INDIANAPOLIS –Retailers and electronic systems contractors (ESCs) got a chance to look over a wealth of new home audio products, many requiring installation and many that don’t.
In no-install products, suppliers unveiled soundbars, networked A/V receivers (AVRs) with AirPlay, integrated amps, and other audio components, including active and passive speakers.
For installation, suppliers unveiled multiple new architectural speakers, matrix-audio and matrix-A/V switchers, and in-wall keypads and touchscreens.
Highlights included the industry’s first two AVRs with embedded Control4 home-automation brain. The Sony AVRs, at a suggested $2,099 and $999, were also Sony’s first AVRs with digital “speaker relocation” on the horizontal plane, first with center-channel height control, and first with InstaPrevue, also available in select Onkyo and Integra AVRs.
Other highlights included Sherwood’s first AVR with AirPlay, new flagship architectural speakers and an upgraded active soundbar from Bowers & Wilkins, new architectural speakers and in-wall keypads from Russound, Krell’s first on-wall speakers, and Meridian Audio’s latest active in-wall DSP speakers.
As previously reported, Denon and Integra came to the show with AVRs that support the full 11.1-channel version of DTS Neo:X post processing technology, joining two previously announced Onkyo models.
Here’s what dealers found:
Bowers & Wilkinstook its architectural speakers further upmarket and upgraded its Panorama active surround bar.
The premium speaker maker plans mid-November shipments of a trio of architectural speakers in its first CI800 series, which aims to bring as much of the performance possible in its flagship 800 series of freestanding speakers to in-wall and in-ceiling applications. The lineup consists of the $3,000-each CWM 8.3 three-way in-wall speaker, $1,400-each CWM 8.5 two-way inwall, and $2,000-each CCM 8.5 two-way in-ceiling speaker. Pricing includes back boxes.
The company currently offers three architectural speaker series priced from $300/pair to $1,500 each plus a $4,100/pair in-wall flagship with black box. It will be phased out.
The new Panorama active soundbar, shipping in November, offers multiple enhancements compared with its predecessor while retaining the predecessor’s $2,199 price point. Like before, the new model, called Panorama II, incorporates Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoders, six amps, nine drivers and 175-watt output. The new model simplifies home-theater connections by adding video switching via three HDMI 1.4a inputs and one HDMI output with audio return channel.HDMI CEC enables the bar to turn on/off when the TV turns on/off.
The new model also adds an onscreen menu to make setup easier, and the front display now lights up when a hand is waved in front of it.
AudioControlbrought a multi-room 16×100-watt matrix switching amplifier and a compact amplifier/DAC, which can be used in Sonos wireless multi-room audio systems.
The amplifier/DAC is the $750 Rialto 400, due in November. The product, requested by dealers, can be paired with speakers and Sonos’ Connect wireless receiver, which is designed to add existing sound systems to a Sonos wireless-audio network. The Rialto 400 features 2×100-watt amp, rated into 8 ohms, and high-end DAC circuitry to target consumers looking for step-up solutions compared to Sonos’ amplifier/receivers, the company said. The Rialto is also a lower-priced alternative to adding separate DAC and separate amplifier to the Sonos receiver, the company added.
Rialto, which features digital and analog inputs, can also be used as a local amplifier for any other audio source.
For multi-room audio systems requiring installation, the company is adding the $4,450 Director D4200 amplifier/ switcher, which ships in October as a higher power alternative to the company’s 16×60-watt D3200 amp/switcher.
Crestronfurther expanded its selection of architectural speakers, launched its first line of motorized shade and drapery systems, and unveiled new programming capabilities to simplify the programming of home-control systems.
The company also said it has simplified the process of programming its multi-room-audio systems to more easily add an AirPlay-enabled Apple Airport Express as a system input. The Airport Express connection makes it possible to stream music wirelessly from an Apple mobile device to architectural speakers connected to Crestron’s multi-room system.
In speakers, the company plans shipments by January of the step-up Aspire and Essence series of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. They’ll join the company’s first series, called Excite, launched about 1.5 years ago at $170/pair to $280/pair.
Aspire and Essence are bezel-less higher-performance speakers, with Essence at the top of the line for media and home-theater applications. Prices haven’t been revealed.
Krellintroduced a stereo integrated amp, new surround processor, and its first on-wall speakers.
The $5,000 S-550i stereo integrated amp ships in October to join a $2,500 integrated stereo amp to fill the gap between the $2,500 model and stereo systems based on a separate Krell stereo preamp and stereo amp, said president Bill McKiegan.
The new surround processor, the $6,000 Foundation, will ship in December or January to join Krell’s $10,000 and $30,000 surround processors. And the Modulari Ion on-wall two-way speakers, priced at $2,500 each, ship in December. They are 3.5 inches deep to complement flat-panel TVs.
The S-550i integrated amp features 275-watt output into 8 ohms, 550 watts into 4 ohms, fully balanced preamp, and tethered iPod/iPhone dock that captures iPod/ iPhone output in balanced analog form, said by McKiegan to deliver superior sound compared to capturing the mobile devices’ output in digital PCM form. McKiegan explained that an iPod’s PCM output contains a high degree of jitter that can’t be eliminated because the iPod’s digital clock can’t be re-clocked.
Meridian Audiolaunched a series of active in-wall DSP speakers, all with the company’s proprietary SpeakerLink audio and control-signal connection to Meridian’s DSP-equipped source components. The new models are slim, rectangular models that are 7.87 inches wide, whereas their predecessors were 16.5 inches square.
Pricing and ship dates weren’t announced.
The trio consists of the DSP520 and DSP630 full-range speakers and the DSW600 subwoofer.
Russoundrefocused on its audio-everywhere roots after having sold off multi-room-audio and home-control brand Colorado vNet in April, so it showed off a new eight- SKU line of value-priced Acclaim architectural speakers, two new in-wall keypads, and a major software update for its C Series multi-room-audio controller.
The speakers, due to ship in November, will start at $199/pair. The round speakers come with round grilles and optional square grilles. They also feature thin bezels and magnetically attached grilles.
A new dual-gang MDK-C6 keypad single-gang SLK1, both with hard buttons and LCD, feature more traditional Decora-style design so they can blend in with nearby Decora light switches and other nearby keypads. The dualgang model also adds new features, including two favorite hard buttons.