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Sony Audio Line Taps Into New Music Sources

Sony’s audio components and systems will make more connections this year with more and newer music sources that pose serious ear-time competition for legacy sources such as CDs and AM/FM radio.

The new sources include iPods, Net Walkman MP3 players, Bluetooth-equipped cellphones, networked PCs and satellite radio.

In three of four new A/V receivers and five new home theater systems, Sony has incorporated a proprietary Digital Media Port for the first time to connect to the company’s first iPod-docking cradles and the first cradles designed to dock with Sony’s Net Walkman headphone MP3 players. The port also connects to the company’s first stereo-Bluetooth audio adapter, which streams music from Bluetooth-equipped cellphones and MP3 players, and to the company’s first Wi-Fi adapter, which is a DLNA-certified device that streams music from a networked PC.

Three new stereo micro-component systems and a boombox are the company’s first systems and boombox to incorporate Bluetooth, enabling them to reproduce music streamed wirelessly from a nearby cellphone or MP3 player. The new products do not, however, stream music to Bluetooth headphones.

Like last year, many Sony component receivers and audio systems are XM-ready, enabling command and control of outboard XM Satellite Radio tuner/antenna combinations.

In other developments at the company’s line show here, Sony:

  • Expanded the BRAVIA sub-brand from large-screen LCD TVs to new categories including three new HTiBs. (See p. 1.) The Dream System sub brand in HTiBs continues, a spokesman said.
  • Added Neural Surround processing for the first time to mainstream-series home audio products: an XM-ready HTiB at an expected everyday $500 and a $500 A/V receiver. Neural was already available in a top-line ES-series A/V receiver.

The Bluetooth-equipped microcomponent systems will be priced at an expected $150 to $300 when they’re available in April. The Bluetooth boombox is $200.

The five home theater in a box (HTiB) systems with Digital Media Port include three integrated BRAVIA HTIBs due in March and April at $300 to $500. The three A/V receivers with Digital Media Port are priced at $300 to $500 and are due in March and April.

The Digital Media Port accessories are the $80 Bluetooth audio adapter, due in March; $50 Network Walkman cradle, also due in March; $100 iPod cradle, due in May; and wireless network audio adapter at $200, due in June.

The iPod cradle enables a docked iPod to be controlled from the remote supplied with the receiver or audio system. The iPod menu appears on a connected TV screen. The Network Walkman cradle lacks the onscreen capability.

In other developments, Sony confirmed that its new A/V receivers do not incorporate onboard decoding for all mandatory and optional Blu-ray Disc surround-sound formats.