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Suppliers Throw Soundbar Soiree

LAS VEGAS – New soundbars on display at International CES range from basic 2.1-channel models to models with Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding and virtual-surround post-processing technology.

The surge in soundbar sales has prompted at least three companies – LG, Philips and Toshiba – to expand their selections. Philips could be the first to show soundbars with detachable Bluetooth surround speakers, which can be placed to the left and right of a home theater room’s mains eating location.

For its part, Vizio could be the first to show a soundbar system consisting of a threechannel bar complemented by a wireless subwoofer that drives two connected surround speakers at the back of the room.

Here’s a look at what select suppliers are introducing:

Coby said stereo Bluetooth is a feature in two new 2.1-channel soundbars. Both feature slim design and come with multiple connectivity options, including optical audio input, RCA input and aux input. They also feature four preset sound modes and LED indicators.

The two new models include the $79-suggested CSMP91, which is designed for 32- to 37-inch TVs and features built-in subwoofer. The $99-suggested CSMP92 is a 39-inch model with built-in subwoofer.

iLive is launching two wall-mountable 2.0 models priced at less than $60 and less than $70. Both feature optical audio input, audio line in, RCA audio ins and remote. The opening price IT153B is a 32-inch model, and the step-up IT233B is a 37-inch model.

Naxa’s NHS3700 37-inch soundbar at a suggested $129 features powered subwoofer, FM tuner with 20 memory presets, detachable stand, remote control, USB input, MicroSD card slot, auxiliary input, stereo Bluetooth and high-gloss finish.

Paradigm is showing its first active soundbar in the Shift series is the $799 2.1-channel Soundtrack System, which is shipping.

Soundtrack features digital optical and analog stereo inputs to connect to the audio outputs of Blu-ray players, game consoles and settop boxes. It also features wireless subwoofer with wired option, IR learning capability to enable control from a TV’s remote, and a design said to deliver “an extraordinarily wide soundstage with superb stereo separation.”

The 5-inch by 36-inch by 2.25-inch glossblack bar incorporates two 4.5-inch active bass/midrange drivers using mineral-filled polypropylene for low mass and high stiffness, two 4.5-inch passive radiators of the same material, and two pure-aluminum-dome tweeters in physically separated left and right chambers to boost clarity and channel separation. Power output is 2×25 watts. The sub is a dual-ported model with 8-inch driver and 100-watt Class D amplifier and DSP. It fits in a standard A/V cabinet.

The Shift series was launched in 2011 to expand Paradigm’s demographic beyond traditional purchasers of inroom and custom-installed speakers. Products include headphones, powered desktop speakers, and a soundbar.

PBX Home Audio under the PowerBass USA brand is expanding its home audio offerings with a 39-inch universal- mount home-theater soundbar at a suggested $200. It ships in early January.

It can be wall-mounted or set on top of a table or counter. It features Class D amplifier and six speakers, in a black ported enclosure.

Included is a full-function ergonomic wireless remote that controls all soundbar functions in addition to the volume of an optional powered subwoofer. The soundbar features two analog and two digital inputs.

Toshiba is expanding its audio solutions for TVs. Two new models include a new soundbar and the company’s first Home Theater Sound Base.

The latter, called SBX2950 Home Theater Sound Base, serves as a TV pedestal and incorporates 2×75-watt amplification, wireless 150-watt subwoofer, SRS Surround processing, stereo Bluetooth, USB audio, preset EQ settings, two HDMI inputs, one HDMI output, RCA audio inputs and an aux audio input.

The soundbar, called the SBX3965 Home Theater Sound Strip, also features 2×75-watt amplification, 150-watt wireless subwoofer, SRS Surround, Preset EQ levels, stereo Bluetooth, USB audio, two HDMI inputs, one HDMI output, RCA audio inputs and analog aux audio input.

Vizio is launching the $299-suggested 42-inch SB4251E-C, which delivers Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround via a front three-channel soundbar and, for the back of a room, a wireless 50-120Hz subwoofer that drives two surround speakers wired to it.

The table- and wall-mountable bar, which is designed to match the width of 46- and 47-inch TVs, is the first of planned new soundbars that will be larger than the company’s current 40-inch soundbars, said senior product marketing manager Matt DeHamer. Bars coming later in the year will range up to 54 inches in width.

The soundbar is also the company’s first with stereo Bluetooth to stream music wirelessly from mobile devices. All future soundbars will also incorporate the feature, he said.

The system delivers 102dB SPL at 1 meter with less than 1 percent THD, and it leaves video switching to the TV. Four audio inputs include digital coaxial input, digital optical input, analog RCA input, and 3.5mm aux in.

The bar also features DTS Studio Sound, which incorporates SRS TruSurround and TruVolume. The former delivers virtual 5.1 surround from a singlechassis soundbar, and TruVolume eliminates differences in volume levels between commercials and TV programs, between different audio sources, and between TV channels.

The new bar is the company’s first bar whose remote features an LCD display to help users select features to control, including selection of Dolby or DTS 5.1 decoding, Bluetooth pairing, audio-input selection, and the like.

The new bar and others coming in 2013 will match the cosmetics of Vizio’s latest TVs, he added.

The SB4251E-C will join four other 2.0- and 2.1-channel soundbars launched in the fall at a suggested $99 to $229.