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Yamaha Taps Into 1,080p, Networked PCs

8/21/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Yamaha incorporated the latest video technologies in new A/V receivers and DVD players to keep pace with the launch of 1,080p high-definition displays and high-definition disc players.

Three new universal DVD players include Yamaha's first two 1,080p up-scaling models, the $449-suggested DVD-S1700 and $999 DVD-S2700. The third player, the DVD-S659, reduces the opening price of 1,080i up-scaling DVD players to a suggested $179 from $749. All play DVD-Audio and SACD discs.

Two of the company's three new receivers, the $1,299-suggested RX-V1700 and $1,699 RX-V2700, are Yamaha's first with 1,080p input and output. The $1,699 unit also expands Yamaha's selection of 1,080i-upscaling models to two from one. The other 1,080i-upscaling model is the $1,399 RX-V2600. Both models upscale from any analog or digital video source, but the new models use an improved video processor.

All of the products but the low-end DVD player feature RS-232 ports for control by third-party whole home control panels.

The $1,699 V2700 receiver and the new $649 N600 are the company's first two products to stream music from an Ethernet-networked PC and directly from Internet radio stations through a broadband connection.

All three new receivers expand Yamaha's selection of products with iPod-docking-station compatibility to seven, with XM-ready port to 22, and with Neural 5.1-channel surround processing to 10. The products include home systems. Neural's technology decodes stereo-compatible discrete 5.1-channel broadcasts from select XM Satellite Radio channels and from a handful of terrestrial radios stations.

In other introductions, the company launched its highest quality, highest price speaker to date, the Soavo-1; and a new single-speaker surround-sound system in its Digital Sound Projector series, which is intended to reduce home theater cable clutter and simplify home-theater setup. The new model expands the surround-sound sweet spot and retains custom-friendly features such as an IR input and output for integration with other audio/video components and an RS-232 port.

Projectors combine multiple tiny drivers, digital signal processors, and surround-sound decoders to deliver discrete 5.1- and 6.1-channel sound fields from a single horizontal speaker enclosure that can be hung on a wall above or below a flat-panel display or placed on top of an A/V cabinet or rear-projection TV.

All products begin shipping in September through October. Here's what Yamaha will be touting in the third and fourth quarters:

DVD players: The $999 S2700 and $449 S1700 incorporate a video scaler that outputs DVD movies in high-definition 720p, 1,080i, or 1,080p quality through an HDMI connection. They feature aluminum front panels, Faroudja DCDi video processing, SACD and DVD-Audio playback with bass management, and play back of discs encoded with MP3 and Windows Media Audio (WMA) files, JPEG images and DivX video.

The $179-suggested S659 up-scales DVD video to 720p or 1,080i via an HDMI output. With DivX Ultra certification, it plays back discs encoded with all versions of DivX video, including DivX 6. It also plays MP3, WMA and JPEG discs.

Receivers: The $1,699 RX-V2700 and $1,299 V1700 are Yamaha's first receivers with 1,080p HDMI input and output. Both also deinterlace 480i signals to 480p. In addition, the V2700 up-scales analog and digital video to 720p or 1,080i. It joins a 1,080i-upscaling receiver, the $1,399 RX-V2600, but adds an improved video processor.

These receivers and the $649 N600 are XM-ready models with Neural surround processing and port for an optional $99 iPod docking station. With the trio, Yamaha expands its selection of Neural-equipped XM-ready receivers to complement three models priced at $349, $449 and $549. The three new models also join the $449 and $549 models in controlling iPods.

To enhance iPod sound quality, Yamaha's iPod-controlling receivers feature Compressed Music Enhancer to restore lows and highs stripped from music during the ripping process or when transferred from a PC.

The V2700 and N600 are the first two Yamaha receivers with an Ethernet port and Windows Media Connect technology to stream music files stored on a networked PC and stream Internet radio stations through a networked broadband modem. The receivers decode MP3, WMA and WAV files from a PC.

Consumers will be able to select songs by viewing song metadata on the front-panel display or on a connected TV. A catalog of Internet stations also appears on the displays as cataloged by an aggregation service contracted by Yamaha.

The receiver also controls Yamaha's Ethernet-equipped MusicCAST music server, which distributes music via wireless Wi-Fi to multiple clients, which look like executive-style shelf systems but require optional speakers.

The V2700 and V1700 add an upgraded version of Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO) technology, which simplifies home theater setup by using parametric equalization to automatically correct for response errors created by a room's acoustics. The updated version corrects down to 31.5Hz from 63Hz.

Both also power three zones simultaneously through their internal seven-channel amplifiers. When additional zones are turned on, the amplifier reconfigures automatically for 5.1+2 channels or 3.1+2+2 channels.

Digital Sound Projectors: The latest is the $1,699-suggested YSP-1100, replacing the same-price YSP-1000 and adding a larger sweet spot, RS-232 port, and IR in/out. It also features component-video input and output.

Each Sound Projector contains multiple tiny drivers, each driven by its own dedicated digital amplifier to create focused "beams" of sound to produce direct and reflected sound waves that deliver multi-channel surround effects as well as stereo and three-channel sound.

The Projectors incorporate decoders for Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6 surround sound formats, and they include three CINEMA DSP surround settings for listening to music, movies, or sports. A new MyBeam mode lets users focus sound to a specific seating position to avoid disturbing others.

The YSP-1100 also incorporates an improved version of an automated system calibration to adjust the sound for best effect. Another model in the series is the $899-suggested YSP-800.

Soavo-1 speaker: Called a concept speaker, the high-performance three-way bass-reflex dual-woofer speaker is the company's highest quality, highest priced model to date, but pricing wasn't announced. It's said to deliver natural sound with no coloration. Its birch cabinet features nonparallel surfaces available in four finishes. Pricing hasn't been announced.

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