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A/V Receivers Embrace New Digital Media

Frustrated component-audio suppliers hope to catch a little sales action here with A/V receivers that hook up with such attractive new technologies as satellite radio, iPod-brand MP3 players and HDTV.

Hoping to lift sagging component audio sales, suppliers will launch new A/V receivers that enthusiastically embrace satellite radio technology, largely by incorporating XM-ready Connect and Play technology to control a tiny tabletop satellite tuner/antenna combination. More receivers will embrace MP3 technology by controlling portable MP3 players, mainly iPods. Other receivers will add HDMI connections to high-definition TVs, USB ports to stream music from a PC and other connectivity to integrate more easily with custom-installed distributed-audio systems and home-control systems.

Similar evolutions are occurring here in home theater in a box and stereo shelf systems.

In component audio here at International CES, dealers will find:

  • Harman Kardon, JVC and Sherwood with their first XM-ready receivers, joining models from Onkyo USA, Pioneer Elite, Denon and Yamaha at prices starting at a suggested $399 for a Yamaha model;
  • at least two suppliers — Denon and Yamaha — expanding their selections of XM-ready receivers;
  • at least one brand, Harman Kardon, expanding its selection of iPod-controlling A/V receivers. Companies already offering such receivers include Denon, Onkyo USA and Pioneer Elite;
  • at least one more custom install supplier, AudioAccess, showing its first docking/recharging station that integrates iPods into distributed audio systems, enabling consumers to play back their iPod’s music from any room in the house (see p. 130). At least six companies already offer or have announced such products.
  • At least two companies — Harman Kardon and Yamaha — showing their first receivers with high-definition up-scaling HDMI outputs to improve their standing as control centers for sophisticated home theaters.

See story at right for details of these and other introductions.