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Onkyo Launches Dolby Pro Logic IIz

3/12/2009 12:28:00 AM Eastern

Upper Saddle River, N.J. — A trio of new low- to midprice A/V receivers (AVRs) from Onkyo include the world’s first AVR with Dolby Pro Logic IIz post processing which derives height information from two-, 5.1- and 7.1-channel soundtracks for playback through two front-height speakers.

The AVR is the $599-suggested TX-SR607, a 7.2-channel model promoted as the industry’s first AVR with front-panel HDMI input. It ships in April. Two other new AVRs are the TX-SR307 and TX-SR507, both 5.1-channel models due in March at a suggested $299 and $399, respectively. They lack IIz.

Dolby Pro Logic IIz adds a vertical component to horizontal soundfields to enhance the realism and airiness to movie soundtracks and games, Dolby said. The technology elevates the sounds of hovering helicopters in games and movies, and in music videos, it adds more depth, dimension and presence, Dolby added. Planes flying overhead, for example, will actually sound as if they’re flying overhead rather than through a listener sitting on the couch. Height speakers would be placed above the front left-right speakers.

Onkyo marketing manager Paul Wasek promised the technology will trigger what he called the “duck reflex” when aircraft fly overhead. He also said Onkyo launched the technology in its highest volume AVR rather than in more expensive models “to reach out to a much larger customer base.”

Nonetheless, Onkyo will bring IIz to higher-priced A/V receivers when it rolls out additional models over the summer. In those products, the company will also bring Internet radio and networked-audio technologies to lower price points, he said.

Other developments of note in the three new AVRs are the inclusion of the company's new rear-panel U-Port universal port in the $599 SR607 and $399 SR507. The port connects to a planned HD Radio tuner and an iPod dock due in the spring.

In addition, the new line brings decoding of all Blu-ray surround formats and HDMI 1.3a inputs to $399 from $599. The $299 model lacks decoding of DTS HD High Resolution, DTS HD Master, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus.

HDMI repeater starts at $399 compared to last year’s $599. The new $299 model features HDMI pass-through switching. Support for HDMI Deep Color and x.v. color starts at $299 like last year.

Audyssey’s 2EQ room correction and Dynamic EQ technologies start at $299 instead of $379, and Dolby Audyssey’s 2EQ room correction and Dynamic EQ technologies start at $299 instead of $379, and Audyssey Dynamic Volume starts at $299 as well. Onkyo offered Audyssey Dynamic Volume last year but at prices starting at $2,000 and up, the company said.

None of the three does 1080p up-scaling, but up-conversion of video sources to HDMI starts at $599 as it did last year. The $599 607 also adds Sirius-ready capability.