By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Vancouver, British Columbia — New audio products introduced here by Sony include the first ES receivers with custom-install features and the first ES-branded multichannel-SACD/DVD-Video player.
Of four new ES receivers already shipping, two feature custom-oriented 12-volt triggers, IR passthrough, and RS-232 ports — none of which appeared in previous-generation models. The two models are the STR-DA7ES and -DA4ES, retailing at an everyday $2,300 and $1,000, respectively.
The DA7ES is a three-zone receiver with three 12-volt triggers. The DA4ES is a two-zone model with two 12-volt triggers. They're also the first ES receivers to upconvert composite video to S-video. The triggers allow for automatic turn on of motorized screens or drapes. In distributed-audio applications, the triggers can stagger the turn-on times of outboard amps to prevent current surges.
The RS-232 ports allow for future software upgrades and integration with whole-house control systems. Sony is offering dealers software that they can install in Crestron and AMX control systems, which would deliver full discrete access to all of the receivers' functions through the Crestron and AMX GUIs.
Both models, and a third, appear to be the first ES receivers to upconvert composite video to S-Video and to offer licensed Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES discrete and matrix. They also offer DTS Neo:6, and Dolby Pro Logic II. They are the first ES receivers to decode DTS 96/24.
Multiple Sony marketers were unavailable for comment at press time.
The DA7ES and DA4ES feature seven-channel amps. The DA7ES also includes a touch-screen remote.
All four new ES receivers are already available.
Sony also detailed its first two ES-series integrated DVD/SACD-receivers, shown originally at the Home Entertainment Show in May. They join integrated models that are part of non-ES DVD/SACD-equipped home-theater-in-a-box Dream System.
The two SACD/DVD-receivers feature multichannel SACD playback with built-in SACD bass management. They're due in September at an everyday $1,000 for a 5x120-watt five-disc model and $800 for the 5x100-watt single-disc model, both with silver finishes to match Sony TVs. They will feature enhanced versions of Digital Drive amplification technology that appeared for the first time in non-ES Dream Systems just now hitting store shelves. The pair's digital preamp/amp directly accepts a 1-bit SACD signal and amplifies it in the digital domain, delivering 90-percent efficiency that enables Sony to reduce the size of heat sinks and power supplies to offer low-profile chassis.
The two models are designed "to bridge the gap between early adopters and the family segment," said home audio marketing director David Bent.
The ES-brand SACD/DVD-Video player, due in October at an expected everyday $1,199, replaces a $999-everyday model that lacked the ES name but was nonetheless sold through ES dealers, said marketing manager Bruce Tripido. The new model offers "the characteristics that we want in ES," Tripido said. New features include 14-bit 108MHz video DAC to boost the S/N ratio, progressive-scan 3:2 pull-down with vertical-edge compensation to prevent stair-stepping, separate speaker-distance adjustments for SACD and DVD-Video, slimmer remote with small LCD screen, and MP3 playback. Other features include SACD bass management, separate shielded audio and video boards, and Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoding.
In updating SACD software availability, Sony said by the end of the year, 510 SACD discs would be available in the United States, up from 450 as of late May. Of the 510, 197 will be multichannel discs (up from 155 in late May), with 134 of those being hybrid CD/SACD discs (up from 121). The remaining 313 discs available at year's end will be stereo discs, and 182 of them will be hybrid.
In other ES introductions, Sony showed an ES 5+1 CD-recorder with five-disc carousel and single CD-recording well, joining a dual-well recorder unveiled earlier this year. Sony wasn't able to provide details on pricing and availability.
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