Mr. Bill Brady
Director, Eastern USA Operations
Oregon International Air Freight Co., dba OIA Global Logistics
17230 NE Sacramento Street
Portland, OR 97230
RE: The tariff classification of an Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Wireless 5.1 Home Theater System and an HDMI digital Wireless Home Theater One Preamp Transmitter from China
Dear Mr. Brady:
In your letter dated July 21, 2011, you requested a tariff classification ruling on behalf of your client, Summit Semiconductor LLC.
The merchandise subject to this ruling is an Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Wireless 5.1 Home Theater System and an HDMI digital Wireless Home Theater One Preamp Transmitter. This ruling will provide the classification of the complete Home Theater System and the classification of the HDMI digital Wireless Home Theater One Preamp Transmitter when imported separately, as you have requested.
The Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Wireless 5.1 Home Theater System consists of an HDMI digital Wireless Home Theater One Preamp transmitter, Intimus® 4T Summit Wireless Powered Tower Speakers, an Intimus® 5C Summit Wireless Powered Center speaker, Intimus® 4B Summit Wireless Powered Satellite Speakers, and a Bravus® 8A Summit Wireless Powered Subwoofer. The system is imported and sold as a set.
This wireless home theater system replaces the wires going from the audio-video received (AVR) to the speakers with wireless radio frequency communication. Through the inputs to the HDMI Digital Wireless Home Theater One Preamp Transmitter HDMI box, sounds from a Blu-ray disk player, tape deck, iPod, or other devices that can accommodate the HDMI box’s input, can be distributed and played back via the speakers to provide a surround sound effect. The preamp transmitter receives, converts, and communicates decoded audio signals to the speakers via radio frequency (wirelessly). The speakers are plugged into an alternating current (AC) outlet from which it derives all power necessary for play back. All of the speakers contain multiple speakers within their individual housings. The subwoofer contains one single speaker within its housing. The subwoofer also contains an amplifier and a sound processor. The amplifier converts the wireless data to audio and drives the speaker. The processor applies frequency attenuation, boost, and phase adjustments to the audio signal. The settings of the processor are not user adjustable.
The HDMI digital Wireless Home Theater One Preamp Transmitter executes reception, conversion, and transmission functions within the home theater system. When a user plugs their audio/visual equipment, i.e., Blu-ray player, CD player, cable box, etc., via either HDMI, digital, optical, or analog, and selects the type of audio decoding they desire (Dolby or DTS) on that signal, all analog signals are converted to digital for processing. The user would then select the input signal they would like processed. The selected input audio signal would then be decoded as specified and be transmitted wirelessly to the speakers. Although the word “preamp” infers that there is amplification, you have stated within your submission that the preamp only processes digital signals, but does not amplify the audio signals. The act of audio sound amplification, i.e., level increase, occurs at the subwoofer speaker, which has an amplifier in it. The preamp processes everything as 1’s and 0’s, yet, it does not increase the levels of the input signal. It executes Dolby and DTS digital signal processing (decoding) of the input signal and transmits the resulting digital signal to the speakers via radio frequency (wirelessly). The preamp can only transmit the digital signal to speakers that are of Summit Semiconductor Technology. If the speakers are not of Summit Semiconductor Technology, they are not part of the home theater system and will not accept the digital signal. Additionally, the preamp switches between one of three HDMI inputs to one HDMI output for a TV or projector that accepts HDMI input. As such, the preamp transmitter receives analog signals and converts them to digital signals for the wirelessly transmission to the speakers.
You suggested Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheading 8518.22.0000, which provides for “Single loudspeakers, mounted in their enclosures” as the classification of the Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Wireless 5.1 Home Theater System. This system consists of a preamp transmitter, tower, center, and satellite speakers, and a subwoofer. The components are put up together to carry out a specific activity, imported ready for retail sale without repacking, and classifiable within two different subheadings. The preamp transmitter is classifiable within subheading 8517.62.00. The tower, center, and satellite speakers are classifiable within subheading 8518.22.00 and the subwoofer is classifiable within subheading 8518.40.20. Therefore, it qualifies as a set pursuant to General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3(b). GRI 3(b) states that sets are to be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character. However, as was the case in headquarters’ Rulings HQ 964940 and HQ 965763, the theater system does not have one essential character because the preamp transmitter, subwoofer, and speakers (tower, center, and satellite) all contribute to providing the listener with a movie theater quality surround sound. As such, all three types of components merit equal consideration. Therefore, pursuant to GRI 3(c) the Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Wireless 5.1 Home Theater System is classifiable under the subheading which occurs last in numerical order among those that merit equal consideration (8517.62.00, 8518.22.00, and 8518.40.20). As a result, the complete system is classifiable within subheading 8518.40.20, as an audio-frequency electric amplifier, other.
In addition, you suggested Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheading 8525.60.2000, which provides for “Transmission apparatus for radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras, digital cameras and video camera recorders: Transmission apparatus incorporating reception apparatus: Other” as the classification of the HDMI digital Wireless Home Theater One Preamp Transmitter when imported separately. However, the preamp transmitter is not apparatus for the transmission of radio-broadcasting or television. Rather, it is transmission and reception apparatus that functions as a component of the Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Wireless 5.1 Home Theater System enabling wireless communication between itself and the subwoofer and speakers to create a surround sound effect. The preamp processes everything as 1’s and 0’s, but does not increase, i.e., amplify, the level of the input signal. It then transmits the resulting digital signal to the speakers via radio frequency. As such, the preamp transmitter is apparatus for transmission and reception of voice, images or other data and classifiable within subheading 8517.62.00.
The applicable subheading for the Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Wireless 5.1 Home Theater System will be 8518.40.2000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for “Audio-frequency electric amplifiers: Other.” The rate of duty will be 4.9 percent ad valorem.
The applicable subheading for the HDMI digital Wireless Home Theater One Preamp Transmitter when imported separately will be 8517.62.0050 Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for “Other apparatus for transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, including apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network (such as a local or wide area network): Machines for the reception, conversion and transmission or regeneration of voice, images or other data, including switching and routing apparatus: Other.” The rate of duty will be 4.9 percent ad valorem.
Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on World Wide Web at http://www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/.
This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).
A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Linda M. Hackett at (646) 733-3015.
Robert B. Swierupski
National Commodity Specialist Division