HARMAN Luxury Audio Goes Virtual at CEDIA Expo 2020
By Jim Garrett
Senior Director, Product Strategy and Planning
Every year, September is a big month for us due to the scale of our presence at the CEDIA Expo trade show. The Luxury Audio booth you visit us at takes months of preparation and nearly a week to build on site prior to the first day of the show. When the Expo shifted from an in-person show to a virtual event, it meant a drastic change for all of us in how we would communicate our latest news to our dealer and distributor partners like yourselves. Without a physical trade show floor full of booth after booth of exciting new products, attendees experienced a virtual online show that had a decidedly different feel. For us, it meant that we weren’t able to meet you all in person and demonstrate our latest products for you to see and hear. Despite the shift, we still had some new products and programs to announce and we’d like to recap them with you in case you missed any of them.
Streaming audio continues to be a driving factor in how customers consume their music. (I’m listening to Qobuz as I write this article.) To capitalize on that trend, we introduced the Arcam ST60 Streaming Audio Player – the perfect companion to any stereo amplifier including our own award-winning SA20 and SA10 models.
Based upon our proprietary streaming engine, the ST60 provides access to content via wired and wireless connectivity along with a number of digital inputs. Supporting Google Chromecast Built-in and Apple AirPlay 2, the ST60 can deliver high-resolution streaming audio controlled directly from your mobile device or tablet. In addition to enabling streaming from all of the major services (Spotify, Qobuz, Tidal, Deezer, and Napster), the ST60 fully decodes MQA audio files, is Roon Ready, and handles UPnP sources. A large full-color front panel display provides album art and metadata with an elegant and easy-to-read appearance. With outstanding Arcam audio quality, a host of control capability, and compatibility with our MusicLife app, the ST60 is an exciting new product that will deliver the absolute best experience from your digital music. Don’t just take our word for it. The ST60 was the winner of the CEDIA Expo What Hi-Fi? “Best of Show 2020” award! Deliveries will begin in late October with a U.S. retail price of $1,499.00.
Also new from Arcam is the PA410 power amplifier. With four channels of Class AB power, it is intended to power the height channel loudspeakers in conjunction with any Arcam immersive audio AV receiver. Conservatively rated at 50W per channel into 8-ohms, the PA410 can deliver up to 90W per channel into 4 ohms with two channels driven.
Recognizing dealers’ expertise, we announced new certified system programs for JBL Synthesis. The programs certify five JBL Synthesis system templates ranging in scale from $35,500 to $180,000, mandate specified calibration services and processes, with a prospective expansion including dealer marketing initiatives and online assets. The JBL Synthesis Certified System program is for less complex systems, and the JBL Synthesis Certified Elite program is for more challenging room environments and more expansive and complex system set-ups. Systems meeting the standard for these two levels of certification will be provided with a custom two-space rack panel denoting their status. The JBL Synthesis Certified and JBL Synthesis Certified Elite programs are one of the first initiatives to come out of the new JBL Synthesis Product Council. Members of the 2020 Product Council include some of the leading custom integration dealers and distributors in the Americas and Europe. Their participation and feedback in the Product Council is helping to drive the future direction of JBL Synthesis products and system solutions.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the encore performance of the CE Pro All-Star Band during the final hours of the CEDIA Virtual Expo live-stream event. Our six-song set capped off the show and gave attendees a little taste of the live music we have all been missing this year. For those of you unfamiliar, the CE Pro All-Star Band is made up of talented musicians who all work within our consumer electronics industry. I have played with the group since its inception dating back to the CEDIA Expo Jam Session in 2014 and I played drums on all six songs for the virtual performance this year. We had to rethink how we could pull off “playing live” as we would have done on stage in the Denver Convention Center. With technology and passion on our side, we set about creating our performance back in July with everyone tracking their parts at home. After two months of mixing and mastering the audio and editing video footage, we had the final performance that you see in the “live-stream” event. It was certainly a lot of work, but the end result was quite good. And it served as a fundraising event for the CEDIA Strong Scholarship Fund helping to get people into careers in the residential technology industry.
Lastly, I’d like to get your opinions on how you felt about the virtual CEDIA Expo this year. How did you feel about the show? Did you find it worthwhile or are you ready to get back to an in-person show in 2021? Drop us a note and let us know.