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Cyrus Advances Into U.S. Market With Music Server, Components

6/21/2004 02:00:00 AM Eastern

High-end supplier Cyrus Electronics is returning to the U.S. market with home audio components and a wireless distributed-audio system marketed through the Sound Organization, an importer of audio equipment and A/V furniture.

Cyrus will join a stable of Sound Organization brands that include Ruark Acoustics speakers and Wilson-Benesch speakers and turntables. Dallas-based Sound Organization markets audio equipment made in England to independent A/V specialists.

Although the Cyrus brand was briefly marketed in the U.S. in the early 1990s, this year will mark the brand's entry into the U.S. under its new corporate identity, said Sound Organization president Steve Daniels. In the early 1990s, Cyrus and two other audio brands — Mission and Wharfedale — were owned by England's Verity Group, which also owned Quad Electroacoustics, Roksan and New Transducers Ltd., the developer and marketer of NXT flat-panel speaker technology. In 1997, Verity changed its name to NXT plc, sold off all audio brands but Cyrus, and continued to develop and license flat-panel speaker technology.

Cyrus is reentering the U.S. only now, Daniels said, because "it has taken awhile to develop the products they needed for the American consumer." Those products include a distributed-audio system and an A/V processor. It also took Cyrus a while to "find the right [U.S. marketing] partner," Daniels added.

Cyrus' component line includes component speakers and the brand's trademark half-size electronic components. The distributed-audio system, marketed under the Cyruslink name, uses hard-disk-drive (HDD) music servers that connect via wired Ethernet or wireless 802.11g to tabletop clients featuring built-in amplification and AM/FM tuner. The 10-zone servers are the $5,995-suggested 160GB Linkserver 160 and the $6,995 250GB Linkserver 250, both based on Imerge's XiVA platform. Each features six wired Ethernet ports, each capable of delivering a separate stream via a separate router to six amplified Linkport clients, which are priced at a suggested $1,295 each. The servers stream separate songs to up to four more zones when integrated with a whole-house control system via the servers' four RCA outputs.

For wireless networking, Cyruslink offers plug-in 802.11g adapters for the clients. A wireless router would have to be connected to the server. To minimize wireless dropouts, the clients play music through a five-second buffer memory.

Because the distributed-audio system shares an Ethernet network with PCs, consumers can use a PC to view a server's contents.

The servers, sized like traditional audio components, feature a built-in CD drive to rip discs, embedded Gracenote song database, and ability to store music in uncompressed form or as MP3 files. About 270 CDs can be stored in uncompressed form on the 160, and about 400 CDs can be stored uncompressed on the 250. The half-size clients feature 2x15-watt amp, AM/FM tuner with RDS (radio data system) and Internet radio tuner, which streams Internet radio stations by connecting via an Ethernet network and broadband modem to a XiVA Web site.

Eleven electronics components are priced from $695 to $2,195 and include a $1,095 CD player with 192kHz/24-bit DACs, $1,095 2x40-watt integrated amp, $2,195 DVD-Video player, $1,995 5.1-channel surround processor, and $895 FM tuner.

The speakers consist of a compact monitor at $895 or $995 per pair, depending on wood-veneer finish, compact $695 center channel, and a $5,495-per-pair Reference Tower speaker that uses NXT flat-panel technology.

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