Harman Kardon, JBL Unveil Multiple Audio Products

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Northridge, Calif. - The Harman Kardon brand is expanding its selection of two-channel audio components and launching its first sound bar while sister brand JBL launches in-room speakers and iPod-docking speaker systems with a new industrial design called "weave."


Other new products from the Harman Consumer Americas brands

include a Harman Kardon home-theater satellite/subwoofer speaker package and two new JBL autosound amplifier/signal processors intended to connect to any OEM or aftermarket head unit.

 In another development, Harman Kardon upgraded a trio of currently available A/V receivers, introduced at last year's CEDIA Expo, by replacing their HDMI 1.3a inputs and outputs with 3D-capable HDMI 1.4a versions. The upgraded versions of the $799-suggested AVR 2600, $1,199 AVR3600 and $2,999 AVR 7550HD just began shipping. Consumers who bought the previous versions of the 2600 and 2600 can download software to upgrade their 1.3a connections to 1.4a. Later this month, the company expects the top-end AVR to get Control4 certification, making it the first HK AVR to earn the designation.

 For its first sound bar system, Harman Kardon plans late October or early November shipments of the SoundBar 16, an active 2x25-watt model with proprietary virtual surround and 100-watt wireless 10-inch subwoofer. Pricing hasn't been set, Dragon said. Positioned as a premium solution, the system connects directly to a TV's RCA analog outputs, coaxial digital output or optical digital output. The sound bar itself incorporates two two-way speaker channels, each consisting of a waveguide-loaded tweeter flanked on each side by a 3-inch driver. A built-in EQ switch adjusts sound to compensate for placement on the wall or on a table.

 The system turns on automatically when it senses signal from a connected TV's analog or digital audio outputs, and to further simplify use, the system responds to the TV remote's volume commands as well. A trim switch adjusts input sensitivity to work with a variety of TVs with different audio-output levels. The subwoofer features level control, phase switch and adjustable crossover.

 In stereo components, the company already offers a pair of stereo receivers but is now adding a high-end CD player and high-end two-channel integrated amp. They are the $699-suggested HD 990 CD player and companion $2,599 HK990 integrated amp.

 The CD player features 32-bit DSP, 24-bit/384kHz sample rate converter, CD-Text support, MP3 playback with metadata support, two digital audio outputs, and two digital inputs, enabling the device to act as an outboard DAC for other components. It ships next week. The HK 990 integrated amp, now shipping, is a high-current 2.2-channel model with 2x150-watt output into 8 ohms, two subwoofer outputs, an audiophile-quality MM/MC phono preamp section, EzSet/EQ room correction, balanced XLR inputs, and multiple analog and digital inputs.

 In launching the $1,199 HKTS60 5.1 satellite/subwoofer package, Harman Kardon is bringing flat-panel drivers into its line for the first time to reduce distortion, Dragon said.

Each satellite in the 2.5-way system features two round-but-flat 3.5-inch carbon-fiber-laminated midrange drivers flanking a 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeter. The tweeter is loaded in a wave guide to widen the soundstage and expand the stereo sweet spot. Each satellite features 250-watt power-handling capability and comes with wall brackets and tabletop stands. A pair of satellites is also available at $199.99/pair to create a 7.1 system. Optional floor stands are also available.

 The 8-inch down-firing 200-watt sub features a sealed enclosure with signal-sensing turn-on, phase switch, bass boost switch, and level control. All cables are included with the system, which just began shipping.

Harman also took the wraps off a line of Quincy Jones-inspired headphones, the result of a parnership with the music producer. Three models make up the line: the Q701 reference-class premium over-ears, the Q460 high-performance portable on-ear mini headphones and the Q350 in-ear headphones. Pricing ranges from $149 to $479. Further specs were not given at press time.

They will be available in October.

Under the JBL label, the company plans mid-November shipments of four in-room speakers in its Studio 1 series. The line consists of a JBL Studio 120c center-channel speaker at $199 each, a 130 bookshelf speaker at $359 each, 180 floorstanding speaker at $419 each, and a 190 floorstander at $539 each. All feature a baffle whose "weave" design simulates large woven straps. The industrial design, also appearing in the $179.95 JBL On Stage IV and $129.95 On Stage Micro III iPod/iPhone-docking speaker systems, will appear in additional JBL products in the future, Dragon said. "Consumers are tired of boxes with plain grilles," he noted.

 In the weave-design in-room speakers, JBL is bringing two driver technologies down in price point. Tweeters with a bi-radial wave guide, which delivers wide smooth dispersion and a wider sweet spot, have been available previously in JBL speakers at twice the price in the LS series, marketed by the Harman High Performance AV group. Ceramic metal matrix diaphragm (CMMD) dome tweeters, which eliminate unwanted resonances, also haven't been available in JBL speakers at these price points before, said Dragon.

 The iPod speaker systems are both AC/DC models with a round base and dock on top. Unlike their predecessors, they add a USB port to sync docked iPods with a computer's iTunes application and to serve as PC speakers, Dragon said.


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