By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Boston Acoustics is stepping up its effort to reach style- and performance-conscious consumers by launching a new flagship series.
The Vista series combines furniture-grade cabinets, wavy surfaces and new technologies to deliver what the company calls "performance and beauty," the company said.
The Vista series of six speakers, priced up to $1,699 each at retail, replaces the high-end E series speakers as the company's flagship series. Production of the E series, which topped out at $2,500 each, ended three months ago.
Vista reinforces a design effort begun with last year's launch of the Horizon series of molded-cabinet speakers, which feature backward-curving front baffles, choice of two cabinet colors, interchangeable grilles available in different colors and a top price point of $400 each for a floorstanding model. Horizon was developed to tap into consumers' desires for personal expression and to expand the potential customer base for in-room speakers, the company said.
Vista, on the other hand, is a step-up line starting out at $399-retail price each for a bookshelf model, and it's promoted as offering "sophisticated" and "elegant" styling. Eli Harary, senior VP/GM, also called the Vista speakers "our best-performing and best-looking ever" while continuing to offer value, which he said has "always been the key equation in the Boston brand." Vista is targeted to a "sophisticated audience" that "expects excellent sound quality and appropriate aesthetics."
Each Vista features high-frequency molded MDF cabinets finished in black piano lacquer finish with black grilles. Each model is available with layered-wood-veneer end panels in one of two standard furniture-grade end-panel finishes: gloss cherry or gloss black. All four sides of each two-way speaker are curved backward like a wave, and the powered subwoofer features wave-like side surfaces.
In October, Vista speakers will also available with premium end-panel finishes of bird's eye maple or ebony, said sales and marketing VP Phil Cohn. For a 20 percent premium, the company also offers two limited-edition finishes on a build-to-order basis, he added. One finish is gloss arctic white with gloss silver end panels and silver grille. The other is gloss red with gloss-black end panels and black grille.
Last year, Boston said it planned to offer some Vista speakers with interchangeable grilles in different colors, but the company determined that the target customer wants to bring home a complete solution whose aesthetics are "timeless," Cohn said.
The speakers' shapes, though intended to catch the eye, also improve sound quality by reducing internal standing waves and cabinet resonances, the company said. The high-frequency-molded MDF cabinets also improve sound quality because of their density, the company said.
Also to drive up sound quality, the speakers use new dome tweeters that deliver frequencies up to 30kHz and feature an anchored center to prevent "decoupling," or a dome center moving out of phase with the rest of the cone. Decoupling cancels out higher frequencies and reduces off-axis response, the company said.
The midrange and woofer drivers use a new organic composite material to maintain rigidity with little reduction in sensitivity, the company continued. To further improve bass extension, the company is using rear-firing tuned ports.
To sell the products, Boston will turn to about 40 custom installers and independent retailers who are capable of promoting the message and demonstrating the products in showrooms or stores, Cohn said. Boston will provide incentives to dealers to demo the models. Select online retailers will get the product as well, he said.
Three Vista models just began shipping. A fourth is due late this month, and two others are due in the fall. All will be displayed at next month's CEDIA Expo.
The three models already available are the three-way floorstanding VS 336 at $1,699 each, the VS 240 two-way bookshelf at $399, and the three-way VS 325C center channel at a $800 retail. The $1,699- VPS 210 powered subwoofer is due late this month. And in the fall, Boston will ship the VS 224 LCR at a $699 suggested retail and VS260 bookshelf at a $699 suggested retail.
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