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Receivers, DVD-A Highlighted In Kenwood Launches

Here are the details on Kenwood's new product announcements:

Receivers: Four 4000-series receivers priced at suggested retails up to $2,000, feature 20Hz-100kHz frequency response, six-channel analog inputs, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1-channel decoding, and 96kHz/24-bit D/A and A/D converters. They're also Kenwood's first receivers to incorporate HDCD decoding. All but the lowest priced model at $800 are rated with all five channels driven simultaneously.

Most receivers' outputs are rated with only two channels driven simultaneously, which "may be an adequate way to rate output for movies, but DVD-Audio will place simultaneous [output] demands on all channels," said sales and marketing VP Bob Law.

All come with two-way RF/IR preprogrammed/learning remotes that, via the receiver, download disc titles from Kenwood's new 200-disc CD changers. On the top two models, the remote feature 3.8-inch LCD touchscreens, and they also store track titles.

None is Dolby Digital EX- or DTS ES-compatible.

The top model at a suggested $2,000 is dual-zone, dual-source. The other models are priced at $1,500 and $1,000. All are available.

DVD Players: Two of the company's first three DVD carousel changers incorporate DVD-Audio playback. Mass production is planned in July, with U.S. shipments planned for August, when the carousel DVD-Video changer is also expected to ship. Prices haven't been determined.

The DVD-A/V changers incorporate built-in DD and DTS 5.1-channel decoding and 192kHz/24-bit DACs for the left and right channels. The DVD-V changer doesn't include these features, but all feature component outputs.

One new single-disc DVD-Video player, the Spectrum-series DV-403, ships in May at an everyday $299, which includes component video output and 96/24 DACs for the left-right channels.

All four new models play CD-RW discs but not CD-R discs.

HTiB: Attesting to DVD's mainstream status, the Spectrum DVD player will be part of two of six new home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB) receiver/speaker packages at a suggested $700 and $800. The company opted against using DVD-receivers for its HTiB packages, said market strategy manager Petro Shimonishi, because "there's more perceived value for a separate DVD player and receiver." In addition, the concept introduced a broader customer base to receivers, who might later upgrade.

The company increased its HTiB selection from last year's four SKUs. All packages feature Dolby Digital, and four add DTS Digital Surround. Three feature six-channel inputs for DVD-Audio/Video players.

DVD will likely wind up next year in Kenwood shelf systems, Shimonishi said.

CD Changers, Recorders: Each of two new 200-disc CD changers, priced at a suggested $600 and $300, feature Escient protocols that enable the devices to communicate via serial port to a PC loaded with free NetNamer software (which users must download for free from Kenwood's website). The software identifies the discs in the connected changer, then accesses Escient's CDDB database via Kenwood's site to download disc and song names into the changer.

The latter model is in the Spectrum series. Both ship in April with included IR keyboard for adding the titles of newly purchased discs.

Kenwood's dual-well CD-R/RW recorder is scheduled to ship in May at a likely everyday price of $499. The 2x speed dubbing deck was originally scheduled to ship last year.

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