By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Buena Park, Calif. — Yamaha is adapting to the proliferation of new music sources by launching its first A/V receivers with iPod controls and Neural Surround processing, which reproduces select Neural-encoded XM Satellite Radio channels in discrete 5.1-channel surround sound.
All three of the new RX series receivers, due in April, are XM-ready. They feature an XM Connect and Play port to accept an outboard integrated XM tuner/antenna combination or a future docking station, which will accept a tiny XM Passport tuner that can be shuttled among docks connected to XM-ready home and car audio systems and boomboxes.
The trio of receivers consists of the $349.99-suggested RX-V459, $449 RX-V559 and $549 RX-V659. All feature Neural Surround decoders to deliver XM's stereo-compatible surround programming in 5.1-channel surround with five discrete full-range channels.
The $449 and $549 models also accept an optional $99-suggested YSB-10 iPod docking station, which enables the receivers to control connected fourth- and fifth-generation iPods through their remotes, front-panel user interface and on-TV interface. Connected TVs will also display iPod song metadata and iPod-stored pictures and video.
The two iPod-controlling receivers incorporate proprietary technology to enhance the sound quality of music stored on iPods or on other brands of MP3 players. The other brands of MP3 players would connect to the receivers via a minijack, not via an iPod docking station, and the other brands can't be controlled from the receivers.
The proprietary technology, called Compressed Music Enhancer, restores lows and highs stripped from music during the ripping process or when transferred from a PC, the company said.
The Neural-equipped receivers will support XM's plans, now set for April, to begin 5.1-channel broadcasting 24/7 on two channels and offer a variety of special shows and live performances in Neural surround.
Select analog and digital FM stations have also begun limited 5.1-channel broadcasting using the technology, created by Kirkland, Wash.-based Neural Audio.
The 7x100-watt RX-V659 at $549 features 192kHz/24-bit DACs for all seven channels; Pure Direct, which ensures signal purity from both analog and digital sources; and a jitter-reduction circuit for a clear sound image during playback of digital sources such as DVD and cable TV.
It also features Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer technology, which simplifies home theater set-up by using parametric equalization to automatically correct for response errors created by a toom's acoustical influences.
Also included: Yamaha's Quad-Field Cinema DSP system, which provides a choice of 14 realistic-sounding surround programs and delivers 7.1 channels of sound compatible with all the latest surround sound formats.
The $549 model also features eight-channel analog inputs for external decoders accommodate high-resolution audio formats like DVD-Audio, SACD, HD DVD and Blu-ray disc players.
The $449 RX-V559 is rated at 6x95 watts, and the $349 V459 is rated at 6x90 watts. Details on these models were unavailable.
The three new models replace three existing models and complement two new XM-ready receivers introduced at International CES.
Earlier this year, Pioneer announced March deliveries of the $299-suggested retail XM-ready VSX-816-K/-S receiver, which would be the first Neural-equipped receiver on the market if it ships on time.
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