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What's New At CEDIA Expo

9/04/2001 09:45:00 AM Eastern

DISTRIBUTED-AUDIO SYSTEMS

B&K: The company's first multizone stereo receivers are the three-zone CT310 and six-zone 610 due in Q4 at a suggested $2,798 and $3,498, with six- and 12-channel amp, respectively. The devices come with two AM/FM tuners, optional third plug-in tuner at $500, and ability to deliver nine additional sources (including the optional tuner) to different rooms, from which users also have the option of selecting a local source.

Denon: The company's first three-zone, two-source stereo receiver, the DRA-395 at a suggested $349, requires outboard amps to drive the second and third zones. It is now available.

Harman Kardon: The $899-suggested, four-zone, high-current 8x45-watt PA4000 distributed-audio amp can be paired with an in-wall keypad, the $49-suggested KP1, to create the company's first distributed-audio system. It's a basic system whose keypad controls amp on/off and the amp's volume for a particular zone. The amp also automatically powers up connected multizone HK receivers to play back whatever radio station to which the receiver is tuned. If a CD player is already playing in the main zone, the keypad would deliver the CD player's sound to the remote zone.

A knockout plug accepts an IR eye for third-party infrared repeater systems to turn on and control multiple source components connected to the amp. The IR signals would be piggybacked over the cable running from the keypad to the amp. Music-sensing circuitry or a 12-volt trigger would turn the amp on automatically.

NAD: The company's first distributed-audio amps are the 6x75-watt CI-9060 at a suggested $1,299 and the 12x75-watt CI-9120 at $2,199. They ship in the fourth quarter.

Niles: The company targets a suggested $2,200 for its six-zone 12-channel stereo receiver, which can distribute audio from the single built-in AM/FM tuner and three other sources. It links via CAT 5 to Niles in-wall keypads and incorporates new technology that eliminates the need to program each connected keypad with the IR codes of connected sources. The receiver learns all codes and distributes them to each keypad. Fourth-quarter shipments are planned.

Integra: This Onkyo division will show its first keypad-based distributed-audio system, which is built around the DTR-8.2 and DTR-7.2 receivers and Integra-branded amplified in-wall keypads. The four-zone, multisource system uses A-Bus distributed-audio technology licensed by Russound. The system makes it possible to send line-level audio and 24-volt power from the receivers via CAT-5 cables to the amplified keypads, which will control the receivers and connected source components. The $2,000-suggested 7x110-watt 8.2 ships September, the $1,200 6x100-watt 7.2 in October. Both are THX Select-certified and feature THX Surround EX decoding, DTS ES Discrete and Matrix decoding, Dolby Pro Logic II, and DTS Neo 6. Both feature 50MHz component-video switching.

Pragmatic Communications: The company's new DMS4.4.1 distributed-audio system is a four-zone, four-source system that sends line-level audio, control signals, and presumably low voltage over CAT 5 wires to in-wall 2x24-watt amplifiers. The amps in single-gang boxes with built-in IR eye to control sources remotely via an IR remote.

Also new: three compact stereo and three compact mono amplifiers, up to 45 watts per channel, intended to amplify local sources such as bedroom TVs.

The products can be viewed during the company's training sessions.

Rotel: For distributed audio, the company will offer its first dual-zone stereo receiver, a $550-suggested 2x100-watt model with lineouts for the second zone. It's due in the fall.

Rotel will also stage a working demo of a new distributed-audio system that integrates with a greater selection of other-brand products. The current system works only with Rotel products or with products whose IR codes are preloaded. The new system adds RS-232 control, and its preamp/controller can be loaded in the field with multiple-brand codes downloaded from a Rotel Web site. The controller will retail for about $1,600, with keypads costing $450 each.

Russound: An upgraded A-Bus distributed-audio system will add multisource capability to the current one-source, four-zone hub, which connects sources to amplified A-Bus keypads.

SpeakerCraft: As part of its continuing diversification, the company will launch its first home-control system, which uses Control Station touchscreens. The touchscreens are preloaded with IR codes of hundreds of AV brands, but via a PC, they can be loaded with codes for lighting systems, HVAC, and other subsystems. The screens will also display baseband video such as security camera video, GUIs from connected products, and DVD video.

