Flat-Panel, Wireless Speakers In Philips' Sights, Sound Cards Ship

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Philips is planning to ship flat-panel and wireless multimedia speaker systems into the U.S. market next year and has just started shipping two new PC sound cards that feature the company's Sound Stage 2 technology.

Full product details are not available, but Scott McNeese, manager of the digital audio lab for Philips Sound Solutions, said the company plans to roll out a system based on the NXT flat-panel platform. Philips Sound Solutions, a division of Philips Electronics, introduced similar speakers in the European market earlier this year, but the upcoming models will incorporate several new features. These include a thicker flat-panel material (the part that vibrates to make sound) and a new magnet that will deliver 5db to 8db more sound.

McNeese said flat-panel speakers will find their place in the market when consumers look to use unobtrusive speakers to place audio in rooms not normally wired for audio.

The wireless speaker plans are centered on two concepts. One is an add-on module that can make any speaker operate wirelessly and the other has speakers with built in wireless technology. McNeese said the first use of these most likely will be as rear speakers in a home theater, negating the need to run wires from the A/V system.

Pricing and shipping information were not available.

In the past month Philips introduced a pair of PC sound cards incorporating its newly developed Sound Stage 2 digital sound processing technology. Sound Stage 2 automatically sets the sound card to create the proper sound field for a given environment based on input from the user. The card looks at a room's acoustics, the music format, whether the audio is from music, gaming or a movie or if the consumer is using headphones.

McNeese said Sound Agent 2 uses software called Intelligent Media Processing to interpret these variables and then assign the proper algorithm to derive the correct sound. Sound Stage 2 also features QMSS, a program that adds data stripped from music when it is compressed, McNeese said, to give the music its original rich sound.

The cards, now available as retail aftermarket products, are the Sound Edge 5.1 and Dynamic Edge 4.1 with suggested retails of $45.

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