By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
NEW YORK – Bluesound, Lenbrook Industries’ new brand, has rolled out its first wireless multi-room audio products, which are positioned as a step up from Sonos wireless-audio systems in performance and price.
Lenbrook, which markets audio components and speakers under the NAD and PSB brands, is also pursuing a more limited distribution strategy than Sonos, targeting only about 100 A/V specialists, plus a potential entry into Magnolia Home Theater and Magnolia Design Center stores.
The Bluesound lineup of five products has already been rolled out to about 40 A/V specialists in the U.S., almost all of them NAD or PSB dealers. After CES, the company will expand the rollout to about 100 specialists and possibly Magnolia, which sells NAD and PSB headphones but not NAD or PSB audio components.
The lineup was developed by an engineering team that included many of Lenbrooks’ NAD and PSB engineers, and the company is promoting the new brand’s connection to the NAD and PSB brands’ hi-fi heritage. “We don’t hide our roots and affiliation” because the affiliation lends credibility to the brand’s performance message, said John Banks, Bluesound’s chief brand officer, during a press briefing.
Bluesound is targeted to music enthusiasts that have not grown up with the types of audio components made by companies such as NAD but who are interested in high-performance audio, said Banks. “The 17-inch format doesn’t necessarily resonate with them,” he said.
Product development began a little more than three years ago with a mission “to create a music ecosystem that could resonate with a broad audience of music enthusiasts, not just audiophiles,” he continued. “We’re targeting a music enthusiast who likes the convenience of wireless and will pay a couple of hundred dollars more for performance,” he added.
The Bluesound products consist of the $699 Power Node streamer/amplifier, $449 Node streamer without amplifier for connection to existing sound systems, $699 Pulse active biamplified tabletop speaker/streamer, and the $999 Vault streamer/ripper, which also lacks amplifier. The brand also offers the $999 Duo 2.1 speaker system. It can be used with the Power Node, which features an EQ switch to optimize playback through the Duo.
All prices are MAP, said Lenbrook America president/CEO Dean Miller.
The streaming products, which use Apple and Android mobile devices as system controllers, stream music over a home network via 802.11 b/g/n or via wired Ethernet from a networked PC, Mac, or NAS drive, none of which needs to run Bluesound software or use DLNA technology. The streaming devices also stream music from the brand’s Vault, which combines a wired streamer with CD ripper and 1TB of storage for music files ripped in the MP3 and lossless FLAC formats.
All of the products also incorporate TuneIn app, which streams music from radio stations throughout the world, and the Rdio music service. Additional music services will be rolled out in the future. The Vault also streams from a networked computer.
When a USB-connected Bluetooth dongle is plugged into the Bluesound streamers, users will be able to stream music from a mobile device to the Bluetooth- connected component, which in turn will retransmit the music via Wi-Fi around the house to the other Bluesound streamers.
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