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NEAR Returns To Residential Market

Denver — NEAR returned to the CEDIA Expo for the first time in 14 years to launch a line of all-environment speakers and a companion amplifier for residential applications.

Gardiner, Maine-based NEAR has been focusing on the commercial channel following its acquisition in 1999 by Ramsey, N.J.-based Bogen Communications, the supplier of commercial audio products.

During those years, NEAR’s lineup had been aimed primarily at commercial applications, though NEAR products did cross over into residential channels in select cases in which Bogen distributors sold to residential contractors, the company said.

NEAR is reentering the residential market now, said NEAR founder and chief product engineer Bill Kieltyka, because “with the consumers’ growing interest in outdoor audio, we felt it was time to return to our roots with an entirely new line designed specifically for the residential contractor.”

Although NEAR has essentially been out of the residential channel for more than a decade, Kieltyka said, NEAR has “been busy advancing our knowledge of what it takes to produce audiophile-grade speakers that can withstand the most brutal conditions in all environments over the past fourteen years.” Developing outdoor speakers for commercial applications enabled the company to take its spider-less, magnetic-suspension metal-cone drivers “to whole new levels of reliability under the most brutal conditions,” he said.

The all new NEAR residential line-up includes four full-range bracket-mount speakers named the LB4, LB5, LB6, and LB8. The lineup also includes three full-range speakers designed to be partially buried in the ground. They are the IG 5, IG 6, and IG 8 and the 12-inch IGS 12 subwoofer. All use NEAR-developed spider-less magnetic suspension woofers. The full-range models are two-way coaxial models with aluminum-dome drivers.

The line finishes off with a 2×600-watt 6XL amplifier designed for use with the NEAR speakers. It features on board selectable high- and low-pass filters for use in outdoor systems that include a subwoofer. The 6XL drives both 70-volt speakers and 8-ohm speakers, thanks to a transformer-less output topography.

The LB models will be available in black or white. The IG and IGS models will be available in terra cotta color.

The line will be available to dealers early in the fourth quarter. Pricing was not available.

The speakers feature designs from the design studio of Allen Boothroyd. The LB models, for example, use an unusual lever-locking system and pre-terminated connection leads to make installation and positioning easier and safer, the company said. The IG and IGS models feature a “bee-hive” shape that provides security when partially buried. The design, however, also lends itself to freestanding applications, the company added.