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Kenwood Bows Audio Server, Megachanger

LAS VEGAS -Kenwood will become one of the first mainstream home audio companies to deliver a hard-drive-based audio server, and it was the first to announce plans for a DVD-Audio/Video megachanger that will store and organize 400 discs.

In an unusual twist, Kenwood will link the devices by a serial port to deliver a single onscreen display to manage the content of both devices.

At CES, Kenwood privately demonstrated the DAS-1 server, due in July or August in the company’s new step-up Sovereign series at an unspecified price.

The device incorporates a CD ripper, an MP3 encoder, a CD-R/RW recorder to create MP3 CDs, and Kerbango Tuning Service technology. That technology streams audio content directly from the Web via an internal dial-up modem or from a serial-port-connected broadband modem.

Escient-owned OpenGlobe is providing the content-management software and technology to download CD and DVD information, and cover art from the Escient-owned Gracenote online database. The server downloads data for CDs copied to the hard drive, as well as for CDs and DVDs residing in the connected megachanger.

The Sovereign-series megachanger, which was not demonstrated, will ship in July or August at an undetermined price.

Kenwood also plans to incorporate HomePNA 2.0 phone-line networking technology in the server to stream audio content from the device to multiple rooms in the house.

MP3 CDs created on the DAS-1 will be playable on a pair of in-dash CD-receivers introduced in Las Vegas. The company said it is considering the addition of other compressed formats to store music on the hard drive, for which storage capacity hasn’t been finalized.