Convoy International is launching a new brand in Australia, Canadian-owned Bluesound which are entering the Bluetooth multi-room speaker market at the premium end.
Until recently Sonos was the only player in the multi-room speaker category, however this year has seen Samsung, Heos by Denon, LG and Pure, all enter the market.
Bluesound is going to market with five products, including multi-room streaming digital music players that allow you to play music from your own collection, streaming services and internet radio to any room in the home.
Bluesound is a new brand for parent company Lenbrook International which owns two other brands NAD and PSB, and has its roots in 70s hi-fi. Bluesound is seen as a new distinct brand for the company, created by “an alliance of audiophiles and engineers.”
John Banks, chief brand officer of Lenbrook International, said Bluesound is the first of a new generation in this category, marrying the world of “high resolution fabulous sounding hi-fi”, to the world of wireless multi-room streaming audio.
“Just because things are convenient and fun to use doesn’t mean they need to be mediocre in terms of performance,” Banks said.
“We call it hi-fi for a new wireless generation. We feel that there is a whole generation out there that has not really been addressed by the hi-fi industry in a significant way, somewhat forgotten. It’s a generation that is in love with music as much as the previous generation, perhaps even more, but have been listening largely on earbuds for most of their life.”
This generation has now grown up, are buying homes and have money to spend.
“We find a lot of them just don’t know where to turn, a lot of them look at traditional hi-fi as something my dad has and they don’t really relate to it.
“We felt that we could address this generation with some products that are kind of unique, different but would have the functionality and feature set that they have become used to and really frankly insist upon but with a really high level of performance that we know from our hi-fi roots really can create an emotional experience.”
The products were developed from a philosophical standpoint of achieving the best sounding music possible. Banks said Bluesound had approached entering this market with a completely different approach to most of its competitors.
“Normally in this category of product if you see in the first generation the typical approach is to, really frankly, get the least expensive amplifier you can off the shelf from China, put in in a box, hire an industrial engineer, spend most of the budget on marketing and there you go.”
Convoy International will be partnering with select retailers to roll the products out slowly, to make sure the audio quality is properly demonstrated to consumers.
Retailers confirmed so far include Len Wallis Audio in Sydney and Tivoli Hi-Fi in Melbourne, both of which have a decades- long relationships with Convoy International. The distributors said they were prepared to stock 10 stores per month for the next three months, taking a “less is more approach.”
Bluesound appeared particularly attractive to Convoy International, not only for the high quality audio, but the organic development of the platform and products. Developed from the ground up over four years, Bluesound will be able to take feedback from retailers and consumers to modify and upgrade the products and features in the future.
The system is controlled by the free Bluesound Controller app for iOS or Android touch devices or from a desktop computer.
Each available in black or white, the range consists of:
Node: a non-amplified streaming HD music player, RRP $649
Controlled from the Bluesound app the Node can play music from your existing collection, cloud music streaming services and internet radio. To be used wired or wireless, it is designed to go with an existing stereo system, home theatre system or powered speakers.
Powernode: an amplified streaming HD music player, RRP $999
A similar product to the Node, but with an amplifier built-in. Banks described it as “From a stereo perspective we see it as the receiver of the future.” It needs to be paired with speakers or an existing audio system.
Duo: compact subwoofer & satellite speaker system, RRP $1,499
The Duo can be paired with the Powernode and has “audiophile-grade precision volume, crossover and phase controls.”
Vault: a wireless streaming HD music player, bit-perfect CD-ripper with 2 TB HDD RRP $1,499
Banks said the Vault has defied the company’s expectations to become one of the most popular products in the range due to its ability to play CDs and automatically RIP CDs in high resolution FLAC format, space-saving MP3, or both. The Vault also sources online metadata for the CD, including the album art which will then automatically appear in your playlist on your device, cutting out the computer. With two terabytes of storage space the Vault lives up to its name by storing and protecting your whole digital music library.
“Although it is really designed and created for a new digital generation, what we found is that it is very friendly to an older generation that are not computer savvy and don’t know how to do a lot of things their kids do, but would appreciate the result,” Banks said.
Pulse: Compact all-in-one streaming HD music player/speaker, RRP $999
With a portable design the Pulse can be easily moved around to stream music to any part of the home or outdoors.