By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Soundmatters, the OEM engineering company headed by a/d/s/ founder Godehard Guenther, will expand its selection of single-speaker, single-box home theater systems from one SKU to four SKUs and will launch its first two small-profile powered subs.
Last year, the company launched its first branded product, a TV-top single-box system called MAINstage, at a suggested $329. It's available through such retailers as Magnolia and AudioCraft, select custom-installation distributors and online retailers and catalogers TechnoScout and Crutchfield.
During the summer, Soundmatters will launch a step-up set-top model, then in the fall launch one or two models intended for use with flat-panel displays, said marketing VP Lee Adams. The company also plans summer shipments of its first powered sub, which will be shoebox-size, followed by likely fall shipments of a compact step-up subwoofer.
Soundmatters is one of at least three companies marketing single-speaker home theater audio systems. One is start-up ZVOX Audio of Swampscott, Mass. The other is Nirotek America.
Soundmatters targets its TV-top systems for use in bedrooms, kitchens, dorms and other small rooms where wiring six speakers isn't practical. The systems are also touted as game-system enhancement and a higher fidelity alternative to PC speakers. They and the planned systems for flat-panel TVs also appeal to consumers interested in ease of use, ease of installation and décor-friendly home theater solutions in any room, Adams said.
Soundmatters is targeting AV specialty dealers, promoting specialists and high-end catalogs because the products deliver component-hi-fi margins, he said.
MAINstage was the first branded product for Guenther's company, which designs audio products for consumer electronics and computer companies.
The 4.85-pound, 16.7-inch by 2.5-inch by 9-inch unit incorporates two front-firing 2.5-inch drivers, a 4-inch woofer that fires up and goes down to 70Hz, and a 2 by 10+1 by 20-watt RMS digital amplifier. Its Zoran digital signal processor uses surround algorithms to extract and reproduce spatial information from mono, stereo, Dolby Surround and Dolby Digital sources. The system widens and deepens the front sound stage, delivers wide off-axis response and provides ambient surround effects. In rooms with walls on each side of the TV, the system delivers separate discrete sounds to the left and right of the listening position, Adams said.
The step-up version, due in the summer at about $100 more, will double the power, feature improved same-size drivers, and feature a rear-channel output to drive powered surround speakers. The company declined to say whether it would offer powered speakers for the application.
In the fall, Soundmatters will deliver one or both flat-panel solutions, each with adjustable widths. One will be for small plasma and LCD displays, the other for large plasma displays. They can be attached to the wall or to the displays themselves.
The flat-panel versions will be packaged with the company's first subwoofer, the SUBstage. It features shoebox-size height and width and shallow depth for flexible placement. Its sealed solid-steel enclosure is packed with highly pressurized air to help deliver the performance of a 14-inch driver with bass down to about 35Hz, Adams said. Additional details were unavailable.
The SUBstage will be available separately at less than $300 at the end of June or early July for use with MAINstage.
A step-up subwoofer will likely ship in the fall. The sealed 8-inch cube will feature one downward-firing 8-inch active driver and three 8-inch passive radiators, each on a different side. It'll feature 1,000-watt Class D amp and be priced "well under $1,000," Adams said.
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