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Component Audio: A Shopping List

1/10/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern
LAS VEGAS — Dealers looking for new componentaudio products to sell into a market showing renwed growth might want to consider products from the following companies:

BMC Audio: Germany-based Balanced Music Concept (BMC) Audio, which has been marketing high-end component-audio electronics in the U.S. since early 2011, is entering the speaker market here at International CES.

Through North American importer Aaudio Imports, BMC plans March availability of the Arcadia bipolar tower speaker, which features ceramic-acrylic cabinet in piano black and pearl white finishes at less than $40,000/ pair. The speaker is the first is a series of three speakers planned for the U.S.

Bob Carver LLC: The new partnership between electronics designer Bon Carver and former Elen executive Bob Farinelli will show their first two products, a pair of monoblock vacuum-tube amps. The $3,7000-suggested VTA 180M is rated at 180 watts into 8 ohms, and the $6,450 VTA 305M is rated at 305 watts into 8 ohms. They’re stable to 2 ohms.

Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems: The company is coming to CES with an expanded high-end audio selection that adds a new $25,000-suggested stereo amplifier and a new $28,000 preamp.

The startup, founded by Krell co-founder Dan D’Agostino, shipped its first product in late 2010. It was the $45,000/pair Momentum monoblock amplifier.

Definitive Technology: The company will unveil its first active soundbar, which will deliver a virtual 5.1-channel soundfield and come with wireless subwoofer. A new SuperCube powered subwoofer will also be displayed. Details were unavailable.

JBL Synthesis: The brand is launching three highend speakers, including a $20,000/pair S4700 tower positioned as a more affordable version of the $44,000/ pair K2-S9900.

McIntosh: The brand’s 2012 lineup will include three new components and three new speakers that make it possible to build a McIntosh-based home-theater system at a lower price than before while still delivering Mc- Intosh quality.

The products include the company’s first 3D Blu-ray player and a home-theater preamp/processor, both of which will be the company’s first DLNA-certified devices to stream content from a PC. The preamp/processor will be among the brand’s first AirPlay-enabled products. McIntosh’s other planned AirPlay product, a tabletop speaker system, might be available before or after the preamp/processor.

Mark Levinson: Four new products are the No. 52 reference stereo preamp, No. 585 integrated stereo amp, No. 519 CD/SACD player/DAC, and No. 560 DAC. Three will be the brand’s first products with USB ports to play music from PCs and USB sticks, USB connections to Apple mobile devices, and HDMI ports.

PSB: The new flagship of the curvy Imagine series of speakers is the T2 floorstanding tower, which will join a current Imagine T tower and will feature three 5.25-inch woofers to deepen bass response to 34Hz and increase maximum power handling by 50 percent to 300 watts.

The T2, which borrows technology from the company’s Synchrony flagship series, ships in January at a suggested $3,500/pair in real-wood veneers of dark cherry, walnut and black ash and at $3,850/pair for highgloss black or white.

Imagine speakers are positioned as offering clear midrange presence, “uncluttered” bass, smooth extended highs, and high-power handling in cabinets with seamless surfaces and compound curves on every vertical face, the company said.

Each speaker’s driver complement includes the three 5.25-inch woofers, each in its own sealed chamber; a 4-inch midrange with clay/ceramic-filled polypropylene cone; and 1-inch Ferrofluid- cooled titanium dome tweeter. The speaker can be biamped or biwired.

Revel: The Harman brand will replace its entire Performa series of bookshelf and tower speakers with the Performa3 series, which sports upgraded performance via advances in driver design. The price points will also drop slightly to “get more aggressive in the market,” a spokesman said.

Rotel: The 7.1-channel RSX-1562 A/V receiver, shipping in January at a suggested $2,699 in black and silver, builds upon the predecessor RSX-1560 but adds 3D-capable HDMI 1.4 inputs and output and expands the number of HDMI inputs to six.

It also features two HDMI outputs, one of which features audio return channel.

The AVR’s Faroudja Torino video processor includes an integrated 3D video decoder that supports 3D video signals from Blu-ray players and set-top boxes.

A front-panel USB input for iPod/iPhone/iPad or for other MP3 player captures iPod audio in digital PCM form, and an optional Bluetooth dongle enables wireless stereo streaming from smartphones and other portable devices.

Output is rated at 7x100 watts into 8 ohms 20Hz to 20kHz, doubling at 4 ohms because of the use of ICE Class D design.

Other features include Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, dts-HD Master Audio, 10-band parametric EQ, advanced bass management, 24-bit/ 192kHz audio DACs, assignable 12-volt triggers, video transcoding to HDMI, bi-directional RS- 232 interface, rear-panel IR control ports, and four-zone audio and composite-video capability.

Video signals are handled by the latest-generation Faroudja Torino FLI30336 Cortez Advanced Platform.

Thiel Audio: The company is unveiling its next generation of SmartSub powered subwoofers, which work with a companion PX05 passive crossover module to integrate with a variety of Thiel speakers in home theater and stereo system. The USS retails for $3,490, and the 1,000-watt SS2.2 retails for $6,390.

Wisdom Audio: The company will demonstrate the first two models in a new planar- magnetic in-wall speaker series called Insight. Other models will be displayed in static form.

Insight is designed to reduce the opening price points for the company’s planar-magnetic architectural speakers to less than $1,500 each from a current $2,250 each. Four in-wall models, one in-ceiling model and two subwoofer options will initially be offered in the first quarter, followed by on-wall versions later in the year.

The speakers will use a new planar magnetic design said to allow for greater efficiency and power handling. The company’s current selection of planarmagnetic in-wall speakers range in price from $2,250 to $40,000 each and will remain in the company’s selection.
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