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Sony Unveils Qualia SACD At CES

1/06/2005 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Sony will unveil, here, an executive shelf system for SACD and CD stereo playback that is designed to perform a ballet in addition to delivering state-of-the-art two-channel sound.

Model 007 will be sold under Sony's elite QUALIA brand as an SACD system.

The free standing unit was designed to “meld artistic design with technology,” said Phyl Boyle, Sony's QUALIA product manager. Among its attributes are realistic stereo sound and a unique disc-loading mechanism that performs a robotic dance as it begins to play.

Placing a disc on a silver concave platter and pressing play activates the unit. At that stage, “a ballet begins,” Boyle said.

Three pistons automatically rise from the center of the platter to lift, level and align the disc so it can be grabbed by a reader arm that emerges from the side of the main body of the piece. The arm grabs and spins the disc, and begins reading the music data.

“The 007 was our audio engineering team's dream, have-some-fun, make-something-cool project,” said Boyle. “They really delivered. This product has an incredible 'wow' factor.”

The 007 features a built-in 75-watts per channel S-Master digital amplifier. Sony also added a set of custom designed speakers for the system as a bundled option.

Boyle explained that while Sony markets a similar system in its QUALIA line for Japan, the U.S. version added some last-minute advances in 32-bit processing to the S-Master Amplification circuitry. As a result, a new set of speakers had to be designed to take advantage of the expanded capability, Boyle said.

Sony elected to focus the design around the enhanced two-channel experience delivered by SACD rather than going “too broad” by adding multi-channel output, said Boyle.

“We wanted to keep it in the two-channel realm because we wanted to stay with the accuracy and realism of the stereo signal,” he said.

The system will play back both SACD and CD audio discs but will not read MP3 files or DVDs.

Sony will sell the system through its New York and Las Vegas QUALIA stores and Cierge dealers, beginning in February. The street price is expected to be $12,500 for a system with speakers or around $10,000 for the system alone.

Sony is targeting the 007 at well-to-do executives and technology enthusiasts.

The 007 will join six other QUALIA products, including the 006, which is a 70W-inch SXRD rear-projection HDTV set. That unit goes on sale this month at $13,000 suggested retail.

In late spring Sony will add the previously announced 005 46W-inch fully integrated HDTV LCD TV system, which will feature LED back lighting. That product is expected to sell for approximately $12,000, Boyle said.

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