For two-channel aficionados, systems suppliers will concentrate more than ever on microsystems and wall-hanging systems to build share, and component suppliers plan to show everything from CD changers to vacuum-tube preamps. Here's what dealers will find:
Aiwa: In exiting the home theater shelf-system market, the company said it will increase its sound-quality focus by incorporating Dynamic Integrated Neo Amplifier (DINA) technology in all new systems to deliver greater dynamic range, lower distortion, and a wider soundstage.
They include six minisystems, all with dual cassette, three-disc changer, chiseled look, and silver finish with chrome accents. Many come with dual tweeters, and the top-end system adds biampflication, triple-woofer speakers, and 360 watts.
Eight new microsystems feature wood cabinets, most with wood-tone finish. The $199-everyday XR-EC10 features a three-disc elevator changer.
Audiovox: To its selection of two wall-hanging audio systems, the company will add a smaller model, the $115-suggested CE505SLK with AM/FM/cassette and single CD. A swivel base is included.
Denon: The company is expanding its selection of compact two-channel systems to five from three with the $299-suggested D-A03 and the $699-suggested D-107. The latter is Denon's first with wall-mountable chassis, flat wall-hanging speakers, and MP3-CD playback.
McIntosh: The company will reenter the two-channel tube preamp market and five-disc CD-changer market. Both products ship in Q2. Prices weren't available. The C2200 preamp features assignable source inputs and programmable triggers. The MCD205 changer uses a direct-load elevator-style changer mechanism, 24-bit DACs, and RS232 port.
Panasonic: Between its CES and spring introductions, the company will expand its microsystem selection, including its selection of executive-style microsystems, by an undisclosed amount. Only three microsystems were in the '01 lineup.
At CES, Panasonic will show the SC-PM12, a replacement microsystem with five-disc elevator changer and 90 watts in black chassis. It ships at the end of March at a suggested minimum $169. Additional five-disc microsystems will be unveiled in the spring.
Four new minisystems on display, all with five-disc changer and dual cassette, include the company's first with MP3-CD playback. It's the SC-AK5000, due at the end of March at a suggested minimum of $199 with three-way biamplified speakers and 300 watts. The others are priced from $169 to $129, the latter a new price point for Panasonic minis.
The company will pare back its home-theater shelf-system selection from three to two with its spring introductions, which won't be displayed at CES. The company will continue to offer one home theater shelf system with DVD-Video.
A DVD-AV shelf system shown last year didn't ship because of "internal issues," and there are no plans for one in '02.
Philips: The company will pare its minisystem selection to nine from 14, expand its microsystem selection to 10 from four, and drop out of the home theater shelf-system market.
The minisystems, due by May, are priced at everyday retails of $99 to $499, all due by May. Philips will bump up output and add more aggressive styling, including orange, blue and yellow accents on silver and gray models to appeal to the youth market. One, and possibly two, minis will come with four speakers to deliver second-zone (but single-source) capability or four-speaker sound in large rooms. The first model will be the $399-everyday FWC798 with four three-way speakers, a separate amplifier for each speaker pair, and a separate volume control and on/off capability for each pair.
In micros, the company will launch 10 models, five of which will be focus on "out-of-the box" design priced from $149 to $499, said systems marketing director Art Hayes. Five function-oriented micros will be priced from $99-$499.