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Harman Kardon, JBL Add Networked Audio

LAS VEGAS – Harman unveiled new JBL and Harman Kardon home audio products at International CES, including a networked speaker, networked Blu-ray HTiBs and networked stereo receivers.

Under the JBL brand, the company added JBL’s first networked soundbar, refreshed the top-end speakers in JBL’s mainstream speaker series, and launched the brand’s first two wireless tabletop speakers that incorporate AirPlay, DLNA and Bluetooth. They’re priced at a suggested $999 and $699. (See TWICE, Jan. 7.)

The company also unveiled plans to resuscitate the Infinity home brand and launched new Infinity products.

Here’s what the company unveiled in under the Harman Kardon and JBL brands:

Harman Kardon: The brand launched its second tabletop speaker that uses Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay, DLNA and Wi-Fi to stream music direct from any mobile device.

The Aura Wireless Omnidirectional Home Audio System, retailing for a suggested $399, can also be used with a Harman Kardon Remote app for iOS and Android mobile devices to stream music stored anywhere on a home network to an Aura speaker anywhere in the house, the company said.

The AC/DC Aura joins the brand’s $499-suggested Onyx AC/DC speaker.

Loaded with the Harman Kardon Remote app for iOS and Android devices, a mobile device streams music via Wi-Fi to multiple Onyx and Aura speakers and networked Harman Kardon AVRs at a time. The app also accesses PCs and NAS drives to stream their music libraries.

The Aura, which just shipped, features an LED-illuminated transparent dome with woofer port that fires up. Six 1.5-inch mid/high drivers work with a 4.5-inch woofer in the metal base to deliver omnidirectional sound enhanced by Harman Kardon DSP technology.

The speaker also features auxiliary and optical digital inputs, AptX for Bluetooth streaming, and a frequency response of 50Hz to 20 kHz.

For home theater, the brand launched two new Blu-ray receivers, both incorporating 3D Blu-ray receiver like their two-year old predecessors. Like before, one is a 5.1-channel model, and the other is a 2.1-channel model.

The new models, however, add built-in Wi-Fi, AirPlay, DLNA 1.5, Bluetooth, NFC, and access to such Cloud services as Picasa, AccuWeather, and others. The new models also increase the number of HDMI inputs to three from two. One HDMI input is MHL-enabled for the first time and is said to be compatible with the Roku Stream-Stick. Like before, both models also feature HDMI output with audio return channel.

The two models also add compatibility with Harman Kardon’s remote-control app for iPhones, iPads and Android phones. The app controls the systems and also lets users stream their music collection from anywhere on a home network.

The 5.1-channel BDS 580 HTiB retails for a suggested $1,099 with included 5.1-channel speaker system. The 2.1-channel BDS 280 Blu-ray receiver retails for a suggested $510. Both are shipping.

Like before, both models feature Dolby Volume, which balances the difference in volume between loud scenes and quiet scenes and between commercials and TV programs.

Both also feature a front USB port for playing music from mass-storage devices. A rear USB port is also available for devices such as Google Chromecast.

Both models feature FM tuner, DSP for improved sound staging and voicing, and EzSet/EQ III auto-calibration.

The brand’s first two networked two-channel receivers feature Ethernet port, DLNA 1.5, and Apple-certified USB. They are the $499-suggested HK 3770 and $399 HK 3700.

JBL: The brand expanded its soundbar selection to three with the addition of the SB400, which is JBL’s first networked soundbar and first soundbar with HDMI. The bar, expected at a suggested retail price of about $549, features three HDMI inputs, an HDMI output with audio return channel, and Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoding. It also features Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and DLNA.

Also in JBL products, the company refreshed the top-end speaker series in its mainstream consumer lineup.