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NHT Targets New Speaker Niches

6/02/2003 11:04:00 AM Eastern

Tempe, Ariz. - NHT is entering the on-wall and PC speaker markets and re-entering the in-wall subwoofer market.

The company, purchased by Rockford last December from Recoton, plans early-June shipments of a pair of on-wall satellites that sonically match its Evolution series of enclosed custom-oriented speakers. During September's CEDIA Expo, NHT will unveil its second on-wall pair.

The on-walls, GM Chris Byrne said, will address retailers' complaints that on-walls are either too big or don't sound very good.

In PC speakers, NHT plans a July launch of a high-end pair through its web site to gauge demand for hi-fi-quality PC speakers among music and game enthusiasts.

NHT's first on-wall, the Evolution L5 at a suggested $500 each, is a 21.8x7.7x5.6-inch three-way model that, like other Evolution satellites, can be mounted horizontally or vertically without changing their dispersion pattern. It features a tweeter and 3-inch cone midrange flanked on each side by a 5.25-inch woofer. Response goes down to 65Hz. The extruded-aluminum cabinets are available in silver, anthracite or paintable white.

The Evolution series features eight modular SKUs that can be combined to create up to 12 different surround-sound systems priced roughly from $3,000 to $6,500.

The next on-wall pair will be even trimmer at 28x4x3.5 inches, thanks to eight 2-inch woofers in a phased array. Four woofers will appear above and below a single tweeter. A companion on-wall powered subwoofer at 18x24x5 inches will feature 12-inch woofer, 250-watt amp, and 27Hz response. These on-wall models will probably be available in early 2004.

On-wall speakers appeal to plasma-TV owners, people in small apartments for use as main or surround speakers, and homeowners whose brick or plaster walls won't accommodate in-wall speakers, the company said.

In July, the company plans to return to the in-wall subwoofer market by shipping a model that it says won't protrude from the wall like other models. Its 12-inch driver will fit inside a 34x15x3.38-inch enclosure to deliver 27Hz bass. The amp will be outboard.

In PC speakers, the company is targeting an emerging high-end PC market dominated by gamers, amateur musicians who use PCs to mix and master their own music, and other multimedia enthusiasts. 'How do you attract 20- to 30-year-olds to hifi when they don't go to hifi stores?' Byrne asked. 'To interest them in good audio, it will be with the PC.'

For these consumers, NHT will offer the $249-each two-way M-00, an active model that has been available to studios and post-production houses for their PC- and Mac-based recording systems. The 75-watt (continuous) model delivers bass to 80Hz and features a switch to tailor high-frequency response for near- or mid-field listening positions. It'll be complemented by a $499 S-00 powered subwoofer. Other 'PC hifi' speakers are ready to follow if demand warrants, Byrne said.

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