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MP3 Takes Over The High End

MP3 is fast becoming a key feature on high-end head units this year, following sellout sales on the three models sold in 2000.

Suppliers including Alpine, Clarion, Crimestopper, Jensen, JVC, Pioneer and Sony will show their first CD/MP3 receivers, and Panasonic and Sony will show new flash-memory-based MP3 products, joining Rockford Fosgate, which introduced the first flash-memory changer in the United States last year.

Alpine’s first MP3 unit is a CD receiver called the CDA-7878MP3. It uses a new Alpine technology called DHE, which restores the harmonic structure of compressed audio to enhance sound performance. The unit is expected to carry a suggested retail price of $699.

JVC will show a new Digifine 2.1 top-of-the-line CD receiver with MP3 playback called the KDSH99. It also has DVD controls and features 24-bit DAC, a new EQ system and 50 x 4-watt power. Suggested retail price is expected to fall in the $450 to $500 range.

Kenwood will show at CES two MP3 models, including a low-priced KDC MP8017 AM/FM/CD in its standard line. The unit has a built-in amplifier and, like all Kenwood 2001 receivers, is CDR and CDRW compatible, at a suggested retail price of $350. It is joined by an Excelon version, model Z828, also an AM/FM/CD, with built-in 45 x 4-watt power amplifier at $650.

Panasonic said it is showing the world’s first in-dash car audio AM/FM/ CD/MP3 that accepts SD (Secure Digital) Memory cards. Called the CQSRX-7000U, the unit has a built-in SD player that is compatible with MP3 and AAC (Audio Advanced Coding).

It also offers built-in 45 x 4-watt MOSFET amplifier and a new four-shade 3D dot-matrix graphics display that changes with the beat of the music. Shipping is expected this spring at an estimated retail price of $1,299.

Sony is debuting its first single-CD receiver with MP3, called the Xplod CDX MP450X. It comes with detachable face, remote control, seven-band graphic EQ and built-in 52 x 4-watt amplifier. The unit accepts CD-R and CD-RW discs and is expected to ship in March at a suggested retail price in the neighborhood of $399.

Said Steve Haber, VP of Sony Mobile, “Consumer demand is strong. Our feedback from dealers is that all the models on the market sold out and demand is way beyond anyone’s expectations.” (See Sony story, p. 86 for Memory Stick models.)

Aiwa is planning a step-up successor to its previous model CDC MP3. The new AM/FM/CD has a hideaway front panel with multicolored LCD and dot-matrix indicator. It is expected to offer 50 x 4 watts built-in power, with shipping planned for April at a suggested retail price of $349.

In addition, Clarion said it will show MP3 on a few selected models; Pioneer will show a prototype unit with MP3 capability and delivery slated for late this year; and Jensen is introducing the CD5010K CD receiver with MP3 capability for delivery this spring.

Crimestopper is also showing five in-dash and portable MP3 players under both the Crimestopper and Millennium brands (see story, p. 89). n