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Harman Adds Wireless Multiroom Audio System, 1st Under-TV Speaker

Berlin — Harman traveled to IFA to expand its wireless multiroom-audio selection, launch its first under-TV speaker, and unveil a host of other audio products due in the U.S. in the fall.

The other products include Infinity’s first Bluetooth speaker, new JBL and Harman Kardon Bluetooth speakers, a new Harman Kardon Bluetooth headphone and a JBL sound bar.

Three wireless multizone-audio products, part of the Harman Kardon Wireless HD Audio System, include the $199-suggested OMNI 10 and $299 OMNI 20 single-chassis tabletop stereo speakers. Also planned is the $129 Harman Kardon Adapt, which streams music into an existing stereo system.

All of the products incorporate Wi-Fi with Blackfire Research wireless media technology for multiroom streaming, but they also feature Bluetooth for one-to-one streaming from a mobile device.

Two speakers can be combined in one room to deliver the left and right channels separately, and five can be used in a room to create a multi-channel surround-sound system. The Omni 10 and Omni 20 also support 24-bit/96kHz audio.

Like Harman Kardon’s Aura wireless speaker launched early this year at $399, the Wireless HD Audio System features an app that directs music from DLNA-connected PCs and NAS drives to speakers. Different PC/NAS-stored songs can be played back simultaneously by different speakers, a spokesman said.

Music also can be streamed via Wi-Fi from mobile devices to multiple speakers, and a mobile device can stream more than one song at a time to different speakers.

A mobile device’s music-service apps can also be streamed via WiFi to speakers throughout the house.

Key features include One Touch Follow Me Audio, which lets users walk from one room to another and have their songs follow them at the touch of a button, Harman said. When multiple songs are playing simultaneously, Link Button Speaker Control lets a user launch a party mode so that every speaker plays the same song.

The system will be Harman’s first product that can be enhanced by applications created by developers in the company’s new Harman Developer Community. Beginning in the fall, members will get access to the software tools, resources and support to build, test and launch applications, the company said.

Harman’s first under-TV speaker is the $349-suggested JBL CinemaBase with Dolby Digital decoding and Harman Display Surround sound packed in a chassis that fits under most TVs with up to 60-inch screen sizes. Cinema Base connects with a single cable HDMI, optical or analog connection to a TV and streams music via Bluetooth. It features 240-watt output, two 65mm left- and right-channel speakers, and two integrated 90mm subwoofers.

The three new Bluetooth speakers include the $299 Infinity One portable speaker, which is shaped like a horizontal cylinder packed with four 1.75-inch drivers, 25 watts of power, and dual tuned passive radiators to deliver 70Hz to 20kHz frequency response. Its compact, ceramic-coated aluminum chassis features backlit controls. It charges mobile devices via USB.

A second Bluetooth speaker is the portable $149 JBL Charge 2, also shaped like a horizontal cylinder and packing two active drivers and two passive radiators to deliver 75Hz to 20kHz frequency response. A 6,000 mAh lithium-ion polymer battery plays for 12 hours and charges mobile devices via USB. Charge 2’s Social Mode lets up to three people take turns streaming music from a mobile device.

The third Bluetooth speaker is the portable $149 Harman Kardon Esquire Mini with brushed-aluminum finish and real-leather back. The rechargeable battery delivers eight-hour playback.

The headphones are the $249 Harman Kardon Soho Wireless on-ear headphones with Bluetooth, ear-cup-mounted touch-sensitive controls, NFC, and AptX and AAC decoding. Frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz.

The new soundbar is the $399 JBL Cinema SB350 with Dolby Digital decoding, Harman Display Surround sound, wall- and table-mount options, wireless subwoofer with independent volume control, and single-cable connection to a TV via HDMI, optical or analog connection. It also features stereo Bluetooth streaming.

The bar devotes 160 watts to the left- and right-channel speakers, and another 160 watts is reserved for the subwoofer.