Pioneer and Onkyo Join DTS Play-Fi, 5.1 Wireless Coming

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Networked, multi-room audio is undeniably on the rise. While there are numerous proprietary systems out there that only work with one manufacturer’s products, DTS Play-Fi encompases well over a dozen brands and support for it is growing. Now, two more major AV equipment manufacturers are joining the Play-Fi party—Pioneer and Onkyo.

The two companies are the latest hardware partners in the Play-Fi ecosystem, which the company notes is “industry-leading” in terms of product selection. The two brands will issue firmware updates for a number of 2016 soundbars, AVRs, lifestyle products, and home theaters-in-a-box, and expanded assortment of Play-Fi devices is planned for 2017.

In addition to the news of the partnership, DTS announced that Play-Fi will soon support 5.1 surround-sound. That feature alone sets Play-Fi apart from most of its competitors, and will roll out in late September. You can bet I’ll be asking about this new functionality when I visit DTS at CEDIA 201 in two weeks.

If you are not familiar with Play-Fi’s capabilities, here’s a quick rundown in DTS’s words:

“It’s a multi-room, multi-zone, multi-user listening experience: Connect multiple audio systems that incorporate Play-Fi into a zone and enjoy music in every room of your home, perfectly synchronized with no lag. Create multiple zones and stream different music to different rooms from the same device. Play-Fi technology makes it possible for every user in the home to simultaneously stream from different devices and PCs that incorporate the Play-Fi software.

“Wirelessly transmits high-quality lossless audio. Play-Fi works everywhere your Wi-Fi does, even if range extenders are used. It also works over Ethernet, Powerline, and other IP-based networking technologies. There is no need for proprietary bridges or routers. Most homes already have everything that is needed.

“In addition to streaming music services, users can download Play-Fi apps for Android, iOS, and Kindle Fire to gain access to more than 20,000 radio stations, podcasts, local music, media servers, and select cloud-based music services. Set-up, link and control all of the speakers on the network from the same streamlined interfaces.

“Supports true audio/visual synchronization when streaming audio from YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any other video source to a DTS Play-Fi speaker from a Microsoft Windows PC.

“It is the only multi-room streaming platform to offer lip-sync accurate synchronization with a video source, and the only whole-home platform with operating system-level integration compatible with every application and streaming service. The A/V sync feature is available for existing and new purchasers of the premium DTS Play-Fi HD Driver ($15). Additionally, all DTS Play-Fi Windows software supports Windows 10.

“DTS Play-Fi mobile apps have been significantly enhanced with a brand new design and clean, bright user interface. Users will have streamlined access to basic and advanced controls, a new “switch” feature to easily transfer music from one speaker to another, and built-in coaching points and help throughout the app.”