New York — Nortek subsidiary Core Brands is expanding its fledgling wireless multiroom-audio selection with the addition of its first mobile speaker, which is also the brand’s first speaker to offer Bluetooth in conjunction with the line’s 2.4GHz SKAA wireless-multiroom technology.
The $199-suggested M20, whose rechargeable battery operates for 17 hours, also incorporates a major improvement over two currently available Korus speakers, extending range to 85 feet indoors from 65 feet and to 175 feet outdoors.
The two-channel M20 will ship in September to join the AC-powered $349 V400 tabletop speaker and $449 V600 tabletop speaker, which also operates on six D batteries for portability. They shipped last October and November.
The tabletop-speaker prices include accessories and three batons, or dongles, that plug into the multi-pin ports of Apple mobile devices and the USB ports of computers and Windows tablets.
The M20 will be packaged with a USB baton, but purchasers will be able to buy 30-pin and eight-pin batons for Apple’s mobile devices as separate purchases. Baton prices are normally $49 when purchased separately.
Core Brands, based in Petaluma, Calif., also plans to offer the first Korus MicroUSB baton for those Android devices that support native USB audio, but pricing and availability were not disclosed.
With a Korus multiroom-audio system, consumers can stream music wirelessly throughout the house from a single baton-equipped mobile device or from a single baton-equipped computer to up to four Korus speakers at a time. Each baton streams one song at a time. Multiple batons can be used simultaneously with difference music sources to stream different sources simultaneously.
Streamed music can include locally stored music downloads as well as cloud-based music services. From mobile devices, consumers would use their existing music-library and streaming apps to select songs.
From mobile devices equipped with a free Korus app, users can control the volume of individual speakers but not turn them on and off.
Other key features of the 1.2-pound M20 include IP54 water and dust resistance, rubber and fabric exterior, Bluetooth v2.1, built-in microphone for hands-free Bluetooth use, included USB charger, and frequency response of 100Hz to 20kHz. Power output was not disclosed.
The speaker is optimized to deliver stereo when placed vertically, with two full-range drivers and a passive radiator firing from each of two opposing sides.
The brand doesn’t plan Bluetooth-only speakers, but it is considering a SKAA receiver that would connect to existing sound systems to enable them to stream music from baton-equipped mobile devices and computers, said Brett Faulk, executive director of strategic products for Core Brands.
The M20’s SKAA wireless technology, developed by Eleven Engineering, offers superior fidelity that similarly priced Bluetooth-only speakers, thanks to higher wireless data rates that deliver uncompressed audio over wireless, said Faulk. The M20 also adds wireless-multiroom capability not available in Bluetooth-only speakers, he noted.
SKAA latency of only 40ms compared with Bluetooth’s 120ms enables synchronization of audio with video playing back on a tablet or smartphone, he added.
The technology also offers advantages over Wi-Fi-based multiroom-audio systems in that users can bring their speakers to secondary residences and other locations that lack Wi-Fi networks, Faulk said. In addition, other companies’ Wi-Fi multiroom systems require the use of mobile apps that limit users to the streaming services incorporated in the apps, he said. With the Korus system, consumers can stream music from any streaming app residing on their mobile device.