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Polk Keeps Up Pace Of Product Rollouts


— Polk Audio, which will ship more than 80
new products before the year is out, will continue the momentum
early next year when it delivers a stepped-up flagship
line of in-room home speakers and two new passive
SurroundBar systems.

Those products, to be introduced at January’s International
CES, will follow the shipment of a new satellite-speaker
series, three active subwoofers with a wireless option, a
single-chassis behind-the-couch virtual-surround speaker
system, and in-ceiling Vanishing Series three-way speakers,
which feature small footprints, narrow bezels, and low-profile
micro-perf grilles to significantly reduce visibility.

In 2008, said senior sales and marketing VP Ben Newhall,
Polk “made a conscious effort not to cut product development
but to put the pedal to the metal” to gain share and “do
the things we really wanted to do.” Other factors expected
to contribute to increased share include the current rollout of
Polk custom speakers, priced at $200-$250/pair, into Best
Buy’s main selling floor for the first time.

“Last year was a good year for us, and this year will be
better,” Newhall said. “The future is bright for a speaker company
that pays attention to many different categories.”

As part of its share-boosting effort, the company is
redesigning its near-10-year-old flagship LSi series of inroom
speakers from the ground up to step up the series’
performance and price points. The new series, called the
LSi M series, is promoted as offering the most advanced
speaker technology in the company’s near-40-year history
and positioned as an affordable option for serious

The series, targeted to ship in January, tops out with a
four-way floorstanding tower at a tentative $4,000/pair, up
from the LSI series’ current top-end $2,500/pair. The series
will also include a second four-way floorstanding towers
targeted at $3,000/pair, two three-way center-channel
speakers, a three-way bookshelf speaker, a three-way bipole
surround, and a subwoofer.

For consumers with little room for a multi-speaker surround
system, Polk plans a CES introduction of two new
passive SurroundBars, both capable of reproducing seven
channels of surround sound through a single speaker enclosure.
They will replace two current five-channel models and
will be thinner.

The new 49-inch 500CHT and 39-inch 400CHT will be
displayed at the CEDIA Expo, but active demos will wait for
their CES launch, said product manager Al Baron. Pricing of
the models, both with black extruded-aluminum chassis, is
set at a suggested $999 and $699, respectively.

The 500CHT will be only 1.5 inches thick, thanks to
an outboard module that incorporates the system’s crossovers
and proprietary passive Stereo Dimensional Array
(SDA) technology to widen the sound stage and create
an enveloping virtual surround field. The CHT400 chassis,
with built-in crossovers and SDA technology, will be 2.5
inches thick.

Before the SurroundBars debut early next year, Polk plans
this year to ship all models in its eighth generation of small
two-way satellite speakers.