The SoundStation-1 is a six-inch-high, 10-inch-wide in-wall CD-receiver. Connected to a distributed-audio system, its IR eye and supplied learning remote can be used to switch between the SoundStation or the distributed-audio system. It's due late this year or early 2002 at $399, including remote.

The other products are due 60 to 90 days after the Expo.

HOME-SYSTEM CONTROL

AMX: A new 4- and 6-inch color touchscreen are the first touchscreens with motion sensors to automatically lights up the panel and hard buttons when someone walks near. A light sensor adjusts the brightness of the LCD screen and hard buttons. The 4-inch passive-matrix AXT-CP4, available in in-wall and tabletop versions, features AMX Internet Inside technology to display CD titles and speed-dial lists from connected databases and to display Internet-delivered information services. The CP4 retails for a suggested $1,040.

The 6-inch active-matrix model, available only in-wall, displays baseband video from TV sets or surveillance cameras.

Addition details were unavailable.

Elan: The $1,200-suggested Via SC4 controller is preloaded with RS-232 codes , enabling Via touchpanels to control RS-232 systems from new controller to let touchpanel integrate with RS-232 lighting and HVAC systems. The touchpanels themselves are preloaded with IR codes.

The 6.4-inch color touchscreens are priced at $1,695 for the in-wall version and $2,325 for the tabletop version. Both also display baseband video from surveillance cameras, TVs, and the like.

Vantage: The company is targeting the retrofit market with a wireless-RF home-control keypad that doubles as a light switch. The one- to four-gang keypad, dubbed a ScenePoint Dimmer station, gets 110-volt power from the home's lighting wires. It uses 900MHz digital spread spectrum to send commands to an RF receiver that can be added to the current Vantage Control System controller, a bridge to various home subsystems.

The RF system, called Vantage RadioLink Network, will control contact-closure and RS-232-based products, with plans for future control of IR-based products. It will be available September.

The RadioLink Enabler, which adds RF to Vantage controllers, costs a suggested $580. The Dimmer Stations range in price from $346 for a basic single-gang model to $1,050 for the most complex four-ganger.

HARD-DRIVE MUSIC STORAGE

Escient: The $1,999-suggested FireBall is a 'music-search engine' that streams Internet audio (via the Radio Free Virgin service), stores music on its internal hard drive, select music from connected compatible megachangers, and transfers music to select Internet audio portables. Year-end availability is targeted.

Users rip music from the connected changers or from CDs in the device's CD drive, which can also be used to burn music onto CD-R/RW discs from the hard drive.

'Ours is the only one to control different brands of changers,' said president Bob Pankratz. It finds and plays CDs in select Sony and Denon CD megachangers and in select CD/DVD megachangers from Denon, Integra, Kenwood, Marantz and Pioneer.

Multiple FireBalls are needed for multizone capability. It connects with ADA, AMX, Crestron, Elan and other home-control systems.

Music can be stored in MP3 and WMA form.

In a related introduction, the company will unveil the TuneBase 200 at $1,199 suggested, replacing the $3,000 TuneBase 100 and adding an RS-232 port to connect with RS-232 control systems, not just with IR-based control systems. It also adds HomePNA networking to connect to HPNA-enabled broadband modems but continues to incorporate a dial-up modem.

TuneBase connects to select compatible CD changers, identifies their CDs, and downloads track and title information from an on-line database. It's due by year's end.

Imerge: For its single-zone S1000 SoundServer, the company will demonstrate the new Thin Client LCD touchpanel to distribute the hard-drive's music to a second zone. The RJ-45-connected touchpanel ships in January. It will be available optionally in a tabletop stand. Pricing hasn't been set. The company also offers multizone M1000 expandable to 16 zones.

Onkyo and Integra: These two Onkyo USA brands will unveil their first hard-drive recorders, a 20GB and 40GB version, respectively, at a suggested $800 and $950. They ship in September and October, respectively. The single-zone products feature built-in CD-ROM drive and RS-232 ports for connection to distributed-audio systems. They store music in MP3 or Redbook CD form.

Yamaha: The $999-suggested CDR-HD1000, due late summer, includes a CD drive/burner letting users rip music to hard disc and then transfer the music from the hard drive to a CD-R/RW disc. To comply with SCMS requirements, the song disappears from the hard drive when it is transferred to a recordable disc.

