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Home HD Radio SKUs To Proliferate

9/25/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

At least 21 HD Radio SKUs for the home will be available from 14 brands by November, according to suppliers and HD Radio inventor iBiquity Digital.

Three more custom-install-oriented suppliers will follow with their own products by the end of the year, iBiquity added without naming names.

HD Radio in the autosound aftermarket also got a boost with the price but of a JVC CD-receiver with integrated HD Radio to $199 from $299, iBiquity said.

The latest home products — all supporting HD Radio multicasting — include tabletop radios, component tuners and the industry's first three-piece CD shelf system with HD Radio. That model, the HDX3, will be sold exclusively through RadioShack at $299 with two-way speakers.

The following companies recently announced their first home HD Radio tuners: Cambridge SoundWorks, Denon, Integra, Niles, Onkyo and Sangean. Other first-time HD Radio suppliers by November will include Rotel and RadioShack, which has offered the Boston Acoustics Recepter HD table radio but will begin offering two exclusive models in the fourth quarter.

Yamaha has discontinued its sole HD Radio, a $1,899-suggested A/V receiver launched last year.

Companies already shipping home HD Radio include Boston Acoustics, Polk and Audio Design Associates, whose tuner car fits into four custom-install products.

Here's an update of what's new:

Cambridge SoundWorks: The company plans November shipments of its first two HD Radios, the $299 SoundWorks Radio 820HD stereo table radio and the $299 component SoundWorks Tuner 850HD. Both will be available direct to consumers from the company through its Web site, telemarketing operation and its retail/custom-installation stores. The products will also be available to select third-party retailers. Cambridge already has partnerships with such consumer electronics retailers as Fry's Electronics, J&R Music and Computer World and Amazon.com.

In addition, Cambridge is making the component tuner available through distributors to the custom-install channel, although it won't mark Cambridge's entry into the custom channel. “Traditionally, we've had a number of select resellers in the marketplace — some of them pure specialty retailers and some custom focused,” a spokeswoman said. The table radio will support FM station simulcasting and display up-to-the-minute text information, such as artist and song IDs, traffic alerts, sports scores and more. An auxiliary input is available for connection to audio sources such as MP3 players and portable CD players.

Like the table radio, the rack-mount component tuner also supports multicasting and data casting. For installers, it adds three audio outputs, two digital and one analog, for installation flexibility, as well as a vocabulary of commands to support custom-installed remote in-wall control panels. It also comes with IR remote, “F” connector input for FM antennas, and external AM antenna with a long signal lead.

Day Sequerra: The $2,595 component tuner will ship in November, followed by a second model in January.

Denon: The new DRA-697CI A/V receiver at $599 accommodates an optional $300 HD Radio tuner card that can be installed as an upgrade at the factory. It will be available in November.

Integra: The brand's first HD Radio device is a $300-suggested tuner card that supports analog-FM RDS and is XM-ready. It or a $100 analog-AM/FM tuner card slips into the $250 TUN-3.7 tuner. For custom-installed multi-room audio systems, up to three tuners can be stacked, each controlled separately via separate IR code sets. The tuners ship in October.

The radio modules also fit into Integra's modular DTR-10.5 A/V receiver, which starts at $3,800, and with the Integra Research RDC-7 preamp processor.

The modules also fit into a sister brand product: Onkyo's flagship modular TX-NR1000 A/V receiver, which retails up to $4,999.

Niles: The custom-install supplier plans November shipments of a $399-sugggested HD Radio tuner module for its receiver-based IntelliControl ICS multi-room audio system, whose two-way RF remote and in-wall controls display HD Radio metadata, including . Niles also offers Sirius and XM modules for the system.

RadioShack: The retailer plans to offer two new models, both exclusively. One is the Accurian-branded tabletop radio at $199 and the HDX3 three-piece shelf system with CD, two-way speakers, and aux input at $299. Additional details were unavailable.

The chain already offers the $299 Boston Acoustics Recepter HD table radio.

Radiocity: The company's transportable tuner for use in the car and home, due a year ago, is targeted for late November.

Rotel: A long-awaited component tuner had been delayed but will ship this year, possibly as soon as November, the company said. Pricing hasn't been determined.

Sangean America: The Taiwan-based maker of tabletop, portable, pocket and shortwave radios plans mid-November shipments of its first two HD Radios. They are the HDT-1 component tuner priced less than $200 and the HDR-1 Tabletop Radio, which will be priced for less than $250.

Both are multicast capable and feature screens for displaying scrolling text. The HDT-1 component tuner adds analog-FM RBDS capabilities.

The HDR-1 tabletop is a wood-grained model with remote control and a digital output that allows it to be extended to an existing home theater system. The HDR-1 also includes a plug-in to accommodate an MP3 player.

During the CEDIA Expo, custom install supplier NuVo said it hopes to offer HD Radio by year's end. And Colorado vNet said it plans HD Radio but didn't give a timetable.

Currently, 3,000 U.S. radio stations have committed to offering HD Radio, and more than 900 stations are broadcasting primary signals in HD Digital, reaching 75 percent of the U.S. population. That number is expected to expand to 1,200 stations and 90 percent of the population by the end of this year. By the end of this year, the number of stations broadcasting two or more multicast channels simultaneously is expected to grow to 450 covering the top 68 radio markets, the company said.