Harman Kardon Readies Blu-ray HTiBs, Soundbar



Harman Kardon is coming to International CES with a step-up active soundbar with virtual surround technology and upgrades to two HTiB systems equipped with a Blu-ray A/V receiver.

The two new HTiB systems replace two models that were also built around a Blu-ray AVR, but the new models add 3D disc playback, HDMI 1.4a inputs for connection to other 3D-capable video sources, and HDMI audio return channel.

One of the HTiBs is the 2.1-speaker BDS 370, which uses Dolby Virtual Speaker technology to deliver a 5.1-channel soundfield from two satellites and a subwoofer. The BDS 770 comes with traditional 5.1-speaker setup. They retail for a suggested $999 and $1,199, respectively, and ship in January.

Both feature three HDMA 1.4a inputs, three digital audio inputs, and two analog-audio inputs, component-video input, Ethernet port for BD-Live streaming, cover-art display of songs plated from USB devices, FM tuner, USB port to connect MP3 players and USB sticks to play audio, connection to an optional Bridge iPod/iPhone dock, and decoding of the following surround formats: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS Digital, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, and PCM. Compressed-music decoders include DRM-free WMA and WMA9, 192kBps CBR, 355kbps VBR, and MP3 at 32kbps to 320kbps bit rates, including variable-bit-rate encoding.

The amp in the 5.1-channel AVR is rated at 5x65 watts from 20Hz–20kHz with less than 0.1 percent THD, all channels driven into 6 ohms. The 2.1 system’s two-channel amp is rated the same for its two channels.

The Blu-ray section in each AVR features DivX 1080p video playback, 30/36-bit Deep Color, and playback of AVCHD discs and JPEG discs.

The subwoofers in both feature 8-inch driver in a sealed enclosure powered by a 200-watt amp. The satellites in both systems are two-way speakers with 3-inch midrange and 0.5-inch dome tweeter. In the 5.1 system, the center channel features two 3-inch midranges flanking a 0.75-inch tweeter.

The new soundbar, the $899-suggested SB 30, adds new features compared to an existing model. The new features include Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoding and a new proprietary Harman Wave virtualsurround technology to deliver a surround-sound experience from six 2-inch woofers, seven 1-inch tweeters, 11 amplifier channels (4x50 watts plus 7x15 watt, and a triple-core DSP processor that performs equalization, crossover, and virtual surround functions. It’s shipping now.

The system uses proprietary Harman Wave technology to deliver the left and right surround fields as well as front channels from two-channel and multichannel sources. The technology generates plane waves traveling in defined directions to “maximize indirect energy for the rear surround channels,” company literature states. Sound isn’t focused into sharp breams that need to reflect off side walls to deliver surround effects, the company noted. Surround-energy settings are available for small, medium and large rooms.

Also for stereo and multichannel sources, the bar minimizes interaural crosstalk and enlarges the soundfield, apparent source width, and depth of the perceived soundstage.

A separate wireless subwoofer features 8-inch downfiring driver in a sealed enclosure with level, crossover, and phase controls. It delivers 40-160Hz bass.

Other features include Dolby Volume, which maintains a consistent volume level when the user switches audio sources and TV programs transition to a commercial. It also prevents abrupt volume changes within a program.

It also features EQ switch to adjust for table or wall mounting, automatic turn-on circuit, included IR remote, two digital audio inputs, and one analog stereo input.

The product joins an active soundbar introduced in 2011 with a less sophisticated virtual surround technology, fewer drivers, no Dolby Digital or DTS surround decoding, and a lower price point of a suggested $599. That model, the 2.1-channel SB 16, comes with Dolby Volume, wireless subwoofer and audio-input switching.


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