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Stylish Sound: Loudspeaker Alternates for Flatpanels on Display at CEDIA

Sep 4, 2007 8:00 AM

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As flatpanel TVs continue their infiltration into American homes, more and more speaker companies are devising solutions intended to boost the quality of flatpanel sound systems while minimizing the amount of sound equipment that’s visible in the room.

With the CEDIA Expo opening this week in Denver, installers will see more on-wall “soundbar” solutions that consolidate drivers into a single housing. The soundbar attaches above or beneath a TV to deliver an integrated look. The trend is yet another concession to design-conscious consumers, who are showing strong interest in flatpanel displays but shunning add-on loudspeakers and sound systems.

Artison, formed several years ago by veteran speaker designer Cary Christie as a speaker company for “new millennium technologies,” will show its first single-bar speaker system at CEDIA. The high-end $1,200 solution packs six 3in. midrange drivers and a 1in. tweeter inside a 15lb. box. According to Christie, “Our dealers have been asking us to create a product like this for quite some time.” He adds that it serves as an alternative to the visually unappealing three-speaker-box approach that grew out of the flatpanel trend.

The Artison SoundBar is designed for TVs 37in. wide and larger, and it attaches directly to the TV either above or below a screen. The speaker comes with black and gray grilles, and an optional stand is available for tabletop placement.

Yamaha is expanding its line of Digital Sound Projectors with three models that deliver multichannel sound from a single component designed to be installed beneath a TV. The YSP-4000, YSP-3000, and YSP-900 focus audio signals into controlled and directed beams that provide an alternative to placing surround speakers throughout a room.

The flagship YSP-4000 hosts 40 beam drivers, two built-in subwoofers, 42 corresponding digital amplifiers, seven Cinema DSP programs (three movie, three music, and one sports), analog-to-HDMI video upscaling, and high-definition video upscaling to 1080i/720p. The YSP-4000 and YSP-3000 come with integrated FM tuners and are XM Satellite Radio-ready with XM HD surround, an optional YDS-10 iPod dock that enables consumers to control song selection and play functions via the YSP’s remote control, and onscreen display.

Also for the multichannel market, SoundMatters will demo the SLIMstage40, a single console that delivers virtual surround sound from stereo and 5.1-channel sources without the need for reflecting walls or an outboard subwoofer. The under-screen console houses four satellite speakers and nine bass drivers. The bass system combines three active down-firing drivers, powered by a 170W digital amplifier, and six mass radiators. Bass extension is said to reach down to 45Hz.

EuphonyHD simulated-surround circuitry recreates Dolby Digital and DTS soundfields with a clear center-channel image, according to SoundMatters. Back-panel digital audio inputs include two optical and one coax, along with two analog inputs. A front-panel analog input accepts signals from an MP3 player. Bundled with the system are an IR remote control, tilting shelf feet for placement on a cabinet or stand, and a wall bracket. Finishes include black or silver.

Boston Acoustics will show the TVee Model Two, which it calls a “television entertainment enhancement system.” The $400 two-piece system combines a soundbar and a matching wireless subwoofer. The soundbar incorporates four 2.5in. mid-bass drivers, a pair of 2.5in. dome tweeters, and a 6in. down-firing bass driver. The powered sub houses a 100W amplifier.

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