By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
DENVER – New architectural speakers are competing with high-end in-room speakers, active soundbars, TV-speaker bases, and wireless speakers for the attention of retailers and electronic systems contractors.
In active soundbars, KEF, Monitor Audio, Leon Speakers, and Jamo are showing of their first active soundbars, while Yamaha and Definitive Technology expand their selection.
In TV-speaker bases, Klipsch, Energy, and OSD are unveiling their first models, and SpeakerCraft is expanding its selection. In a related segment, KEF is unveiling its first thin active speakers for flat-screen TVs. (See KEF details and Klipsch, Energy details.)
Also for TVs, a new thin passive LCR speaker is on the way from MartinLogan, and GoldenEar is expanding its selection of passive three-channel soundbars.
In wireless speakers, start-up Soundwall is bringing wall-mount speakers that double as artwork and incorporate Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay and DLNA. For its part, a new Lenbrook division called Bluesound is unveiling its first products, which consist of a variety of networked tabletop products that stream music from PCs, the Cloud and a 1TB storage device with CD ripper.
In high-end in-room speakers, Waterfall Audio is showing its new $39,500/pair Niagara Platinum edition speakers, and Magico is unveiling powered subwoofers at $36,000 and $22,000.
In architectural speakers, Paradigm and Proficient are launching their first no-bezel speakers, and Proficent is making the largest architectural-speaker introduction in its history.
Here’s what you’ll find from these and other speaker suppliers:
Artison is launching four in-wall active subwoofers, all with dual drivers in a reactance-canceling configuration to prevent cabinet and wall vibrations at CEDIA Expo.
Cabinet and wall vibrations reduce audio output and clarity and disturb people in adjoining rooms, the company said. The subs fit flush in standard 2x4 walls.
The four models are the $900 RCC 320 PC and $1,500 RCC640 PC, both for preconstruction installations, and the $900 RCC 320 R and $1,500 RCC 640 R for retrofit applications. Their companion subwoofer amp is the $800 RCC 620 SA.
The amplifier and the 320 models ship in October, and the 640 models ship in November.
Bluesound’s first products, which consist of a variety of networked tabletop SKUs that stream music from PCs, the Cloud, and a 1TB storage device with CD ripper.
The tabletop devices, controlled from an Apple or iOS app, include the Pulse single-chassis tabletop streamer/speaker, which streams Internet radio stations, music services, and music stored on a computer or on the Vault. The Vault is a tabletop 1TB storage device with CD ripper. Pulse also plays music from USB-connected devices.
The PowerNode is an amplifier/ streamer with Wi- Fi, and the Node is a Wi-Fi streamer that connects to existing sound systems.
The products support multiple formats, including Flac and AIFF, and they play back 192kHz/24-bit files.
Pricing and availability weren’t announced at press time.
Leon’s first active soundbar is the $2,895-suggested Horizon OTO, which is custom-built to match the width of a consumer’s display. The OTO is less than 2-inches- deep and 4.5-inches-high. The cabinet packs in a 2x50-watt amp, optical and analog inputs, two 3-inch aluminum-cone woofers, cloth-dome tweeters, wireless transmitter for use with optional wireless receivers that connects to Leon subwoofers, included remote, and rear IR input. It ships in October.
Magico is launching its first two powered subwoofers, the $36,000 QSub-18 and $22,000 QSub-15. They ship in the fourth quarter.
The former features dual 18-inch drivers, which fire adversely in phase to cancel resonances, digital active crossover, and 8,000-watt amplifier in a cabinet measuring 25.4 by 37 by 25.4 inches and weighing 550 pounds. It delivers 136dB SPLs with less than 1 percent THD at 20Hz.
The QSub-15 features dual 15-inch drivers firing adversely in phase, digital active crossover and amplifier in a cabinet measuring 22 inches by 27 inches by 22 inches. I
The cabinets are available in satin colors or black anodized finish.
