Denon is expanding its selection of Blu-ray 2.0 players, adopting the Dolby Pro Logic IIz and Audyssey DSX post-processing surround technologies, and bringing networking, HD Radio and embedded decoding of all Blu-ray surround formats to lower-priced A/V receivers (AVRs).
At a press conference here last week, Denon unveiled 16 products, including nine AVRs priced from a suggested $349 to $1,999, four of which are in the retail home-theater series targeted to select CE retailers. The others are targeted to A/V specialists and installers. All 16 products ship between May and August.
Among the AVRs, three incorporate both networking and HD Radio, bringing the starting price point for either feature in an AVR to a suggested $1,499 in the AVR-990 in the company’s retail home-theater series. The other two AVRs with HD Radio and networking are the $1,499 AVR-3310CI and $1,999 AVR-4310CI. In the previous lineup, HD Radio started at $2,499 in an AVR, and networking started at $1,699.
The networked receivers stream music from a networked PC, from Internet radio stations and from the Rhapsody and Napster music services. The AVRs also download firmware upgrades via the Internet and enable systems integrators to diagnose problems remotely via a Web interface.
With the launches, Denon is expanding its selection of networked AVRs to four from three, including its first networked AVR in the home-theater series. They join a networked preamp/processor, networked tabletop iPod-docking music system and networked iPod docks. The launches also expand the selection of HD Radio-equipped AVRs to four from two, plus an HD Radio-equipped preamp-processor and tabletop music system.
Also in AVRs, Denon is including Dolby Pro Logic IIz for the first time to add front-height channels to a surround system. The technology appears in all of the new 5.1 and 7.1-channel models, starting with the $349-suggested 5.1-channel AVR-590 in the retail home-theater series. The industry’s first AVR with Audyssey DSX technology is the $1,999-suggested 7.1-channel AVR-4310CI. In the 4310CI, Audyssey DSX can be used either to add a pair of horizontal-plane front speakers to expand the width of the front soundstage or a pair of front-height channels. The 4310CI’s DSX implementation doesn’t support simultaneous height and width channels, but Denon later this year plans a 9.1-channel DSX receiver that could do both simultaneously. (Visit www.TWICE.com for more on the Audyssey technology.)
Dolby IIz delivers multichannel surround with height channels from mono, two-channel and multichannel audio sources, but DSX adds width and height channels only to sources with 5.1 or more channels, Denon noted.
Also in its AVR selection, Denon is reducing the opening price for decoding of all Blu-ray surround formats to $349 from $599 with the launch of the AVR-590.
Denon is also bringing HDMI 1.3a repeater inputs to all AVRs with onscreen GUI over HDMI and analog-to-HDMI conversion to ensure that all AVRs deliver a one-cable connection to an HDTV. The feature mix starts at a suggested $349.
The company said it is improving video processing in many models with the addition of Anchor Bay’s 10-bit processing with 12-bit output, replacing 8-bit processing from Faroudja.
The streaming of the subscription-based Napster service has been added for the first time to join Rhapsody streaming in networked AVRs.
Denon is also expanding the number of models with Audyssey’s Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ technologies and Audyssey’s MultEQ room-error correction.
There will also be more AVRs with the fourth edition of Denon Link HDMI technology, now appearing in the $1,999 AVR-4310CI and, after a free firmware update available in June, in the existing flagship $5,500 AVR-5308CI receiver and in the existing $7,500 AVP-A1HDCI preamp/processor. In Blu-ray players, Denon offers the technology in the $4,500 DVD-A1 universal Blu-ray 2.0 player due at the end of the month.
Denon Link 4 adds the ability for the AVR or preamp/processor to take over the master clock and jitter-control functions of a disc player equipped with Denon Link 4. Like the previous Denon Link versions, Denon Link 4 carries all digital audio signals, including SACD streams in native DSD form, in fully balanced mode from Denon Link-equipped DVD-Audio/SACD players.
In networked iPod/iPhone docks, Denon is launching the $299-suggested ASD-51W with Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and the $249-suggested wired-Ethernet ASD-51N, both due in August with many of the AVR connections of previous model, but they can access Rhapsody and Napster.
Also new is Wi-Fi-protected setup, enabling connection to a wireless router without the user entering a password or SSID, and the ability to stream iPod-stored music simultaneously to up to five networked Denon devices in a home; IP control for integration with home-control systems; a digital coaxial stereo output and DLNA 1.5 certification are more new features. Both docks send iPod-stored music over analog or digital-coaxial audio outputs to an AVR. iPod video goes over an S-Video output.
In Blu-ray, the company is adding the $499-suggested DBP-1610CI and $699 DBP-2010CI, both featuring Profile 2.0 out of the box. The new models, due in July, decode all Blu-ray formats and output all surround formats in native form to HDMI 1.3-connected AVRs and preamp processors.