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What’s New In Component Audio

Here’s what’s being introduced in component audio at International CES:

Anthem: The audio electronics supplier is launching its first-ever source component, a Blu-ray disc player at a suggested $799.

The Profile 2.0 BLX 200 features 1GB of embedded memory, included 2GB USB flash drive to enhance BD-Live A/V streaming from the Internet, and HDMI 1.3. It is available.

Bowers & Wilkins: The company is sprinkling diamond-dome tweeters throughout its new 800 series of high-end in-room speakers.

The new series, which will replace the current 13-SKU series, includes five speaker pairs priced from a suggested $5,000 to $24,000/pair and two center-channel speakers at $2,750 and $5,000 each. At press time, it was uncertain whether two surround models would be included. Launches will be staggered by model and finish, beginning in January through late spring at the earliest, the company said.

The new series boasts multiple improvements to improve sound quality and a new polished piano-black lacquer-finish option. More significant, the company is expanding its use of diamond-dome tweeters to all models, citing the material’s strength and stiffness.

Denon: Celebrating its 100 anniversary in 2010, Denon is launching the compact S-5BD BD-receiver, which combines two-zone two-source A/V receiver with Blu-ray Profile 2.0 player. It’s targeted for use in secondary rooms, marine applications and hotel rooms where space is tight.

The $1,799-suggested component features 1080p/24p video output, DVD video scaling up to 1080p, decoding of all Blu-ray surround formats, RS-232C port for third-party controllers, compressed-audio restorer, three HDMI 1.4 inputs/1 output, and Dolby Pro Logic IIz to deliver front-height channels. Two preouts connect to an outboard amplifier to create a 7.1-channel system featuring either surround-back or front-height channels.

The BD-receiver will drive two two-channel zones or, with an add-on amp, a 5.1-channel system plus a remote two-channel zone. The S-5BD also features an SD Card slot to provide for the flash memory needed to use BD-Live features. It ships in March.

Krell: The high-end audio company will launch its first Blu-ray player and additions to its Evolution and S-series lines. Details were unavailable.

Mission: The company’s new 79 SE series consists of the $800/pair 790SE bookshelf and a $3,000/pair floorstanding 794SE. They’ll join the $389/pair M31i bookshelf, $859/pair M34i floor-stander, $449 MS-8 powered sub, $449 MS-10 powered sub, $649 MS-Duo powered sub, $669 M760 bookshelf, $939 M762 bookshelf, $395 MC32i center channel, and $1,995 M-Cube 5.1 speaker system.

NAD: The company embedded Wi-Fi and added PC networking to two Blu-ray players for the first time. The two Profile 2.0 players feature DLNA certification to stream audio, video and photos from a networked PC.

The two are the $999-suggested T577, already available, and the $1,999 Master Series M56, due in January.

Another new product is the CM 200 home-automation module, which is inserted into select audio components to control Control4 automation systems. It ships in the second quarter at an undetermined price.

Pioneer: Two additions to the high-end TAD series are the Compact Reference One (CR-1) speaker and a complementary amplifier.

The CR-1 builds upon the TAD Flagship Reference One speakers introduced in 2006 but features a compact design for use as surrounds or main left-right speakers. Featuring the same drivers as the Flagship Reference One, the CR-1 delivers what Pioneer says is “extremely smooth and wide frequency response, exceptional dynamic range, remarkable quickness and incredibly natural timbre.”

The beryllium CST Coincident Source midrange/tweeter operates from 350Hz to 100kHz range to deliver SACD and DVD-Audio performance. A tri-laminate bass driver is included.

The companion TAD M600 mono amp delivers 600 watts into 4 ohms in a fully symmetrical design. The one-step amplification and shortened signal path are designed to transmit the output signal with accuracy to speakers. Pricing was unavailable at press time.

Rotel: January is the revised ship date for the brand’s first two networked products. One is the $999-suggested RDG-1520 stereo FM tuner with integrated Internet radio tuner and ability to stream music from a networked PC that uses Windows Media Player 11. The device comes with included Wi-Fi USB dongle.

The second product is the $1,500 RCX-1500 stereo CD-receiver with embedded FM tuner and the same Internet radio and PC networking features as the RDG-1520. It also comes with Wi-Fi dongle.

Sherwood: The company plans to show a second AV receiver equipped to stream Internet- and PC-based media, an AV receiver with embedded HD Radio at a suggested retail of only $219.95, and its first two AVRs with HDMI 1.4 input and output.

The AV receiver with HD Radio is the 7×50-watt RD-7405HDR, whose suggested retail of $219 is far below the current $999-suggested opening price for an HD Radio-embedded AVR. It’s Sherwood’s first HD Radio product.

The company’s second networked AVR is the $499.95-suggested 5.1-channel RD-7605N, joining the recently shipped $649-suggested 7.1-channel NetBoxx. The latter looks more like a slimline Blu-ray player than a traditional AVR. Both networked AVRs feature DLNA certification to simplify streaming from a networked PC via wired Ethernet or optional USB/Wi-Fi adapter. To stream A/V content directly from the Internet, the 7605N and NetBoxx incorporate Verismo Networks’ VuNow platform, which streams video up to 720p.

The 7×100-watt RD-7605N and $349.95-suggested 7×100-watt RD-7605 AV receiver will be the company’s first AVRs with HDMI 1.4 connections. The RD-7605 AVR offers the same features as the RD-7605N except for networking and Internet streaming.

Wadia: The company will launch its next-generation iPod dock, which adds Works With iPhone certification, upgraded power supply, and a remote offering such new features as playlist and album navigation. Like its predecessor, the 171iTransport captures an iPod’s audio output as digital PCM. Pricing was unavailable. — Joseph Palenchar