9 Dec 2008
Designer decibels(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 04,2008)
Micro HI-FI Systems
Big sound comes in small packages these days, judging by the stylish, feature-packed selection available from Hong Kong
No longer huge functional fixtures that dominate a room, today's feature-packed hi-fi systems are carefully crafted to complement the latest interior design concepts.
Hong Kong manufacturers have long been the industry's bellwether and are renowned for coming up with quality designs that meet global market needs.
The ultra-modern model Z-111 PM3UCI micro hi-fi system from S.E.M. Industries is a case in point, a striking front-loading CD player that features an auto-sensor CD detector.
"This model is our top seller in Europe, where the market is willing to pay a premium for top designs," says Marketing Assistant Saki Lee. "The systems we sell in Europe range in unit price from US$60-80 FOB Hong Kong, whereas the US market prefers more basic models that are generally priced between US$40-50 FOB Hong Kong."
The minimalist, three-piece CD and radio entertainment system's other features include a recordable CD function, a USB port, MP3 playback function and an SD card slot for flash memory playback.
"To give the micro system a cool and shiny look, the plastic casing is treated with a brushed anodised aluminium finish," Ms Lee explains, adding that a Xenon black-coloured model is also available. "But that model involves an extra step in the production process to spray-paint the unit, so it's a little bit pricier," Ms Lee adds.
Thanks to the wall-mount kit that comes with the model and the hinged table stand fitted to each of the detachable speakers, the system can be either hung on the wall or free-standing.
A slim, ergonomically designed remote control and chrome-plated buttons on the main unit's control panel are complemented by a blue backlit LCD on the panel and a thin LED strip of ambient blue light under the unit. "Other optional features include a digital PLL tuner for automatic tuning, station memories and a preset equaliser," Ms Lee adds.
Equally attractive in appearance and loaded with features is Winsonic Technology Ltd's ultra-sleek model WM2719 vertical CD player, which features a motorised door that opens upwards for inserting CDs.
"This is guaranteed to steal the limelight in any living room and is one of the key features that has made the model popular in Europe," says Marketing Manager Rika Tsang.
The main CD unit measures 252x70x180mm while the two detachable speakers, covered with a rich texture fabric, each measure 113x60x180mm.
One side of the main control panel boasts a circular LCD that shows information such as track numbers and prompts for programming. "The unit also doubles as a digital clock with alarm function that lets the user wake up to CD music, radio or simply a buzzer at the preset time," Ms Tsang explains. "The clock will automatically switch to run on two AA batteries in the event of a power failure."
The micro system includes an AM/FM stereo radio with preset memory function, while its CD unit features a forward and backward track search function and can program up to 20 tracks.
"The WM2719 model is available in any colour, but black is a particularly popular choice for this model in Europe, our main market," says Ms Tsang.
Micro hi-fis such as the digital media centre model MT-901 from Creation Electronics Ltd are also becoming increasingly compatible with computers in order to play music files in various formats.
The Creation unit offers a USB port for the playback of MP3 and WMA files, and from external USB devices. "For added flexibility, this micro system includes an SD card slot for easy sharing of music between gadgets," adds Marketing Manager Dino Wong.
The three-piece sound system also offers a digital audio broadcast (DAB) radio function that allows it to receive digital radio signals in countries such as the UK, which is Creation's key market.
"DAB delivers superior sound quality from digital broadcast programmes and the unit can display extra information such as song titles and the name of the DJ," Mr Wong says, adding that it meets major European environmental and safety standards such as WEEE, CE, RoHS and EMC.
The top-loading DVD/CD unit offers a five-stage preset equaliser for different acoustic settings, has an extra bass booster to provide a deep resonant tone and allows the programming of up to 20 tracks.
"The lower front half of the control panel is treated to give the plastic case unit a crisp and shiny metallic look," says Mr Wong.
On the upper half of the control panel is a black-coloured plate with a backlit LCD in the centre, which shows the operating mode and also doubles as a digital clock.
With the myriad of features and styles on offer, it is little wonder that micro hi-fi systems made by Hong Kong manufacturers have won over the world.
Text by Rico Ngai