Denon Unveils IN-Command Networking A/V Receiver Line
Boston Acoustics adds to soundbar, indoor/outdoor speaker linesApril 12, 2011 By Nancy Klosek
Stressing networking capability and ease of use, Denon Electronics is fielding a 2011 product range dominated by an A/V receiver (AVR) line. The line features lower prices and fewer SKUs whose highlights include the first three models in the company’s new IN-Command Series, which launches in May.
The models, ranging downward in price from the $999.99 AVR-3312CI to the $599.99 AVR-2112CI, feature sleeker cosmetics, a less-cluttered front panel and a roster of features designed to tap into consumers’ desire for lifestyle-focused audio products that enable simplified connectivity and access to their content.
All three are supported with a three-year warranty and have built-in Apple AirPlay music-streaming capability – as does the AVR-1912, one of four new core-line AVRs shipping this month that at $529.99 is the industry’s lowest-priced AVR with that functionality. Six of the AVRs offer a Setup Wizard feature that eliminates the product manual and enables simplified first-time setup of the models.
The IN-Command (the “IN” is an acronym for Integrated Network) series carries the familiar “CI” suffix on its model numbers and has custom-integrator-oriented feature sets but is being marketed with the new umbrella designation, meant to clearly differentiate it from the company’s core line, said Jeff Talmadge, Denon director of product development and systems integration.
The three IN-Command models allow users to stream Pandora and Flickr, as well as audio and photos from their computers, and are also Rhapsody- and Napster-service-compatible. Built in as well is compatibility with devices that support the DLNA standard, and all are Windows 7-compatible.
A subtle but significant change to the AVR units’ front panels is the labeling of preset buttons as “Internet radio” and the designation of the models as Integrated Network A/V Receivers as opposed to A/V Surround Receivers.
Talmadge also showed a product he said would officially be launched at the fall CEDIA Expo: the DNP-710AE standalone, full-network-streaming component – a product he described as a version of the company’s recently launched RCD-N7 tabletop network audio system without a CD player. The N7, now available in white, will also be available in black this September, he said.
The introductions were made against the backdrop of an industrywide rebound in the AVR audio market segment, said Phil Cohn, senior vice president of sales for D&M Holdings North America, parent of Denon and Boston Acoustics. He cited statistics showing an overall uptick in AVR sales of in the April 2010 to February 2011 timeframe, adding that Denon had finished the year having captured the number one market share in AVRs. Cohn said that while the home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB) category was down overall for the period, Denon’s bundling of its electronics with sister brand Boston Acoustics to create HTiB packages had caused it to grow its category share. “We have the best position (in HTiB) of any premium audio company,” he said. Cohn also noted Boston Acoustics’ growing share of the burgeoning soundbar market segment, which it entered four years ago.
“There was no soundbar category at the time,” added Eli Harary, senior vice president for global brand management and business development for Boston Acoustics. Harary presented the company’s newest soundbar systems, which include the TVee Model 30 soundbar and wireless subwoofer (May availability; $599.99), the company’s first “true” 3.1-channel soundbar system and its first to feature Bluetooth connectivity. It offers a dedicated music-listening mode, is designed for single-wire analog or optical digital hookup and it can “learn” the user’s existing remote control.
Harary also offered a sneak peek at additions to come to the SoundWare indoor/outdoor speaker line: the SoundWare XS Special Edition and SoundWare S home theater speakers, which will offer design refinements including easy guide-wire channels and a newly designed satellite bracket system.
Cohn also addressed the company’s consumer outreach initiatives, citing the Denon web site, recently refurbished for easier navigation; he said Boston Acoustics’ site would be similarly refreshed this year. Another area of focus that has borne fruit among consumers, he said, was Denon’s social media activities via Facebook; in a four-month span, Denon’s fan base grew from 311 to more than 80,000.
Cohn spoke additionally of D&M’s new channel-management strategy, furthered with the introduction of a reseller authorization online portal for the Denon, Boston Acoustics and Marantz brands that requires dealers and distributors to register and agree to certain guidelines. He said one major goal behind the portal was to “monitor and then take action against transshipping and protect our brand equity.
“We also are looking to capture relevant information to increase collaboration with direct accounts and establish a platform for healthy growth,” he added.