By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
UPDATED! New York – Samsung divulged more details about its 2013 audio lineup, announcing that it is scaling back its HTiB selection, expanding its soundbar selection, and launching its first two floor-standing, high-output Giga Sound systems targeted to youth and amateur DJs.
The lineup also includes the brand’s first portable Bluetooth speaker, which will join a 2012 lineup of tabletop digital media speakers that is being carried over. The company announced no plans for new A/V receivers, having shipped its last AVR in 2012.
During a press conference here, the company said its HTiB lineup drops to four models from six in the 2012 lineup. The number of soundbars grows to four (including one model available in two colors) at an everyday $179 to $799 from 2012’s three models, which also included one model available in two colors.
Two of the HTiBs, the opening-price soundbar, and the Giga systems were not announced at International CES. Retail prices on all products also weren’t announced at the show.
All of the audio products began to ship in March or will ship by the end of the month with the exception of the two Giga systems, which will ship in May and June, and the top-end HTiB, due early in the second half at an unannounced price.
The Giga systems are 2.2-channel systems with aggressive youth-oriented cosmetics, a large boxy floor-standing speaker pair with large subwoofer built into each speaker cabinet, and an oversize source component/amplifier that incorporates CD player, tuner, stereo Bluetooth with AptX, two USB inputs to play music from mass-storage devices, and an aux input. Illuminated rings around the speaker drivers and control knobs flash to 15 different beats. The systems also let users add DJ effects to music, and they double as public address systems via a microphone input. Both devices also let users sing into the microphone to record their voice and accompanying music onto a USB drive.
The first Giga system out the door will be the top-end 2,560-watt MX-FS900, which ships in May at an everyday $1,499. The biamplified system features a 15-inch subwoofer in each three-way speaker cabinet, which also houses an 8-inch midrange and a horn-loaded tweeter.
In June, Samsung will ship the $999 FS-8000, a two-way 2,300-watt system with dual 15-inch subs and an 8-inch midrange/tweeter in each speaker cabinet.
In HTiBs, the four 2013 SKUs include the company’s first HTiB with 4K by 2K pass through and upscaling and its first three with Miracast technology, which incorporates Wi-Fi Direct and is certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Miracast lets users stream video from a Miracast-enabled smartphone or laptop to a TV display using Wi-Fi Direct technology, making it unnecessary to connect through a home’s Wi-Fi network.
Those three HTiBs are also Samsung’s first HTiBs with DTS-Neo Fusion post processing technology, which adds virtual channels to 5.1- and 7.1-speaker complements.
All HTiBs feature 3D Blu-ray players, wired subs, and USB ports to play back audio from connected mass-storage devices and MP3 players. The top three add DLNA networking and stereo Bluetooth.
The HTiB lineup starts with the $249 5.1-speaker HT-F4500, which features Internet streaming services from nine content partners, 500-watt output, DVD upconversion to near-Blu-ray quality, FM tuner, HDMI output, one optical audio input, one analog stereo input, USB Host to play back MP3, WMA, and AAC files stored on a mass-storage device or MP3 player; and decoding of Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS HD Master.
The line steps up to the $449 5.1-speaker 1,000-watt HT-F5500W, which adds stereo Bluetooth, AllShare DLNA networking, Smart Hub user interface to access all content, built-in Wi-Fi, wireless surround speakers, one HDMI input, and DTS-Neo Fusion to add two height channels. The HTiB also adds full web browser, access to streaming audio/video services and downloadable apps, and 3D Sound Plus, which synchronizes the depth of the soundfield with 3D picture depth.
The $449 model also adds S-Recommendation, which lets users enter the name of a movie to search across DLNA-connected devices and streaming services for the movie. The feature also recommends video content from DLNA-connected sources and Internet streaming services based on past viewing habits.
The $599 5.1-channel HT-F6500W and 7.1-channel HT-F9730W add vacuum-tube preamps to improve sound quality. The HT-F9730W also uses DTS Neo Fusion to add front-height and surround-height effects.
The HT-F6500 HTiB features 1,000-watt output, two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output with audio return channel.
The 7.1-speaker, 1,330-watt HT-F9730W HTiB adds 4K by 2K up-scaling and passthrough and two front tower speakers. The 7.1 HTiB also adds ceramic polypropylene diaphragms to speed up speaker reaction time.
The soundbar lineup, all with 2.1 speaker system, starts with the $179 120-watt HW-F355 with optical digital input, analog stereo input, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoders, proprietary virtual-surround technology, wired subwoofer, stereo Bluetooth with AptX, and Bluetooth-based Soundshare, which enables a wireless audio connection to select 2012 and 2013 Samsung TVs. It also features USB Host port to decode MP3, WMA, and AAC audio files from USB mass-storage devices and MP3 players.
The $179 soundbar also features proprietary 3D Sound Plus technology, which synchronizes the depth of the soundfield with 3D picture depth; Smart Volume to even out big volume fluctuations; and Smart On technology, which enables a Samsung TV remote to turn the soundbar on/off and adjust its volume when connected via Bluetooth or HDMI.
The $299 HW-F450 adds wireless subwoofer, single HDMI 1.4a input and output with audio return channel, embedded two-way speakers, 280-watt output, and decoding of OGG, FLAC, and WAV files through the USB port.
The $399 HW-F550/551, available in black or silver, features a metal cabinet and 310-watt output, and the $799 310-watt HW-F750 comes with tube preamplifier, making it the world’s first soundbar with vacuum-tube preamp, the company said.
The Bluetooth speaker is priced at $299.
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