By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
B&K: The company's first multizone stereo receivers are the three-zone CT310 and six-zone 610 due in Q4 at a suggested $2,798 and $3,498, with six- and 12-channel amp, respectively. The devices come with two AM/FM tuners, optional third plug-in tuner at $500, and ability to deliver nine additional sources (including the optional tuner) to different rooms, from which users also have the option of selecting a local source.
Denon: The company's first three-zone, two-source stereo receiver, the DRA-395 at a suggested $349, requires outboard amps to drive the second and third zones. It is now available.
Harman Kardon: The $899-suggested, four-zone, high-current 8x45-watt PA4000 distributed-audio amp can be paired with an in-wall keypad, the $49-suggested KP1, to create the company's first distributed-audio system. It's a basic system whose keypad controls amp on/off and the amp's volume for a particular zone. The amp also automatically powers up connected multizone HK receivers to play back whatever radio station to which the receiver is tuned. If a CD player is already playing in the main zone, the keypad would deliver the CD player's sound to the remote zone.
A knockout plug accepts an IR eye for third-party infrared repeater systems to turn on and control multiple source components connected to the amp. The IR signals would be piggybacked over the cable running from the keypad to the amp. Music-sensing circuitry or a 12-volt trigger would turn the amp on automatically.
NAD: The company's first distributed-audio amps are the 6x75-watt CI-9060 at a suggested $1,299 and the 12x75-watt CI-9120 at $2,199. They ship in the fourth quarter.
Niles: The company targets a suggested $2,200 for its six-zone 12-channel stereo receiver, which can distribute audio from the single built-in AM/FM tuner and three other sources. It links via CAT 5 to Niles in-wall keypads and incorporates new technology that eliminates the need to program each connected keypad with the IR codes of connected sources. The receiver learns all codes and distributes them to each keypad. Fourth-quarter shipments are planned.
Integra: This Onkyo division will show its first keypad-based distributed-audio system, which is built around the DTR-8.2 and DTR-7.2 receivers and Integra-branded amplified in-wall keypads. The four-zone, multisource system uses A-Bus distributed-audio technology licensed by Russound. The system makes it possible to send line-level audio and 24-volt power from the receivers via CAT-5 cables to the amplified keypads, which will control the receivers and connected source components. The $2,000-suggested 7x110-watt 8.2 ships September, the $1,200 6x100-watt 7.2 in October. Both are THX Select-certified and feature THX Surround EX decoding, DTS ES Discrete and Matrix decoding, Dolby Pro Logic II, and DTS Neo 6. Both feature 50MHz component-video switching.
Pragmatic Communications: The company's new DMS4.4.1 distributed-audio system is a four-zone, four-source system that sends line-level audio, control signals, and presumably low voltage over CAT 5 wires to in-wall 2x24-watt amplifiers. The amps in single-gang boxes with built-in IR eye to control sources remotely via an IR remote.
Also new: three compact stereo and three compact mono amplifiers, up to 45 watts per channel, intended to amplify local sources such as bedroom TVs.
The products can be viewed during the company's training sessions.
Rotel: For distributed audio, the company will offer its first dual-zone stereo receiver, a $550-suggested 2x100-watt model with lineouts for the second zone. It's due in the fall.
Rotel will also stage a working demo of a new distributed-audio system that integrates with a greater selection of other-brand products. The current system works only with Rotel products or with products whose IR codes are preloaded. The new system adds RS-232 control, and its preamp/controller can be loaded in the field with multiple-brand codes downloaded from a Rotel Web site. The controller will retail for about $1,600, with keypads costing $450 each.
Russound: An upgraded A-Bus distributed-audio system will add multisource capability to the current one-source, four-zone hub, which connects sources to amplified A-Bus keypads.
SpeakerCraft: As part of its continuing diversification, the company will launch its first home-control system, which uses Control Station touchscreens. The touchscreens are preloaded with IR codes of hundreds of AV brands, but via a PC, they can be loaded with codes for lighting systems, HVAC, and other subsystems. The screens will also display baseband video such as security camera video, GUIs from connected products, and DVD video.
The SoundStation-1 is a six-inch-high, 10-inch-wide in-wall CD-receiver. Connected to a distributed-audio system, its IR eye and supplied learning remote can be used to switch between the SoundStation or the distributed-audio system. It's due late this year or early 2002 at $399, including remote.
The other products are due 60 to 90 days after the Expo.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.