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An increasing number of suppliers are shipping high-end "super woofers" at ever-increasing price tags, now surpassing even the $1,500 mark.
JL Audio marketing VP Manville Smith said eight or nine suppliers displayed super woofers at International CES this year at $700 or above, compared with three or four last year.
"There have been several introductions in the past couple of years which have shown the market viability of high-priced product and this has ignited some interest in more suppliers joining the fray. I think a lot of people were caught off guard by the launch of the W7 and how successful a $950 product could be," Smith said.
He also pointed to the up-selling strategy, "If you make a $200,000 car you can sell more $100,000 cars."
Orion said the market is following the trend in amplifiers where Class D is driving down the price of high power. "Now that a lot of the Class D mono amps can do 1,000 or 2,000 watts, people are starting to destroy their subwoofers, which typically only do 400 to 600 watts," added Phoenix Gold marketing manager Tony Gillard.
Both JBL and JL Audio said super drivers currently represent only about 2 percent of unit sales.
Suppliers offering new super drivers for the first time this year include Kenwood, Pioneer and Kicker. New versions are being offered by names including MTX and Orion.
Kenwood's Excelon KFC-W1300DVC is a new top-of-the-line 13-inch sub with 2,000-watt peak power handling at a suggested price of $850. The super woofer has a two-piece cast aluminum frame as well as dual voice coils and dual biased magnetic circuit. The cone travels up and down in a linear motion that moves more air, said the company. Shipping is expected in April. The KFC-W1100DVC is also available in 11 inches at 1,600 watts peak for $750.
Kicker's new subwoofer tops the price list at $1,599.95 for an 18-inch square Solo X with a field replaceable cone that doesn't require the user to remove the frame and magnet structure. It delivers 10,000 watts peak and is expected to ship in March.
Pioneer's new super sub, the SPL SPEC TS-W5000SPL, is a 12-inch subwoofer with a new overhung surround, interlaced carbon-fiber reinforced IMPP cone and Aero Dynamic Magnetic Gap design. It is expected to ship in January at a suggested retail price of $900.
Orion's new flagship subwoofer is a $900 15-inch unit, the H2 15.2. It stands 8 inches tall with excursions of over 29mm in each direction, or more than 2¼ inches peak to peak. The entire basket serves as a heat sink for the voice coil. The sub handles 2,000 watts RMS and ships the first week of April.
MTX's latest super woofer is the Thunder series T9500. The 15-inch model MTX T9515-44 ships in June at $649.95.
Audiobahn is shipping a new 12-inch competition subwoofer called the AWIS-12 at a suggested retail price of $599.95. It has a new tall, narrow foam surround and has quad 1-ohm voice coils so it can be driven by up to four amplifiers. It can also be wired for one or two amp operation.
In addition, the "tuner" influence on car audio speakers appears to be gaining, with most companies this year debuting new "tuner"-designed products offering spoke wheel grills.
Bazooka expanded its line of nitrous-oxide-bottle-shaped subwoofers with an 8-inch amplified model, the NOS8A, featuring a 150-watt built-in amplifier. Also new is a the NOS6 with 6-inch subwoofer and two new 8-inch woofers in white and purple bottles to resemble NOS from the Nitrous Express and Zex brands. All new NOS subs ship in April at a suggested price of $199, said the company.
Pioneer bought it's REV spoke design down to a starting price of $80, compared with $150 last year. The styling is now available in 6-by-9-inch, 6-by-8-inch and 6.5-inch speakers.
Bucking the trend, Pioneer returned to low prices in its basic subwoofer line. It added longer voice coils and increased magnet size, with prices at $100 and $130 for 10-inch and 12-inch subwoofers, respectively.
Other new subwoofers this year include the first JBL powered subwoofer in many years called the BassPro. The small band pass box uses a 6.5-inch driver with four voice coils at a suggested retail price of $279.95.
JVC is continuing its signature series, this year with an endorsement from rap artist Warren G. The company will ship this spring two aluminum cast basket subwoofers in 10 and 12 inches, featuring Warren G.'s signature.
Boston Acoustics is showing a new speaker line to replace its RM series. It is designed with slimmer motors for easier mounting, said the company. The line includes 6.5-inch, 6-by-9-inch and 5-by-7-inch speakers at prices beginning at $300.
Infinity has revamped its Reference line of speakers with an improved version of Plus One technology. Infinity says it has further expanded the size of its cones (within conventional speaker sizes) with new Plus One + which alters the shape of the speaker surround to allow greater cone space. Plus One + will be available throughout the 10-model Reference Series line, ranging in price from $69 per pair for the 3002CF to $169.95 per pair for a three-way 6-by-9-inch model.
JL Audio is offering several fill-in products to its line, including a new high-end 8-inch, 8W7 and a new 13.5-inch 13W6v2 subwoofer, and Kove Audio debuted a new XK 12 series starting at $199.
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