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Yamaha AVRs, HTiBs Tap New Sources

Yamaha is tapping into more audio sources with the launch of new mainstream A/V receivers (AVRs) and home theater in a box systems (HTiBs).

With the shipment of five AVRs priced from a suggested $229 to $999, the company is expanding its selection of HD Radio models to two, incorporating dual XM/Sirius-ready capability for the first time, offering a stereo Bluetooth option for the first time, and expanding its selection of AVRs with HDMI 1.3 input and decoding of all surround-sound formats approved for use on Blu-ray and HD DVD discs.

With the shipment of four new HTiBs from $399 to $849, the company is incorporating dual XM/Sirius-ready capability for the first time and offering a stereo Bluetooth option for the first time.

The launches supplement three high-end AVRs launched late last year at suggested retails of $1,299, $1,699 and $5,499.

With the five new receivers, Yamaha brought the opening price of HDMI 1.3 and decoding of all HD-disc surround formats to suggested retails of $549 and $999 on the RX-V663 and RX-V863, respectively. The first Yamaha AVRs with these features were launched late last year at $1,299, $1,699 and $5,499.

The two models also support HDMI 1.3a’s 30- and 36-bit Deep Color capability and xvYCC, or extended-gamut YCC, over HDMI cables if the high-definition disc software is encoded with it. The features were previously available in Yamaha AVRs priced at $1,299 and above.

The $999 model also brings the opening price of a 1080p/up-scaling AVR down from $1,299 and the opening price of an HD-Radio-equipped AVR down from the flagship RX-Z11’s $5,499. These are the only two Yamaha AVRs with HD Radio.

In another change, all new receivers but the opening-price $229 model feature dual XM- and Sirius-ready capability. The $229 model is neither XM- nor Sirius-ready. The satellite-ready models also offer Neural’s XM HD Surround to decode select XM channels in discrete 5.1 surround as well as Neural-encoded FM broadcasts (in analog and digital) and Neural-encoded music downloads.

Like last year, all of the new models accept an optional Yamaha iPod-docking/recharging stand, but this year, the AVRs and HTiBs also get an optional Bluetooth module to reproduce stereo music streamed from a Bluetooth-equipped cellphone or Bluetooth-equipped MP3 player. The option connects to the AVRs and HTiBs via the same proprietary input as the iPod docking cradle. The Bluetooth dock retails for a suggested $129, and the iPod dock retails for $99.

The docking/charging cradle features audio and video outputs but lacks the new Apple authentication chip to reliably ensure that video stored on the latest generation iPods can be displayed on a connected TV.

The $449, $549 and $999 models feature seven-channel amplifiers, with the $549 and $999 units offering dual subwoofer outputs instead of one. The $229 and $349 models are 5.1-channel units. The $999 and $549 models also feature two-zone audio output to deliver 5.2-channel surround in one room while simultaneously delivering two-channel stereo sound from a second source to a second zone.

The $999 RX-V863 up-scales 480i or 480p content to 1080p and features three HDMI inputs and one output, while the other four models feature have two 1080p-compatible HDMI inputs and one output. The $999 model and $549 RX-V663 also transcode video inputs to HDMI, while the $449 RX-V563 transcodes to component video.

In HTiBs there are four 5.1-channel receiver-based systems, with the $649 and $849 models being the company’s first with XM- and Sirius-ready capability. The two also feature Neural XM HD Surround.

All four models, including the $399 and $549 models, feature scene modes, two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. All accept optional Bluetooth module. As in the previous line, all connect to an optional iPod dock and feature compressed-music enhancer circuitry.

One of the models, the $849 YHT-690, features 1080i/up-scaling DVD player. The rest lack a DVD player.