Our senior editor paid RIVA a visit this CES 2018, getting a chance to get a private one on one with Don North, Chief Engineer & President, where we discussed their new Central amplifier. Central is a wireless amplifier system that allows you to bring all of today’s modern technology to any speaker system you want. Great for when you have a pair of vintage speakers that you refuse to let go of, the new amplifier will provide the ability to access some of your favorite streaming services via Bluetooth, WiFi (2.4Ghz as well as 5Ghz) or Airplay.
The new amplifier is a new addition to their WAND (Wireless Audio Network Design) Multi-Room+ series, bringing just about every wireless format you could need to your legacy speakers, as well as additional inputs. You can also use the amplifier as a pre-amp so that it can integrate with other receiver solutions.
“Central builds upon our very open connectivity that we developed with our Wand series, so we have Chromecast built-in, we have Spotify Connect, Apple Airplay, DLNA support, USB support, as well as optical and analog inputs. So the idea with the Central, is that you can take all this connectivity and have it work with your existing legacy stereo system.” (Don North, RIVA Chief Engineer & President)
Central offers a Class-D amplifer with two channels of 30 watts rms power at 8 ohms, or 55 watts rms at 4 ohms–which is great for smaller speakers such as in-wall or bookshelf solutions. If you plan on driving larger speakers that have a higher demand, you would want to keep your old amp solution and tie this in-line using those pre-amps options (optical will pass through full multi-channel sound).
The back of the amplifier also features an ethernet in and out, optical (digital) in and out, aux (3.5mm analog) in and out, a USB input for digital files, as well as a sub out (self-powered sub) for that extra “.1” in your stereo setup. Of course, as we mentioned, this expands on their Wand series–so it will fully support their multi-room audio technology that their Wand series speakers come equipped with.
Central is rack mountable using brackets that are included, that simply attach to the sides of the unit toward the front. Great for if you have a stack of them to hide in a enclosure somewhere that powers everything in the house.
It will be launching this spring and will retail for around $399. At first this might seem like a lot of money for what it is, but RIVA isn’t your normal audio company. In the realm of Sonos and better, RIVA strives to provide a much higher bar when it comes to expectations in your audio (hence, you get what you pay for).