JB Hi Fi And Harvey Norman Get Back Into Top End Hi Fi Brands

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JB Hi Fi and Harvey Norman are getting back into the big Hi Fi market in a move that could put pressure on the struggling specialist channel.

Among the brands that are set to benefit from the battle are Harman Kardon, Infinity, Kef, Onkyo, Quad, Wharfdale, Polk and Rotel.

At Harvey Norman two additional brands, Yamaha and Denon will be sold. 

The move comes as consumers move to replace traditional analogue systems with new wireless streaming systems. 

Among the systems set to go on sale at both retailers is Harman Kardon’s new wireless multiroom system.

This system which ChannelNews and SmartHouse got to see yesterday includes three new products: Omni 10 and Omni 20 wireless speakers, plus the Adapt, an add-on device which promises to deliver wireless streaming to your current stereo system.

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There is also a wafer thin new soundbar and a sub that is one of the thinnest we have ever seen.

There’s been a sudden surge in wireless multiroom systems in 2014 with recent announcements from the likes of Paradigm with their new Ply fi and Sonos with their new Platy 5, and it looks like the trend is set to continue running into the peak Christmas New Year buying period. 

Harman Kardon’s Omni ecosystem uses Blackfire Research’s wireless streaming technology, and allows you to stream music files with sample rates up to 24-bit/96kHz. 

The system is set up over Wi Fi and playback is controlled through either Harman Kardon’s HK Connect app or you can opt to stream using Bluetooth.

If you thinking of buying multiple speakers, Omni 10s and 20s can also be used as stereo pairs, or if you’ve got the urge, you can even hook up five to create your own, wireless surround sound set-up. 

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Click to enlarge
ADAPT Wireless HD Audio adapter


Omni’s features include, One Touch Follow Me Audio, which allows you to switch music from one speaker to the other as you move between rooms. 

Press the large link button in the middle the speaker’s control panel and you can cycle through multiple ongoing streams and pick your favourite. 

Press and hold the same button and you’ll engage Party Mode, where the same track is pushed to multiple speakers.

The Harman Kardon Omni 10, Omni 20 and Adapt will be available to buy from JB Hi Fi and Harvey stores immediately.
As part of the sell in Convoy the distributor of the Harman Kardon range is currently installing a brand new high end merchandising unit that was developed for the European market. 

 In a first for the company, Harman is also going to open up Omni to members of its own development community, where members will be encouraged to develop Harman’s app and design new features for this multi-room system.

In terms of digital consumption, Australia was the first market in the world where growth in digital outpaced our fall in physical sales, even prior to the uptake of music streaming subscription services Spotify, Deezer and Rdio.

IFPI estimated the digital music market accounted for 67 percent of Australia’s recorded music sales in 2014 (up from 18percent in 2013), placing it in 5th position amongst the leading markets in terms of digital uptake internationally.

According to Convoy executives the demand for “quality sound systems” by consumers investing in new streaming services especially 24-bit/96kHz content is set to grow sales of premium Hi Fi sound gear.

The new Harman Kardon sound bar with sub will sell for $1,699. The Adapt Wireless HD adapter will sell for $299.
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