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Components Offer Some Audio Action

Dealers looking for some audio-component action will find new speakers and electronics from the following companies:

Atlantic Technology: The IWCB-727 closed-box in-wall speaker is the first speaker of any type to get THX Select2 certification, which is more stringent than the previous THX Select performance standard. The speaker retails for $1,125 each, plus $75 for a separate grille/frame assembly.

Although still intended for use in 2,000-cubic-foot rooms with a 10-foot viewing distance from the video display, the upgraded certification delivers cleaner sound, particularly at higher levels, said THX, which said it doesn’t expect Select2 speakers to be unveiled by other companies at International CES.

The 727 features a 2.5-way driver array with two 6.5-inch carbon-fiber woofers and 1-inch low-resonance tweeter that extends down farther into the midrange frequencies to deliver smoother and wider dispersion, the company said.

The speaker is the company’s first with Directional Vector Control that “electronically” pivots the tweeter up and down, then mechanically pivots it to direct sound to the seating position. The technology eliminates the acoustical problems that occur in speakers with mechanically pivoting tweeters, the company said.

Anthem: The company is demonstrating an updated version of its Statement D2 A/V preamp processor, which adds room-correction software. The model’s new price is $7,499 with software embedded.

The D2 sends test signals to each connected speaker. The signals are picked up by a microphone placed in various listening positions to detect the impact of a room’s acoustic characteristics on frequency response, and the software then adjusts each speaker’s output to compensate.

The ARC-1 room-correction software can also be downloaded by consumers via PC for a one-time $399 fee for installation in a D2 or D1 preamp/processor that they already own. The price includes a microphone that is locked and calibrated to a specific D2 or D1 based on the serial number.

The D2 features HDMI inputs, video transcoding to HDMI, 1080p upscaling, zone-two component-video output and aspect-ratio conversion.

Jamo: The Klipsch Group brand plans February availability of an expanded selection of shallow-depth speakers designed for use with flat-panel TVs, plus its second cabinet-less floorstanding dipolar speaker.

The flat-panel-friendly a400 series consists of five black speakers, including a floorstanding model, shelf- and wall-mount models, a horizontal center channel and a subwoofer. They’ll be available in February in a variety of 5.1-channel packages at $799, $999 and $1,199 and in other packages.

The cabinet-less R907 floorstander at a suggested $8,999/pair joins a $15,000 version launched in 2006. They’re eliminating the cabinet to eliminate the deleterious effects of cabinet enclosures on speaker response, the company said. Naked baskets hang out the back.

Lexicon: The Harman brand’s second A/V receiver, the $3,999-suggested RV-5, is Lexicon’s first product with a USB port to play back music from a connected PC and first with connection to an optional iPod dock, enabling users to use the RV-5’s remote or front-plane controls to control the iPod. It’s also Lexicon’s first product with Faroudja video processing, including the ability to upconvert video inputs to HDMI and up-scale video to 1080i.

The 7.1-channel two-zone receiver, which replaces a $7,000 model, features automatic speaker setup and equalization, zone-assignable amplifier (five home theater channels plus second-zone stereo) and universal preprogrammed/learning remote with RF option. It is available with HDMI 1.1 connections and 7.1-channel analog inputs for connection to HD DVD and Blu-ray players with analog outputs.

McIntosh: The new 2×200-watt MA6600 integrated amp and a planned AP-1000 surround processor are the first devices to accept the brand’s first HD Radio tuner module, the TM2, due in February or March at an unannounced price.

The 6600 is due February at a price expected to be more than $5,000. The $11,000 AP-1000, due in the first quarter, will feature digital room-acoustic correction that will also “electronically” place speakers in their optimum locations when the room doesn’t allow for ideal physical placement, the company said.

CES will also be the launching pad for the company’s first-ever vinyl turntable and the company’s first mono vacuum-tube amp in 50 years. It’s rated at 300 watts. Pricing was unavailable.

The $9,000 moving-coil turntable, packaged with tonearm and cartridge, is designed to meet the “worldwide resurgence in vinyl demand,” said sales and marketing director Steve Mulnick. It comes with stylus optimized for the grooves of records in both the 33 1/3 rpm and 78 rpm formats, making it unnecessary to change cartridges when changing between 78s and 33s, he said.

Also new:

  • the $7,000-suggested MA7000, the most powerful integrated amp in the company’s history at 2×250 watts.

Pass Laboratories: The $6,500-suggested INT-150 is the company’s first integrated stereo amp, rated at 2×150-watt into 8 ohms and 2×300 watts into 4 ohms. It joins amps and speakers in the company’s line.

Sherwood: Three receivers will be the company’s first to accept optional Bluetooth modules that plug into the front panels to stream music from Bluetooth-equipped cellphones and MP3 players. The module is expected to retail for a suggested $80.

One of the Bluetooth-capable models, the Newcastle series RX-773 at a suggested $449, is an XM-ready dual-zone stereo receiver with four amplifier channels. It ships with IR outputs and RF remote, enabling control of the receiver and connected audio sources from another room. It’s capable of driving two pairs of speakers per each zone. It’s the first dual-zone stereo receiver in the Newcastle series, joining a Sherwood series model that lacks RF remote.

Another Bluetooth-capable receiver is the $199-suggested Sherwood-series RX-4503, a 2×100-watt stereo model that uses Dolby Virtual Speaker and Dolby Headphone to deliver a surround-sound experience from HD DVD and Blu-ray players connected via six-channel analog inputs. It’s Sherwood’s first two-channel receiver with the virtual-surround technologies.

The third Bluetooth-capable receiver is the $249 5.1-channel Sherwood-series RD-6513, rated at 5×100 watts with 2×1 HDMI switching and SNAP automatic room equalization. SNAP was previously available only in the step-up Newcastle series in units priced at more than $1,000.

A pair of delayed top-end AV receivers will also be shown, both with HDMI 1.3 inputs, 1080p up-scaling, and internal decoding of all surround formats authorized for use on Blu-ray and HD DVD discs. The R-872 at $999 will be delivered in quantity in February. The R-972 flagship, now due in March, will go up in price to a suggested $1,799 from the previously planned $1,499 because of a resdesign that includes an upgraded video processor, Silicon Optix’s Reon, and a more advanced room-correction system, the Trinnov Optimizer system.

Sunfire: The Sirius-ready A/V receiver, the $3,999-suggested TGR-401, is due in March. The 7×150-watt receiver is the first device outside of the Elan custom-install brand to connect directly to Elan’s Film Interactive Technology (FIT) in-wall touchpads to create a two-zone custom multiroom audio system. The receiver is also the first non-Elan-branded product to connect to Elan’s iPod dock. Sunfire is a division of Elan.

Elan touchpads feature replaceable photo-quality films with touch-sensitive hot spots to control home systems. They’re said to combine keypad simplicity with an LCD touchscreen’s speed at a cost lower than a touchscreen.

The receiver incorporates HDMI 1.3a switching and 7.1-channel analog inputs.