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Denon Adds Blu-ray, HDMI 1.3, HD Radio, More

Denon expanded its networked audio selection, announced at its dealer/rep show last month. In other product developments, the company:

  • added the following features to all new A/V receivers: dedicated port for an optional iPod dock, XM-ready port and HDMI 1.3a connectivity, even if used only for switching high-definition video signals up to 1080p resolution. All three features start at a suggested $349.
  • offered HD Radio for the first time. The technology appears in the $5,200 and $2,499 receivers and the $699 S-52 one-piece networked music system.
  • brought 1080p up-scaling in receivers down to a suggested $849.
  • added support for more compressed audio formats in its latest networked products. Besides MP3 and protected and unprotected WMA, the new devices also stream unprotected AAC, FLAC, WMA lossless and WAV. The new networked products are the company’s first to support JPEG streaming.
  • added compressed-music-restorer technology to its receivers for the first time.
  • enabled remote Internet-based diagnostics by dealers for the first time. The feature is limited to the three A/V receivers priced at $1,599, $2,499 and $5,200.
  • teamed with Rhapsody for the first time to enable the two one-piece network-music systems to access Rhapsody’s subscription-based Rhapsody music service without a PC connection.

The brand hasn’t adopted the HDMI CEC bidirectional communications protocol, which allows for the one-touch turn-on of a home theater system built from multiple brands.

For its Blu-ray debut, Denon plans a fall launch of the $1,999-suggested DVD-3800BDCI and the $1,199 DVD-2500BTCI, a model that lack internal audio decoding. Both models will be the industry’s first with HDMI 1.3a outputs, which transfer all BD disc surround formats in native form via HDMI for decoding by compatible A/V receivers.

Although all of Denon’s new A/V receivers feature 1.3a, only five of the receivers incorporate decoders for all standard and optional surround codecs approved for BD and HD DVD discs. The other A/V receivers incorporate Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 and 6.1 decoders and 7.1-channel PCM.

Neither BD player plays DVD-Audio or SACD discs, and they will be the industry’s first Version 1, Profile 1.1 BD-ROM players, the company claimed. This Blu-ray iteration enables picture-in-picture playback of a separate audio and video program for interactivity. On this player, the separate program must be downloaded by a PC and transferred to an SD Card. The player doesn’t incorporate an Ethernet port to play back the separate A/V stream directly from the Internet.

The BD players will also be the first BD players, or HD DVD players in fact, to use Silicon Optix’s Realta HQV processing chip, Denon said.

As part of its product roadmap, the brand also:

  • plans to launch its first audio separates in years and first dedicated custom install products. The separates include a preamp-processor, and the custom devices consist of a 12-channel amp, video scaler and a multizone dual tuner. Samples of the products were on display, but details weren’t announced.
  • displayed two 2.1-speaker home theater in a box (HTiB) systems with DVD and Dolby Virtual Surround. They are the $1,699 S-302, which features built-in Wi-Fi and Ethernet port, and the $999 S-102 without built-in network connectivity.
  • launched its first virtual-surround-equipped sound-bar-style HTiB, the $1,199 DHT-FS3, to complement flat-panel displays.
  • recently introduced five DVD players, four of which play SACD and DVD-Audio discs and two of which up-scale video to 1080p. The 1080p models are priced at a suggested $849 and $1,499.
  • announced three stereo receivers, one of which at $599 will offer HD Radio when an upgrade is available in the fall.