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Boston Acoustics Steps Up Diversification Efforts

Boston Acoustics is diversifying its portfolio with the planned launch of A/V components, a distributed-audio system based on an automotive data bus standard, a one-piece CD microsystem, two home theater speaker/electronics packages, and an HD Radio version of its Recepter table radio.

Many of the products, said president Moses Gabbay, “allow us to sell more speakers.”

Some of the products were displayed at the CEDIA Expo, including the AVR7120 7×120-watt A/V receiver. It’s due in December at a targeted suggested retail of $2,700 and will be “part of a family of [electronic] products,” said national sales manager David Kroll. The family will include a lower priced A/V receiver, a preamp processor based on the AVR7120 and a 7×200-watt digital amp, all probably available in the first quarter, said product manager Jeff Myatt. At least three multichannel amplifiers will be available in the first half, Kroll added.

A/V receiver features include powered second-zone, RS-232 port, discrete on/off commands, 12-volt triggers, an autocalibration mode that includes automatic room equalization, and UniView video-format conversion to simplify video-cable hookups to a TV.

In distributed-audio electronics, the company hosted an off-site technology demonstration of a system based on the automotive MOST (Media Oriented Systems Transport) standard. A data bus using CAT-5 or plastic optical fiber would connect in-wall controllers with LCD screen and jog dial to a digital MRA 875 8×75-watt distributed-audio amp with built-in source switching and to MOST-equipped audio sources, which could be located anywhere in the house as long as they’re connected to the data bus. Each source wouldn’t have to be home-run individually to the amplifier, and the network could handle a “virtually unlimited number of sources,” Kroll said.

The amp would distribute the sources’ audio via speaker-level analog cable to rooms throughout the house, but next-generation MOST systems could distribute audio in the digital domain over the MOST data bus to active DSP speakers, which could be in-wall speakers or enclosed bookshelf or floor-standing models, he said. The first MOST products will ship in the first half of 2005 but won’t include active DSP speakers, Kroll said.

At the off-site location, Boston Acoustics demonstrated an existing enclosed tower speaker, the VRM90, modified to include MOST, digital crossovers and digital amplification.

Although the company “dabbled” in distributed-audio products other than custom speakers in years past, Kroll said, the new products mark “the first time that we devoted a lot of engineering resources [into distributed audio] beyond speakers.” A “significant portion” of the electronics was designed in-house, he noted.

The CD table radio, called the MicroSystem CD, is a 4.5-inch by 14-inch by 8.5-inch radio/CD player due in the fall at a projected suggested $499. A subwoofer option would cost a suggested $240. The MicroSystem is built around the Recepter table radio’s tuner and adds a slot-load CD player that plays MP3 and WMA discs. Digital signal processing analyzes music content in real time to improve performance.

Top-mounted controls are backed up by a remote that can be stored behind the unit’s flip-down front door or, thanks to a magnetic backside, placed on a refrigerator door. Other features include front-panel input jack, two back-panel inputs, two independent alarms and a front-panel headphone jack.

The Recepter Radio HD is due in the first half at an unannounced price. It’s the first announced HD table radio. The analog Recepter retails for $159.

In home theater electronics/speaker packages, the company recently began shipping the Avidea 770, shown at last year’s CEDIA Expo and retailing for a suggested $3,990. It features progressive-scan DVD, AM/FM tuner, Dolby Digital and DTS decoding, six compact speakers, powered subwoofer, RF-equipped LCD touch screen remote control and UniView video conversion, which converts any video input to 480i component output for simplified connection to a TV.

The second system in the company’s line is the Avidea 610, due in October at a suggested $1,199. It consists of a DVD-receiver and a speaker package that’s also available separately. The speakers comprise four Micro110x satellites, a Micro110c center channel and a PV700 powered subwoofer. It comes with IR universal remote control.

In other new product, the company introduced:

  • a $399-suggested two-source in-wall local amp, small enough to be flush-mounted behind a plasma screen to amplify the plasma TV’s sound through the in-wall and in-ceiling speakers of a distributed-audio system. It’s outfitted with filters, enabling one to be used for satellites and a second to be used for a subwoofer.
  • the VRi series VRi555 in-ceiling speaker and two DSi series in-ceiling speakers, the DSi455 and Stereo DSi455T2. All three speakers share a design enabling a 6-inch woofer to fit in a cutout usually provided for a 5.25-inch woofer.
    The 555 features pivoting tweeter cup and boundary-compensation switch. The DSi455T2 features dual tweeters and single woofer to deliver stereo sound from one speaker.
    The VRi555, DSi455 and DSi455T2 are available at suggested retails of $250, $150 and $200 each, respectively.
  • four new two-way CR box speakers at a suggested $180 to $350. They’re designed to deliver wide dispersion and deep bass in a compact package.

Enhancements include newly designed woofers to deliver better bass, updated styling, a new metal grille with rotating logo, compatibility with an optional flexible mounting bracket and keyhole mounts on the back panel. The center channel can be wall-mounted horizontally or vertically.