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Custom Features, Technologies Trickle Down In Yamaha

4/09/2007 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Yamaha is brining custom-oriented features and other technologies to lower price points with the launch of four new A/V receivers.

The four receivers have suggested retails of $199, $299, $499 and $999. All but the $999 RV-V861 shipped in March. The V861 ships in mid-to-late May. The $499 and $999 models are seven-channel receivers, and the others are five-channel models.

With the introductions, the opening suggested retail for dual IR code sets goes to $199, as does the opening price for extended IR codes. The new opening suggested retail for receivers that automatically play at a preset volume level when turned on goes to $299 from $1,200.

Dual IR code sets allow for independent control of more than one Yamaha receiver in a custom installation, said national training manager Phil Shea. Extended IR codes deliver IR control of all features, enabling installers to program in-wall keypad or touch-panel macros with a higher level of customization. Preset-volume turn-on for zones one and two is ideal for small offices such as doctor's offices, he said.

All but the $199 model are Yamaha's first receivers with a consumer-accessible "scene" feature, which delivers one-button startup of all Yamaha components in a home theater system. Four macro buttons on the receiver' front panel and included remote can be programmed for radio, CD, home theater, TV or iPod turn-on and listening modes. Once a button is pressed, the receiver and other connected Yamaha components, including DVD player, automatically turn on. Then the receiver switches to the proper input and to a preset listening level, and the correct surround mode is engaged, Shea said.

New technologies trickling down to lower price points include XM Satellite Radio controls, 5.1-channel Neural Surround decoding for select XM channels, connectivity to Yamaha's iPod dock and automatic room equalization.

Neural Surround starts at $199 suggested retail, down from $299. XM controls start at $199, down from $399. Connectivity to Yamaha's iPod dock starts at $299, down from $399. Compressed Music Enhancer technology, designed to restore low and high frequencies to compressed music, starts at $199, down from $399. And automatic room equalization, delivering seven channels of parametric EQ per amplifier channel, starts at $299, down from $499, including microphone.

The $499 RX-V661 and $999 RX-V861 are also the company's first receivers with Simplay HD-certified HDMI inputs and outputs, certifying that they feature the HDMI repeater function. Although Yamaha has always offered the HDMI repeater function on its HDMI-equipped receivers, Shea said, the Simplay logo will ensure consumers know that they'll get a picture when an A/V receiver is connected via HDMI cable to set-top boxes and DVD players whose Simplay logo certifies that they recognize HDMI-repeater components.

The V861 and V661 are two of a handful of A/V receivers in their price range to switch automatically between single-zone 7.1-channel mode to a two-zone mode that simultaneously powers 5.1 channels in the home theater zone and two-channel stereo in a second zone, said Shea. Typically, seven-channel receivers at these price points must be configured through their setup menu to deliver either seven channels of surround sound or five channels of surround plus two channels of stereo. Once the setting is set, consumers live with it unless they go through the setup menu again, Shea explained. Yamaha accomplishes this in part by putting nine speaker outputs on the back panel of the seven-channel receiver.

The next A/V receivers from Yamaha will be introduced in the fall.