The single-zone device stores music only in Redbook CD form, allowing for storage of about 30 CDs on the 20GB hard drive.

RECEIVERS/PROCESSORS

Denon: Five new receivers from a suggested $399 to $2,500 get Dolby Pro Logic 2, and the $2,500 AVR-4802 adds two industry firsts. One is 5.1-channel DTS 96/24 audio decoding for DVD-Video discs and for the video zone of DVD-Audio discs. The other first is the application of THX post processing to DTS ES Discrete and Dolby Pro Logic 2, the company said. The 4802 also comes with RS-232 and seven-channel amp that can simultaneously drive a 5.1-channel home theater and a two-channel second zone. It comes with revised RC8000 LCD touchscreen RF/IR remote.

Another advantage of DTS 96/24 is the ability to squirt 5.1-channel 96/24 audio through a single S/P-DIF output cable, making it possible to use higher quality DACs in a receiver or outboard processor.

A suggested $799 is the new opening price for a receiver with DTS ES Discrete and Matrix, Dolby Digital 6.1 Matrix, and SPL 2. It features a six-channel amp. Denon receivers with these decoders previously started at a suggested $1,199 for a seven-channel model.

All receivers shipped in July and August.

Harman Kardon: Five new receivers are the company's first with Dolby Pro Logic 2, and the top three are the company's first with DTS ES Discrete and Matrix. The top-end THX Ultra-certified model is the company's first with THX EX decoder. All five feature MP3 decoding, and the top two add HDCD. All five have five-channel amps and EZ Set circuitry to automate the setup of all speaker levels.

The top three models also feature a 7.1-channel version of Lexicon's Logic 7 technology, which derives a 5.1- or 7.1-channel soundfield from stereo and matrixed two-channel sources.

The top three models are priced at a suggested $799, $999 and $2,799. New models planned for next year will bridge the price gap, the company said.

JBL: The Synthesis series of high-end home theater systems gets its first system featuring in-wall speakers.

The THX Ultra-certified system uses three-way vertical and horizontal speakers, switchable dipole/bipole side surrounds, 7x150-watt amp, 400-watt Class D 14-inch enclosed powered sub, 83-band digital EQ to correct room-acoustics problems, and SDP-3 surround processor/controller. The SDP-3 incorporates THX EX decoding, Logic 7 (which derives a 7.1-channel soundfield from two- and multichannel sources), and multizone operation.

The system ships in November at a tentative $30,000.

An optional SDP-40 processor/controller adds DTS ES Discrete and Matrix decoding, making Synthesis Four the first Synthesis system with the technologies. Other step-up features include a future-proof design consisting of software upgradability and three expansion slots. It will add about $5,000 to the price.

McIntosh: The company's first receiver in about 13 years, the $5,000-suggested MHT 100, is due in the fall with Circle Surround CS-3X technology to decode Dolby Digital Surround EX and DTS ES Matrix soundtracks. It also derives a six-channel soundfield from standard 5.1-channel Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks. The receiver features 6x100-watt amp for home theater and separate 2x100-watt amp for second-zone audio.

NAD: The company's first processor with THX EX decoding is the THX Ultra-certified Silver Series S170. It ships in fall at a suggested $3,499.

Rotel: Fall shipments are planned of a $2,000-suggested receiver, the company's first with DTS ES Discrete and Matrix, Dolby Digital 6.1 Matrix, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS Neo 6, and a Crystal Semiconductor solution for decoding Dolby Digital EX.

Sherwood: The company's first receivers with DTS Discrete, Dolby Pro Logic 2, bass management for DVD-Audio and SACD, and frequency response to 100kHz are the Newcastle R-963 at a suggested $1,995 and the R-863 at $1,199. They're rated at 7x120 watts and 7x100 watt, respectively. Both also decode Dolby Digital Surround EX soundtracks. The 963 adds upconversion of CD audio to 192kHz/24-bit quality, phono input, 54MHz component-video switching, and other features.

Yamaha: The company will lower the opening price of a receiver equipped with Dolby Digital Matrix 6.1 and DTS ES Discrete and Matrix decoding to a suggested $899 for the RX-V1200. It and the similarly equipped $1,199 RX-V2200 ship in late fall.

They also feature Dolby Pro Logic 2, DTS Neo 6, and dual 60MHz component-video ins and outs.

 

 

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