The CasaTunes CT-12X8 and CT-5X4 matrix amplifiers are 2 members of a family of matrix amplifiers that can be used stand alone, or combined, providing a balance of performance, cost and flexibility.
The CT-12X8MA offers 12 sources and 8 zones (6 amplified, 2 pre-amplified) while the CT-5X4MA offers 5 sources and 4 zones.
When you install a 5X4 amplifier in combination with a 12X8 amplifier, all the sources available on the 12X8 amplifier are now also available to the 5X4 amplifier using the amplifier’s distributed sources capability and audio-over-IP.
The new universal combo driver provides integrators a lot of design flexibility. For example, let's suppose you need a solution for 8 zones. With the new universal combo driver you could use a CT-12X8MA plus 2 x CT-250A (stereo amplifiers), or you could use 2 x CT-5X4MA. Similarly, for a 12 zone solution, you could use a CT-12X8MA + CT-5X4MA, or even 3 x CT-5X4MA. The CT-5X4MA matrix amplifier provides a low cost option for adding 4 rooms to a site.
To simplify setup in a multiple amplifier setup, CasaTunes uses a Master/Slave design approach. The master amplifier is the primary amplifier that CasaTunes communicates with (and always includes Zone 1). Slave amplifiers are any additional 12X8 and 5X4 amplifiers.
When you select to interconnect the amplifier sources using audio-over-ip in CasaSetup, all the sources on the master amp are shared with, and available to, all the slave amplifiers, regardless of whether the master amp is a 12X8 or a CT-5X4.
If you are installing a 12X8, you should configure this amplifier as your master amplifier, as it provides up to 12 analog and digital input sources which can then be shared with all slave amplifiers (including any 5X4 amplifiers).
A huge benefit of using audio-over-ip to share the sources between amplifiers, is the amplifiers no longer need to be physically located next to each other, as long as they have access to the same network.
In addition, a future release of the driver will allow you to connect a source component to a slave amplifier and make the source available to all other amplifiers in the network.