Wayne, N.J. -
began this month to ship an expanded selection of surround-bar-based home-theater systems as part of a shift away from more traditional systems equipped with five separate speakers and a subwoofer.
Consumer audio GM Steve Howcott cited the growing sales potential for surround bars now that flat-panel TVs have gone mainstream.
Three new active surround-bar systems began shipping this month to complement the company's Blu-ray surround-bar system, which
last year at an everyday $649. That system, the TH-SB100, features a sound bar with wireless subwoofer and separate Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player. The sound bar has JVC's Front Surround technology, which delivers a virtual 5.1-channel soundfield. Features include HDMI 1.3 output and Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and Dolby Pro Logic II decoders.
The SB100 has been joined by three more surround-bar systems, all with Front Surround technology but without Blu-ray or DVD player. One of those models, the $549 TH-BA3, also comes with wireless surrounds should a consumer opt to plug them in, said Howcott. All three can be connected directly to TVs, set-top boxes and DVD or Blu-ray players via analog and optical digital inputs. They lack HDMI connections.
The TH-BA3 is promoted as the industry's first surround-bar-based home-theater system to transmit sound wirelessly not only to an included subwoofer but also to an included pair of surround speakers. The surround-bar chassis incorporates amplification, controls, wireless transmitter and decoding of Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and Dolby ProLogic II. The chassis also contains four 3.2-inch full-range speakers â€” one each for the left and right main channels and two for the center channel. Total output is said to be 280 watts.
At $599, JVC is shipping the TH-BS7, said to be the world's slimmest active surround bar, measuring only 1.4 inches tall thanks to proprietary driver technology whose voice-coil design and neodymium magnets are said to deliver a broad soundfield and a frequency range of 200-20,000Hz. A flat wall-mountable amplifier/control unit measures just 1.2 inches deep. It incorporates Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby Pro Logic II decoders and an 80-watt amplifier. The wireless subwoofer features a 6-inch driver powered by a 100-watt amplifier.
The third new system is the $399 TH-BA1, which comes with wireless subwoofer. The surround-bar chassis itself incorporates an amplifier, Front Surround virtual-surround processing, and Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby Pro Logic II decoders. Total system output is 220 watts including amplification in the subwoofer cabinet.
In 2010, the company will offer only one traditional 5.1-speaker home theater in a box system, the carry-over $239 TH-G31 with included DVD player, Howcott said.