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Onkyo To Step Up Promotions, Sharpen Prices, Add Products

Onkyo will step up its training and promotional schedule in 1999 and become more price-aggressive, particularly in DVD-Video players, without sacrificing "our performance and construction-quality story," said senior VP Mark Friedman.

The company, which will spell out its strategies during a May dealer event, also said it plans summertime deliveries of its first DTS Digital Surround-equipped receivers and its first THX-certified product, a Dolby Digital/ DTS receiver bearing the THX Select badge.

"We'll support different THX standards," Friedman said. "This product [the Select-certified receiver] won't be the last."

In the fall, he added, Onkyo plans to "become a factor in digital products" by adding additional digital formats on top of DVD-Video and MiniDisc, but he declined to say if they would be CD-R/RW, DVD-Audio or Super Audio CD.

Onkyo demonstrated prototypes of a DVD-Audio player and a separate SACD player at January's CES.

The 1999 products to be shown at a planned mid-May national dealer show will include a trio of "global standard" receivers that are ready for almost anything, said Friedman.

They feature DTS and Dolby Digital decoding, 5.1-channel inputs for use with future DVD-based multichannel players, the ability to communicate with leading distributed-audio systems, and amplification that will handle the future formats' dynamic range and frequency re-sponse (up to 100kHz for Super Audio CD). The trio of receivers starts out at a suggested $529. The top-end model will be THX Select-certified.

During its event, Onkyo will also announce pricing and a ship date for the industry's first six-disc carousel CD/DVD-Video changer.

The changer and other products will reflect pricing that will be "more competitive by far than what we had before," Friedman said. Nonetheless, Onkyo will also continue to produce the "best-constructed, highest quality value-added products."

To support its new products, Onkyo will "start an ongoing promotional calendar" and aggressive dealer- and rep-training program. The company "had good promotions," but they "were not ongoing," he said. The new promos will include consumer promotions on the global receivers and other products.

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