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Klipsch Aiming At Wireless Digital Media Speakers

LAS VEGAS – Klipsch Group is coming to International CES with an expanded selection of Klipsch-brand wireless digital-media speakers, including the brand’s first “concert on the go” Bluetooth speaker and a high-price triamplified speaker said to deliver the performance of a component-based audio system.

Both speakers are part of a new Klipsch Music Center series that will expand later this year and 2014.

The first two models in the Klipsch Music Center series includes the Bluetooth-only AC/DC KMC3, a two-way model with decoding of AAC and lossless AptX streams over Bluetooth at a tentative price of less than $399.

The second Klipsch Music Center speaker, which will be priced in the range of $2,000, is the brushed-aluminum Stadium. It’s equipped with Bluetooth AptX and AAC streaming, Wi-Fi-based Apple AirPlay, and built-in DLNA-certified Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g transceiver. The system provides for either a network or direct Wi-Fi connection with Apple and Android devices to stream music with or without using a home’s Wi-Fi network. It also delivers a longer range and higher quality sound compared to standard Bluetooth.

Both devices also feature USB port to charge smartphones and tablets, including Apple’s mobile devices. And the Stadium adds ability to stream music through its USB port from cable-connected iPods, iPhones and iPads.

The series is named after the Klipsch Music Center outdoor amphitheater, operated by Live Nation outside Indianapolis, to underscore Klipsch’s ability to “recreate the sound and emotion of live music performances,” the company said. The amphitheater is ranked among the top five outdoor amphitheaters in ticket sales worldwide for the past several years, Klipsch noted.

Mark Casavant, Klipsch Group’s senior VP of global product development, described the Stadium as “a serious audio system” that delivers “all the benefits of a traditional audio system” for passionate music lovers looking for a high-performance product that integrates with a variety of home décor styles. “This is a true hi-fi system that happens to be compact, elegant and easy to use,” he said.

The 200-watt three-way tri-amplified speaker is 21-inches-wide by 8.5 inches deep by 8.25 inches high. It delivers flat frequency response from 35Hz to 20kHz, with the low end rolling off to 30Hz, Casavant said. A pair of horn-loaded 1-inch tweeters and pair of horn-loaded 3-inch midranges are complemented by a pair of 5.25-inch subwoofers firing in phase into each other and through a front port to enhance output.

With the controlled directivity enabled by the horns, the Stadium creates “a sound stage that will surprise people” despite the close proximity of the left and right drivers, Casavant said. From 12 to 15 feet away, listeners will hear two separate channels, he contended.

The Stadium also delivers a clean, nearfield sound pressure level of more than 110dB, he said.

Other performance-oriented features include digital crossovers, digital equalization at different volume levels, an analog-to-digital converter for the RCA stereo inputs, and USB playback of music from Apple’s devices. The Stadium is also equipped with digital optical input.

“We are serious about wireless hi-fi, but we don’t want to diminish hi-fi just because it is wireless,” he added.

Also with performance in mind, the Stadium decodes AptX streams over Bluetooth from smartphones and tablets to deliver lossless sound, Casavant said. “With AptX, now Bluetooth sounds good,” he said. The speaker also streams AAC over Bluetooth.

Via its AirPlay feature, the speaker streams music over a home’s Wi-Fi network from a PC’s or Mac’s iTunes program, from Apple’s mobile iOS devices, and from AirPlay-enabled music-streaming apps running on Apple’s mobile devices. Via Wi-Fi-based Direct Connect, consumers can send music directly to the speaker from Android and Apple mobile devices and from PCs in homes lacking a Wi-Fi network. Also from Android devices, consumers can stream music from the cloud via Wi-Fi or cellular and send the music to one Stadium speaker at a time via network Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Multiroom streaming of a song to more than one Stadium speaker at a time is available only through the use of AirPlay and a computer running iTunes.

The Stadium ships by mid-summer.

The Bluetooth-only KMC 3, targeted to ship in April, is also designed to deliver performance via 130-watt output and a two-way design consisting of a single 5.25-inch subwoofer and a pair of 2-inch tweeter/midrange drivers extending out to 20kHz. The AC/DC speaker runs on eight D-size batteries, allowing for up to 12 hours of music playback at moderate listening levels and for USB charging of smartphones and tablets, including the iPad.

The KMC 3 comes with mini plug aux in and soft-rubber coating on the enclosure. Its design is intended to emulate a bandshell or concert stage; hence the tagline “concert on the go”.

The two digital-media speakers will join the $549-everday G-17 Air, which features AirPlay, Wi-Fi-based Direct Connect, and Made for iPod/ iPhone/iPad USB port to charge Apple devices and stream their music over USB cable.