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Audio Component Choices Abound For PCs, TVs, Mobile Devices

7/02/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK – Audio products that connect to
TVs, PCs and mobile devices dominated the audio
introductions here at the Consumer Electronics Association
(CEA) Line Show, but audio components
also put in an appearance.

Companies unveiling speakers or amps that connect
directly to flat-panel TVs included Audio Design
Associates, RCA, SpeakerCraft and Proficient.
Companies such as Blue Aura and Pioneer showed wireless speakers, and Leon
showed passive three-channel soundbars, its first
outdoor speaker, and a three-way in-wall speaker.

For its part, Soundfreaq expanded its selection
of iPad/iPhone-docking speaker systems equipped
with stereo Bluetooth.

Here are the details on the latest products:

Audio Design Associates: The high-end audio
supplier plans summer shipments of the $799-suggested
Ramp-PM Room Amp, which connects to
stereo speakers or to passive soundbars to improve
the sound quality of flat TVs.

The 2x30-watt amp is 8 inches by 8 inches 2
inches in size to fit behind TVs.

The Ramp-PM features analog audio inputs, but
because many TVs no longer offer analog audio outputs,
the Ramp-PM adds digital inputs and decoding
of Dolby Digital, DTS and PCM soundtracks. It
also downmixes multichannel audio to stereo.

The amp features four inputs: digital TOS-Link,
digital coax, analog stereo and a speaker bypass
input.

The optional $199 Ramp-IR add-on box captures
learns the IR codes of TV or set-top-box remotes,
which can then be used to control such amp functions
as volume, mute and input selection.

Blue Aura: The first products launched in the
U.S. by U.K.-based startup Blue Aura include two
wireless multi-room speaker systems and a vacuumtube
amp, all designed for use with PCs as music
sources.

The two wireless speaker systems, already available,
are the $279-suggested WS30i and $599
WS80i. Both consist of two active speakers that receive
music wirelessly from a transmitter connected
to a PC via the PC’s USB port or connected to another
audio source via the source’s 3.5mm stereo output.

The WS801 comes with included transmitter, and the
WS30i comes with optional $149-suggested transmitter/
receiver pair. Transmitters are also available separately at
$99.

The company uses a proprietary 2.4GHz
wireless technology with 25-meter range.

The company’s wireless transmitters feature
digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and
transmit uncompressed CD-quality audio,
the company said.

Leon: The custom-installed speaker company
unveiled its first outdoor speakers and
showed its first three-way in-wall speaker
and two thin passive soundbars. All are
shipping.

Monster: The Monster Clarity HD Micro
Bluetooth with AAC and Apt-X decoding
was shown, scheduled for early-
July shipment at a suggested $219.

Proficient: The brand unveiled its first active TV
speaker that doubles as a TV pedestal. The under-TV Max
TV will be available in August at around $649 to $699
through Proficient’s distributors.

RCA: RCA-brand licensee Alco is following up the
launch of its $99-suggested 30-inch Wi-Fi-equipped
RTS736W Streaming soundbar with a $249-suggested
37-inch model with wireless surround sound speakers.
The RTS739SWH ships in October.

Like the previously shipped soundbar, the new model
features Wi-Fi and ability to stream music and video from
such Internet sources as Netflix, Vudu, Hulu+, YouTube,
Pandora and Picasa. The new model, however, adds Dolby
Digital 5.1 decoding and a wireless subwoofer through
which users can connect two included surround speakers
via speaker cable. The 140-watt bar also features
HDMI output with audio return channel to send
streamed video to the TV and receive audio from
the TV. The device also adds one HDMI input,
one optical audio input, one analog L/R RCA input
and one 3.5mm line-in jack.

Soundfreaq: The supplier of Bluetoothequipped
iPad/iPhone-docking speaker systems
and Bluetooth-only speakers launched its first
speaker designed for the bedroom.

Sound Rise docks with and charges iPods,
iPhone and iPads, connects to other portable
devices via stereo Bluetooth, charges other
portable devices via USB, and features dual
alarms and FM tuner. A touchpanel UI disappears
when not needed.

The 2.1 speaker system will be available exclusively at
Target stores on Sept. 30 at $99.

SpeakerCraft: The company unveiled its first active
speaker for flat TVs. The $599-suggested Protégé CS3
packs multiple drivers into a chassis that doubles as a TV
pedestal. It also features stereo Bluetooth and simulated
surround-sound processing. It will be available in Magnolia
Home Theater stores beginning Aug. 19 on an exclusive
basis for a period of time before being rolled out to
other dealers.