Midrange 2-channel hi-fi systems in bookshelf or floor-standing configuration are mainstream.
The widespread adoption of digital audio content and rising output of compatible devices are prompting China suppliers of hi-fi systems to ride the digital bandwagon. The latest R&D trends center on models adopting the technology. Design enhancements are likewise emphasized, with miniaturization at the core of development initiatives.
|Star Audio's WS2 model is a 2-channel hi-fi speaker system with 89dB sensitivity, 30Hz to 20kHz frequency response and 30 to 200W power output. It has a Bubinga wood veneer finish.|
More manufacturers are shifting to mini hi-fi systems to meet growing demand for such devices, bringing output of traditional units to a decline.
Recent releases from Zhuhai Spark Electronic Equipment Co. Ltd include mini and digital variants. These support high-quality audio compression codec, including APE and FLAC formats, through the built-in decoders, a step up from conventional audio versions that can read only MP3 or WMA. They also have iPhone/iPod slots and USB playback.
For design improvements, manufacturers are going for elegant classic styles. To reinforce this, the TD-7SE model from ToneWinner Electronics Co. Ltd uses a 25mm MDF board and black piano paint. Star Audio Co. Ltd is turning to real wood veneer, including cherry or walnut type, added with 11 layers or 3mm of piano paint. Its model M-5.2T vacuum tube amplifier sports a modern home-use look that veers away from the usual exposed configuration.
Apart from the technology shift, China enterprises are gearing up for the effects of the appreciation of the yuan and rising raw material and labor costs. Spending on paint and oil, in particular, surged in recent months.
Manufacturers estimate a 3 to 5 percent price markup to offset climbing production outlay.
To counter potential risks associated with quote adjustments, many China suppliers, including Zhuhai Spark, are looking to sign additional agreements with their OEM partners.
A shortage of Japan-sourced audio-grade capacitors or potentiometers due to the recent earthquake may strain the industry as well.
Makers said such components are usually procured from small-scale Japan companies, which take about three to four months to ship the inputs. This has prompted China manufacturers to stock a half-year’s worth of requirement, a practice that could cushion the impact of any potential shortfall.
The majority of suppliers’ hi-fi systems are midrange variants designed to balance performance and price. Classic bookshelf or floor-standing 2-channel speakers lead product selections in China. These units have two strictly symmetrical passive speakers and an under-closed or inverted-phase cabinet structure. Systems with 2 or 3-way configuration are common, consisting of 1in dome tweeter, 4 to 6in midrange or 8 to 10in woofer. The mainstream system features per set include 50Hz to 20kHz +/-3dB frequency response range, more than 90dB/mW sensitivity, less than 1.5 percent THD and 30 to 300W power output.
The loudspeakers for mainstream midrange or woofer drivers employ PP cones with a rubber edge, while those for enhanced speakers have wool and glass fiber cones. Makers use soft textile tweets as silk dome tweeters and aluminum, titanium or beryllium for the hard metallic ones. In general, materials are sourced from mainland China manufacturers because of the relatively low cost. For high-end systems, companies may obtain inputs from Taiwan, Europe or other overseas providers on request.
To reduce expenses, many mainland suppliers utilize MDF for the cabinet, although HDF or real wood is available. Boards thicker than 20mm are adopted to ensure firmness and better resonance control. Real wood veneer and piano paint are employed for finishing. Despite orders for systems with level three or four paint finishing, companies prefer real wood, including cherry, oak or walnut type.
Another important component of a hi-fi system is the amplifier. Many mainland makers, including Zhuhai Spark and Tonewinner, manufacture this in-house. Both vacuum and transistor amplifiers are available, with the selections covering integrated and mono power amplifiers, and mono preamplifiers in pure class A, AB and A configurations, respectively.
Zhuhai Spark Electronic Equipment Co. Ltd
Note: This article "Makers explore digital audio, better designs for hi-fi systems" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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