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Great music systems to choose from
Sangeeta Singh in New Delhi
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September 10, 2005
India suddenly seems to have become a hotspot for foreign music system companies.

Six months ago it was the high-end Danish major Bang & Olufsen, last week it was the upmarket Japanese company Nakamichi. And it's not just limited to home entertainment.

Last month, German in-car entertainment company Blaupunkt took a major leap by getting into exclusive showrooms in India. And on Friday, it was the turn of LG Electronics, which has launched its Next Gen karaoke systems.

So what explains the flux of niche and high-end products into India? "Rising income levels and a taste for good quality music is making this small, niche segment bigger," says Gunjan Srivastava, director, home entertainment, Philips India.

Driven by these developments, Philips itself is all set to roll out audio products in the range of Rs 50,000 and more in the next six months.

And customers love to flaunt their products. Says D P Singh, a government official who recently put all his savings into a Bose Lifestyle 18 worth Rs 1. 25 lakh.

"This home theatre is worth every penny. Now I feel I can never go back to my old audio system which I had for so many years."  At the high end, Bose's Lifestyle 48 costs Rs 2.29 lakh, and at the low end Bose Wave Music systems are at Rs 29,900.

If you are looking for something different, with good features and quality, for a similar price range, you can go for Nakamichi's high-end products. Though Nakamichi's stereo systems range between Rs 29,000-1.81 lakh, it's third generation home theatre systems range from Rs 1.22 lakh to Rs 3.36 lakh.

"We are sure that customers in India will appreciate and enjoy the experience of Nakamichi sound systems. Nakamichi is a brand rich in heritage, and more of a lifestyle product, and is priced accordingly," says Ruby Lee, director Nakamichi Corporation.

BeoLab 5 and BeoSound 9000, sound systems from B&O, are over Rs 2.75 lakh - they can reach Rs 5.30 lakh. BeoSound 9000 is a six disc CD player and BeoLab is a loudspeaker system. The BeoCenter 2 has a combination of radio, CD, DVD and MP3 players,and is priced at Rs 2.65 lakh.

However, some music store managers recommend the good old Onkyo and Yamaha systems if one is looking at the quality of sound. "Both Onkyo at Rs 34,000 and Yamaha at Rs 32,000 for a set of AV receiver, five speakers and a woofer offer very good sound quality at decent prices," says Prashant at Berco's Melody House in Delhi.

But if you were to rely on Philips, you could get a 900 watt home theatre for Rs 39,000. And if you want to experiment with something in the higher range, Jamo' s home theatre costs Rs 75,000. Sony also has its high-end home theatres at Rs 99,990 and Rs 49,990.

For the younger lot, LG's Next Generation audio systems  may be worth checking out.  They come with fancy offers like two DVD software with 1,800 songs, scrolling lyrics on screen, a free microphone and song book

"We have an exhaustive range of products suited to offer country specific entertainment," says Salil Kapoor, head, marketing services and brand.  These products are in the range of Rs 11,000-30,000.

Joy Bose, a graphic designer at a private firm and a lover of music says that it's all about one's personal choice and not money.

"The best way to judge which music system is best is to take your own Hindi classical CD or S D Burman CD and ask the music shop to play it. Most often you will see music stores giving you a demonstration with the
number "Hotel California" by The Eagles. The truth is this particular number has used excellent recording technology so it sounds good on a Bose, a B&O or a Yamaha," he says.

And if you are bored of your old car stereo, German in-car entertainment company Blaupunkt's premium range has products starting from Rs 8,500 for an MP3 player, reaching Rs 39,000 for a DVD player, and over Rs 1 lakh for
the set with a television screen. Nakamichi's car audio systems range betwen Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000. Then there is Sony which starts from Rs 7,990 and goes on till Rs 39,990.

With the consumer electronic industry experiencing robust growth, Kapoor of LG feels customers are looking for high-end futuristic products, so there is a lot of scope for companies to introduce new combinations and features.

Srivastava of Philips also says that the market for both high-end and niche products is on the rise. But are people really ready to spend this much money on one music system? As records show, they sure are.

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