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Onkyo Readies First AVRs In ’08 Series

Upper Saddle River, N.J. — Onkyo will ship the first two A/V receivers (AVRs) in its 2008 lineup in April, bringing powered second-zone audio, front-channel biamplification and automatic room equalization to $299 and $399 street prices for the first time and HDMI passthrough to a street price of $299 for the first time.

The two 7.1-channel models, the $299 TX-SR506 and $399 TX-SR576, also bring compressed-music optimizer technology to the Onkyo line for the first time, said marketing manager Paul Wasek.

The next round of new AVRs will start shipping midyear, he said.

The opening-price 506 features HDMI 1.3a 1080p passthrough with Deep Color support, with separate connection for audio. The step-up 576 uses HDMI 1.2a but allows 1080p Deep Color video and audio to pass through the same HDMI cable. The 576 also adds decoding of Dolby Digital Plus and 7.1-channel PCM.

Both models simultaneously drive a 5.1-channel home theater ands two-channel remote-zone audio, and both use Audyssey’s 2EQ automatic room calibration. They’re also said to be among the first products to use Audyssey’s Dynamic EQ technology, which maintains a consistent volume level when video sources are switched, TV channels are changed, TV programs transition to commercials and programs transition from loud to soft passages. The technology also dynamically adjusts frequency response to compensate for the human ear’s lower sensitivity to bass and treble sounds as volume levels decrease. Likewise, it adjusts surround levels in real time when volume levels change.

Both receivers’ are also the brand’s first to implement proprietary Music Optimizer technology to improve the quality of compressed-music files. Both models also connect to the company’s iPod docks, which can be connected to other-brand AVRs. When connected to Onkyo AVRs, however, the docked iPod can be controlled from the AVR’s remote. Onscreen iPod menus appear on a connected TV when the dock is connected to any brand of AVR, the company said.

HDMI transcoding and decoding of all Blu-ray surround formats, but not high-definition up-scaling, currently start at a street price of $499 in the Onkyo AVR line, and those features will start at the same price point when new models are launched midyear, Wasek said.