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Denon Adds Dolby IIz, Audyssey DSX

New York — 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, Denon unveiled 16 new products, including nine new A/V receivers 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 AV specialists and installers. All 16 products ship between May and August.

The company also replaced two networked iPod docks and launched three new headphones, including its first in-ear noise-cancelling headphone.

Among the new 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 new 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.

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;
  • bringing HDMI 1.3a repeater inputs to all AVRs with on-screen 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 HDMI connections also support Deep Color, x.v.YCC color, and CEC Consumer Electronics Control.
  • 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.
  • adding streaming of the subscription-based Napster service for the first time to join Rhapsody streaming in networked AVRs;
  • expanding the number of models with Audyssey’s Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ technologies and Audyssey’s MultEQ room-error correction; and
  • dropping embedded WiFo from networked receivers of noise and WiFi’s difficulty in handling data-heavy firmware upgrades from the Internet.
  • expanding the number of AVRs with the fourth edition of Denon Link HDMI technology, now appearing in the new $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 and announced late last year.

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. Like before, the new models connect to AVRs with a dock input that enables the AVR’s remote to control the docked iPod. Also like before, the new models stream Internet radio stations, but the new models also access the Rhapsody and Napster music services. 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 is also new, as is a digital coaxial stereo output and DLNA 1.5 certification, enabling the docks to reproduce music streamed from a WiFi-equipped DLNA 1.5 cellphone. Both docks send iPod-stored music over analog or digital-coaxial audio outputs to an AVR. iPod video goes over an S-Video output.

Both docks are compatible with iPhone, but it’s not yet certain they will ship with Made for iPhone certification, the company said.

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. (See related story.) They’re due in July to expand the company’s 2.0 selection, which currently consists of the previously announced 2.0-ready $4,500 DVD-A1 universal player. The player, due this month with ability to play DVD-Audio and SACD discs, is capable of a firmware update to Profile 2.0 via the Internet. The update is due in June.

The new models, which will replace BD 1.1 models at $749 and $1,999, decode all Blu-ray formats and output all surround formats in native form to HDMI 1.3-connected AVRs and preamp processors. Both players also feature DixvHD playback and AVCHD playback from Blu-ray discs made from HD camcorders, the company said.

New headphones include the $199-suggested AH-NC600, the company’s first in-ear noise-canceling headphones. It’s the company’s first headphones with compressed audio restorer technology, brought over from its AVRs to restore high-end frequencies to compressed music. The NC600 joins Denon’s $299 on-ear noise-canceling headphones.