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TDK Will Re-Enter U.S. Audio Market


TDK, known originally for
blank media and then audio, will re-enter the U.S.
audio market next year with a new audio
line debuting at International
CES in January.

There the TDK brand will
launch premium home and
portable audio products that
include AC/DC boomboxes
priced up to $499, belt-drive
turntables up to $399 and a

The TDK brand has been out
of the U.S. home and portable
audio market since around the
mid 2000s, when the brand
was marketed by TDK Corp.
In 2007, Imation purchased
TDK’s blank-media business
as part of a corporate strategy
to acquire storage brands
and leverage their products
and names to generate faster growth. A year earlier,
Imation purchased Maxell.

Imation already markets TDK audio gear outside the
U.S., and earlier this year, the company introduced
U.S. consumers to two headphones under the TDK
Life on Record brand.

Now, seven new audio products, also marketed under
the TDK Life on Record brand, will leverage
TDK’s high brand awareness
in the U.S. and the brand’s stillstrong
association with high-quality
audio, thanks to its years in the
blank-media market, said Steven
Swenson, global brand manager
for TDK Life on Record.

All will be available through select
online retailers in January, followed
by brick-and-mortar distribution
in the spring. The company is
targeting CE chains as well as A/V
specialists for its brick-and-mortar

All feature premium finishes and deliver
premium hi-fi-quality sound. The products
include a $499 three-speaker “boombox audio system”
with active subwoofer, two coaxial speakers and
2×10-watt plus 1×15-watt amplification. The smaller
two-speaker boombox audio system at $399 lacks

Both are AC/DC models with AM/FM tuner and  connectivity to multiple audio sources. The models’ USB
Host port streams music from the digital PCM outputs of
a cable-connected iPod/iPhone, which rests face-up on
an inset on top and recharges while connected. The USB
port also plays MP3- and WMA-encoded music streamed
from USB drives and hard drives, allowing for song selection
by artist, title, album or genre. Other audio inputs
include stereo RCA inputs, a 3.5mm input, and a quarterinch
input to connect music instruments for playing along
with recorded music.

Both boomboxes eschew the traditional embeddeddock
design of traditional docking speakers to create a
bolder industrial design, Swenson said. It’s also easier for
consumers to navigate iPods when they hold them in their
hand, he added.

Each boombox features aluminum handle, gloss-black
finish, 2.6-inch four-color display that displays metadata,
bar-type EQ display, capacitive backlit touch controls, and
rotary knobs with real-aluminum finish to “bring some analog
feel to these products,” Swenson said.

A three-piece AC-only Micro Audio System with a similar
industrial design features separate two-way speakers
and a vertical 2.9-inch-wide main unit that incorporates AM/FM tuner, vertical slot-loading CD player, and
2×20-watt amplifier. Inputs include USB Host that
accepts PCM streams from a USB-connected iPod/
iPhone, RCA and 3.5mm analog inputs, optical and coaxial
digital inputs for videogame sources, and an RCA
output to drive a powered subwoofer or second zone. It
also plays WMA and MP3 music files from USB drives
and hard drives. Pricing was unavailable.

A fourth product is the AC/DC Sound Cube Audio
System, a 13.6-inch by 13.6-inch by 15-inch system
with 5.25-inch coaxial speakers firing from opposite
side and two 5.25-inch passive radiators on the
two other opposite sides. The $299 system is
equipped with carrying handle, FM tuner, 2×10-
watt Class D amplifier and same inputs as the
boomboxes. It’s designed for placement in the
center of a room, enabling sound to reflect off
opposite walls to deliver a wide soundstage, the
company said.

The two turntables are belt-drive models, both
with embedded phono preamp and one with USB
output and included PC software to rip vinyl to
MP3. They retail for $299 and $399, respectively.
Both feature gloss-black acrylic finish, bar-type
equalizer display in the acrylic finish, aluminum
frame, vibration-isolating feet, and included cartridge.
The 33-1/3/45rpm turntables feature an optical
feedback circuit to automatically deliver the
precise rotation speed without manual adjustment.
Their tonearms feature universal head to accommodate
almost every type of standard cartridge.

The sixth new product is an on-ear stereo headphone,
the $249 ST-800.

To promote the products, the company will sponsor
consumer events, place products at events
such as concerts, provide in-store merchandising,
and launch a website in which three music groups
— The Strokes, Nas and The Walkmen — recount
their affinity for the TDK brand and their memories
of using cassette tapes to create mix tapes for
friends and occasions.