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Soundfreaq Steps Up Docking Speaker Line

Los Angeles –
Startup Soundfreaq is expanding its selection of tabletop docking speaker
systems to four with the launch of its highest end product to date at a
suggested $399, and it plans more line expansion in the coming months.

The line expansion
will include the company’s first AirPlay-equipped speaker system in the first
half of next year.

All Soundfreaq
systems are positioned as universal systems because they connect to almost any
portable music source. All feature iPod/iPhone docking, 3.5mm aux in, and stereo
Bluetooth streaming from smartphones, PCs and Macs. All but the lowest-priced
model also feature a USB charging port to charge non-iPhone smartphones
equipped with stereo Bluetooth.

In addition, all
but the lowest-price model feature iPad docking and charging via a front-mounted
pin connector.

The company also
positions its systems as offering better sound quality and more features than systems
priced the same or more because of low overhead and internal efficiency
compared to larger competitors, said co-founder Matthew Paprocki.

As a result, the
company’s new $399 system sounds far better than a well-known $600 system and
offers more features, he claimed.

The new $399 Sound
Stack SFQ-03 joins the $179-suggested Sound Platform SFQ-01, launched late last
year; the $139-suggested Sound Step SFQ-02, launched in the spring; and the
$159-suggested Sound Step Recharge SFQ-02RB, an AC/DC version of the SFQ-02
that also launched in the spring.

All feature FM

The $399 Sound
Stack steps up output and performance and adds an optical line input. The
biamplified system features 80-watt output, two 3-inch full-range speakers, two
ported 3-inch active subwoofers in push-pull configuration, and DSP to widen
the sound stage.

Like the other
models, the Sound Stack features Bluetooth’s AVRC profile, enabling remote
control of basic system features from a hand-held Apple, Android or BlackBerry
device. The basic features are play, pause and skip. With a Soundfreaq app for
Apple and Android devices, an Apple or Android device will use Bluetooth AVRC
to turn on/off the Sound Stack, control the Sound Stack’s volume level, access
the systems’ internal FM radio, and turn on/off the UQ3 spatial-enhancement

Because Soundfreaq
products are universal, Paprocki said, retailers and consumer benefit.
Retailers benefit by having fewer SKUs, and consumers benefit because “we leave
the consumers only with the question of where they want to use it and how much
output they want.”

Universal products
are ideal for families whose members use a mix of Android, Apple and BlackBerry
smartphones, said marketing director Amanda Coplan. And it lets users buy a
docking speaker without precluding a switch to a different smartphone OS in the
future, said Paprocki.

Even some Apple
users prefer to use the systems’ stereo Bluetooth function because they want to
keep their iPhonein hand while around the house, he added.

Some companies
offer Bluetooth-only speakers, and at least one competitor offers a system with
Bluetooth and iPod/iPhone dock but no iPad docking, Paprocki said. Another
company offers a Bluetooth speaker with no USB charging port. And one
competitor is offering Bluetooth and USB charging in models targeted to Android
owners, who can use an Android app to automatically pair the phone with the
speaker when docked.

price/performance ratio is another differentiating feature at Soundfreaq,
thanks to the company’s small size, Paprocki claimed.

“Our internal
pricing model is very aggressive,” yet the company’s docks carry margins of
around 40 points, in line with other docking speakers, he noted.

The small size of
the company, which employs a couple dozen people, also enables Soundfreaq to reduce
time to market, he said.

In launching the
$399 model, Soundfreaq acknowledged that many suppliers have abandoned the $129
to $300 midtier price range because of low demand, but Soundfreaq is bringing
out products in this range because, as a smaller company, “we can support
smaller quantities and give the market time to move toward us,” Paprocki said.

The company’s
retailers include Target, Crutchfield, BJs and smaller retailers.

In the first half
of next year, the company will add AirPlay for the first time to a docking
speaker, delivering multiroom distribution of PC-stored music to multiple
docking speakers simultaneously throughout the house.

“With enhancements
to AirPlay that include allowing us to offer our customers network setup
through an app, we’re excited about offering Soundfreaq products with AirPlay
in the first half of 2012,” Paprocki said.