Audio Introductions Spring Forward

By Joseph Palenchar On Apr 9 2012 - 4:01am




NEW YORK – Home audio suppliers are pursuing a variety of product directions to boost sales during the coming months.

Highlights include Yamaha’s addition of Apple AirPlay and iPad charging to its A/V receiver (AVR) lineup for the first time and reduction of the opening price point on networked AVRs to an everyday $399 from $549. (See story below.) Pioneer expanded AirPlay in its Elite series AVRs to a lower price point.

For its part, Onkyo expanded its selection of TX-series AVRs with InstaPrevue and Mobile High Definition Link (MHL) and brought down the opening price of DTS Neo:X surround processing and Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction.

In the home-speaker segment, Atlantic Technology launched five new inceiling speakers, including the company’s first four bezel-less, flat-grille models.

Also in speakers, MartinLogan replaced two floorstanding speakers in its Motion series to bring the company’s brand to a wider customer base.

Here are the details on each company’s introductions:

Atlantic Technology: Five new in-ceiling speakers shipped by the company include the company’s first four bezel-less, flat-grille models. All five sport sonic improvements over the models they replace.

The bezel-less models constitute the Trim-Look Ceiling (TLC)-series speakers, which feature thin magnetically attached grilles that “are flat, not domed out in profile like conventional ceiling speakers, so in addition to a trim no-bezel look, they lie flatter to the ceiling,” said marketing director Steve Feinstein. The four bezel-less models include two Tri-Mode speakers, which like their predecessors can be deployed in mono, single-point stereo, or bipole/dipole surround-speaker applications.

The new Tri-Mode speakers are the $325-each TLC-6.3 and $450-each TLC-8.3, each with a dualvoice- coil woofer and two pivoting tweeters, which can be used to maximize the dipole effect for surround applications.

Compared to their Tri-Mode predecessors, the new three-in-one speakers feature significantly refined crossovers and tweeters, and their tweeters are pivoting rather than fixed as in the predecessor models, said Feinstein.

The other two TLC speakers are the two-way TLC- 6.2 and TLC-8.2 at suggested retails of $250 each and $325 each, respectively. They are single-channel 6.5- and 8-inch speakers with 1-inch soft-dome tweeters that pivot 30 degrees for optimal imaging.

Onkyo: Two TX series AVRs expand the company’s selection of AVRs with InstaPrevue and MHL. The two new AVRs are the $999-suggested TXNR717 and $1,199 TX-NR818, both available in May. They join four other lower-priced AVRs announced previously.

Among the previously announced AVRs, the $499, $599, and $699 models feature Silicon Image’s InstaPrevue technology, and the $599 and $699 models feature MHL-enabled HDMI inputs.

InstaPrevue delivers live picture-in-picture thumbnail previews of video sources connected via HDMI and MHL-enabled HDMI inputs, including video from Blu-ray Disc players, game consoles, set-top boxes, and MHL-enabled tablets and smartphones.

MHL-enabled HDMI inputs enable an MHL-compatible smartphone or tablet to stream 1080p HD video and 7.1-channel surround sound from the mobile device via cable to a hometheater system. The AVR’s HDMI port also charges the portable device, and consumers can use their AVR remote to control the playback of content streamed from their MHL-enabled mobile device.

The two new AVRs, both available in May, are the 7.2-channel networked AVRs with Windows 7, DLNA, and THX Select2 Plus certification. Both stream Internet radio stations and Internet music services, and they upscale any video source to full 4K (3,840 by 2,160) resolution. The $1,199 model adds ISF videocalibration technology and DTS Neo:X surround post-processing.

To date, the company hasn’t announced adoption of Apple AirPlay in its AVRs.

With the launches, Onkyo is bringing DTS Neo:X’s opening price in the TX series down to $1,199 from last year’s $1,399 and Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction down to $1,199 from last year’s $2,199.

MartinLogan: The speaker specialist replaced two floorstanding speakers in its Motion series to bring the company’s brand to a wider customer base.

The two new floorstanding speakers are the Motion 20 at a suggested $749 each and the Motion 40 at $949 each, replacing floorstanding models priced at $995.95/pair and $1,499.95/pair.

The Motion series, launched in January 2010, incorporates Folded Motion thin-film tweeter technology in lieu of the company’s more expensive electrostatic drivers. The technology is said to deliver fast transient response and a surface area that is eight times that of a 1-inch dome tweeter to deliver high levels of realism.

The two new models mark the beginning of a “full remake” of the Motion series, which are priced less than the company’s electrostatic speakers, a spokesman said.

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