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One-Speaker Surround Systems Debut

10/27/2003 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Nirotek America, which markets two-speaker 6.1-channel home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB) systems, is taking the next step with the launch of modestly priced one-speaker 5.1-channel systems.

The two new systems, which pack multiple drivers into a single front-speaker cabinet, compete against home theater systems from Bose, Denon and Samsung. Those systems, however, are designed to replicate a 5.1-channel soundfield through two front speakers.

The only other one-speaker 5.1-channel system on the market is Pioneer's Digital Sound Projector, which is built around a 2-by-3-foot, 5-inch-deep panel with 254 tiny front-panel drivers at a suggested $40,000.

Nirotek's new Niro 1.1 and Niro 1.1 Pro, in contrast, retail for a suggested $599 and $799, respectively, and are configured like traditional HTiB systems. The new systems, for example, are built around DVD-receivers. Likewise, Nirotek's two-speaker systems — the $1,499 Niro Two 6.1-C and $1,999 Niro Two 6.1 — are built around a surround receiver that lacks DVD player.

All Nirotek systems use DSP algorithms and proprietary driver placement to create a "broad and detailed" surround experience with a "huge sweet spot," the company contended. They also deliver a wide sweet spot for stereo CD listening, Nirotek said.

The single-speaker systems are available through the company's Web site, www.niro1.com, and will be rolled out to audio retailers and e-tailers sometime in the future. The current two-speaker systems are available through A/V specialists, custom installers and the Web site.

The new systems are designed for rooms or apartments where space is scarce, said sales and marketing VP Lonnie Pastor. They, and the two-speaker systems, are also designed to appeal to consumers who want simple set-up in a surround system and fewer speakers to clutter up living space.

The $599 Niro 1.1 uses a 4.3-by-18.1-by-5.3-inch TV-top speaker cabinet incorporating three full-range 3-inch drivers complemented by an outboard 8-inch subwoofer. The DVD-receiver features digital amplifier delivering 3x30 watts to the TV-top speaker and 50 watts to the subwoofer. The receiver also incorporates the virtual-surround processor, Dolby Digital and DTS decoders, and progressive-scan DVD player with S-video and component output.

The step-up $799 Niro 1.1 Pro packs five 3-inch drivers into a slightly larger speaker cabinet measuring 4.3 by 19 by 7.9 inches and boosts output to 5x30 watts for the front drivers.

"The ideal seating location is a minimum of six feet from the speaker," said Pastor, but "the surround-sound effect is evident regardless of its location in the room." In addition, he said, "The size of the room is not critical. Walls are not even necessary."

Denon's 5.1-channel system, which uses Dolby Virtual Speaker technology, features DVD-receiver, two front speakers, and a subwoofer at a suggested $999. It's designed for small rooms. Bose's 5.1-channel systems retail at an everyday $999 and $1,299. Nirotek's two-speaker 6.1 systems retail for a suggested $1,499 and $1,999. And Pioneer's DSP-1 digital sound projector incorporates amplification and DD/DTS decoding.

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