MartinLogan is adding a thin LCR speaker and two new powered subs with optional room-correction modules.
The $699-each, 1.45-inch deep Motion SLM XL speaker is a larger version of the current SLM and is designed for 65-inch and larger TVs. It is shipping.
The SLM and SLM XL feature Folded Motion tweeters with 80x80-degree dispersion pattern so they sound the same whether placed in horizontal or vertical position. As a result, one can be wall- or cabinet-mounted in a horizontal position to complement two SLM XL speakers placed vertically for left-right channel use.
The folded-motion tweeter is paired with two 4-inch fiber-cone woofers and four passive 4-inch bass radiators. It includes key-hole slots for wall mounting and kickstand brackets for shelf mounting.
The two powered subs are the BalancedForce 212 and BalancedForce 210 with respective retails starting at $3,995 and $2,995 depending on finish. Both also work with an optional $99 room-correction module. They ship in the fall.
The sealed-cabinet subs feature dual 12- and 10-inch aluminum-cone drivers operating in opposition to nullify distortion-creating cabinet vibrations. Their customized low-pass filters for use with almost every MartinLogan speaker made in the past 30 years.
The 210 is driven by a Class D 850-watt amp to deliver 1,700 peak watts with more than 90 percent efficiency. The 212 is driven by two 850-watt Class D amps to deliver 1,700-watt RMS power and 3,400 peak power.
Niles is showcasing its previously announced horizontal in-wall soundbars, said to be the industry’s first such products.
The four Cynema Soundfield systems consist of one passive model and three active models in 48-, 55- and 65-inch widths. All are three-channel soundbars.
OSD Audio is expanding distribution of OSD-brand outdoor speakers from online distribution to brick-andmortar distribution.
New products that is bringing to the Expo include its first Bluetooth-equipped outdoor patio speaker for mounting on a home’s exterior and its first Bluetooth-equipped outdoor rock speaker. Both are active models that also connect via speaker cables to a home’s multiroom- audio system.
And it is also unveiling its first under-TV speaker, also Bluetooth-equipped.
Paradigm is launching its third-generation CS series of in-wall/in-ceiling speakers, which are the company’s first architectural speakers with bezel-less design and first with new GRAB mounting systems to shorten install times. The company plans to extend these changes to its other architectural speakers.
The five two-way in-ceiling and three two-way in-wall speakers will ship in the winter of 2013/2014 at prices that weren’t announced.
The eight speakers feature pure titanium-dome tweeters and mineral-filled polypropylene bass/midrange drivers. The speaker’s technical specs are the same as their predecessors’ specs.
Highlights include the in-ceiling CS-60R-30, whose 1-inch tweeter and 6.5-inch bass/midwoofer are mounted at 30-degree angles to fire toward the listening position. The CS-60R-SM is an in-ceiling single-point-stereo model with one 8-inch bass/midwoofer and two 0.75-inch tweeters. The in-wall CS-LCR can be used as a left, center or right speaker and features one 0.75-inch tweeter and two 5.5-inch bass/ midwoofers.
Proficient Audio, the Core Brands brand, is making its largest introduction of custom-installed speakers in its history with the launch of the Protégé Series of no-bezel in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. They’re the brand’s first no-bezel models.
Each of the Protégé models is a flangeless adaptation of an existing Proficient speaker, leaving the original acoustical and electrical design intact, the company said.
The series includes 18 in-ceiling speakers, 10 in-wall speakers, two in-wall subwoofers and an in-ceiling subwoofer. Speaker types include in-wall and in-ceiling models for stereo and distributed- audio use, LCR-type models for home theaters, and dual-tweeter single-point stereo models. The selection ranges from an affordable C501 in-ceiling speaker to the top-of-the- line C1031 three-way in-ceiling LCR. Pricing wasn’t available at press time.
Salamander Designs, maker of premium A/V furniture and home-theater seating, teamed up with Leon Speakers to develop a three-channel passive soundbar and a center-channel speaker designed to fit in Salamander’s Synergy and Chameleon TV cabinets.
