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Bose Introduces Music Servers, Audio Networking

In its broadest product launch in at least a decade, Bose unveiled its first home theater systems with hard-disk music storage and its first networked systems.

The company also stepped up its distributed-audio commitment with an expanded assortment of multiroom-capable systems.

During a press briefing here, the company unveiled six new DVD-equipped home theater systems and two distributed-audio amplifiers.

In systems, Bose unveiled its first two home theater systems with hard-disk music storage. The Lifestyle 38 and 48, at an expected everyday $2,999 and $3,999, respectively, ship in late July.

Bose also announced its first six networkable home theater systems. All six systems feature proprietary Bose Link wired-network technology, which enables a Lifestyle 38 or 48 to stream music from its hard drive to Bose Link-equipped systems in remote rooms.

To select hard-drive songs from a remote room, consumers use an optional RF remote, the $149 Personal Music Center II, which displays song and disc-title information sent wirelessly from a Lifestyle 38 or 48 in the main home theater room.

The other four Bose Link systems, which lack hard disks, are new, up-graded versions of existing systems. The new ones are the Series II Lifestyle 18 and 28, due in July at an expected everyday $1,599 and $2,299, respectively, and the Series II versions of the Bose 321 and Bose 321 GS, due in mid- to late summer at an expected everyday $999 and $1,299.

The company also added distributed-audio capabilities to more systems and enhanced their audio-distribution capabilities. Four Bose Link systems — the Lifestyle 48 and 38 and Lifestyle Series II 28 and 18 — build upon limited distributed-audio capabilities that previously appeared in only three systems. The new systems, when used with new custom-installed Bose Link extension amps, simultaneously distribute two sources (or two separate songs from a Lifestyle 38 or 48 hard drive) to up to 14 rooms. Using RF remotes included with the systems, consumers select sources, adjust volume separately for each room or turn off the music on a room-by-room basis. From the optional Personal Music Center II remote, consumers can also view song data stored on the Lifestyle 38 and 48 hard drives.

In contrast, the three current systems with distributed-audio capabilities stream only a single source at a time (CD, radio or a connected audio component). Source and volume level can be selected from the remote, but volume can’t be adjusted separately for each room.

Like before, multiple two-channel extension amps can be mounted in a central location to distribute audio throughout the house.

Here are additional details of each system:

Lifestyle 38 and 48: The top-of-the-line LS48 will hold up to 350 hours of music (about 350 CDs or 3,500 songs), and the LS38 will holds 200 hours of music, in high-bit-rate MP3. Bose declined to specify the bit rate. A single disc can be ripped in five minutes through the CD/DVD drive.

Via an embedded database of 500,000 CD titles, both systems let users select songs by artist, song title, disc title and genre. With the press of a button, however, the systems’ uMusic intelligent playback system will automatically choose and play back songs based on an individual’s preferences. The systems learn the preferences of up to nine separate users based on previous usage, the songs that users skip, and the songs that users mark by pressing a plus or minus button on the supplied remote. The systems combine that information with database information to select other songs based on such factors as genre, tone, artist roots and influences, and other attributes.

Series II 321 and 321GS: Like their Series I predecessors, these systems uses digital signal processing to deliver a 5.1-channel surround field through two satellite speakers and a subwoofer. New features include Bose Link networking, progressive scan output, sleeker design, more power and new universal infrared remote.

Series II Lifestyle 18, 28: Compared to their Series I predecessors, the new models add Bose Link, progressive scan and other features.

The LS18 II will also be available in a $1,508 version at Sam’s Club, but this version will lack an included multiroom RF remote available with it in other channels.