By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Bellingham, Wash. — St John Group, the North American marketer and distributor of multiple audio and custom-install brands, is preparing to ship the first two-channel on-wall speaker from Denmark-based Artcoustic and the lowest-price front projector from France's Cineversum.
A new distribution strategy is also in the works. The company plans next year to test the use of rep/distributors that will stock select products from StJohn's stable of five brands, but the test is limited to two markets where the company's current reps already own distribution companies, said sales director John Caldwell.
The $4,100-suggested Artcoustic speaker, like other shallow-depth on-wall speakers from the brand, accepts optional grilles painted with artwork, mostly photography and illustrations. The new SuperStar model, however, brings multiple firsts to the brand's selection, including Artcoustic's first powered speaker, first single-point-stereo speaker, and first speaker with inputs for directly connecting an iPod or other stereo sources, such as a Sonos wireless client, Caldwell said.
The 26.6-inch by 19.7-inch by 4.72-inch speaker, shipping at the end of October, incorporates 2x150-watt amp, two 5.5-inch midwoofers, a 10-inch summed-mono subwoofer and two dome tweeters. To widen the stereo image, the tweeters are aimed at opposing 30-degree angles and feature dispersion baffles.
For inputs, the speaker uses RCA terminals with auto turn-on and a Bang & Olufsen DIN terminal. An iPod can be connected via a stand-alone iPod dock with RCA outputs or via minijack-to-RCA cable. For the latter hookup, the speaker also features a USB minijack to recharge the iPod. Sources can be placed on an optional front- or side-mounted shelf or a side-mounted pocket.
Consumers can choose from one of eight standard grilles and frames in black, white or silver. Optional grilles are also available.
The speaker switches to mono operation to allow for the use of two speakers, and it's suitable for hotel suites, offices, bars and other commercial venues, Caldwell said.
On the video side, StJohn Group plans Nov. 15 shipments of Cineversum's opening-price 1080p LCoS projector, the three-chip $6,500-suggested Blackwing One. It will join the $9,995 Blackwing Two and $13,500 Blackwing Three. In the first quarter, StJohn will offer a companion 2.35:1 lens for the projector.
The Blackwing One is the brightest of the three projectors, delivering 1400 lumens compared to its counterparts' 900 and 1000, making it “compatible with any kind of room” and delivering a screen width up to 180 inches, the company said. At 15,000:1, however, the One's contrast ratio is lower than its counterparts' 20,000:1 and 30,000:1.
The group's other brands are Cabasse speakers, iSky Panels LED lighting and star ceilings, and Screen Excellence acoustically transparent projection screens.
In another development, the company said it will test sales of select products next year through two rep/distributor companies to reduce ship times from Bellingham to the Rocky Mountain and the Southeast territories, Caldwell said. “We'll still select the dealers,” Caldwell noted. The reps will also display the products for training purposes and for demonstration by installers to prospective customers, Caldwell said.
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