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Pioneer Steps Up 6-Ch. Music Plans, Will Test A/V Network

Pioneer stepped up its multichannel music commitment with the introduction of two combination SACD/DVD-AV players at suggested retails of $500 and $1,000, its first two HTiB systems equipped with DVD-AV players, and its first entry-level DVD-AV player, priced at a suggested $329.

One of the two Elite-series combination players is the company’s first DVD deck with IEEE-1394 digital output, intended to transfer all formats of digital audio [but not digital video] over a single cable to a 1394-equipped Elite-series receiver that decodes the formats. The output replaces six analog cables needed to connect SACD and DVD-Audio players to receivers. The output will also transfer movie-soundtrack formats, eliminating another cable connection.

Pioneer expects to receive DVD Forum sanctioning of its digital connector by September, when the DVD player is targeted to ship, said product planning VP Matthew Dever. The receiver is due in October at a suggested $4,500.

Both combination players are the company’s first with SACD/DVD-Audio bass management. They’ll replace the company’s first multichannel-SACD/ DVD-AV player, which has been available at a suggested $1,000 since earlier this year.

During a press briefing, the company also said the following:

  • In July it would begin a four- to five-month beta test of its Linux-based DigitaLibrary A/V-network device, whose targeted price is $999. Clients, or “branches,” will cost about half that. Production is expected to begin in December. The device would distribute SSI-encrypted audio and still pictures on the hard drive to multiple TVs and audio systems in a house, and it will stream Internet audio and video via a broadband connection.
  • It will, during the week of June 24th, announce DigitaLink content and technology partners. They’ll include two Internet-based video-streaming services that will be offered free. Technology partners will include makers of no-new-wires home-network technology to supplement the system’s Ethernet connectability. Pioneer is paying the content partners to re-encode their content to a higher quality bit rate that is still to be decided. It will be anywhere from 500kbps-700kbps versus the providers’standard 200kbps, said new-technology development manager Chris Walker. Music and video content will also be preloaded on the device.
  • It added to its Elite series with the 43W-inch 16:9 PureVision Elite PRO-800HD. It ships this month at a suggested $12,000.
  • It has added Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES decoding to a Pioneer-series receiver for the first time, joining Elite series receivers.
  • It incorporated Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES decoding for the first time in two new HTiB systems. One of these systems is also one of Pioneer’s first two HTiBs with DVD-A/V players.