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Suppliers Moving Into Hard-Drive

LAS VEGAS -Audio suppliers are pushing ahead with plans to develop hard-drive audio servers in 2001.

Linn will display its first hard-drive-based music-storage systems at CES, and Rotel plans to deliver a model “early in the year” but won’t display it at CES, the company said.

Kenwood, too, hinted at some sort of audio server later in the year.

The audio companies will join companies that emerged from the computer industry to offer audio servers.

The proliferation of these devices, suppliers said, reflects the dramatic drops in hard-disk prices and increasing stability in PC technology.

For audio suppliers, however, these developments present challenges. “It takes a different mind-set,” said one audio supplier. Another challenge, he said, is whether audio suppliers will be able to deliver audio margins on a PC-based product.

For its part, Linn has taken on the challenge and launched Knekt Kivor at the CEDIA Expo. The Linux-based system, which can be integrated into distributed-A/V systems, allows for up to 16 different songs to be played simultaneously through up to 128 zones.

An eight-song/eight-zone version retails for about $18,000-$20,000.

Sonicblue plans the Real Jukebox for first-half 2001. The home-based device will let consumers rip CDs to an internal hard drive. The company declined to offer details.

Imerge will unveil a single-zone version of its multizone Soundserver at about $700. It will also link to Gracenote’s CDDB online music-recognition service.

SoundServer will connect to a home A/V system like any other audio component. A USB port allows for a keyboard connection for inputting titles not found in the CDDB database. It ships at the end of February.

For 2001, ReQuest is planning AudioReQuest 2, which will add a CD-RW recorder to the current $800 consumer product, the AudioReQuest Digital Music System. It’s due in the second quarter at a price that wasn’t available.