Prices start at $999 for the center-channel speaker. Pricing on the three-channel speaker was unavailable.
Salamander’s double-wide and triple-wide cabinets accommodate the three-channel soundbar, and the single- wide versions get the center-channel speaker.
The speakers, available in September, are hidden behind cloth grilles when placed in the cabinets, and they come with brackets to angle the speakers up or down to optimize performance.
The speaker option is compatible with all 1998 and later Synergy and Chameleon models. Salamander’s cabinets are built to order.
Soundwall is bringing a new twist to wall-hanging speakers that double as artwork by incorporating Wi- Fi, Apple AirPlay and DLNA to stream music wirelessly from Apple and Android mobile devices and from PCs. The company prints digital images onto a NXT-technology flat panel that vibrates to recreate music.
Four sizes are available from 24 by 36 inches to 40 by 60 inches at prices from $949 to $2,499.
The speakers incorporate amplifiers and AirPlay technology and need only be plugged into an AC outlet and into a Wi-Fi network to operate. The speakers mount to the wall via cylindrical studs that protrude from the wall. Mounting pads dampen vibrations.
SpeakerCraft, another Core Brands company, will expand its selection of active under-TV single-cabinet speaker systems with the addition of the CS1 and CS5. They are smaller and larger versions, respectively, of the original $599-suggested CS3.
To the C3, the company has added IR command learning so the speaker learns the power, volume and mute commands from a TV remote. The feature also appears in the new models.
The speakers also come with a library of discrete IR codes for all major functions, including power and source selection, enabling custom integrators to program a high end remote to work with the speakers. Some of the speakers’ advanced features will only be available via the code library.
Pricing and details were unavailable at press time.
Sunfire is launching an in-wall 8-inch dualdriver subwoofer with companion rack-mount amplifier at a suggested $1,700.
The HRSIW8, which features proprietary Stillbass anti-shake technology, fits between standard 16-inch-on-center stud bays for retrofit or new-build installation. Two 8-inch long-throw woofers with ultra-low-mass fiberglass cones sit in a sealed cabinet that measures 24.7 inches by 12.2 inches by 3.75 inches. It delivers 33Hz to 150Hz frequency response and 106dB maximum output. A wall cutout of 23.5 by 10.6 inches is required.
The drivers are driven by a 520-watt digital amp with balanced and unbalanced line-level inputs, multiple filtering adjustments, and DSP with room equalization.
Waterfall Audio, which recently appointed Nouveau Distributing as U.S. distributor, is unveiling the brand’s Reference Tower Design, which like two other models features a glass cabinet to create the appearance that drivers are floating in air.
The Niagara Platinum edition, retailing for $39,500/ pair, is intended for high-end hi-fi and home-theater systems and larger acoustic spaces. The cabinet, made of 10mm safety glass, is 48-inches-tall and weighs 100 pounds each.
Niagara’s mid/bass drivers and base foundation are covered in hand-stitched Nappa leather.
Wisdom Audio is expanding its selection of Reference Line Source in-wall speakers with the launch of two models designed for use in hidden locations such as screen walls or behind acoustically transparent fabric.
The two models are priced from $30,000 to $40,000 each. Their performance is said to be identical to that of the current LS4 and LS3 line-source in-walls at $45,000 and $35,000 each. They are shipping.
The LS4i and LS3i “feature virtually limitless power handling and dynamics” with “transparency and detail that other high-SPL solutions can only dream about,” the company contended. The speakers in the series are stackable for use in large dedicated-theater rooms.
The LS4i features 80Hz to 20kHz frequency response, 100dB sensitivity at 2.83 volts/1 meter, and 130dB SPL at four meters. The LS3i features 80Hz to 20kHz frequency response, 98db sensitivity at 2.83 volts/1 meter, and 127dB SPL at four meters.
The current LS4 and LS3 models are available with custom finishes.
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