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Receivers, DVD Players Embrace Options

9/06/2004 02:00:00 AM Eastern

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More Players, Technologies Vie In HTiB

New home theater electronics and DVD players on display at the CEDIA Expo will give consumers more connectivity, format and lifestyle-oriented options in the home.

To expand connectivity options, suppliers will offer more receivers that up-convert composite and S-Video to component video and more universal SACD/DVD-AV players with HDMI outputs for a digital connection to HDTV displays.

To expand format options, suppliers will offer more universal players and more receivers with Dolby Pro Logic IIx and Dolby Headphone.

To expand lifestyle choices, Marantz will show its first DVD-receiver-based HTiB; NAD will show a two-channel DVD-receiver that uses SRS 3D to add width and depth to the sound stage; and Sharp will show a second-generation wall-mountable HTiB system (see story, right).

To provide more flexibility in speaker placement and enhance music and soundtrack realism, more receivers on display automatically compensate for the negative sonic impact of a room's acoustics.

Here's what select suppliers will show:

Harman Kardon: Dealers will find a new five-receiver lineup that includes the brand's first three receivers with room-acoustics compensation.

With the introductions, the company will also extend Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Headphone and Dolby Virtual Speaker to seven of eight receivers, from three. It will also expand up-conversion to component to two receivers from one.

The receiver quintet opens with the six-channel $449-suggested AVR 135, which features HD-compatible component-video input, onscreen display from the component output, and triple-crossover bass management. To these features, the $549 AVR235 and $799 AVR335 add seven-channel amps, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Headphone, Dolby Virtual Speaker, and quadruple-crossover bass management. The AVR 335 also adds room-acoustics compensation.

To the aforementioned features, the $999 AVR435 adds A-BUS distributed-audio technology, RS-232 port, ability to simultaneously power a home theater and remote stereo zone, and a tuner-upgrade slot for a service-center-installed upgrade to add a satellite-radio tuner or HD Radio tuner. To these features, the top-end $1,299 AVR635 adds 75 watts per channel and up-conversion of composite and S-Video to component video.

Select receivers are due in September and October, with the remaining available in late fall.

Integra: Dealers will find two new single-disc universal-DVD players that expand the brand's universal selection to four SKUs from one. They'll include the brand's first DVD player — a universal model — with HDMI output. The brand no longer offers DVD-Audio/Video players.

Integra is also incorporating automatic room-acoustics compensation and Dolby Pro Logic IIx for the first time in two new receivers.

Also on display: the DTR-10.5 receiver, shown at CES and due around November. The base model will retail for a suggested $3,800. Optional XM and HD Radio upgrade cards will be available a couple of months later, the company said.

One of the new universal players is the $500-suggested DPS-6.5, due in September, and the flagship DPS-10.5, available since August at a suggested $2,500. The 10.5 is the brand's first DVD player with HDMI/HDCP output. The DPS-6.5 features 2:3 pull-down, decodes MP3 and WMA-encoded CDs, and plays JPEG CDs and DVD+R/RW discs.

In receivers, the $700-suggested DTR-5.5 and $1,000-suggested THX Select-certified DTR-6.5 will ship in September with Dolby Pro Logic IIx and room-acoustics compensation. With the launches, component-video up-conversion becomes available at $700 instead of $1,000. Both models feature A-BUS distributed-audio port and powered second-zone output, enabling the seven-channel receivers to simultaneously drive a 5.1-channel home theater and a remote stereo zone. The $1,000 model adds digital bass management for DVD-Audio/SACD analog inputs.

A third receiver due in September, the $500-suggested DTR-4.5, features 5.1-channel processing. It also comes with A-BUS port and two-source/two-zone capability through a second-zone preamp output.

Integra Research: The brand's first DVD player with HDMI/HDCP output is the single-disc universal RDV-1.1, due around October at a suggested $4,000. It also features HDMI input/switcher, enabling consumers to plug two HDMI-equipped sources through the DVD player to a video display that offers only one HDMI input.

Also on display: the RDC-7.1 preamp/processor due around November. The base price is a suggested $4,000. HD Radio and XM upgrade cards will be available a couple months later.

McIntosh: The company's first universal DVD player and first seven-channel amp will be displayed alongside a new A/V preamp/processor, which will be the company's first with Dolby Pro Logic IIx and DTS Neo:6. It will also be the company's first preamp/processor in years with a phono preamp.

The MVP861 universal player, due in November at a suggested $4,000, will replace a DVD-Audio/Video player.

The MC207 seven-channel amp complements a six-channel model and delivers 200 watts per channel, driven simultaneously into either 4-ohm or 8-ohm loads. It can simultaneously drive a five-channel home theater and remote two-channel second zone. It's available at a suggested $6,000

Available now, the $7,600 MX135 preamp processor, like its predecessor, accepts optional AM/FM tuner card and up-converts composite and S-Video to component. The number of component-video inputs grows to five from three, and substantially more processing power is included.

NAD: The number of DVD-receivers goes to two with the launch of the company's first DVD-receiver with DVD-Audio playback and its first two-channel model.

The company also plans to show off the running changes it has made to three home theater receivers and a tuner/preamp/processor. They've been upgraded to become the first NAD receivers with Dolby Pro Logic IIx. They also now feature more flexible setup options and an enhanced bass setting.

The DVD-receiver with DVD-Audio is the $999-suggested L73, due in the fourth quarter with 5x45-watt (into 8 ohms) amp. It is the company's first–ever product with Dolby Virtual Speaker and Dolby Headphone. It also features component-video input and output, Dolby Pro Logic II, RDS tuning, MP3-CD playback and proprietary EARS circuitry to extract ambience from a two-channel recording and direct it to surround speakers.

The two-channel DVD-receiver is the L53, due in the fourth at a suggested $599. It features 2x50-watt amp and SRS 3D circuitry to add width and depth to the soundstage. Other features include MP3-CD playback, component-video output, RDS tuning and titanium finish.

Pioneer: In its Elite series, the company plans to introduce three new receivers, bringing the number of Elite receivers with two-zone/two-source capability to all four models in the series, from three. The introductions also bring the number of Elite receivers with Dolby Pro Logic IIx and component-video up-conversion to all four SKUs, from one.

The $1,000-suggested VSX-52TX, $1,500 VSX-54TX and $1,700 VSX-56TXi began shipping recently with THX Select certification. All three feature new extra-large capacitors to improve bass reproduction, sound staging and clarity while lowering the noise floor, the company said. The three also feature refined versions of Elite's MACC room-acoustics compensation technology.

Theta Digital: The company will demonstrate its Compli universal DVD player with new DVI card to deliver a 480p digital video signal directly to the digital DVI input of a connected display. With DVI card, the Compli retails for a suggested $5,900, up from $4,500. Other video connections include composite, S-Video and component.

Yamaha: The company plans to expand its selection of universal DVD players.

Included is the new $699 universal DVD-S2500, Yamaha's first DVD player with HDMI/HDCP output, which up-converts DVD video to 720p or 1,080i HD formats. It ships in January.

Two new receivers are the $799-suggested RX-V1500 and $999-suggested RX-V2500. Like their predecessors, they're THX Select certified and feature Dolby Pro Logic IIx, room-acoustics compensation and up-conversion of video inputs to component-video output. The new models add DTS Neo:6, higher power, and storage of six room-acoustics setting that can be optimized for different listening positions.

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