, designed for KNX home automation systems (or standalone) and developed to fit the needs of projects all over the world. The networked multiroom audio solution can accommodate virtually unlimited number of rooms, and is modularly customisable to suit customers’ wishes and needs.
The Basalte Asano multiroom audio system reviewed by Dawid Hulisz, owner of Poland-based smart home consultancy SmartSpace
Where have you used this product?
We mainly use Asano multiroom audio in our residential projects. Most of them are 500+ square metres in size. The main reason Asano is a great fit for those projects is its ability to fully integrate with KNX installations (i.e. switches, visualisation, scenes).
We find the range particularly useful for environments where customers are looking for user-based access control so they can hide some rooms/sources from children or guests’ eyes. For example, in a project near Wrocław the customer wanted to limit his kids’ access to the parent’s music streams and more importantly, the alarms in his bedroom so he does not have to worry about an unexpected wake up in the night! I’d say this feature helped us win about 80% of our projects and this is something you can’t find in the mainstream market.
The second most helpful feature for us is the flexibility of the system. Most residential projects in Poland take longer than expected and we mostly split projects in two or more phases. Asano allows us to plan for a big system (not necessarily centralised in one rack) and implement it in smaller phases. In one project near Warsaw, we started with a 5-zone setup (home cinema in living room + 4 other multiroom zones) and afterwards, we added the bedroom and office very seamlessly using additional P1 single room amplifiers in those rooms.
Why did you choose it?
The biggest differentiator is that Asano includes KNX products. Until now, KNX integrators had to use third party multiroom systems or AV control systems to bring music and video in their home automation systems. KNX integration was generally not possible or very complicated. This can now be simplified with Asano, since it directly connects to the KNX bus and integrates with the ETS programming software.
With the S4 music server and N1 input module, users can integrate a large number of sources. For example: in one project, one of our customers had an old cassette player as a source. In another one, we’ve connected a high-end stereo CD player and gramophone. But mostly we integrate TV-sets as third party sources (generally 4+ per project).
Asano really is a solution tailored to the needs of high-end residential projects worldwide because it’s so flexible and scalable thanks to its modular set-up. It can host a virtually unlimited number of rooms and offers crystal clear music, synchronised across all rooms.
What do you like about it?
The big advantage of Asano in our customer's eyes is its beautiful design, and they can even have them visible in their interior.
From the integrator’s perspective and technical side, there are also a few key big wins – for example:
1. Asano has the sources, distribution and control built in. Consequently, its’s a lot faster for an installer to build a full solution. Most customers want to have TV, receivers and set top boxes to be part of scenes. Asano offers the right tools to do that.
2. Asano is very flexible in planning the whole system - we can build it as a centralised or decentralised system, which gives us more freedom in where to put electronic equipment. It also allows you to save on cable costs. In some projects, we even use wardrobes to place our equipment in.
3. System modules allow us to connect to anything we have today on the AV market: in one project we even integrated a DJ set for karaoke. An integrator can plan system to connect any sources (and also control them from Asano) and also use third party amplifiers, receivers or active speakers without any worries on future updates of the system.
4. Asano can also be configured as a standalone system without KNX home automation – we have not adapted this part yet though.
5. One thing missing in KNX world was good AV remote. This has changed thanks to BO sensor by Basalte and its integration with the Bang & Olufsen remotes.
One thing I also like about Basalte products in general is the simplicity. You can feel in the way they design products, that user-friendliness is very important, as well as how easy it is to configure, install & program the system. There is a lot of Basalte’s professional integration knowledge behind all features of Asano. Together with the very intuitive app, you can easily control the system and configure the system in a matter of a few hours.
In this section of the market, we feel it’s hard to find a better tailored AV multiroom solution.
Is there anything you would change about it?
The S4 music server offers four streams (additionally to all external sources like TV, set top boxes, player etc.) so you can listen to four songs at the same time in different rooms. For some projects, we’d like to have more streams available. I know that Basalte is working on combining multiple S4 music servers in one system, so by adding in a server, you add four additional streams, to be used in the same app. I’m looking forward to see how they achieve this.
In the long term, I would also like to see home automation management incorporated into the Basalte Asano app.