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CEA Reviewing Amplifier-Rating Standards

Arlington, Va. — The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) audio systems committee will revisit its amplifier power-rating standards for the second time in four years, this time to incorporate power-rating requirements for home theater in a box (HTiB) systems, TV sets’ built-in audio amplifiers, and other amplifier-equipped products.

The committee will review the CEA-490-A standard, known as Standard Methods of Measurement for Audio Amplifiers. It outlines ways of testing and measuring the power output of audio amplifiers in home audio components, including component amplifiers and home theater receivers. The standard was most recently updated in December 2001, when testing and rating requirements were extended to include multichannel home amplifiers for the first time, not just two-channel stereo amps.

“The standard needs to be modernized in order to include the current progression of audio equipment, and we’re looking for broad and active involvement in the standards updating process,” said CEA’s technology and standards manager Megan Hayes. “The group will be able to incorporate the newest types of audio products, such as home theater in a box, in order to keep the standard relevant.”

Although the CEA’s “intention is to add amplifier standards for other product categories, that doesn’t mean the committee is prohibited from tweaking the existing standard,” a spokeswoman added.

The 2001 effort followed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proceedings to update the federal government’s mandatory output-measurement rules. The FTC postponed its rulemaking procedure, however, to await a recommendation from CEA. “After CEA finished the 2001 effort, we asked the FTC to incorporate our standard into its rules,” the spokeswoman said. “To date, it still hasn’t.” CEA will likely provide the FTC with any update, she added.

The FTC’s mandatory measurement standards date back to May 1974. Manufacturers and retailers are required to use the FTC standard to measure and report power output in literature and in advertising.

Heading up the latest revisions are working group co-chairs Ray Pace of Altec Lansing and John Merrell of Thomson. CEA membership is not required to participate. Interested participants can contact Megan Hayes at [email protected] or (703) 907-7660.