Polk Keeps Up Pace Of Product Rollouts

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— Polk Audio, which will ship more than 80 new products before the year is out, will continue the momentum early next year when it delivers a stepped-up flagship line of in-room home speakers and two new passive SurroundBar systems.

Those products, to be introduced at January’s International CES, will follow the shipment of a new satellite-speaker series, three active subwoofers with a wireless option, a single-chassis behind-the-couch virtual-surround speaker system, and in-ceiling Vanishing Series three-way speakers, which feature small footprints, narrow bezels, and low-profile micro-perf grilles to significantly reduce visibility.

In 2008, said senior sales and marketing VP Ben Newhall, Polk “made a conscious effort not to cut product development but to put the pedal to the metal” to gain share and “do the things we really wanted to do.” Other factors expected to contribute to increased share include the current rollout of Polk custom speakers, priced at $200-$250/pair, into Best Buy’s main selling floor for the first time.

“Last year was a good year for us, and this year will be better,” Newhall said. “The future is bright for a speaker company that pays attention to many different categories.”

As part of its share-boosting effort, the company is redesigning its near-10-year-old flagship LSi series of inroom speakers from the ground up to step up the series’ performance and price points. The new series, called the LSi M series, is promoted as offering the most advanced speaker technology in the company’s near-40-year history and positioned as an affordable option for serious listeners.

The series, targeted to ship in January, tops out with a four-way floorstanding tower at a tentative $4,000/pair, up from the LSI series’ current top-end $2,500/pair. The series will also include a second four-way floorstanding towers targeted at $3,000/pair, two three-way center-channel speakers, a three-way bookshelf speaker, a three-way bipole surround, and a subwoofer.

For consumers with little room for a multi-speaker surround system, Polk plans a CES introduction of two new passive SurroundBars, both capable of reproducing seven channels of surround sound through a single speaker enclosure. They will replace two current five-channel models and will be thinner.

The new 49-inch 500CHT and 39-inch 400CHT will be displayed at the CEDIA Expo, but active demos will wait for their CES launch, said product manager Al Baron. Pricing of the models, both with black extruded-aluminum chassis, is set at a suggested $999 and $699, respectively.

The 500CHT will be only 1.5 inches thick, thanks to an outboard module that incorporates the system’s crossovers and proprietary passive Stereo Dimensional Array (SDA) technology to widen the sound stage and create an enveloping virtual surround field. The CHT400 chassis, with built-in crossovers and SDA technology, will be 2.5 inches thick.

Before the SurroundBars debut early next year, Polk plans this year to ship all models in its eighth generation of small two-way satellite speakers.


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