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Yamaha To Expand Soundbars, Headphones, Tabletop Audio


Yamaha will expand its selection
of active soundbars, headphones and
iPod/iPhone-docking tabletop audio systems at
January’s International CES, Yamaha Electronics
president Tom Sumner told TWICE.

In headphones, the company launched its first
model about 1.5 years ago and has since expanded
the selection to five models, including four ear
buds priced from $29 to $149 and a $149 pair of
over-ear headphones, which come with multiple
tip options to ensure a tight fit that is as effective
in blocking noise as earbuds with active noise
cancellation, he said.

In headphones, Yamaha will focus on delivering
“high quality” rather than delivering endorsements
from major artists, he added.

The headphone business overall “is great,” Sumner
said, noting that headphone sales growth has
attracted new headphone vendors to the market.

Also at CES, Yamaha will expand its selection
of high-end active Digital Sound Projector soundbars,
which currently consist of three models
priced from a suggested $999 to $2,199. They
deliver a “true” 7.1-channel sound field by creating
focused beams of direct and wall-reflected sound
waves, he said. They also include surround-sound

Also next year, the company plans to expand its
selection of lower priced active soundbars, and
it might show new models at CES, Sumner said.
That line currently consists of two models at a
suggested $299 and $599. Both incorporate proprietary
Air Surround Xtreme technology, which
adjusts phase and equalization to create virtual
7.1-channel surround, he said.

In iPod/iPhone-docking tabletop music systems,
Yamaha will further expand its already wide
selection with “a couple of new looks,” Sumner
said. The company already offers six docking mini
systems with separate stereo speakers at a suggested
$279 to $1,499 and seven single-chassis
“desktop” docking speaker systems, some with
CD, at a suggested $149 to $449. Despite the
wide selection, “there’s plenty of room to innovate,”
Sumner said.

A case in point is a new docking speaker shipping
next month. The two-way mono PDX-11 is the
company’s first AC/DC docking speaker, which
sports a ruggedized and water-resistant case for
outdoor use and looks almost like a hand-held
spotlight. The $99-suggested device will be available
to current Yamaha but will be opened up to
types of retailers not currently in the company’s
dealer base, Sumner said. The new types could
include dealers such as Target or departmentstore
web sites, he said.

For 2012, Sumner declined to say whether
Yamaha would add Apple’s AirPlay music-streaming
technology to its home audio products. He
did say, however, that the company had hoped to
integrate AirPlay this year but was held back by
the challenge of integrating an AirPlay-equipped
BridgeCo networking chip into its products.
BridgeCo is the only chip maker authorized by Apple
to offer AirPlay in networking chips. Integrating
the chip into products in a way that provides
stable performance without dropouts is challenging,
Sumner said.

Though expanding its docking-speaker line, the
company has no plans in 2012 to offer a dedicated
tabletop Bluetooth speaker, which would stream
music in stereo from handheld devices equipped
with stereo Bluetooth. The company offered one
a few years ago and dropped it, he noted.