CHICAGO - KBIS 2012, the kitchen and bath industry show just ended at Chicago's McCormick Place, provided a showcase of how demographic and lifestyle trends are driving cabinetry, hardware and component design.

The kitchen as the center of daily life - a mix of work and play, online and offline, serving multiple generations "aging in place" - reached a new expression with Hafele's display of the Harman Kardon MaestroKitchen100.

Due later this year, the high end audio system, "a cross between a stereo system and a kitchen appliance" as Harman Kardon puts it, integrates the speakers into the kitchen cabinet doors; amplifier are set seamlessly beside other kitchen appliances. Sub-woofer is mounted behind toe kick or atop the cabinets.

Harman Kardon explained how the system affects kitchen cabinet construction a recent National Kitchen & Bath Association member magazine:

"The two speakers for the system are actually routed into the back of the cabinet doors, completely invisible from the front while still sending good quality sound into the room. The remaining components are a slick high end appliance class head unit that mounts between cabinets (containing radio and CD), a slim subwoofer that slides behind the toe kick, and an iPod or auxiliary input jack that mounts approximately four feet in any direction inside the cupboard. . .

"The speaker technology itself is the most novel aspect. Commonly referred to as an 'exciter,' the loudspeaker portion of the system is concealed within the cabinet doors themselves, two doors to be exact, one for the left audio and one for the right. These exciters are actually attached to (with high strength adhesive) the inside of the routed surface of the cabinet doors. The routed area on each door is approximately 15 inches high and 13 inches wide by 2 inches deep." 

While speakers normally are big boxes, the empty space of the cabinets themselves perform this function on the KitchenMaestro, says Harman Kardon. Cabinet doors for existing kitchens can be routed, or replaced, to accommodate the speaker system, Harman Kardon says.

The KitchenMaestro

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